Posts Tagged ‘pounds’
Is bingeing on vegetables still bingeing?
Does eating a healthier food choice like green beans to excess still equate to overeating? Short answer? Yes. And trust me—as someone who once weighed over 450 pounds (and who took off over 250 pounds of excess weight and has kept it off for almost two decades), I should know.
This might seem like a question that didn’t need to be asked in the first place. But I recently saw a segment on a national morning show, during which they spoke to a celebrity who had just “joined” a national weight loss company. No need to mention any names. But said celebrity (AKA endorser) was going on and on about how edamame was a “free food” on the program and thus she could eat as much edamame as she wanted while still on the diet.
In my opinion, this is a potentially harmful theory when it comes to making healthier eating and lifestyle choices—and one of the reasons that so-called “diets” sometimes do not serve us as well as some of these for-profit weight loss companies would lead us to believe they do.
I know what it’s like to binge eat. I used to do it because I was depressed. I used to do it because I was happy. I used to do it simply because I liked a certain food and hadn’t yet comprehended the concept that I could have the food in a healthy portion and then have it again sometime in the future. This was mainly because I’d been taught the “on/off” diet mentality from a very early age. Favorite foods became forbidden fruit (so to speak) and I would eat them in huge amounts, thinking I would/could never have them again when on a healthier eating program.
After years of starting and then cheating on diets, I eventually realized that the issue of my constantly gaining more and more weight had nothing to do with my stomach (a place so many focus on when fighting the battle of the bulge) but, instead, had everything to do with my head (meaning my thinking). After coming to this conclusion, I set out to learn about why I was using food as an emotional crutch. At the same time, I was becoming aware that whenever I started a diet, I would focus on what I was giving up, instead of focusing on what I was gaining (no pun intended).
But even after successfully taking off the excess weight (without giving up certain food groups, without fad dieting, without pills and without surgery), I realized I was still bingeing at times. Sure, I was eating steamed green beans to excess rather than cartons (yes, plural) of ice cream. But I was still binge eating to the point of discomfort.
I soon realized that although the foods had changed, the behavior had not. There is a healthy portion of green beans to eat just as there is a healthy portion of ice cream to eat. And exceeding these portions only works to reinforce old habits that don’t necessarily serve us.
Eating to excess, no matter what the food choices, is still eating to excess. We’re left feeling uncomfortable, bloated and perhaps even feeling some shame about actions.
I have not kept the 250 pounds of excess weight off by eating unconsciously. I think about what I’m eating daily. I still use measuring cups and measuring spoons. Why? Because feeling good is worth any “hassle” that meal prep (and proper portion control) requires. Does this mean I never overeat? Of course, not. I’m human. I still enjoy dining out and will sometimes clear my plate in a restaurant (although sometimes I choose not to).
No matter if it’s food prepared at a restaurant or in a private kitchen, there is no such thing as a “free food.” Overeating is overeating. And binge behavior is still binge behavior. And these are actions that anyone wanting to lose excess weight and/or make healthier eating choices might want to examine. (And for the record, edamame can often be salty, which brings up an entirely different reason as to why it—or anything else—is not a “free food.”)
Up, Down, On, Off
Now that we’re further into January (AKA a most popular month for dieting), I’m reminded of a disturbing trend in the billion dollar diet industry—albeit one that has been pervasive for years. I refer to it as the “Light Switch Mentality” that’s being sold by many organizations, programs, books and so-called experts who proclaim that to lose excess weight, you (we) should be on a diet. But this kind of thinking often leads to the opposite of being on… Being off.
Certainly being on or off has become part of the dieting vernacular. But in my humble opinion, it’s a way of thinking that can potentially lead to more weight gain than weight loss. In fact, it’s while many of us with a dieter’s mentality are on our diets that we’re focused on when we plan on going off. It’s a mindset we’ve been sold as the way to success, when in reality, it can be the way to put on extra pounds.
As someone who started gaining excess weight around first grade, and whose parents immediately took me to a doctor who put me on a strict diet (yes, even at a very young age), I can attest to the fact that the on/off cycle contributed to my continuing to gain weight throughout my youth. Sure, I would take off a few pounds (when I was on). But then I would gain even more weight back (when I was off). By the time I graduated from college, I was clocking in at over 450 pounds. And this was after years and years of constant dieting—the very thing that was supposed to be helping me was actually doing more harm than good.
