Exciting news!

This is going to be a short post tonight. I was going to save it until tomorrow, but I’m rather impatient. While I was getting ready for bed tonight, I decided to go through the box of clothes that I keep in my closet that no longer fit me. The clothes range from 18 to 22W and include every size in between (18W, 20, 20W, 22). I also have XL shirts that I’ve had since high school and college but haven’t been able to wear since.

You can probably guess where this is going….

I CAN FIT INTO MY 22W PANTS!!!

Okay, enough with the caps lock. But I’m so excited! I haven’t been able to wear a size 22W in over a year. Maybe longer. I’m not really sure. I can also wear my XL shirts! I have at least a dozen shirts in the box that I could never wear, and I have three pairs of pants that I can now wear. I’ve started a new “Progress Pictures” page if you’d like to see.

Of course, I probably won’t be wearing those shirts with those pants in public, as they’re still a bit tighter than I’d like, but I would feel okay wearing the smaller shirt with larger pants or vice versa. Two of the new pairs of pants were actually quite comfortable! They’re not as loose as my current pair, but that’s to be expected.

It’s so fun to see physical progress. I know the scale says I’ve lost weight, but I haven’t really been able to see too much of it. I tried measuring myself with a tape measure, but I can never get those things to work right. I don’t know how I mess it up, but I do. The scale says I’ve lost 20 pounds; I’m wearing a smaller size; the tape measure says I haven’t lost an inch. It doesn’t make sense, so I’m ignoring the measure that frustrates me and focusing on the ones that make me feel like I’m actually accomplishing something. 😀

Reward systems

For the past few days, I’ve been trying to come up with a reward system for myself. I know that losing weight and being healthy is its own reward, but sometimes it’s nice to have something else, something tangible, that you’re working toward.

I’ve decided that every 20 pounds, I get to buy myself a cute outfit that’s not on sale. Since I’ve lost the first 20 pounds (from 304 to 284 between Thanksgiving and now), I decided that now was a good time to buy something. Plus, my boyfriend’s graduation party is this weekend, and I thought it would be fun to have something new to wear. Of course, I waited way too long to order it. I should have ordered it last week since the party’s this Saturday, but whatever. I have a backup outfit to wear if this one doesn’t come in by then.

I’ll post a picture of me in the outfit when it comes in.

If you’re trying to lose weight, what are some of the ways that you reward yourself?

(Belated) Week 4 Weigh-in

I meant to write this a few days ago, but I guess I got distracted and forgot.

Last week was my experiment with not tracking my food. I had hoped that I could continue to follow the general idea of the cleanse while still eating the foods that I had missed during the 3 week period. That didn’t work. I made cookies twice (once because it had been forever since I had chocolate chip cookies and once because I needed to bring a food for class). I ate way more cookies than I should have, and I don’t even really know why I did it, as they weren’t even that good.

I also started eating a lot more bread and cutting down on my fruits and vegetables, due to a number of factors. First, we planned dinners for the entire week without factoring in the fact that most recipes made 4 servings and it was only me and my mother eating most of the time, so we had a lot of leftovers. Then I also got ciabatta bread because it had been forever since I had had a nice piece of bread. They go back quickly, so I had one of those a day for breakfast instead of my regular smoothie (as the strawberries would stay in the freezer and be good for a long time).

So my breakfast was bread, my lunch was leftovers (which, since it was my first week back, didn’t contain nearly as many vegetables as it should have, if any), and my dinner was another meal that was delicious and vegan but hardly as nutritious as it could have been. Plus there were cookies, and I didn’t watch my serving sizes like I should have.

When I stepped on the scale this weekend, I had climbed back to 287 pounds, meaning that I completely undid the last week of the cleanse. I’m not upset about this, though. I think this was an important week for me. I needed this time to go back to how I used to eat (just a vegan version of it) and realize that it wasn’t worth it.

I don’t need coffee. It’s really not even all that good. That’s not to say that I will never drink it again, but it will definitely be more of a treat now than an everyday thing. The same goes for processed sugar and sweets. I will still have cookies and muffins sometimes, but it doesn’t need to be all the time, and when I do have them, it should be in small amounts.

