Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Me Or The Monster?

I am getting into this. You may have noticed I don't talk about my weight much - not in terms of pounds and ounces anyway. That's because I don't weigh myself very often. I don't have a weigh day. What I tend to do is step on the scale at odd moments - usually every week or random times. Often I have gained weight - a pound or two...sometimes I have lost I try to make my lowest weight my new sticking point. That guides me for my next 'loss' although in between times I can gain weight too! I have an old scale, not a digital one so it's all a bit vague, and unless I am wearing my glasses I might as well not peer at the dial because I can't make out the numbers.

It's all a bit haphazard, isn't it? :) Still, it suits me. A regular weigh in and pounds gained would play games with my head.

All I know is, for the most part I am eating sensibly. I am conscious of the food around me and I tend to go for low fat, low sugar, high fibre options. I am drinking more water and I am ensuring I am more active than usual. (I have said before, now the pressure is off me I can spend my days doing nothing much at all, and nice though it is, that doesn't burn calories!) I am conscious of the times I spend just sitting (usually at the PC.) I break up these times deliberately. I'll jump on the exercise bike, run up and down the stairs several times to get my heart racing, turn up the music and dance or find a household chore to do which involves bending, stretching, moving etc. I even go out into the garden and even if I only spend ten minutes weeding/cutting/clearing/sweeping it all adds up. Often I'll walk to the supermarket or across the nearby fields and I've planned a circular route in another direction too, just to give me some walking variety. I'll jump on a bus and walk and walk and walk around the shops....spending little, moving lots. Again, I could do more. I could go for hard work-outs at the gym, but I actually HATE doing that sort of stuff, so I have avoided it..and haven't really gotten into exercise DVDs at home either. If it's labelled 'exercise' I tend to squirm. If I call it extra daily movement, I am OK. Weird, I know.

I am feeling a little bit lighter. It's a good feeling. It's been a while since I recorded my weight but another two pounds has gone. (That's two pounds in about three weeks, during which time I gained four, which I've shed, so not earth-shattering, but it's a loss and it's OK. I am not in a race..)

I have been surprising myself these last few days. Again I have been reading the thoughts of others on this weight-loss journey and some things strike me as being so apt. One of my major problems is lack of self-control around food. Not binging, but allowing myself calorific treats, often. I can have 'sensible eating' days around the treats, so I am not going off course particularly, but I am not practicing proper restraint either. My moderation is too moderate :)

I have the option of having the goody in front of me 'because I am worth it and I fancy it' or going without and choosing a low calorie alternative. I can do this, with no great trauma involved, but nine times out of ten I'll go for the treat. What if I halved the times I allowed myself the indulgence? What if the indulgence became a once a week affair? There are so many ways I can deal with 'deprivation' issues without actually feeling deprived. This is key to my plan. NOTHING is off limits. Let's face it, I have lived for over half a century. I am not sure how long I have got left but eating and enjoying food, and treats, is going to be part of my life. There is NO WAY I am spending my remaining time on earth (who knows, I could get another 40 years or more!) practising strict restraint and telling myself 'No. You can't have it.'

That is just not going to work for me.

I am sure inside every fat person there is an eating monster which has to be tamed, brought under control. Does it have to be a life-long struggle, because let me tell you, I am here to enjoy life. Having a ready-reckoner in my head forever and a day just seems so sad...

I do know that the less you indulge in favourite foods, the weaker their influence on you becomes. I also know that one simple way of ensuring I eat healthily more than I indulge is to keep indulgences out of the house. If I have one of my raging "I am hungry - what can I eat???" episodes, (more about boredom than hunger I suspect) I'll have to grab a yogurt or a banana..because there is nothing else to satisfy my sweet tooth. The feeling is sated, and passes.

I am aware that I made the mistake of buying TWO wholemeal, seeded loaves the other day because they were on special offer. One stayed out, the other I froze. The one which stayed out was HUGE. These loaves don't stay fresh for long, so I found myself snacking on it and getting through quite a bit of delicious, tasty bread, toasted...with low fat spread and honey. (Who needs doughnuts when you can have toast and honey?) That on it's own became lunch. I was aware that I could get through a whole (huge) loaf in a couple of days, so I surprised myself yesterday by going for the hummus in the fridge and dipping whole, washed carrots in it. A lazy snack, but a healthy one. The sweet crunch of the carrot involved lots of chewing, and lo and behold, afterwards I wasn't hungry and my jaw had been sufficiently exercised! I told myself, no more bread - at least not for now. I'd been busy in the garden, getting quite a good work-out cutting back shrubs, pulling up annuals, getting rid of dead looking perennial leaves etc and shredding branches and carrying the debris to the compost bin. I was tired and (really) hungry so needed a quick, easily available bite. Carrots and hummus worked for me. I washed them down with two glasses of water because I couldn't be bothered to make tea....and I felt OK and wanted nothing more. I had two dried apricot halves later in the afternoon. Today my quick stand-by is oat cakes and cottage cheese. Grab-able, edible within seconds.