Thankfully, I was able to remove myself from this cycle after my home electronic scale started reading “ERR” (its internal code for error, since it was not programmed to register any weight above 400 pounds). It’s when I stopped thinking of “dieting” (and being on and off of one) and started embracing healthy eating that I began to make some real headway. Within a year’s time I had dropped most of my excess weight. And sure, I yo-yoed up and down the scale for a couple years after that. I was, after all, recovering from a lifetime of “on and off” behavior. But once I nailed it (reaching a healthy weight for my height and body frame), I’ve stayed at this weight for well over a decade.
But this is where I quickly bring up that damned light switch thinking again. Because many people who see my before pictures want to know my secret to losing over 250 pounds of excess weight without any kind of surgery or medication. They’re not too thrilled when I tell them the secrets are eating less, moving more, getting plenty of sleep and drinking enough water (AKA common sense). And they sometimes go onto register abject horror when I tell them I have to keep all of these mandates in mind even today (otherwise right back up the scale I’d go).
Successfully losing excess weight has nothing to do with a light switch. There’s never a time that we should be on or off. If we’re prone to gaining weight or if we choose to lose excess weight to benefit our mental and physical health, then it’s going to take some work. This doesn’t mean food plans can’t be extremely helpful. But whether we choose to have a salad for lunch or even if we opt to have some ice cream for dessert, we’ve got to always think about portion size and ingredient content (yes, even when it comes to the salad).
This doesn’t have to mean we are always on and never off. Instead, we can adopt new mindsets and start living life as healthy minded individuals. You know—like those those fantastical types who can eat half a donut and then declare they’re full. (Yes, even I’m dumbfounded by this kind of behavior to this day.) But what these people know that we do not, is that they can have another donut (or whatever) in due time. But those of us on the endless on/off cycle of dieting often think, “I will be on my diet tomorrow (or Monday or come January 1st),” so I better have eighteen donuts today.
On. Off. Not always helpful.
Healthy thinking. A move in the right direction.
And healthy thinking can include well made (meaning clean ingredient) treats that can be easily and moderately worked into our eating plans—whether we’re taking off excess pounds or simply maintaining a healthy body weight.
Although somewhat baffling, this can be triumphant news if we allow it to be. Thinking less of on and off can mean reduced shame and self-punishment (also part of many dieting cycles, mentally speaking). Fact is, you are beautiful at your current weight (inside and out). If you choose to get healthier and drop some of the excess weight, then do so in a fashion that embraces all that life has to offer and try leaving the on/off Light Switch Mentality behind.
At the risk of an eye roll or two, what do you have to lose?
Photo Source: Zazzle
Who loves ya, baby?
One early morning while sucking down my coffee like it was oxygen, I looked out of my kitchen window, down into the courtyard of the apartment building across the way. I noticed a man placing a box with a small plant into the sunlight. At first, I assumed he was doing some gardening. But then noticed he left the box in the sunlight and had walked away. Upon further examination (AKA “not minding my own business and staring out the window”), I saw that the small plant was actually a beautifully maintained Bonsai Tree.
A few days later, I saw the same man once again placing the box with the Bonsai into the sunlight, then leaving it there for a couple hours. I now deducted that after allowing it to soak up some Vitamin D, this man then takes his carefully cared for plant back into his home. (Who says I couldn’t run a detective agency?)
Seeing this man take care of his Bonsai Tree (which is clearly thriving) from time to time warms my heart—and it’s a sight I look forward to seeing when I’m lucky enough to notice this ritual in motion. Whether witnessing the man placing the tree into the sunlight or even just seeing the tree already in its spot fills my heart with joy. This man’s beautiful ritual reminds me of the level of care I need to make sure I’m giving to myself. And this is also the same level of care you might want to be giving to yourself, as well.
When we care for something, it thrives. This can be seen in my neighbor’s Bonsai Tree or even in the happiness level of my dog, Latte. It’s therefore important that we give the same kind of love and care to ourselves—as well as our health-minded goals. This might initially seem like common sense. But often, when we discuss our goals with others, we frame things in the negative: “I haven’t been able to do this” or “I am such a loser when it comes to that.”