This past week I’ve felt so bloated and sick. I hadn’t thought that my system had changed so much on the cleanse, but I guess it did because I definitely did not feel good this week. I was eating things I knew were bad for me, and I’m not really sure why. I knew as I was eating most of the foods that I shouldn’t eat them, but I did it anyway. I wasn’t hungry, but I would have another bowl of soup. Or I would be hungry, and I would make a bowl of processed vegan soup stuff instead of having an apple.

Well not anymore. I had my “fun” for the week. I saw what it was that I had been missing, and I learned that it wasn’t worth eating anymore. In a way, I’m glad I did this. When I don’t eat something that I really want, I start building it up in my head as being this great thing. This was even worse after three weeks without sugar or caffeine. My memories of these foods were all positive, and I couldn’t wait to eat them again. Well, now I’ve eaten them, and I’ve gotten to experience them in a new way.

I’ve been doing better this week. Both this morning and yesterday, I woke up and had a shake. Now, I am trying a different shake now (banana, unsweetened almond milk, natural peanut butter, and a little unsweetened cocoa powder), but I’m still having a shake. I’m also going to switch between the chocolate PB one and the strawberry banana one. I think starting the day with something easier to digest is a good idea.

Yesterday I had chili for lunch and lo mien for dinner. The chili wasn’t all that great for me, but the lo mien had a bunch of cabbage and stuff. Today for lunch I had a hummus wrap filled with vegetables. I’m currently looking at recipes that include a bunch of vegetables along with pasta and quinoa and other grains. I still want to find a balance between the way I used to eat and the way I ate on the cleanse, but I’m going to be smarter about it. I need to include at least one fruit or veggie with every meal, more if I can. If I’m going to have pasta, it needs to either be filled with vegetables or be a smaller portion with a large salad next to it.

I’ve also been exercising. I do 30 minutes on the elliptical and then follow that with crunches and exercises using small hand-held weights. It might not be the most rigorous exercise program ever, but at least I’m moving, and that’s what counts.

Post-Cleanse Reflections

Now that the Clean Program cleanse is officially over, I figured it now was a good time to reflect on everything I’ve learned and decide where I’m going to go from here. I’m definitely glad that I did the cleanse. I sometimes felt a bit left out, like when my boyfriend’s family had cookie cake for his birthday, or when they ordered Chinese food and I was sitting there with my salad, but it really wasn’t that bad. I enjoyed most of the food that I was eating, and I never felt like I was starving to death or anything. I was hungry a lot of the time, certainly, but in a good way. I’ve spent so much of my life eating when I wanted food, or when I felt any sort of discomfort in my stomach. It was nice to actually have my stomach growl and know that I was eating because I was actually hungry.

Things I learned while on the cleanse:
• You don’t need added sugar to make a delicious smoothie. Bananas, strawberries, and unsweetened vanilla almond milk are good enough.
• I do not like frozen blueberries.
• A smoothie can actually keep me full for hours, at least as long as any breakfast sandwich ever did.
• I can survive without caffeine.
• I can be social and vegan; it just takes a little bit more planning.
• The second plate of food is almost never necessary.
• Fruit really is a great snack (particularly apples).
• Fuji apples are delicious (I used to only like green apples).
• Roasted chickpeas are also delicious.
• Putting 12 hours between dinner and breakfast is not difficult.
• I will drink more water if I have a 4-cup bottle next to me than if I have a single cup.
• A big salad is more filling than a piece of pizza, with far fewer calories.
• It’s okay to be hungry.
• When a recipe says it makes 4 servings, you actually get 4 servings out of it.
• I don’t need dessert after dinner.
• I don’t need cheese.
• Brown rice is actually pretty good.
• I should have gone vegan “cold tofurkey” a long time ago.

When I first decided I wanted to go vegan last April, I tried to do it in stages. At first, I was only going to eat meat when my eating it did not affect the amount of meat that was being made – for instance, at Thanksgiving, when they’re going to make a big turkey whether I eat meat or not, or when my dad brings home leftover chicken that would just have been thrown out anyway. I planned this mostly so that I would not inconvenience my boyfriend’s family.

But then I learned more about the health aspects of eating meat, and I decided that I didn’t really want to keep eating meat. I did want to be able to eat at the same places that others ate at, though, and I liked my Dunkin Donuts coffee with cream and sugar, so I decided to eat vegan at home and vegetarian when I was away from home.

