January 17, 2009

Hand over the chocolate and no one gets hurt

Sometimes when people notice that I’ve lost weight, I tell them it’s not that hard to lose weight. That’s a huge lie. It’s like when someone says, “Oh, I like that sweater,” and you reply with, “this old thing?” rather than just accept the compliment. I do this. Routinely. I diminish my successes. When alone, trying on clothes that were one too small, I think I rock and I’m proud of my hard work. But when someone wants to know how I’m doing it, what I eat, and how I look thinner, I tell them, “it’s not that hard. I don’t really miss any foods I used to eat. If I can do it, you can too. It’s easy!” Liar, liar, pants on fire!

I miss chocolate. I miss cake. I miss potato chips. On my healthy eating program, I’m technically allowed to eat those things, but in such small portions, it’s like a tease. The equivalent of one M&M as far as I’m concerned. All it takes for me to go off the deep end is a taste of one of my favorite evil foods and I go insane. I don’t eat one portion, or half a portion. I eat all the portions in a bag, a box, or a carton. One night this week, guess what I had for dinner. I didn’t have my usual lean ground beef, or ground turkey, or chicken. I didn’t make my scrambled eggs, Canadian bacon and lower-fat hash brown patty. I had chocolate cake and potato chips. For dinner. I ate the exact foods that made me gain weight in the first place. I should treat those foods like a bad ex-boyfriend. I should hate them, resent them, want to key their car. But sometimes when I want them, I MUST HAVE THEM. And because I have an issue with (addiction to?) certain foods, if I let my guard down for five seconds, I regress to that chunky college freshman who thought a taco and fries and a large iced tea from Jack in the Box was a suitable meal. The same girl who thought a chocolate Frosty from Wendy’s would be OK to eat, if that’s all I ordered. I didn’t know anything about protein, vitamins, calcium, or minerals and I didn’t care. I ate what I wanted to eat and I got fat. That was easy. Losing weight is anything but.

Sometimes I am sneaky enough to convince even myself that my new healthy eating habits are easy. When I make good food choices and I love what I am eating, I forget how much I want chocolate or French fries and I convince myself that eating healthy is simple, normal, and even natural. “It’s so easy, I could do this forever!” I say to myself. When I unpack my bounty from a trip to Trader Joe’s or I try a new recipe that is so good Matte will eat it, I think “this really IS easy!” It’s easy when I get on the scale and realize I’ve lost 10% of my body weight. So easy!

My goal, of course is to do this forever, and to be able to eat just one blueberry muffin, or just one donut at the office, rather than four (and I’m not kidding. I have been known to eat four donuts). This thing I’m doing isn’t a diet, there is not an end date for me. Diets are temporary. Diets get you to a goal, and then you can quit and celebrate in your smaller dress at your class reunion, or on a cruise, or in a wedding. I’ve been on every diet out there and I’m overweight, so diets don’t work for me. I am adopting a healthier lifestyle.

When I get on the scale and see that I’m two pounds heavier than last time, this whole thing suddenly becomes hard. So hard. The same program that was so easy last week is impossible the next week. And a that moment, I hate it, I don’t want to do it anymore, and I want to eat cookies. When I try on pants that used to fit my ass and I’m convinced they’ll fit me again by now, and they still don’t, my eating plan is hard. I know it’s the same plan whether I lose or gain, so it is what it is, but there is a direct correlation between my success and my perception of this lifestyle.

This week was exceptionally hard. I had more social functions than usual, including one at my house. I baked a chocolate cake for dessert for the Golden Globes, but found a recipe in Cooking Light that was less deadly than regular chocolate cake. Good, right? Well, it’s not good when you cut yourself three pieces in one sitting. And it’s not good when, in an effort to avoid the cake, you go to the pantry and find this delicious cookie THING that’s a shortbread biscuit covered in chocolate that you hid from yourself after receiving it at Christmas. And you see that it’s divided into small squares to allow for adequate portion control. So, you break off just one serving’s worth, which is about four squares, and you put the rest away. But then, those four squares are all gone, and it’s so delicious you want more. You need more. Because hey! if you eat it now, then it will be gone, and cannot tempt you anymore. Ever. So you break off four more squares, and this time you take the rest of the cookie to the couch with you to try and teach yourself that you can be in the vicinity of the chocolate without eating the whole thing. You can teach yourself will, dammit. But suddenly you’re eating the rest of the package. You just ate three servings of food pure crap. And you’re numb because you knew the whole time you were eating it that you shouldn’t be doing it. You know your husband is just in the other room and you could yell to him, “I need my sponsor! I want to eat this cookie thing.” and he will come talk you down. Maybe he’ll even throw away the cookie for you because you can’t bring yourself to do it. Or maybe he’ll spit on it. Or throw it on the dirt. He would convince you that you’re not hungry, but bored, or stressed, or sad, or any other emotion that you normally soothe with chocolate. But you don’t want to tell him about the cookie so you quietly eat it to destroy the evidence. You’ve enough clarity to know that 1) you really shouldn’t eat it, 2) you should totally clean the litterbox right now, before eating the cookie, and then unwrap the cookie and throw it in the bag of cat poo because that’s the only way to avoid eating it. The train of thought is utterly ridiculous and also futile, because you ignore yourself.

