Summer Cheat Days & Bouncing Back


As summer begins to come to a close, I am reflecting on my eating habits these past few months. There were a lot of changes in my life. Most days had me awake by 3 a.m. and out the door by 3:30. It took a few weeks, but I began to get very hungry by six or seven a.m. on those days. That’s fine, you say? Normal breakfast time, you think? OK. If only I wasn’t again hungry at ‘lunch’, which was at about 9 a.m. I was hungry again when I got off of work at one. Hungry for dinner at five. Hungry for a snack at 7. You see the issue? Perhaps if I had eaten those ‘small portions’, all would have been well. In total, I put on about five pounds. I didn’t know this, because the cats peed on our bathroom scale and fried it’s little wiry components forever. I got a new scale, but I really did know I had gained some. After all, my loosest pants are now snug. Not unwearable or ridiculously tight, just snug. The ridiculously tight ones were the ones that were already perfect before. Anyway, I gained five pounds. Not the end of the world. Within 48 hours, I watched my carbs more closely, AND portions, got on my new regular hours schedule at work, and was down to 131. So, after a year and a half, I have gained back five pounds of my 17 lb. loss. I consider that a victory. After all, I am not a perfect eater. If I were, I would not have needed to lose 17 pounds anyway.

So, I have also restarted my regular running and calisthenics, which I have neglected for the past few months. I have rededicated myself to seeking out new recipes that are low-carb, and to reach out to a huge low-carb network that is out there, so I don’t feel all alone in this. It’s encouraging to see more people at least cutting back on the flour and sugar, even if they don’t agree with the all-the-fat-you-want approach.

I think that as people are becoming more and more sensitive to the glop and garbage and toxins in prepared foods; gluten being the one that comes to mind, options like low-carb finally get the recognition they deserve. Turns out, gluten comes with flour and flour-based foods. How do we get good nutrition while eliminating gluten? Why not amplify protein and vitamin/fiber rich vegetables and fruit?

I enjoy Chinese food, and when we go out, I love it when we go to the Mongolian Grill, because you pick all your own raw ingredients, and then bring them to the chef, who prepares them quickly right before your glistening eyes. I don’t want starches, m.s.g., rice and noodles, etc. This is the only way I can be sure I am not getting them. Surprisingly, fresh ingredients with oil and spice-based sauces and meat are just great without the addition of gloppy corn starch, corn syrup sauces, Americanized breaded meats, loads of pointless, non-nutritive noodles, etc. You can actually taste your food, and discern what you are eating.

I am pretty used to low-sugar by now, so it’s amazing how gloppy and sweet a fortune cookie tastes now. In my high carb life, it tasted like a bland, dry cracker. Now it’s a dessert! These days, I don’t feel like I have to eat it.

I am trying to convince my step-kids that french fries and chicken nuggets are not good food choices, nor are pancake dinners. One day they might understand. It’s not about weight gain for them. They are both fit athletes. It’s about choices that promote long-term health and lifelong habits. Someday they may not be able to simply exercise away all the calories, and weight gain might be an issue. But no, it’s about the cancer-fighting, life-promoting properties of good nutritious food. From vine to table, or field to table is better than field- to- factory- to- breading and sugar-coating, add preservatives, then to box. Finally a few months later, you buy it. I have my favorite prepared foods. Atkin’s bars are certainly a chemist’s creation. So I can’t preach too much on the virtues of organic and raw, much as I do like the concepts.

And it’s ok to have those things- in moderation, perhaps. I have come so far from the lifestyle I used to have, it’s not even funny. I still have some demons to kick out, like sugar free energy drinks and nicotine gum.

Meanwhile, let’s look at my old diet choices, back in the day… ( a bad day, happened about 3 out of my 5 working days if I ate like this) This was post-divorce stress eating style. Not recommended.

Breakfast: big bowl of Cheerios or Raisin Bran. Or nothing. 2 cups coffee. ( 7-8 a.m.) 2 cigarettes before/on way to work.

10:30. Hungry again. Cheese danish from vending machine. More coffee. Cigarette.

11:30: Shaking and trembling, hypoglycemia has kicked in. Must have water, juice, and banana just to stop the shakes and sweating. IF a kind co-worker can help. As soon as lunch hits, I head to Taco Bell.

12:15. Ingest 1 Taco Supreme and Large Diet soda. Smoke 2-3 cigarettes, fast.

3:00- Wow, snack sounds really good. Head to break room and get Fast Break Candy bar, another diet pop. Smoke another cigarette- last break.