As time went on, I kept changing what I wanted to do. I always knew that vegan was the ultimate goal, but it all seemed like too much work. If I could just stay home all the time, being vegan was easy. It was going out in the real world that was tricky. There was so much delicious-looking food everywhere, and it was very tempting. We visit my boyfriend’s family every Friday, and I felt bad enough asking them to make vegetarian food. Asking them to make vegan food was just too much. And hanging out with people when I couldn’t eat anything that they were eating – that was just so difficult.

So I didn’t do it. I made up excuses. I told myself that since I was eating fewer animal products than before that it didn’t really matter, that it was still better than nothing. And while that is of course true, it’s not good enough, at least not for me. I’m not trying to condemn anyone else who just wants to cut back on eating animal products – that is a perfectly valid choice, and if that is what you want, that is wonderful. Everyone has different goals and beliefs, and I’m not trying to discredit or belittle anyone else’s choices.

But I know that wasn’t enough for me. I believe that eating animals is wrong. I believe that the way we treat animals in this country is horrible. I also believe that a vegan diet is the healthiest choice for me and the planet. So, really, the only reason I wasn’t already eating that way was because I was lazy. I liked fast food and pizza and other junk food. I didn’t want to make a scene by being different. So I decided that laziness was more important than my beliefs. And that is horrible.

This cleanse helped me overcome that. It got me used to bringing my own food to places. Now I don’t have to bother my boyfriend’s family to feed me – I can just bring my own food. Problem solved. Sure, eating out with friends is more difficult now, but it’s not like I do it that often anyway. And now that I’ve gone 3 weeks without any animal products, it’s not hard to just keep at it. I’ve been prolonging this moment for so long, and I’m not sure why. I’m sure for many people slowly eliminating animal products from their diet makes a lot of sense. But for me, it just doesn’t work. I don’t see the point in continuing to enjoy food that I know I’m going to eventually cut from my diet anyway. I’d rather just stop eating it right now and start looking for other food to replace it.

So I’m going to stick with the vegan diet. It’s been working so far, and it’s what I’ve wanted to do for the past year. I’ve also decided that I’m going to go a week without tracking my food. I’m going to keep a list of what I eat, but I’m not going to track the calories. I’m going to see if I can continue to lose weight just by eating when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m full. Hopefully I can still lose weight. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

Week 2 Weigh-in

Previous weight: 291
Current weight: 286.4

This week’s weight loss: 4.6

I’ve lost 8.6 pounds in the two weeks that I’ve been on this cleanse. That’s exciting enough in and of itself, but there’s even more important news: I hit my first goal! Goal 1 was 5% or 15.2 pounds, and I’ve lost a total of 17.4 pounds since November 22, 2012.

I’m definitely excited, especially since this hasn’t been that difficult. I mean, yes, I pout whenever I see bread or something sugary, but that’s not really that big of a deal. It helps that I know this cleanse is only temporary. I’ll be able to eat gluten and sugar again in a week.

I will admit, I sort of hoped that my food desires cravings would go away while I was on this cleanse. That hasn’t been the case. I still can’t wait until I can make cookies and can have a flour tortilla, not a gluten-free one that’s hard and doesn’t roll up that easily. I went out and bought super expensive gluten-free pasta because I didn’t want to wait another week and a half to have pasta.

But I definitely have changed in one respect, and I think this is the more important way. I’ve learned to control my portions better. I’ve learned that a smoothie really can keep me full for several hours. I’ve learned that I should wait a little bit, even if I think I’m hungry. If I’m actually hungry, my stomach will start to growl. If I’m not actually hungry, the “need” for food will go away once I find something else to think about.

It’s like I’ve been so afraid of being hungry that I eat before hunger actually sets in. And then once I do eat, I have a hard time stopping until I’m really full. Part of that is definitely that I eat too fast. I’ve always known that. When I’m around friends, I eat slowly because I don’t want to look like that fat girl who’s always eating, but on my own I generally eat pretty quickly. Then I get a second helping before the first one has had a time to settle. Obviously I know that I should slow down, but for some reason I haven’t done that before now.

