Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On Failure

I’ve been thinking a lot about failure this week.

Part of my preoccupation is certainly my impending law school exams. In my effort to become more fit and healthy, I frequently neglected classes or reading in favor of eating a calm, balanced meal or getting some exercise. There’s no excuse for this, really; I made my choices. I could have done it all, but it would have been harder. So I picked the thing that mattered most---my health---and let the other chips fall where they may. As long as they didn’t fall in a nearby bowl next to some salsa, I figured I was good.

But now it’s the end of the semester and my lackadaisical academic attitude is catching up with me. And instead of buckling down and studying for 20 hours a day to prepare for my first exam on Friday, I’m not changing much. I’m doing some reading, but I am so paralyzed by fear and urgency that I am doing little of the work I should be doing, and I’m simultaneously freaking out about how hard my classmates appear to be working. Bad combination.

Add to this the fact that the last two weeks on Weight Watchers have been a struggle, and you’ve got yourself a perfect storm of depression and self-doubt.

I mentioned last week that I switched from points-counting to a different method of tracking my food called the “Simply Filling Technique” (SFT). SFT deserves its own (more positive) post, because truly it rescued me from some pretty dangerous thought processes I was beginning to develop while trying to stretch my 20 daily points.

Cliff’s notes version: Weight Watchers offers two ways to follow their plan. The first is “points,” in which you get a certain number of points per day, and 35 per week, and then whatever extra you “earn” from exercising (you get 1 point for each 100 calories burned). All foods have point values (which is a function of calories/fat/fiber---calories and fat increase points, fiber decreases points), and you eat what you want as long as you stay within your range. The basic idea behind SFT is that you eat from a (LONG) list of “filling foods” to satisfaction. Anything not on the list, you deduct from your standard 35 weekly points (or activity points). You don’t get daily points.

I bring SFT up now because I am just beginning my fifth week on this new technique, and I can’t help but feel like a monumental failure:

Starting Weight: 136.6 (current goal is 135, but I’m thinking of moving it to 136...more on that another day)
Week 1 on SFT: +0.4
Week 2: -0.4
Week 3: +3.4
Week 4: ?? Weigh in is tomorrow at a WW center (at 7pm, with clothes on), but my home scale is showing me +.8 from last week’s at-home, in-the-morning, in-the-buff weight.

In all fairness, week 3 shouldn’t even count. I went COMPLETELY off the program that week, ended up -40 points in the red (unheard of in my personal history) and it was all on purpose. But I expected to see a loss this week as I began to eat normally and that weight came off. I am terrified of the fact that I may still be gaining weight...I’m afraid that I won’t be able to make SFT work...I’m worried that I will have to switch back to points and perhaps go back to the unhealthy/unhappy mindset I developed towards the end.

So, in an effort to have more success this week, I’m identifying a few of what I think may be my weak areas and discussing how to address them. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

  • Ultimately, I know I’m overeating. I have a hard time eating to “satisfaction,” instead eating to “full.” I have a VERY difficult time leaving food on my plate. Even if I’m satisfied, my tendency is to finish the portions I served myself, especially if there are only five bites left. But those bites add up, and I need to break the habit of eating when I don’t need more food.
  • As a corollary to the first point, I think I need to cut back or stop eating my activity points. On the points system, I was able to eat all of my 35 weekly points, plus all of my activity points, and still lose weight. I suspect I may not be able to do that on SFT; probably because I am eating enough filling food to be satisfied, and I only ever spend my points on junk food like ice cream.
  • Nighttime eating has become more of a problem on SFT than it was on points. The accountability of points meant that whatever I ate during nighttime snack attacks was deducted from my points, and I ate correspondingly less food throughout the week as a result. On SFT, I can have a few nighttime snacks that are “free” on SFT, and then I don’t have to adjust my eating throughout the week. I’ve been in the process of setting an eating curfew for myself, but I seem to snack a lot in the 45 minutes or so before curfew hits.