Slowly, slowly my choices (and options) are becoming sensible and I am not squealing and fighting it - I am taming my eating monster and taking back control. I know I can still have treats - I intend to - but if I have lots of healthy stuff easily to hand too that will suffice. I think we make a hobby of eating...we enjoy the when I stop to indulge my hobby the monster can take over or I can be in charge. That point is crucial. A decision has to be made. Who is in control? In a split second I could reach for the poor option, so just a minute of reflection, before preparing food has me stopping in my tracks. We all know that weight loss begins in the mind.

Crucial to weight loss I think, (this is what's dawning on me) is the belief that I CAN do it. I had been feeling annoyed that I HAD to exercise control...and  I was telling myself it was OK to just eat (given that most things in the house aren't too damaging.) I can control myself despite all the urges, after all, my food shopping is so much better these days. However, I have to practice that control. Let's face it, TWO big loaves of yummy, tasty seeded bread WILL get eaten, mainly by me, if it's there for the taking. A couple of carrots with hummus or a couple of slices of toast and honey? Guess which will win unless I challenge the monster? The eating monster takes over every time. I got a kick out of winning - beating the monster to the decision-making process. Silly, but just a little self-control  felt good. I drank water afterwards and then just got on with my day. If I play my new game every time I go to eat - 'Me or the Monster' - then it seems to be working! That brute won't win and all I have to do is stop in my tracks for a few seconds to gain an advantage and the more sensible choice is just as enjoyable.

I made some vegetable soup for dinner yesterday - or for a 'quick eat' when the boys came home from work. I served it with wedges of that lovely loaf, so it's gone. Phew! Later, we had a small garlic chicken pizza each - shop bought individual ones. (Again I'd kept busy in the evening, so bunging a pizza in the oven and serving it with salad - and jacket potatoes for hungry young men - was the extent of my culinary prowess.) I was aware of the grease on top when it was cooked. I laughed as I tried that Ben Stiller thing (as in 'Along Came Polly') when I used kitchen paper to soak up the excess fat. I ate my pizza..(with salad) but left the middle bit which was a bit soggy and doughy. I also left the crusts. As they sat in front of me for a while the Monster told me I could go back and nibble at them. I decided that the left-overs might be OK to pick at, but there was a good calorie saving still on my plate  - perhaps a third of the pizza - so I got up and binned them. OK so pizza isn't a good food choice and I didn't particularly enjoy that one, but I dealt with it and minimal damage has been done. In fact, the pizza urge is satisfied for a good few months I'd say.

Every day brings new challenges and choices, but I am getting there in my own haphazard way....slowly....and life doesn't seem limited at all. Call out your monster today, and challenge him. Know that you won't be beaten.

"Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future."  ~ Deepak Chopra


  1. Whatever brings success is good.

  2. I'm bouncing in my chair here - that's very nearly a stone and a half gone, gone, gone!

    Well done you :-)

  3. "We all know that weight loss begins in the mind." Oh girl do you ever have this one right...
    Finding a way to win over our "monsters" is tough but I'm sure that with each win it will get easier..
    Good for you on the seeing the scale move in the right direction.

  4. Yep, I believe there is an eating monster in us. We MUST tame and retrain it. It takes patience to retrain it, but you can do it. I like the idea of eating only half of a treat. How about instead of 9/10 times, 5/10 and only half a treat?

    I, too, love to garden. I have a wild flower garden and vegetable garden. Our WF garden is mostly native prairie flowers and they are beautiful in the summer.

  5. I get a great mental image when I think about my own particular 'eating monster' now. Hope it stays with me.

    Do you remember a series of ads for some breakfast cereal with a great big, clumsy but loveable Hunny Monster, wearing pyjamas?

    "Tell 'em about the honey, mummy" was the catchline but I can't remember the product (just as well, probably).