But now, with this cleanse, my meals are more regulated. You’re not supposed to eat for 12 hours between dinner (or your last meal) and breakfast, which means that I have to fit 3 meals into 12 hours’ time. Lately I’ve been eating breakfast around 11, lunch around 2, a snack on my way to class at 4, and then dinner when I get home from class at 8:30. I try to spread out my meals, and that’s helped me learn not to eat so much in one sitting.

It’s also helping me learn that I need side dishes. Fruit can be super filling, and it makes a great after lunch snack or lunch side dish. Before, I would have half a box of pasta for lunch before I was finally full. Now I can have a single bowl of pasta and some cut up cantaloupe or pineapple or an apple, and then I don’t need food for hours. This may not sound all that revolutionary or anything, and it’s not, but this is the first time in my life that I’ve actually been able to eat the way I know you’re supposed to, and it’s exciting.

That’s why I’m so glad that I’m doing this cleanse. I’m not going to continue to eat this food and only this food for the rest of my life, but I can use it as a template for the rest of my life. I might be eating a flour tortilla instead of a brown rice tortilla, but I still only need one of them for lunch.

Also, it’s going to be much easier to stay vegan now that I’ve been a vegan for 3 weeks. Plus, after 3 weeks of not being able to eat oranges, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, caffeine, sugar, gluten, or soy, the vegan diet looks a lot less restrictive than it used to. 🙂

Cleanse Days 8-12

I’ve been doing this cleanse for nearly 2 weeks now. I thought I would be going crazy by now, but I’m actually still enjoying myself. I’m still having my smoothie for breakfast. Lunch varies, but dinner tends to be a big salad. I haven’t had soup for a week. I just couldn’t bring myself to eat any more puréed soup. The thought made me ill. Besides, I usually get full enough just from the salad.

I’ve also started making roasted chickpeas. I kept reading about them on different blogs, and then one day my mother was looking for a snack, and she made some. They’re my new addiction. Half a can of chickpeas has 11 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, and 14 whatever units you use to measure iron. They’re also delicious. I’ve been roasting mine and then tossing them in olive oil, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and a little bit of cayenne pepper.

I also tried gluten-free pasta yesterday. I was really missing pasta and figured that I could try brown rice pasta and still be following the rules of the cleanse. I also thought that now would be a good time to see if I could control myself with pasta, as pasta has always been my downfall. Yesterday was the first time since the cleanse that I actually hit my calorie limit for the day, according to MyFitnessPal. Today I had pasta again, but I forced myself to stop after one bowl, and I really didn’t need more than that. A little after that, I cut up some fresh pineapple as a snack.

I’ve been good about eating a variety of colors every day. I get red and yellow with my morning smoothies, green with my dinner salad, and tan with the chickpeas. The only color I’m not really eating is blue/purple. I don’t really like blueberries I’ve found, and I can’t have potatoes on this cleanse, so I can’t eat purple potatoes. I haven’t seen many purple vegetables at the market, but I’ll try to keep my eyes open for them.

Cleanse Days 4 and 5

Food Recap
I’m glad I decided to add strawberries and bananas to my meals. My smoothie Wednesday morning was delicious. A cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, a cup of strawberries, and a small banana. I was doubtful that it would keep me satisfied until lunch, but it actually did. I had the smoothie around 11 this morning, when I was hungry for the first time, and then I had lunch around 2:30.

For lunch on day 4, I had another lentil and brown rice burger on a brown rice tortilla with lettuce and that red pepper sauce. For dinner I had another big salad and a mug of green vegetable soup, which consists of broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, and green beans all blended up.

Yesterday was my first day of the cleanse when I actually had to be out of my house for a large portion of the day. I’m currently working on getting my Masters in Teaching, and this semester I go spend one day a week in a classroom. This interfered with my 12 hours with no food, but there wasn’t really much I could do about that, as we don’t eat or drink in the classroom after homeroom starts at 9 am, which was the earliest I was supposed to eat. I ended up having my smoothie at 7:30 before I left for the school, and then I had a black bean and quinoa salad with pineapple salsa. Aside from the fresh parsley, which tastes just like cilantro (which I absolutely despise more than almost any other flavor), it was pretty good.