When people I know tell me they need to lose weight, I can often detect a degree of self-loathing in their tone. I can relate—knowing how much I hated myself when I weighed over 450 pounds.
This disdain for ourselves is an approach we’ve been taught is beneficial and will likely facilitate change. The thinking being, “You hate how you look, so do something about it.” But after learning to love myself at any size (both before and after I took off 250 pounds of excess weight), I am grateful to pass along what I’ve learned. If we actually love and care for ourselves — even as we are now in this very moment (no matter how many pounds overweight or how far from any goal)—we become more likely to encounter faster success.
If you know a good friend or family member that’s facing a challenge, you want to help them. But if it’s someone you have distaste for, you don’t really care if they succeed in their quest or not. Well, time for you to think of yourself in a more affectionate way and afford yourself the very same degree of care that my neighbor gives his Bonsai Tree or that I give my dog.
Do something kind for yourself today—throughout this day and everyday. And remind yourself why you’re a supermodel (which, for the record, you are). Suddenly, if you’re wanting to lose weight or reach any goal you’ve set out for yourself (health-related or otherwise), you’re doing it because you care, not because you’re disgusted. That’s going to make the journey a lot more pleasant and, I imagine, a lot more successful.
Just like my neighbor’s Bonsai Tree, it’s time for you to position yourself in the warm sunlight of tender loving care—and thrive.
Photo Source: Non Profit Self-Care
Why does everyone hate my man bun?
Like many reading this, I’ve been struggling to understand the high level of divisiveness that’s permeating our national mood as of late. It was only recently that I discovered an even greater lightning rod for inciting strong opinions and, in some cases, public outrage. And no, I’m not referring to how you may or may not have voted for in the last presidential election, but to my… (dare I admit having it so publicly?) man bun.
At the risk of sounding defensive, I feel compelled to share that growing my hair long enough to entertain having a man bun was never my intent. At least not originally. But after sporting a new style that my barber suggested, I found my hair getting longer and longer. I enjoyed the length when out, socially—but needed a way to keep it out of my face while working. Thus, my first attempt at man-bun-ding took place. And I have to say; it proved to be an effective method for not having to deal with long hair during the work day.
But never in my life would I have predicted that public reaction to said man bun would be so resolute and even vindictive—often from people I’d never met before. I also received a lot of flack from friends, many asking, “Why?”—as if I’d done something to purposely insult them.
Between you and me, it was never my intent to keep my man bun as part of my “look” for very long. But with every outcry I received over it, I felt more and more compelled to keep it around for a while. Not so much to upset people, but because I was fascinated with peoples’ overt reactions. It was as if the hair on my head, when tied up with a small band and curled into a bun (yes, much like the style sported by one Pebbles Flintstone) was being done to intentionally ruin their day.
The parallels to other life disagreements have not been lost on me. With the advent of social media, we’ve all become a little more courageous in regard to sharing our opinions loudly and proudly. But is doing so really “brave” when hiding behind a 140 word-count on Twitter or similar platforms offered by facebook and other online pulpits? What’s happened to “Live and let live?” Much less “Acceptance?”
I know that, for myself, when I don’t accept the circumstances of life, I can come undone, mentally. This often plays out in the confines of my head, hidden from public view—until someone shares an opinion I disagree with (often on TV), which can sometimes make me spin out of control. I then (mistakenly) believe I have the power to not only prove that my viewpoint is more right than someone else’s, but also to instantly change the opinion of the person who doesn’t share my point of view.
Of course, I acknowledge that political, religious and other strongly held beliefs are important to us (and carry much greater impact than whether or not someone likes my hairstyle). But does it really matter to anyone if I have a man bun or not? And does it really matter if someone has different beliefs than I do? Can’t we coexist in a peaceful manner and even draw some comfort from the fact that having different opinions, beliefs and ways of doing things can offer more flavor to everyday life?