Dinner: another bowl of cereal or eggs and bacon. I might have had soup. I was broke during this part of my life. I often skipped meals and just lived on diet pop, coffee, and smokes. I often ate a lot during the day, and very little at night. My weight stayed low. 118-120.

Previously: Family life before a divorce, and with young kids. (non- smoking then) This was the default pattern for YEARS.

Breakfast: Pancakes or muffins, eggs. Or cereal and fruit. Or yogurt. Donuts. OR ALL.

Late breakfast: More coffee, something junky like cake or cookies. I always had some bought or made in the house. Always.

Early lunch, because I would already be starved: Big sandwich, chips, water. Now for dessert.

Afternoon: All-day long snacking typical. Usually on junk. I did try to squeeze in salads and veggies, but only as they fit into my carbo-loaded diet. M&M’s, candy bars, ice cream, and of course, COOKIES.

Dinner: Heavy casseroles, rolls, roasts, chicken, etc. Always a rice or noodle was served with whatever meats, and eaten heartily.

Dessert: Too much and almost always.

Weight: 145-155.

Now: Breakfast. I think about it first. I don’t just rush in and grab anything. This takes thought and consideration, because I want high nutrition and low carbs. I choose either egg and cheese on a low-carb tortilla, or 1/2 cup Greek Gods plain yogurt with a bit of fruit on top, sweetened with Stevia liquid. I’ve started using this more than Splenda.

Snack: Don’t usually need one, but if I do, a hunk of Muenster or string cheese, or maybe a hard boiled egg. I am counting carbs, so I portion control. The protein leaves me mostly satisfied. I’ve learned to tell true hunger from desire for a sweet taste, and I don’t beat myself up for it, I just try to feed the hunger first, the desire last. Turns out that sugar free products help a lot then. Maybe an Atkin’s bar, maybe a nectarine.

Lunch: At this point I know I need greens and meat. I really like tuna or chicken salad over greens, with plenty of veggies. I don’t skimp. I want the salad large, so it will take care of my hunger, provide a lot of fiber, and satisfy. Bring on the dressing. If I have any kind of nuts or seeds, I like to throw some on top. And yes, cheese, please.

Afternoon snacks: Sometimes I don’t really want anything. Sometimes I do. I might have an iced coffee. I might enjoy a low carb tortilla with peanut butter. I might have a weak moment and shove a handful of chocolate chips in my mouth or eat too many sugar free Oreos. They taste just like the real thing, but each 2 has 6 grams of net carb, so eating 8 cookies is more than I really needed… so I try not to do this daily. Besides, they will fill me up with enough gas to provide our home with electricity for several hours. If only…

Dinner: No rice, noodles, or bread. Meat and veggie stir fry is a fave. Omelettes. Meat topped salads, etc. If I haven’t already had 2 low-carb tortillas on a particular day, now is a good time for one. I love Mexican food, so I can have every bit of yummy dinner as my taco eating family by simply substituting my tortillas for the regular, and I go lightly on the beans, if I eat them at all. I allow myself 6-10 tortilla CHIPS if there is a good guacamole to go with.

Dessert: Don’t always have any! Don’t feel I have to! WOW! This is a new me! If I do, I want my go-to sugar-free pudding, or something creamy. When the family grabs their giant ice cream bowls and my envy gets the best of me, I will hopefully have Greek yogurt in the fridge. I keep things like fruit and s.f. caramel in the fridge a lot. Not always. Some of my specialty items cost more. The yogurt is pricy, too, but I am worth it! How much are donuts and Haagen Das? Anyway. Goal for most days if maintaining- 25-30 grams carbs. Losing- 20-26. Probably going to gain if it lasts for more than a few days- over 35 grams. I have discovered my set point. I can still have a cheat day every couple of weeks or once a month and be OK. Beyond that, I have to be careful.

So that’s what I know. Feel free to share your thoughts with me, as well. I love comments, especially when they disagree with me! About the pictures: The salad is ‘Baby /field Greens’ type, I added pico de gallo, a hard boiled egg, shredded Mexican cheese, snap peas, the canned chicken. (first and last time on that cheap junk) NOT the mayo after all, and dressing.

The dish on the paper plate is Pulled pork nachos. I know each tortilla chip has 1 gr. carb, so I counted them out. If you are on Atkin’s or other phase-based low-carb plans, this wouldn’t work for phase 1, and maybe not 2.  I also followed a recipe that calls for Dr. Pepper and chipotles in adobo sauce to cook the pork roast in. Whereas most of the liquid is drained, there isn’t a lot of residual sugar in the meat, but be advised that some will be there. Yummy recipe, by the way ,and very easy.  From Pioneer Woman.

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