Friday, February 15, 2013

Writing, weight, will power


An article in the NY TIMES once said we only have so much will power.

I hadn't read the article but I guess I believed the idea because I distinctly remember saying to myself: okay, you don't have to do anything else -- use all your willpower to finish this novel. Eat whatever you want: just finish. 

So I ate things I had never allowed myself to eat in my adult life (we're talking mango icecream, pasta etc) and I gained 30 pounds. I did get the novel finished and published, too.

But for OVER TEN YEARS the weight stayed on. Now I have lost 5 pounds, according to the doctor, not just me. Not all of it is from recent efforts -- this is since I last went to the doctor. But still: 5 pounds in the right direction. And I have continued to lose since that visit a few days ago!

The rest of this post is about HOW. I experimented with different methods and have finally found a way to lose weight  that:

a) works for me. When you're over 40 this is really hard! When I was young, I would just not eat for a few days and lose 5...that doesn't work when you're older....though when I added up the actual calorie count of what I USED TO eat in a day, why I wasn't losing weight became all too clear. Yes, it's harder when you're older but at any age those calories added up to too many!

b) I can stick to

What works for me is tracking exercise and calories. I wear a device called a Fitbit that measures how many steps I take in a day, stairs climbed, calories burned. After lunch, I log in what I've eaten -- Fitbit then tells me  how many calories I have left in the day. (Whenever you come near your computer, Fitbit automatically enters how many calories you've burned.)

I experimented with different ways of eating, including:
* vegan lasagna for dinner (so yummy! so healthy sounding! and, alas, when you really add it all up, so high in calories!)
*not eating all day so I could have a nice dinner 
*juice fasts
etc (other idiotic ideas)

What works:

* SMALL breakfast (less than 300 calories) -- usually, quinoa (which I love -- for those of you who don't know it: the Aztec super food! has MUCH more protein than other grains as well as a delicious nutty taste) with a few currants or dried cranberries (when trying to lose weight, QUANTITIES of these kinds of things count -- "a few" = 1 TBSP), and tea with almond milk (only 40 calories)....if I'm not hungry when I wake up, tea only and breakfast later

*lunch (I never want to stop what I'm doing or trying to do for lunch) is always quick: 2 of our local pasture-fed eggs, higher in protein, lower in bad cholesterol than free-range eggs -- either in what I call a fusion omelette  or egg salad on a lot of lettuce

*IF I need a mid-afternoon snack, which usually I do not: spicey lemonade (home-made: maple syrup, red pepper flakes, lots of lemon juice0): perhaps not for everyone but I like it a lot

*dinner is a HIGHLY delicious, high quality protein: really fresh fish (if there is any interest, I will post detailed instructions), lamb, chicken, or beef and green vegetables; salad only if I have the calories left for it. I find that if I have a high quality protein for dinner, I don't eat after dinner....if I must have something sweet, herbal tea with honey.

Alas, for now, anyway: no potatoes, no pasta -- vegan lasagna seemed like such a good idea on paper but always left me feeling hungry and thus eating after dinner. A nutritionist told me once that eating in the night is a sign that you haven't had enoug protein during the day and in my case this seems to be true.

Perhaps it is some kind of atavistic cavewomen wake-up-in-the-night-hungry? Go-out-and-kill-something! response.

It is also really helping:

1. To PAY ATTENTION to what I am eating -- not eat as an adjunct to another activity.

2. Not to have chocolate, nuts, or hard cheese in the house -- only feta, to be crumbled SPARINGLY on salad.

3. To say as a mantra that feeling slightly hungry is a sign that fat is being burned! -- but always eat something before I get really hungry.

4. To never ever eat or drink wine (which I do have with dinner) after dinner....water or herbal tea only!

A nice bath with some lavender in it helps too.

What works for you? Please tell -- the mantra came from a blog reader!

(yes, we've talked about this before, there does seem to be an almost fatal connection between writing and weight)

PS (off topic) Thank you, you in Australia, for what you told us about Frank McCord in your comment on my last post!


James said...

good luck with your weight loss. I started using My Fitness pal back in August to keep track of my daily calorie intake. It's a phone app. Tracking my calories has really made a big difference. No more thousand calorie burgers or meals. I also started running which I know isn't for everyone but I love it.

Libby Koponen said...

Thanks, James.

And I absolutely agree about tracking calories: when I added up the calories in what I (formerly) ate in a day I saw all too clearly why I wasn't losing weight!

Barbara O'Connor said...

I just got a Fitbit. Love it. Thanks for the rec