Saturday, April 6, 2013

Back on Track... I Hope!!!

As you may know (since I've written about several times), I lost over 40 pounds way back in 2007. I was still eating meat then but I stuck with lean meat, gave up all junk and fast food, and controlled portion sizes. I also logged a lot of time outside walking, taking just under 30 minutes to walk just under a mile and a half (once around the block) most days of the week. I developed my own eating plan but it was based on a weight loss class I had taken years earlier. (The LEARN program.) I kept my weight down for a long time, but I gained 9 pounds on a 19 day vacation to Europe with my daughter in 2009, and before I got all of that weight off I went vegetarian.

Only I didn't do it right! I didn't know how big my portions should be if they weren't meat, and all of my protein sources were now cheese, occasional eggs, and lots of starchy carbohydrates. (Lots and lots of beans and rice, soy until I realized it hurt me, quinoa, etc.) I basically gave up on portion control because I didn't know what my portions should be, plus plain old diet fatigue- I didn't want to deal with measuring out everything I ate anymore. I did continue to weigh myself every day, and I have watched with great frustration as my weight has gone up, and up, and up. It's six years later, and I've regained about half of the weight I lost.

Which is still beating the odds, I must say in my own defense!! Most diets fail and people regain ALL of the weight and then some within a discouragingly short period of time; it's depressing if you look at the statistics. The ray of hope is that there are people out there who beat the odds, and I am determined to be one of them. To that end, I've continued to search for solutions- how can I re-lose this weight? I tried meeting with a nutritionist at one point, but she said it couldn't be done as a vegetarian unless I basically went raw, or something. I actually happen to love a lot of raw food recipes (which are WAY more inventive than just salads, by the way) so that gave me something to think about. The only draw back is the intensive work required for raw meals- no cooking, but lots and lots of prep time, you need excellent knife skills, and you have to keep really fresh produce around, which can be difficult since the good stuff is both seasonal and spoils quickly. Not an insurmountable problem, but a challenge nonetheless.

So, no solutions yet, but I continue to try. I've made gradual inroads with figuring out portion control on my own; for instance, I've learned that I can only eat half of a quinoa quesadilla if I don't want my weight going up at the next morning's weigh in. Same for our occasional take out meal from the local bagel place- half of a whole wheat bagel/egg/swiss sandwich is enough for me. Just like before going vegetarian, that half cup measure is my best friend. If I'm having a beans and rice meal, then half a cup of beans and half a cup of rice is the best portion for me. (These may not be the best portions for anyone else, but they are working for me!!!)

Also just like before going vegetarian, the most dangerous part of the day for me is dinner prep and any time spent in the kitchen in the evening. Carbs in the form of things I buy "for the kids", ahem, (whole grain tortilla chips, whole grain cereals, bread, crackers, etc.) are readily available for grazing, and oh-so-easy since they don't require washing or peeling or chopping, but even those whole grain carbs can pack on the pounds when eaten indiscriminately, I've learned.

Another way I've been trying to figure this all out is by buying vegetarian diet books, specifically The Kind Diet and The Engine 2 Diet. I've glanced through some of the others written by various vegan/vegetarian doctors but the recipes seemed too clinical and spartan. Others rely too much on soy and soy products, which is an issue with a lot of raw food recipes as well. (Many of them call for soy sauce or "liquid aminos", which is a soy based product.) Because of my soy issues I can't really follow a pre-set vegetarian "choose from this list for breakfast, this list for lunch, this list for dinner" diet since they all include a lot of soy/tofu products. But I have to do something!!!

Sometimes the answer is something I learned or read about some time ago, but it has to kind of stew around in my brain before I'm ready to put it into practice. (Like the years between going through the LEARN program and putting those principles into practice; I'm slow sometimes!) For a while during the summer I talked to a nutritionist over the phone through our health insurance plan. (Yes, we have great insurance!!) With her, I set some realistic, practical goals... and didn't follow through, so I let the phone sessions go. One of those goals was to find some healthy recipes to get out of our current meal time rut, maybe some quick ones that would allow me to get out of the kitchen faster to reduce potential grazing time. From talking to the real life nutritionist, not the phone nutritionist, I remembered what she said about vegetarians, how they had to be practically raw to be successful with weight loss. Well, what if I don't go raw, but I do put more emphasis on eating vegetables, especially those green leafy ones? What will happen then? And what if I find some quick and easy recipes focusing on green leafies? How about that Engine 2 diet book that's been collecting dust on the shelf?

Yeah, it seems to be working!! For the past three days I've eaten "plant strong", as the E2 author calls it, focusing on getting more green leafy veggies (mainly kale and collard greens since I have both growing in my garden) in my diet, and getting back to portion control for my carbs and starchy proteins, and NO GRAZING unless it's on something that has to be washed, chopped, or peeled.

Results? Well, it's only been 3 days since starting my new program, but I'm down about 3 and a half pounds already. I realize some of that could be water weight, but still, I'll take it! The challenge now is to keep going, but I feel like I have it finally figured out. I know what to eat (MORE VEGETABLES, especially non-starchy ones and greens), what needs to be portion controlled, (carbs, starchy veggies and proteins), how big those portions should be, (half a cup, half a bagel, half a quesadilla, etc.) and where to find recipes. (E2, raw food recipes, salads, etc.) It's like pieces of a puzzle coming together for me, and I feel that this time will be different from the last 20 times I've tried to tackle this weight. It takes confidence and readiness, and I am feeling both of those right now.

Wish me luck! :)

PS: Thanks to Chloe Coscarelli for her quick, easy, and tasty soy sauce substitute! The Eldest made a batch for me and I'm going to use it to try a lot of those raw recipes that call for liquid aminos or soy sauce; can't wait to see how it works out.

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