Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Facing Reality

For the last two years, I've been really careful with my diet. I purged most non-organic foods, stopped drinking coffee, have had healthy breakfasts (organic oatmeal with water, a sprinkle of sea salt, organic raspberries, blueberries and walnuts with organic green tea or water) and I've tried to eliminate pasta and ice cream (successfully) and sugars (varying success) from my diet. I've cut out pseudo healthy foods like juices and smoothies that are actually high sugar calorie bombs. I've exercised five times a week (yoga, pilates, zumba, boot camp). Net result? I think I've gained 10 lbs although I have lost weight when I cut out all sweets (except fruit) and tried to stick to one bagel a week on Saturdays.

I used to eat chocolate all the time--at least once a day (English chocolate bought at home and carried back in my bag or imported from Fairway and overpriced English food stores) and I was easily a size 6. Now I'm nearer a 10 and some of my clothes don't fit (mainly jeans, shorts and pants but a few dresses and tops). The big increase has come recently, since I loosened my prohibition on sugars and deserts at celebrations (like birthdays) which meant my sweet tooth returned. It's a very limited sweet tooth--I don't like sweet drinks, I hate sweet and savory mixed so I don't like ketchup, sweet spicy food (cut the sugar and elevate the spice for me) but I know a bar of chocolate here and there is far from innocent. It's not just the calories, it stimulates more cravings and it causes inflammation of various body tissues.

I hate being hungry so I've looked at all the guidelines on healthy eating and so-called super foods that fill you up and even burn fat (claims I'm not sure I believe). Ironically, these are the foods that constitute most of my diet--oatmeal, black beans, raspberries, blueberries, wild salmon, whole grains, chilli peppers, cumin, garlic, onions, green tea, etc. I also get at least 8 hours sleep a night so I'm not putting on weight because I'm sleep-deprived. Indeed, if I look at all the guidelines about losing weight, I'm pretty much doing everything right unless I move onto modified versions of Atkins and cut out all carbs. I'm tempted but I can't do that--but I can cut out one of the two slices of organic 12-grain bread that I have on a lunchtime sandwich or with a bowl of soup.

I may be able to cut down on carbs and to fit in another workout or two a week, but I'm coming to the sad conclusion that I am not going to lose weight if I eat as much as I do right now. I'm not talking about starving. I can't work if I am hungry and I'm not that irresponsible. But I know I have a healthy appetite and even if I'm eating healthily, I'm obviously storing calories that my body isn't using. The sad fact is that women's metabolism slows after 35 and while I though I was immune, I'm not. And it's not just vanity (although that plays a role) or the frustration of realizing that the 20-somethings at the yoga studio who work out less than me and eat just as much, if not more, are visibly skinnier than they were in June while I'm a few pounds heavier. It's the fear that this will only get worse and the horror that I could be the big girl when I was always the tall, slender--even skinny--one.

Afternoons will be tough. I write intensely and then get hungry around 4-5. I've tried stopping the pains with a cup of green tea and that doesn't always work. I have to write so I grab something. It was one of the bars of Cadbury's chocolate that my brother and sister-in-law gave me, then, in an effort to be healthier, a banana sandwich. But I fear it now may have to be nothing--maybe a hardboiled egg at best.

Still, as Mum says, the stomach is a bag of muscle that can shrink or grow. I'm just going to have to shrink mine a tiny bit so I can shrink the rest of me back into shape.


swinny said...

wait. sleep deprivation causes weight gain?

Amanda said...

Moya, I am wondering if maybe an extra few hours of cardio might do the trick. At least that's what I'm hoping will work for my last 5 lbs. I agree that as you get older, it takes so much more to shed a few pounds. I'm starting to do calculate my calories EVERY single time I eat, limit alcohol and run 4 times a week.

Quinn said...

I found once I hit my mid-30s, I could tell my metabolism slowed, too. A recent study suggested that people who did just small, mostly unconscious micro-activities--jiggling their legs, getting up to walk around every hour or so--gained less weight over a span of years than people who did a lot of sitting (no matter the amount of official exercise activities performed).

