Archive for the ‘failure’ Category

Jumping off the Diet Rollercoaster: Change Your Mindset

Are you or do you know one of those people that lose weight on a diet and then gain it all back?  Do you have 3 sizes of clothing in your closet: your normal size, your been-on-a-diet size, and your need-to-get-back-on-my-diet size?  Are you starting to feel like there is not way to maintain a healthy weight for your whole life?  If you’re wondering what diet will work for you, the answer is probably all of them and none of them.  Let me explain.

My sister made an excellent observation years ago when we were all doing the Atkins diet, scarfing down lunch meat and eschewing carbs.  She said, “No matter how long I stay on Atkins or how much I lose, I’m never going to forget that ice cream tastes good.”  She really got me thinking.  What diet will ever work if it requires me to go my whole life without enjoying the food I really love?  I know myself well enough to know that I will eat what I want eventually.  I might be able to deny myself something sweet or buttery for a while, but eventually I’ll be at a wedding or a party or a movie, and I’ll let loose.  I’m not ready or willing to be on a diet that restricts my ability to have the food I love for very long.

I, and I think a lot of others, can watch what I eat for several weeks, maybe even months, and see some weight loss.  That’s why any diet will work.  If you become conscious of what you’re eating and eat less, you’ll lose weight.  But, I can’t live like that forever.  I don’t have never-ending willpower, and that’s why diets don’t work.  Whatever weight you or I lose by restricting our diets dramatically will inevitably return when we relax.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t fight that war forever!  I quit.  In fact, I quit a couple years ago.  No more dieting.  No more fat-free creamer, sugar-free cookies, lite bread, food journals, diet pills, cheating or binges.

The only thing that will make me a thin person for the rest of my life is behaving like a thin person for the rest of my life.  Eating good food (as in healthy and appetizing) when I’m hungry and finding something to do for entertainment other than eat are the keys for me.  Being vegan has helped me to learn to enjoy healthy food.  (I still love sweets, but I have a new appreciation for fruit salads, grilled pineapple, and vegan baked goods.)  I’m less addicted to junk food and crave it less often.  But, I’m not on a “vegan diet.”  I’m not waiting until I go on vacation to “cheat.”  I’m not planning what I’ll eat when I’ve lost my weight and I can go off my diet.

I guess what I’m saying is that before you can change your weight, change your mindset toward food.  Read these success stories from the National Weight Control Registry and see if you see what I saw.

I identify with this guy’s food addiction. Maybe that’s why both of us found help in being vegan.

The change in food (and subsequently their weight) came after the changes in the way they thought about themselves.  They took an objective look at what and why they ate.  No gimmicks.  No diets.


What’s the Point of Exercise?

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to realize this.  Maybe it’s because I assumed the machines at the gym were just wrong.  Maybe I just don’t really understand what a calorie is.  Maybe I was just willingly ignorant.  But here’s the truth:

I would say things like, “It’s alright–I’ll work it off later,” or “it’s okay since I work out,”  but I know that’s not true.  I mean, look at the Biggest Loser.  Those people work out like athletes and eat nothing but product-placed diet food.  As big as they are, even the most miniscule exercise should burn tons of calories.  Yet, every week, somebody steps off the scale teary-eyed and begs their team to believe that they really tried and they don’t know how they only lost 2 pounds.

I’ll eat a cookie and a cappuccino from Starbucks vowing to work it off later.  If I get a soy milk cappuccino and a fairly plain cookie, I’m probably looking at about 300 calories.  When I go jogging later for 30 minutes, I’ll burn most, but not all of that.  That wouldn’t be so bad if that was the only thing I overate today or ever.  But, if I’m jogging to lose weight, I need to be burning off what I ate yesterday or last year or 10 years ago.  Spending 30 minutes working off most of a mid-morning snack that took me a minute and a half to eat is a waste.  Why bother?

Here’s the real reason to exercise:  Exercise makes your muscles insulin sensitive so that when they get fed (when you eat) they’ll more readily produce leptin, the hormone that signals fullness.  Here’s another one:  Exercise makes you sweat so that you can fast track toxins straight out of your body.  Here’s another one:  Exercise makes you sleep longer and more restfully so that your body can repair itself and operate more efficiently.  Here’s another one:  Exercise promotes strength and flexibility (when it’s done correctly) so that you retain your youthful vigor longer (or rediscover it).

Here’s the bottom line:  Your weight correlates more closely with your diet than it does your exercise.  If you want to lose weight, eat better.  If you want to feel good while you do it, exercise.

Raspberry Ketones? Let’s take a reality check.

I know Dr. Oz recommended that folks struggling with obesity and Type 2 diabetes should look into taking raspberry ketone supplements.  Apparently, in recent studies of fat mice, raspberry ketones helped them melt off body fat.  The mice eating raspberry ketones secreted adiponectin, a hormone which regulates the metabolism of sugar and fat.  The more adiponectin on has, the less fat one stores.  Thus, the group conducting the study released data suggesting that raspberry ketones could be a potential fat burning wonder drug.