My goals for this week are to:

  1. Pay more attention to my hunger signals. (This is so hopelessly vague. How can I make this goal more definite?...Require verbalizing my emotions before going for food? (i.e., saying out loud, “I am hungry” or “I am bored” before eating) ...Write down my feelings before sitting down for food?)
  2. Following Martha Beck’s advice from one of my new favorite books, The Four Day Win, I will leave food on my plate at the end of each meal to get used to the idea (as long as I’ve eaten to satisfaction of course).
  3. Continue with the establishment of my curfew. It’s set at 10:30pm for the next few days. On Friday, it moves back to 10pm.
  4. Stay off the scale. All week. I am getting easily discouraged by what I see day-to-day, and it’s affecting my attitude.

Anything else? I feel a bit adrift.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Interested vs. Committed

I am not responsible for originating this, but I find it helpful to think about when I’m facing a rough patch (as I stare at the drizzling rain outside my window on this Sunday morning, contemplating the seven miles I’m scheduled to run today). Whenever I hear someone complain that something bad happened in their life so they gave up their plans to get healthy, I think of this.

If you're "Interested" in losing weight...
... You stick with it only until something better comes along (such as doughnuts)
... How you feel determines your outcome. If you don't 'feel like it', you stop your efforts.
... You need to see results. When the scale doesn't move, you lose your motivation.
... You blame everything else (people, travel, circumstances) for your struggles with staying on program.
... Whenever you face challenges in life, you give up and plan you'll start your program again tomorrow.

If you're "Committed" to losing weight...
... Nothing stops your efforts. You stick with your program, "no matter what."
... Emotions don't control your actions. You stay on track even when you don't feel like it.
... Your motivation isn't linked to the scale. You assume that if you stay motivated and work hard, you'll eventually see results.
... You don't depend on other people for your success. You know it's up to you, not them.
... A bad day or a lot of challenges don't affect your efforts. You keep going in spite of it.

So, readers: which are you?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

CORE-n bread

This recipe has been floating around the Weight Watchers universe for ages. It uses entirely filling foods as ingredients, so it’s “free” on the Simply Filling program (subject to your ability to eat it to satisfaction...if you find yourself overeating this, then it’s NOT a filling food for you).

I was skeptical at first, but dayum, this stuff is delightful. I cooked it in a cast iron pan and it came out fluffy but still quite thick and dense, and the top cooked crisp.

In the future, I will try this recipe with variations. I think it would be great with a can of corn kernels, and I might experiment with adding jalepenos and paprika. I also suspect (dangerously so) that this might be great as a cake if you added crushed pineapple. If I have any success with these experiments, I’ll post them.

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup Cream of Wheat, uncooked
  • 1 cup ff sour cream
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup splenda (optional. I left this out because I HATE granulated splenda. the bread could have benefited from a little sweetness, but I would take the unsweetened bread over the chemical taste of granulated splenda any day)
  • 2 tsp olive oil

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup ff milk.


Mix all of the ingredients and bake at 400 for 35 minutes.

I got 8 servings out of this, but if you’re willing to have smaller pieces then you could easily get 10 or 12.

Point-Friendly Food Find: Smartfood Popcorn Clusters

Just found at my local grocery store: portion-controlled bags of caramel corn!

These are one point for each bag (of the honey multigrain flavor), and there’s a pretty substantial amount of popcorn inside. Tastes JUST like cracker jack, but without the nuts. Light and crunchy candy shell, soft and fluffy popcorn kernels.

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 110
Fat: 1g
Fiber 5g

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lamb Ragu with Ricotta and Mint

Note to self: ground meat does not photograph well.

  • 8 ounces lean ground lamb
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup fat free chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fat free ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup small fresh mint leaves

Heat one teaspoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb; cook 5 minutes, stirring to crumble. Remove lamb from pan with a slotted spoon; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Discard drippings. Reduce heat to medium low. Add one teaspoon oil, onion, and carrot; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add rosemary and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Return lamb to pan. Increase heat to medium-high. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Stir in tomatoes and broth; bring to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve with pasta (farfalle recommended) or over the grain of your choice. I ate it over spaghetti squash and it was FABULOUS.

- Adapted from Cooking Light, March 2010
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...