I noticed that a lot of middle-aged people at the food co-op are very thin. Healthy eating is one thing, whatever that means, but I also wonder if it might have to do with the premium that's paid in food costs at stores like Whole Foods. Like if it costs more, it tastes richer or denser, and you savor it more. ? Just a thought.

Anyway, good luck. These periodic self-assessments can be brutal, but illuminating.

erica said...

I have serious hunger pains at 4. What I do is have a small cup of nuts and dried cranberries. Also, speaking from experience, your stomach really does shrink, even if you may feel like fainting from hunger for the first week or so!

That said, my appetite isn't particularly strong. I consume about 1200-1500 calories a day, mostly carbs, fruits, and veggies. Absolutely no alcohol, and chocolate (my weakness) once a month. It isn't something I over think, but as I get older, I can see that I may have to be more vigilant about what I eat.

And Quinn is on to something, I think. I shop at WF, and I buy miniscule amounts of food simply because it's too expensive to indulge in cheese, beer, or cookies.

Moya said...

Swinny--I think it's your youth and beauty!

Thanks everybody for the comments. Amanda, I'm going to up my cardio and I realize I have to calculate calories now for every meal. Fortunately I don't drink alcohol as that's a calorie bomb in its own right.

I read those studies too, Quinn, and while I am an active person I'm sure the need to write hasn't helped matters. I think your point (and Erica's) about WF is so true--I usually shop there and today I was mindful and bought expensive fruit/fish as treats so I could use less of it and savor what I eat more. I tend to think because I eat healthily I can eat until I'm full but I'm realizing that doesn't work.

I think you are right about self-discipline, Erica. It's like shopping--a splurge can see acceptable but add up those sale finds or those calories and the damage is done.

I'm trying not to have a late night snack either. Along with the 4 pm hunger pangs, the late night desire for something sweet should just signify it's time to go to bed.

Thank you again. I will keep you posted on how this diet plan works out.

Marti said...

Moya i am going through this myself. Things that just fit 6 months ago are tight and unflattering. I think running may help you. That or the Tracy Anderson diet (I have the food plan if your interested) its a tough diet but all my friend who have done it have lost 20 pounds.

Good luck! you can do it!

Moya said...

Marti--thanks! Can you email me the food plan?

Brittan said...

I'm just starting to get to this point too. I think not taking care of myself throughout grad school did it to me.

I'm doing much better now that I have more time to think about this sort of thing (and work out), but I still seem to eat too much. The thought of being hungry all the time just makes me so sad. I try to eat healthy on the day to day and then enjoy food and coffee when I'm on vacation. Maybe that's not the healthiest way to look at things, but eating and drinking tasty things is one of life's pleasures and I don't want to deprive myself entirely.

I can tell you that the green monster works for an energy boost and to keep your belly full. Personally, I love the taste and all the variations you can do on it. The only staples I always have are kale and flaxseed. Beyond that I experiment with whatever produce I have on hand. Have you seen Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead? It's about using a juicer to have a mostly-raw diet and all the added health and weight loss benefits. I haven't gone that far yet but I am thinking about trying it out for a 20 day cleanse. I'll certainly post about it if I do and let you know how it worked.

Working out is harder for me. I really admire your commitment to it.

Lya de Putti said...

Alas Moya, I'm in the same boat. Except I do NO EXERCISE except a weekly walk to the zoo and back.

The Vincent Price Diet is not exactly low in calories!

I am tempted to embrace my beer belly and generous curves. It's just annoying when I put beautiful vintage frocks on and they are straining at the seams...

alexa said...

I know how you feel- I've tried to cut out bread most days (it's my total weakness) and I still feel like not much is happening. I lost and kept of 8 lbs on a vacation when I was sick however- it was all about the shrinking of the stomach and portion size!

and Marti-
any chance you would be willing to send me the T.A. diet plan too? I've been doing her mat workout and it's pretty incredible, I'd be super interested to try to the food plan! thanks so much!