Here’s the part that may be a bit of a buzz kill for anyone looking for a fat-burning wonder drug.  (But, we should have read enough press releases on scientific studies to know to look for the fine print by now.)  These mice were fed exorbitant amounts of ketones–up to 2% of their daily caloric intake.  Now, for an adult, that could be 200 calories.  And, remember, we’re not talking about raspberries.  We’re talking about one chemical in raspberries, the chemical responsible for their smell.  To get the same environment that rats in the study got, you would have to eat over 90 pounds of raspberries a day.  Not possible, right?  Not even desirable.  Clearly, nature did not intend for us to have 2% of our daily calories originate in ketones.

Also, the natural compound is extremely expensive.  The stuff we’d get in the supplement is manufactured synthetically.  When humans upped their normal intake 200 times, no effect on body weight was observed.  Check out the article on wikipedia.  It’s very well documented and was published before the Dr. Oz show mentioned the supplements.

For folks who are struggling with obesity and type 2 diabetes, I’m sorry that somebody got your hopes up again.  I know they have because GNC sold out of their raspberry ketone supplements within days of Dr. Oz’s show.  You rushed out to get it.  Just like we scrambled to buy chromium picolinate back in the day, then green tea extract, then hoodia.  I can’t even begin to list the not-so-natural ones like Dexatrim, phen-fen, Hydroxycut, Redux, Xenical, Alli, etc., etc. 


There is a natural way to lose weight–eat the highest quality, most natural food you can afford and enjoy your life.

A True Weight Loss Success Story

Lately, my weight loss, which was very slow to begin with, has disappeared altogether.  I could bitch and moan about all the reasons why I haven’t been as vigilant, but who cares?  The bottom line is that my bottom line is not the size I was hoping it would be by the time spring sprang.  Alas, it’s 85 degrees in sunny South Carolina, and last year’s shorts are snug.  The good news is that they were snug last year too, so I haven’t really gained any weight all winter.  The bad news is that I didn’t lose any either.

Since I chose to look at the bright side, I won’t focus on what didn’t happen.  I’ll look at the success that’s under the surface. 

1.  I have not abandoned any of the good habits I had last summer.  I’m still vegan-ish (better than before probably since I’m loosening the strangle hold cheese had on my life).  I’m still working out a couple times a week.  I’m still valuing sleep and other forms of stress relief.

2.  I did not arrange my holidays, birthday, or rainy weekends around what food would be perfect for the occasion. 

3.  I did not go on a diet, keep a food journal, or participate in any other activity that I associate with on-again-off-again dieting. And yet, my weight did not explode like it did 3 years ago when I stopped all my dieting do’s.

4.  I have learned to love beans, kale, tomato sandwiches, plain avocados (without tortilla chips), Indian food, blueberries and herbal tea more than hamburger, ham sandwiches, nachos, or ice cream.  I would have never thought it was possible, but it is.

So, I’m not going to lie to you, I’m disappointed in myself for not making the changes bigger and better (in order to make my ass smaller and better), but I’m not going to beat myself up either.  It could be worse.  It will still get better.



Sometimes, I’m Just Not Feeling It

I started this blog because I was so motivated by the research I was doing on veganism that I had to have an outlet to share it.  The science behind a plant-based diet was blowing me away.  The food was unexpectedly delicious.  I was excited about the changes I was seeing and feeling in my body, and I needed to get all my ideas out of my head and onto some place where I could keep track of them all.  (Is that why the rest of you blog?)

Yeh, right now, I'm definitely taking the escalator.

However, has anyone heard of the Law of Undulation?  I first read that phrase in the book The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis.  Basically, the law of undulation is the concept that everything waxes and wanes, ebbs and flows.  First, we’re excited and then we’re not.  We’re happy, and then we drift away and we’re not happy.  It’s a natural rhythm, like the tides or breathing–in and out. The funny thing about it is that while we’re “in,” we can’t imagine every being out.  And, when we’re “out,” we can’t imagine that we’ll ever be “in” again.

Well, a few months ago, I was deeply “in” to being vegan.  Now, I’m less “in.”  I’m nottotally  out.  Oh, no.  I’m not eating meat or dairy.  I have not abandoned this lifestyle–I’m just not as enthusiastic about it.  I’m not as enthusiastic about exercising either.  Or cooking.  Or blogging about eating, exercising or cooking.  I’m just in that part of the cycle.  I’m “out” right now.

I’m going to give myself a pass though.  Who knows, I might see something from the outside that I haven’t seen from the inside.  I’m still going to exercise and eat vegan.  I’m just not going to beat myself up if my jogs are slow and my food is unimaginative.  I’ll get back to it, and when I do, I won’t be able to imagine ever feeling like I do now.

Is Being Vegan a Commitment I’m Willing to Make?