Thursday evenings, my boyfriend and I get together with a friend of ours and write/watch cat videos/hang out. I decided to change up my eating schedule a bit more for this, so I had a big salad when I got home from the middle school (around 5) and then had another smoothie on the way. Then I had an apple on the way home (around 9).

Reflection
I always hear people talking about sticking to 1200 calories a day, and I always thought those people must be crazy and starving all the time. Now I’m looking back over my calorie intake for the past few days (I started tracking calories on Monday), and I’m shocked. My calorie intake has ranged from 950 to 1400. The first two days that I tracked were higher (1400 and 1300), but the past two days were lower (950 and 1010). I’m a little bit worried that I’m eating too few calories — MyFitnessPal keeps yelling at me that I’m going into starvation mode — but I don’t feel like I’m being unhealthy. I do feel hungry a lot of the time, but you’re supposed to feel hungry before you eat. I usually just eat when I feel like eating, which I think is part of how I got to 300 pounds.

I’m just going to keep going with this cleanse and try not to worry about it unless I start getting lightheaded or dizzy or something. For now, I feel good. I was really craving pizza and junk food last night (as that was what our friend was eating, so the whole place smelled like pizza), but now that I’m away from that smell I feel better. I’m still looking forward to making vegan pizza when this cleanse is over and I can eat wheat and tomatoes again, but I’m not feeling miserable. The first time I had a strawberry-banana smoothie, I added vanilla to it in an attempt to make it taste sweeter without adding sugar (which I can’t have except for what is naturally found in fruits). Now it’s been a few days, and I really like how they taste on their own. I don’t feel like they need anything at all.

I’ve just started day 6 of the cleanse, and I’m still happy to be on it. That has to be a good sign, right? 🙂

Cleanse Days 2+3

Day 2 of the cleanse was much better than Day 1. I still didn’t like the smoothie that I had in the morning . Even with the new vanilla powder, the drink was disgusting. I tried it again today, hoping I would like it better the second day, but I didn’t. I guess protein powders are not for me. Maybe next time I’m at Whole Foods I’ll get a sample of a few different ones, but I’m not anticipating finding one that I like.

For lunch the past two days, we’ve been eating the lentil and brown rice burgers featured on page 48 of the Clean Program Meal Plan. Those are really good. My mother also made some red pepper sauce to put on top of them. I put mine in a brown rice tortilla. I’m so glad we tried this recipe, as I was starting to fear that I had just signed up for the worst 3 weeks of my life.

I have learned that I can’t just stick with just three meals a day. Right now, my schedule looks like this:

Breakfast: 9-10 am
Lunch: 1-3 pm
Dinner: 8-9 pm

I need snacks. The first day, I ate most of the pineapple that we had in the fridge. Yesterday, I ended up stopping by the gas station on the way to school and buying two apples to eat before and after class. Today, I had an apple right before we left to go shopping, and then I had a banana while we were out. I also just had half a cup of a bean salad, which will keep me satisfied until dinner.

At first I felt bad about adding more food, but I’ve since decided not to let it get to me. For one thing, the program says you’re allowed to eat snacks – it just has to follow the guidelines of what you’re allowed to eat, which mine mostly do (more on that in a minute). For another thing, two of my snacks were pieces of fruit. An apple and a banana. You can’t tell me that those are bad for you. Which brings me to another thing I felt I should mention–

I’ve decided to eat two of the foods that you’re not supposed to eat on the cleanse.

Strawberries and bananas. Strawberries were supposed to be cut because a lot of people are allergic (and this cleanse is all about eliminating foods people commonly have problems digesting), but I know I’m not affected by strawberries, so I’m not going to let that bother me. Bananas might be high in sugar and starch, but they also keep me from starving, and they’ll make my smoothies taste better. I’m hoping strawberry-banana smoothies in the morning will keep me from going crazy in the mornings. And I’m still only having sugar found in fruits (and sometimes dates), so I’m still eating way better that I used to, so I’m not going to worry about it.

Besides – we got all these strawberries for less than $2.50! Come on, how could you resist?

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I was also reading something today about how we should try to eat fruits from all different colors of the rainbow. It started as a discussion on a forum, and that led to my looking up the book Color Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I started thinking about the different colors of food that I eat, and I realized that I’m actually eating all the colors now that I’m following this cleanse.