While on the topic of hairstyles, I’d be remiss if I didn’t nod to the “perm” I had back when I graduated from college—the same time period during which I weighed over 450 pounds. As shared in my book Weightless: My Life as a Fat Man and How I Escaped, I was a virtual recluse during that part of my life. I was terrified of being judged for not being able to successfully take off the excess weight (no matter how often I’d tried to). And yet somehow I got the courage to venture out of my apartment to get a “perm” hairstyle. I marvel at this now. Because no matter how afraid of people I’d become or how convinced I was that my life was over, I must have had a little hope—symbolized by wanting to affect my looks the only way I could at that time (by getting a new hairstyle).
There may be one day when I look back on having a man bun and shudder. But perhaps it will represent a little bit of courage or—if nothing else—a great sense of humor. (That’ll be my story anyway.)
Looking back aside, I don’t expect my man bun to inspire world peace. In fact, just last week someone assured me that I was encouraging deviant behavior in the form of today’s version of the mullet. That may or may not be true. If so, I’d be the first to laugh. If there’s a way to be a goofball in this life, I’m usually the one to go there (often unintentionally, I assure you). But if having a man bun can remind me to show the same kind of compassion to others that I’d like to receive myself, then everyone wins.
Your Diet’s Halloween Survival Guide
If you hear a blood curdling scream this week, rest assured that it’s not an extra from The Walking Dead or someone watching a scary movie marathon. That’s me walking near the candy aisle while at the grocery store during this time of year. And like me, many of us with a dieter’s mentality fear the Halloween season with the same kind of dread we do a visit to the dentist or (gulp!) getting on the scale after a weekend of gastronomical debauchery.
But fear not! All Hallows Eve actually has no power over us or our waistlines… Unless we give it said power. And for the record, this is the year we’re taking back Halloween and making it more treat than trick.
For starters, let’s remember we’re talking about a 24-hour period. And guess what? Even if you’re on a diet plan and committed to getting rid of your excess weight, a few pieces of candy eaten in moderation (key word!) is not going to harm you at all—especially if you combine the munching with an extra lap or two around the block (and/or shopping mall if the weather outside is frightful).
As dieters, it’s our denial of foods we love that often leads to excessive bingeing. So if you really want to indulge in some sugary goodness, then choose some well-made candy (meaning it’s full of all-natural ingredients as opposed to a list of additives that would make even a mummy unravel). When I took off over 250 pounds of excess weight over a decade ago, it was through moderation as opposed to starvation or denial. Too often we turn favorite foods into a forbidden fruit that we then become obsessed with eating.
Another tactic that makes Halloween more spook-tacular is focusing on non-food related enjoyment. This is easy given that most people enjoy dressing up. And no, you don’t need a costume party to do so. A lot of workplaces allow employees to dress up for work when Halloween hits on a weekday. Or just throw on a pair of vampire fangs when you’re running your errands to suck up a whole bunch of smiles (if not second glances).
If you need an actual party as an excuse to don a costume, then throw a last minute soirée yourself. Get inventive with the theme: ’80s TV shows? Favorite movie detectives? Inanimate objects? Make October 31st more about the fun than the food. And if you’re throwing the party, you can schedule nutritionally sound games like bobbing for apples or pin the tail on the werewolf.
And believe it or not, actual trick-or-treating can scare away fat itself. Volunteer to go along with a group of neighborhood kids. Or take your own kids to the mall and be willing to make several rounds with them. Kids’ energy is high on Halloween—and not just due to the potential sugar rush. It’s fun to dress up. It’s fun to say “Boo!” And it’s fun to walk and walk and walk. (Remember the rules for even healthier walking: suck that tummy in, pump those arms and maintain a healthy posture.)
Last but not least, go easy on yourself. Even those strange, mythical “I can eat anything I want and not gain weight” creatures (much more unexplainable than zombies if you ask me) will be complaining on November 1st that they overdid it on the candy. The difference between them and us (the ones with a dieter’s mentality) is that they don’t feel compelled to keep eating the candy on the day after Halloween. They did it. They enjoyed it. They regret the extra nibble or two and now they’re moving on, mentally—just like we can do, if we give ourselves that kind of freedom.
Besides, November 1st heralds a whole ‘nother eating holiday’s approach. So it’ll be time to stop thinking about the season of the witch and wondering how we are going to construct a healthy game plan for gobble-gobble day. Although I’m here to tell you that as is the case with Halloween, the only thing to fear is… Well, you know the rest (in peace).