I think one of the hardest parts about being vegan is the knowledge that I’ll have to give up some things forever.  I mean, can I really go my whole life without a Pizza Hut pizza ever again?  Will I never eat turkey at Thanksgiving?  Will I never have a hamburger again in my whole life, not even one hot off the grill?  I’m not good at swearing off things forever.  In fact, I never want things more than immediately after I swear I’ll never have them again.  So, going totally vegan is really a challenge for my rebellion and my gluttony.

Grilled Cheese is one of the hardest foods to go without. Is it possible that Daiya Vegan Cheese can fill the void?

On the other hand, going totally vegan will also help me never have some other things again, and to those, I’ll gladly bid adieu.  I would not mind never having to try on a bathing suit and choke back tears as I look at myself in the mirror like I did two springs ago.  I stood there under those fluorescent lights and felt like a blob.  (I started moving toward a plant-based, whole food diet immediately after this shopping trip.)

Once years ago, I was at a pretentious store in the mall, and the sales clerk approached me and asked, “Are you depressed because you can’t find anything in your size?”  (No lie.  She actually said that to me.   The first words out of her mouth.)  It was one of those stores where they stock a half a rack of size XS and maybe 2 XLs.  You know the clerks all bad mouth the two people that buy the XLs.   Even though I hate those overpriced stores and their low rise pants, I’d like to be able to pull something off the rack and look good in it anyway.  (I won’t buy it though until I’m sure none of those snotty bitches get commission.)

These women belong at the mall. I am not one of these women.

I’m really tired of looking fat in pictures and video.  Since I’ve been “going vegan,” my mental image and my photographic image are starting to look the same.  I used to look at myself in pictures and think, Please tell me I don’t really look that fat in real life!  Lately, that hasn’t been so bad, and I’d like to keep it that way.

I’d like never again to pass by a reflective window and feel the need to suck in my stomach.

I’d like it if I were to never again get distracted by my pot belly during sex.  Is that TMI?  Sorry, too late.

There are some less traumatic things that I could avoid by being totally vegan.  For instance, when I’m vegan, I don’t get that over-stuffed, lethargic feeling after meals.  I don’t have to unbutton my pants surreptitiously at my desk after lunch because my food is sitting in my belly like a rock. I don’t have to worry about poisoning my loved ones with chicken germs on the cutting board.

Really, I won't mind saying goodbye to dead animal parts all over my kitchen.

I don’t get blood on my hands shopping for meat at the grocery store.   I have tons more energy.  My skin is better when I’m vegan.  (No woman should have to alternate between wrinkle cream and acne treatment! I’m 38 for Pete’s sake.)

Nevertheless, I have to admit, I am loathe to say I will never have something ever again in my life.  I guess this is where folks would recommend I take things one day at a time.  I should worry less, and by less I mean not at all, about what I’m going to eat at Disney World this summer, and I should just focus on making the best choices I can right now.  Later, if I’m dying to have something, I might.  I’ll just make a deal with myself that I won’t regress unless I absolutely need to for sanity.  And, if that day should come, I’ll eat only exactly what I’m craving—no grazing until I figure out what I want—and only the very least I need to be satisfied—no falling off the wagon and deciding to just flush the whole day and binge.

Good news--these can be vegan. There is lots of vegan junk food. I just have to be deliberate in my choices.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue to find new foods that I like and that make me feel good about what I’m eating, and I’m going to keep you posted on how it works out for me.

Help! Bitchiness will make me Fat!

It has occurred to me that for all the good work I’ve done reprogramming my brain to think about what constitutes a meal and what fueling my body really means, I still have to work on breaking bad habits.  Since I’ve been in a total funk for the last few days, (I don’t know why—hormones? the weather? seasonal affective disorder? chronic bitchiness? Probably) I’ve been face-to-face with my tendency to link food and mood.

This bathroom remodel put 5 pounds on me.

When I get really happy, I want to celebrate with fancy food.  When I get really down, I want to console myself with decadent food.  When I want to create a homey atmosphere, I begin with home cooking.  When I want to unwind, I start by planning my special food indulgence.  It’s too much.  I’ve been pretty successful at eliminating food for entertainment, but I haven’t unhooked it from my emotions yet.  And, as a woman with raging hormones and children and a man, I’ve got too many emotions to eat all of them.

But, what can I do?  I don’t have the money to substitute shopping or decorating.  I don’t have the space or time to go for long walks or take bubble baths.

Bubblebaths just don't relax me. The last thing I want to do when I'm depressed is sit around looking at my naked stomach.

With four or more kids in my house at any given time (kids, stepkids and neighbors), I don’t have much privacy or quiet to do much of anything.  Eating is convenient.  If I’m going to lasso this bad habit, I’m going to have to find something that is as accessible, affordable, and effective as chocolate-covered peanuts.

My weak spot is the combination of crunchy and sweet. I forget that binging doesn't really solve any of my problems.

That’s not going to be easy.  And, to tell you the truth, I don’t know what that is.  I’m going to give it some serious thought though and get back to you when I come up with something.

Do you have any suggestions?

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