Posts Tagged ‘binge’

February 20, 2012

Scaling back

10:27 am - Posted by Gregg

I make no secrets of being put on strict diets since the first grade – and then continuing the tradition of different types of diets (the tried, the true, the super wacky) even after I was old enough to fully be in control of what I ate. The one thing they all had in common (besides me cheating on every single one)? They all included the key component of weighing one’s self – whether it be once a day or once a week. Thus, I quickly associated whatever number the scale was showing me with either success or failure. Nothing else mattered except that almighty number on the scale. And as that number increased over the years (to 450 pounds and more), I gave the scale more and more power. Talk about a false prophet.

This obsession with weighing myself to track my ‘progress’ (define that how you will) culminated one morning after graduating from college with my then digital scale registering no number at all. Instead, I found the scale reading, “ERR.” As many of you know, I later discovered in the scale’s manual that ‘ERR’ was the scale’s code for “Error,” as that particular scale didn’t register any weight in excess of 450 pounds.

Although a sobering experience, many more years would pass before I just stopped eating so much – and finally got my binge eating under control. Looking back, I realize that the scale was providing more than just a snarky editorial comment with ‘ERR’. It turns out I was putting way too much emphasis on what the scale was registering, when at over 450 pounds, my breathlessness and general shortage of good health (not to mention miserable social life and total lack of self worth) was already telling me everything I needed to know. I was giving the scale too much power – and this continued even into recent years, long after I’d taken and kept off over 275 pounds.

Finally, about four years ago (even after keeping most of the excess weight off for years), I realized just how much power (mental and otherwise) I was still giving the scale. If the scale was registering a higher weight, I was crushed (and this would lead to some kind of action that would further defeat my self-esteem). If the scale registered a lower number, then I was in a good mood, had pep in my step and would easily choose salad over a milkshake. But the scale was my mood setter to be sure. Thus, I picked the scale up off my bathroom floor, wrapped it in a plastic bag (to protect it from dust) and shoved it under my bed.

That’s right… I decided to just stop weighing myself… And the results were incredibly freeing.

Suddenly, I wasn’t defining myself by a number. Instead, I was getting in touch with what my clothes felt like when on. Was I fitting into my “skinny” clothes without the threat of popping a button and putting someone’s eye out? Was I feeling robust and energetic even after eating a meal? Or tired and lethargic? Without the scale to rely on, I was finding all sorts of feedback about my weight, my health and (most important of all) my attitude. To say the experience has been freeing is an understatement.

And yes, there are days the jeans are a little snug. So I amp up the exercise and add a little more vegetables and fruits to my eating repartee until the clothes are looking and feeling good again. For me, this has become a much better barometer for staying in shape than numbers on a scale that could send me into total depression were it to register 180 instead of 175.

In fact, I consider the scale such a potential downer to my self-esteem, that these days even when I weigh at the doctor’s office, I insist on keeping my eyes closed and tell the nurse to write my weight down on the chart and not to announce it. Is this a little extreme? Who the heck cares? I used to weigh over 450 pounds and now I don’t. So I think I’m allowed to be a little extreme. And I think you’re allowed to be, too!

Now, I’m not saying that using the scale to track your progress as you get rid of excess weight can’t be a good marker of your progress. But I do urge everyone reading this to think of the scale as just one tool in the battle against obesity. Do not make it your be all, end all in terms of how you’ll feel for the rest of the day, mentally. Body weight can be affected by so many different things (your hydration levels, your recent sleep patterns, salty foods you might have consumed, stress, etc.).So don’t put all of your worth into a number (whether it be higher or lower).

Think instead about how your tight jeans feel. Are they looser? Can you breathe when you sit down? And speaking of breathing, how do you feel when you’re out and about? Are you moving easily and without any shortness of breath? Are people noticing the twinkle in your eye? Do you find yourself smiling more? These are all indicators of your success and, quite frankly, mean a heck of a lot more than whatever number that scale’s registering.

So whether you follow suit and put away your scale forever, or decrease your weigh-ins from once a day or week to once a month or intervals even further apart, I urge you to take away the power that you (we!) have given the scale all these years. The number its registering has absolutely no reflection on who you are as a person. And, like me, you just might find that paying attention to other indicators proves to be a healthier – and happier – way to track your fabulosity.

Do you have a love/hate relationship with your scale? Or a tape measure? Or some other tool you’re using to battle the bulge? I’d love to hear all about it. So please – post away (or a-weigh, as the case may be).

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10:28 am - Posted by Gregg

Nothing strikes terror in the heart of a dieter more than the holiday season. And like it or not, it’s upon us. But this year is going to be different. Why? Because this year, you’re staying in control (you are stronger than Pumpkin Pie, after all). And you’re also going to exercise your newfound knowledge regarding the difference between a Splurge Meal and a Binge.

In the book Just Stop Eating So Much!, I write about Splurge Meal options when you get close to or reach your goal weight. Yes, at a Splurge Meal you can enjoy your favorite foods and beverages – but you’re encouraged to do it within reason (paying attention to portion sizes and pushing the plate away before the waistline of your jeans starts cutting off circulation to the upper half of your body).

The trick is to really enjoy a meal – not an entire day (or weekend, week, month or season) of splurging. Because when continuing to eat after the one meal, splurging becomes bingeing – and that leads to disaster for both your mental and physical health.

But here’s the good news! This Thanksgiving, whether you’re at, near – or far from – your goal weight, you have permission to enjoy a Splurge Meal. If you just enjoy the one Thanksgiving meal and eat and drink according to healthier food and portion guidelines for the rest of the holiday weekend, you won’t hurt your efforts to look and feel great.

And when it comes to splurging on Thanksgiving Dinner, try and make sure you enjoy all aspects of it and don’t make it about eating as many sweet potatoes as you can, since you know you’re back to your commitment to eating healthier resumes right after the meal is over. Instead, really taste the food with each bite. Savor every morsel – and enjoy all of the different the flavor sensations – while also enjoying the people you’re dining with and listing the reasons you’re thankful in your head.

So this Turkey Day, eat, drink and be merry – all without guilt. But don’t be a glutton. Stop before you’re too full and don’t mourn not being able to have a turkey sandwich later. After all, your weight loss efforts are a choice. You are choosing to get healthy, to look better, to fit into your skinny jeans and to turn a few heads by Christmastime.

By successfully living through an “eating holiday,” you will prove once and for all that this time you’re really in control. And that’s definitely cause for celebration!

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9:23 am - Posted by Gregg

No need to resort to water torture. I admit it. This past weekend I co-hosted a birthday party and, well, over the course of the evening I just didn’t stop eating so much.

Don’t get me wrong. I had every intention of partaking in a nibble here, a taste there and enjoying the company more than the edibles. I was, after all, in charge of the menu and had planned a bevy of delicious mini bites to accompany the usual chips, dips and veggie tray.

Oh, and for the record, I never ventured near the veggie tray. But the fried food? The dips? The sauces? The chips? Color me over-the-top.

Granted, during the first part of the evening I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off – trying desperately to make sure everyone had a cocktail or a beverage of some sort, that hot food was coming out of the oven on time and that the jazz-infused music mix I created was playing at an appropriate volume.

But when all is said and done, these cannot be used as excuses for going overboard, eating-wise. And go overboard I did – starting with a mouthful of California roll and ending with a couple of large chocolate chip cookies (even though I was very full by that point). I won’t go into detail about what was eaten in between, but suffice it to say, I overindulged. And then some. It was mindless eating at its best (or, perhaps, worst).

So what happens now? Do I get my 60-inch belt out of the keepsake box and prepare to wear it again? Do I turn in my blogging license? Do I request that my book stop being published? Or perhaps I should go on a guilt trip and make myself so mentally miserable that I start to feel the “need” for some indulgent food to tame my nerves.

Whoop! There it is – a hint of the former cycle that I repeated daily during the time period that I weighed in excess of 450 pounds and all the years I was overweight.

Fact is, feeling guilty and beating ourselves up (mentally) after a binge can be as much a part of our bingeing habits as the actual eating itself. The mood is followed by food. The food is followed by mental punishment. And so on and so on…

Okay… So I overate… It was a party, damnit. A party I co-hosted. Something I don’t do too often. It was also Saturday night. I was hungry. I ate. Then I overate. And as a result I ended up going to bed with that “Oh, so full” feeling.

But the difference with this weekend’s overindulgence compared to past ones in my life is that I did not wake up full of remorse or angst. Oh, and for the record, even though I got to bed around 1am, I was still up at 4:30am and at my gym by 5am. Was it pleasant when the alarm rang? No, it was not. But I was determined to not break my exercise schedule and knew that I would feel better afterwards (especially after overdoing it, food-wise, the night before). And post workout? Feel better I did. Or, well, do.

So what’s in all this for you? A reminder that we’re all dieters at some level – and that we all have “on” and “off” days (sometimes even after most of our excess weight is lost and even after we’re not officially on a diet anymore).

You might be surprised to know that even so-called “Thin People” (you know the odd group of folks who never really have to diet?) also have moments when they exceed their body’s “full limit” and feel a bit stuffed. Sure, they might complain about it for a minute. But then they move on. So that’s exactly what I did after this weekend’s party binge. I overindulged (mini binged) like a thin person. Then I recovered. Immediately. And you can do the same the next time you fall off the wagon.

When push comes to shove (or when mouth comes to fried food), it’s not one overindulgence that makes us fat (or keeps us fat). Its repeated overindulgences – on a daily basis or even at every meal. A “once in a while” goof makes us human. There are going to be times that despite best intentions, we don’t just stop eating so much. And that’s when, instead of falling into a vicious and destructive bingeing cycle, we laugh it off (while hopefully exercising it off) and hit the ‘reset’ key.

So when was the last time you overindulged? And how did you handle it? I really want to know. Because together we will grow. (And yes, I use the word ‘grow’ figuratively and not literally!)

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