It’s been a minute since my last post about this topic. Seems I tend to write these about every two months, so I think it’s time I post an update. This morning, I weighed in at 164, still under the 165 goal that my endocrinologist has suggested at every yearly visit for many moons.
Back in March, I had been seeing the once seemingly unattainable 162-point-something on the scale. What I’ve noticed is that in order to maintain that number, I have to be really good for long stretches at a time. By “really good,” I mean that I have to be particularly mindful of limiting salt and fat consumption, while maintaining high water and fiber consumption on a daily basis.
Sometimes, I have a week where there are a few days where I am mindfully being less mindful; I decide that a burger and fries are on the table, or Sunday dinner at my in-laws is considered a “holiday.” Maybe there are a few extra glasses of wine and/or a generous helping of dessert that my husband made. It’s not unusual for all of those examples to happen in the same week.
It’s important to remember that these are conscious decisions I am making, and I don’t let myself forget the nutritional indiscretions. I also don’t punish myself for them, nor do I say that I will start my diet again on Monday. This is not a fad diet; this is a way of taking care of myself. I have worked hard to cultivate the mindset, and it is complex, with a bunch of moving parts that make the physical, mental and emotional parts of me work best. Sometimes, I want the burger. I want the extra glass of wine. I want the larger piece of cake. These “wants” satisfy my emotional self just as much as the mindful attention to my actual nutritional needs do. It is a challenging tightrope balance, and it is so important to use the knowledge of what you eat as data to make your next informed decision.
I recently visited some family that I haven’t seen in over a year. They immediately noticed my weight loss, give-or-take 20 pounds since the last time I saw them, and of course they asked, “how did you do it?” I jokingly said that I stopped eating like an asshole, which is true, but it was also important for me to give a little more context:
- I’ve seen a nutritionist monthly for years, and we have worked together to figure out what my body at my age needs. That’s taken some time and testing to cultivate an appropriate and workable plan.
- Lots of water, more than you think you need.
- Lots of fiber, mostly from fresh fruits and veggies.
- Low fat content – trying to stay under 20 g per day from all sources.
- Lots of lean protein.
- Eat something every 3-4 hours, to keep the carbohydrate intake steady throughout the day.
- Daily tracking, until I finally understood what it all looks like.
- Daily morning weigh-ins, to keep myself honest, especially since I have stopped tracking.
That particular visit was a good test of my resolve. The trip was a 24-hour whirlwind across the country. I flew in, stayed overnight, then flew back home. I was there to celebrate my nephew’s college graduation, and when there is a family party, there’s more food than people. My aunt is a gourmet chef and she knows how to cook amazing food; I knew I was likely to binge a bit. I am not one to turn down good food. So, it was time to employ solid nutritional strategies to counteract the anticipated nutritional indiscretions.
Nutritional strategies for travel and celebrations
Heading to the airport:
- Eat normally before you leave, maybe eliminating one thing you’d normally eat. I always have a protein shake and a banana. I eliminated the banana, since I knew it wasn’t going to make much of a difference in my hunger level. At the airport, I got a small Greek yogurt drink to get me through the 3-hour flight.
- Reserve some calories by not eating airport food. Salty, fatty, no bueno.
- Drink a lot of water before going onto the plane. I chugged a bottle of water just before I went through security.
- Bring a few low-calorie snacks that you’d normally eat in your carry on, just in case the hunger sets in.
- Stay away from caffeine and alcohol. They are dehydrating and don’t help you. I chew gum to keep my mouth busy and it has the added benefit of helping me to clear my ears from the changes in altitude.
At the party:
- Decide what you want to binge on. My treat of choice was the brie-en-croute with the mango and pistachio filling. It was to die for. I had five generous pieces of it, and I was quite mindful of the indiscretion, but to this very moment, I’m glad I had it because I can still sense how satisfying it was.
- Limit the salty chips. They’re not even that good past the first few you eat. It’s a waste of a binge and adds a ton of sodium to your bloodstream. Remember, it takes 2 days to flush out salt you consume. Surprised? So was I when I learned that little tidbit. You’re welcome.
- Find fruit and veggies that are always on the table somewhere. Fill half of your plate with that first, before you go for the good stuff.
- Wait to drink any alcohol at the party. I waited until the end of the night, when I sat with my family and had a 3-hour political discussion. That’s when the tall glass of wine was most effective.
The next day:
- Eat lightly, but don’t starve yourself. Go back to your regularly established food plan.
My flight back was delayed almost three hours, and we were already on the plane. I used my pre-flight strategy of drinking before the security line, and I didn’t really get hungry until we were in the air, so I got one of those Mediterranean snack boxes. I wasn’t planning on eating much on the plane, but I happened to get it for free, since there was only one left, we were so delayed, and they weren’t accepting credit cards on the flight anymore. I guess the flight attendant “forgot” about it. I knew I’d soon be very hungry, which is not a good thing because feeling ravenous leads to eating more than you need, so I picked the best option I could. Once I got home, it was late, and I just decided to go to bed instead of eating more.
The next morning, I did my daily weigh-in, and I was actually about a pound lighter than the day before. Better than a pound heavier, for sure. That moment felt like a win, and I got to enjoy that amazing brie-en-croute. The week after I returned, I kept that brie in mind as I made subsequent food decisions.
Bottom line, when you make a nutritional plan that works, you need to understand that it must become habitual, not punitive. It becomes the regular way you think about food, so when you decide to stray for a meal or a day, your next choices take that into account to help to re-balance the scales.
Any questions? Leave them in the comments below! Maybe I’ll make another post about them.
Take a look at previous My Weight-Loss Journey posts for some context: