Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The diet.

That I had put on 30 pounds since I got married was weighing me down (pun intended). This unprecedented development seemed to warrant another I've-never-done-that-before: dieting. I know lots of people who have gone on diets; more, maybe, that have than that have not. Just like I know more people who have gotten married than that have not. But I didn't know how to diet. And I was afraid to ask. The amount and diversity of advice on how to plan a wedding was overwhelming... of the making of books about how to stay married there is no end. And so it is with the amount and diversity of advice about dieting. Who should I listen to? And how much more time and attention was this going to require from my busy schedule?

I get, now, how people can "let themselves go" after the wedding day. For me, it wasn't a matter of laziness or selfishness, just an inability to fit in any fitness goals with the competing priorities of my family... a family that can put away an awful lot of spaghetti or pizza but isn't so keen on fruits and vegetables. My waistline has gone up three sizes, and my clothes no longer fit!

So, I said a prayer and made an appointment to see a doctor. I told her my problem, and she gave me the lecture I wanted and needed. Watch your portion size, she said. "Who makes the meals in your house?" she asked. "I do." "If they don't like what you serve, tell them fine: they can cook," she said. "Fill half your plate with vegetables... a single serving or carbs... just eat a tiny amount of meat." Inwardly I knew Hubs would find this insufficient, but I started to imagine ways we could navigate this process without fights, without anyone starving.

Here was the kicker: "Check out my cholesterol," I asked. "It was high before and can only be higher, now." Sure enough, reported the letter she sent. It's outrageous. Diet time. Tree nuts, olive oil, but no more than four ounces of animal protein a day. And if I can't get the cholesterol down in the next six months, prescription meds.

We agreed that tackling portion size might be the most fruitful strategy to start with. I remembered the advice my weight watchers friends had given me, and the "serves 4" or "serves 6" on my recipes and grocery store purchases, the ones that never seem to make enough for my family these days. I measured the big, heavy square plates we have, the ones that look empty if I only serve what I was raised to think of as a normal serving size. Well, no wonder. Our 10x10" plates have an area of 100 square inches (ooooh, tough math!). The 9" round ones left over from my single days come to only 63 square inches. All those square meals may explain some of the calorie creep.

I also recalled that one of the most tried-and-true tools of dieting is writing down everything you eat. That provides a reality check, a bit of accountability, and I thought it would work for me. Surely there's an app for it? Sure enough, Google led me to a free (though ad-bedecked) website - probably one of many - that helps dieters track food, activity, and goals. It asked my height, weight, age, and gender, then matter-of-factly informed me what my target weight should be. I can get there by losing 19 pounds, and make it by the end of February if I limit myself to 1400 calories a day (v. the 2000 the USDA uses as a norm). Moreover, if I tell the website what I eat, it will calculate and keep track of the calories and other details and let me know how I'm doing.

Sunday was day one. A family birthday party put me over the top: 1800. Day two kept me hungry but the website gave me an "A." I'm performance-oriented enough that this may do the trick. I'll let you know how it goes.

See also a previous post on how we talk about health choices: Free to Be You and Me