You shun the Girl Scout Cookie order form at the office because “I have will power! I will NOT order cookies! So there, stupid sabotaging Girl Scouts! It’s SO easy for me to not fall under your spell and order your stupid cookies! BAH!” but then, when your salad box lunch comes with the most delectable cookie ever created in the whole wide universe — the Specialty’s Bakery peanut butter cookie with chocolate chips — you don’t give the cookie away. You eat the 4-inch diameter, 2-inch tall cookie. You eat it all. And while you’re eating it, you think, “I shouldn’t be eating this.” But you don’t stop because you can’t. You really REALLY can’t.

This week I gained weight. I almost didn’t go to the weigh-in. I thought about cashing in a “Don’t weigh me this week please” card at today’s meeting. I considered having her weigh me blind, so I couldn’t see the number on the scale, because ignorance is bliss. But I needed to weigh in and see the number after the + sign so I can work on returning to my program and do better next time. It’s my motivation to try and get back on track. I need to remember how much I love seeing negative numbers on the scale, no matter how small. I love that I can fit into clothes I spent good money on but could only fit into one time before I gained too much weight to wear them again. I love that my second chin is disappearing. I love not bumping into as many things with my wide hips and large ass. But (and I hate to admit it) I still love chocolate more than any of those things.

Chocolate is fleeting. Once I eat it, it’s gone. This weight loss journey and healthy eating doesn’t end. Sure, the weight loss will end once I hit my goal, but I started this to change my lifestyle for good and to be comfortable in my own skin. One day I hope to be able to eat just one piece of cake or one serving of a chocolate-covered shortbread cookie. For now, though, I can’t, and I know I can’t. I’m well aware of my weaknesses and as long as I can steer clear of them, I’m safe. But when I can’t, I have my #1 cheerleader husband and food cop to be my voice of reason, when I’m too weak to think for myself.

5 people have roominated about “Hand over the chocolate and no one gets hurt”

  • Green says:

    Big hugs to you. You are not alone.

  • abbersnail says:

    You know how much I understand this! The thing that works for me is not allowing myself to settle for anything less than the best: the best bread, the most delicious chocolate. It helps.

  • Sandi says:

    I can totally relate. When I retired I vowed to lose weight. And I did – 15 pounds in about 6 months. Watched my food intake, counted calories, exercised. Ed and I both lost weight,in fact. But one thing I didn’t do was totally eliminate any foods from my diet. I knew that wouldn’t work for me. So I keep things in moderation – red wine, chocolate, etc. It’s easier to pass on the maple oat scone at Starbucks – but not all the time! I also gained a few pounds during the holidays between the eating and the lack of exercise. But at least now I know that I can get rid of those pounds and I know how to do it.

    Even if you gain a few pounds back, you’ve still lost weight and kept most of it off! That’s a huge triumph! Everyone’s weight fluctuates – even skinny little models. If it becomes too stressful and too all-encompassing, it’s easier to just let go and gain it all back. Keeping it in perspective is what I’m trying to do. Stick with the habits that allowed me to lose the weight in the first place, splurge when I need to, and get on the scale infrequently (the clothes tell the real story).

    Good luck!

  • Saj says:

    Think of how well you did over the holidays! And that’s a really tough time to maintain healthy eating!

    I’m currently trying to break myself of my sugar habit. My Valentine’s cherry juju hearts are almost gone-it was a huge bag, and it’s not anywhere near Valentine’s Day yet! I have a serious sugar addiction, and I’m vowing to try to curb it.

    We can monitor each other, and celebrate our successes! Keep it up!

  • mil says:

    maybe it’s winter. i crave carbs soooo much at this time of year. last week was a bad one for me. i bought a loaf of fresh cinnamon bread from the bakery after i had resisted the week before. then i ate about 6 slices for lunch, a couple more as a snack, and finished off the loaf for breakfast the next day. then just a couple of days later i got a craving for peanut butter cookies. baked one of those betty crocker bags about 4, ate almost a dozen before dinner, and then finished the other 2 dozen in the next 2 days. as you can see, i have no will power at times.

roominate on this yourself