Breakfast: Yellow and Blue/Purple (pineapple and blueberries)
Snack: Yellow and Green/tan (banana and apple -not sure if you count the color of the skin or the inside)
Lunch: Brown, Green, and Red (lentil burger, brown rice tortilla, lettuce, and pepper sauce)
Dinner: Green, White, Orange (Veggie soup, lettuce, spinach, jicama, carrots, dressing)

I’m excited about eating all those different colors. I’m also excited about the fact that by the end of today, I’ll have eaten 8 servings of fruits and vegetables. I used to go a week and barely get that many. I just need to make sure that I keep this up after the cleanse is over. I need to grab an apple for a snack instead of a bag of chips. I need to remember that I don’t need 5 servings of bread to keep me full. I don’t need to eat pasta with every meal. Having a big salad once a day is refreshing, not boring. Eating this way might take a bit longer, as you can’t just stick the food in the microwave for a few minutes, but it’s definitely better. 🙂

15th time’s the charm?

According to one of the documentaries I watched today, it can take up to 15 tries before we like a new food. While I’ve certainly never counted how many times I tried a new food, I know that there are some foods that I never thought I’d like that I kept forcing myself to eat and eventually grew to like. This is mostly true for vegetables. I didn’t like carrots or tomatoes or cucumbers as a child (or as a teenager or an undergrad). And yet over the past few months as I decided to become vegan, I’ve found myself eating more and more of those foods. I made a curry recipe with carrots, and I actually enjoyed it. At first I thought it was because the curry flavor masked the carrot flavor, but the more I started using carrots in recipes, the more I realized that I actually enjoyed them. I started adding more carrots to the soups that I was making, something that I never would have done before. In fact, usually I decrease the amount of carrots in recipes.

It was definitely exciting to learn that some of the healthy foods I disliked before were now something that I enjoyed eating, but it’s not just old foods that have grown on me. My mother discovered a whole bucket of millet in our pantry last week, and she asked me if I had any recipes that called for it, as she didn’t want to throw it out but didn’t really remember why she had it. So I looked it up and came across this recipe: Tomato, Basil, and Millet Salad. I ended up using cannellini beans instead of black-eyed peas because I like them better and because we didn’t have black-eyed peas, but otherwise I kept the recipe as it was.

The first step is to toast the millet until fragrant. I was definitely expecting a smell, but I wasn’t prepared for the smell that I experienced: a kennel. I thought it would get better after I added the broth, but it didn’t. If anything, the smell just got stronger. It really smelled like the pound did when we went to find a dog. It was bad. I wasn’t looking forward to eating it, but I already had all the ingredients, and I wanted to wait and see if it got better, so I carried on.

When the salad was mixed together, I tasted it. It was gross. It tasted just like it smelled. I was so disappointed. My boyfriend tried it, and he didn’t like it. I moped around for a bit, sad that all that time and money had gone into making a recipe that sucked. Just for good measure, I tried it again. It wasn’t as bad as I had thought it was the first time, but I definitely didn’t like it. I stood next to the stove, talking to my sister (who is 21 and was just learning how to boil water), and I ended up trying it again because it was there and I was starving. It wasn’t as bad, but it still wasn’t something I was happy with. My sister tried it, made a face, and put the fork down.

I’m not really sure how it happened. I guess part of why my family’s fat is because we eat food that’s in front of us, even if we don’t really like it. Normally I’d say that was a bad thing, but it actually sort of worked out in this case, as the more we picked at it, the more we started to like it. My parents tried it, and they liked it. My sister eventually decided that it wasn’t bad, which is actually a pretty good compliment since she generally hates all of my “weird vegan food,” especially if it involves vegetables of any sort. I actually ended up taking some with me when I went to hang out with a non-vegan friend so that I would have something to eat on the way and wouldn’t be tempted by her fatty non-vegan food. Then I had the leftovers today. Every time I ate it, I just liked it more.

