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


California Girl said...

I read your post a while ago and just sat down to comment. Good job on getting your health worked on, also you are not alone and I hope that it's going well for you. I really liked a book called 'You Are What You Eat', forgotten the authors name, don't have it to hand, but it's good to dip in an out of and help add healthy options to my lifestyle. I will be thinking of you. In Cali they are big on eating raw...smoothies and juices, salads etc...upping my water intake has been my biggest challenge and saying no to the sweet stuff!!!

I guess rewarding yourself with something each week might be a way to manage it..although it's tough especially during the holidays and with a family to feed.

Marti said...

This is week four of my dieting. I don't want to do another post on it since I'm not posting very much on other topics - maybe can cycle back to this one in another month or so. But a few observations:

- Dieting does have some of its own rewards. It's not all miserable. I may have gotten reacquainted with what it's like to feel hungry but I feel great right after I eat! And I've discovered some new food options I was not in the habit of eating but that are pretty good, e.g., tuna, tempeh, cottage cheese, winter squash, raw peppers, beets, and cauliflower.

- With the help of a scale and measuring cups, I'm re-learning portion size. An ounce of cheese or three ounces of chicken are more than I thought.

- I've lost five pounds. Not sure if I'll keep them off and keep losing, but so far, so good.

- Exercise is a problem, due to the onset of plantar fascitis in one of my legs. Ouch. That really hurts. Had no idea what it was for the longest time. One of the leading causes? Sudden weight gain. All the more reason to keep at this. And I've found some strategies for treating it.

California Girl said...

Good job! I love beets...and cabbage, but I'm weird. Liquids like soups are apparently really good to eat as they make you feel fuller?! Who knew!