This is definitely a recipe that I would make again. It was simple to make, and once the flavor grew on me, I actually enjoyed it a lot. And it’s good to know that just because I disliked a food the first few times I tried it doesn’t meant that I’ll never like it. 🙂

The Ghost of Diets Past

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about my past diet attempts. In order to be successful, I have to examine why I failed in the past. And I’ve failed a lot. I’ve been dieting since 2002. That’s ten years of dieting, and I haven’t gotten anywhere.

My first diet was the Atkins diet in the fall of 2002. My parents were doing it, and it seemed like the thing to do. I actually lost a fair amount of weight, but I was eating nothing but meat and cheese, and my mouth tasted metallic all the time. It was horrible. And then I went off the diet for one day to go to my friend’s birthday party, and I gained a lot of weight from that one night, and I was still eating a fraction of what I would have before. So that clearly didn’t work. Over the next several years, I tried South Beach, the old Weight Watchers (where you got 2 breads, 2 dairies, etc), the slightly less old Weight Watchers (with the old Points system).

My most successful attempt at dieting was December 2010 to March 2011. I lost 30 pounds in 3 months on the Weight Watchers Points Plus system. I got down to 264, and I was feeling good about myself. And then I started work, and I stopped counting points. I went from waking up at noon to waking up at five in the morning, and I was consuming a lot more calories than I had been. For the first month or two, I still lost weight. I went from sitting at home, not moving all day, to standing for eight hours a day, lugging around heavy camera equipment (I’m a school photographer at the moment). So at first I wasn’t that worried because I was still losing weight.

But then I stopped losing weight. For a while, I was just staying the same, so I didn’t think too much about it. I thought that I could lose weight in the off season and maintain while I was working. It would take longer to lose weight, sure, but it was better than nothing. But then I started gaining the weight back. Part of it was probably that my body had adjusted to the new routine. Another part of it was that I started eating more. First it was just that I needed to eat more because I was always hungry at work. Then it was that I was stopping and getting fast food on the way home from schools. I ended up gaining back all of the weight I had lost and then some.

So now here I am, sitting at 300 pounds, and I don’t want to continue this cycle. I don’t want to be reading through these posts a year from now, wondering what went wrong. I need to fix what went wrong. I need to make sure that I don’t repeat the same mistakes I made last time. And that is what I’m attempting to do now.

Last time, I was too lazy/exhausted to prepare healthy foods.
I prepared healthy food for a while, but then I started to get tired. I was waking up between four and five most mornings, and I didn’t feel like cooking when I got home. I stopped wanting to make sandwiches every night, especially when those sandwiches weren’t going to keep me full for long. I didn’t want to make breakfast every night (or even every Sunday), so I just bought ready-made breakfast sandwiches. I ended up making crap for lunch just because it was easiest to make, and then I would still be hungry as soon as I got done with work, so I would stop by Wendy’s or Zaxby’s or Taco Bell after work and get something to eat for my drive home.

What I will do differently this time.
The most important thing is to make sure that I have enough food with me at work so that I’m not starving when I leave the school. It’s much harder to avoid fast food when you’re starving and you know that you’re at least an hour away from home. That’s why I’m planning to use my free time now to find a bunch of recipes that are easy to make so that I always have enough food to eat.

I think part of my problem also was that I was trying to eat once while at work, which is ridiculous since I’m often at schools from six in the morning to three in the afternoon. Eating once in nine hours is ridiculous. Of course I was always starving. I’m thinking now that I need to have a decent lunch and then two snacks with me, one for early morning and one for mid afternoon. I’m not talking huge snacks or anything (as those would definitely not help me lose weight), but I need to make sure that I never get to that point where I’m so hungry I’m going to eat the first thing I find.

Today I tried my first mock tuna salad (made with chick peas), and it was delicious. I’m thinking a “tuna” sandwich with some sort of cool salad (either lettuce or that rice/lentil salad that I reviewed earlier this week) would be a great, filling lunch. Throw in a fruit and maybe some nuts or a homemade granola bar or something, and this might work.

I just need to find four or five good lunch combinations and healthy snacks so that I can make a big batch of whatever it is on Sunday so that the rest of the week, when I’m exhausted, I don’t have to do a ton of cooking. Plus, if I have preplanned meals like this, tracking will be easy.

Obviously, I will still need to do a lot of cooking on the weekends, and I’ll still have to prepare some things the night before, but I need to dedicate myself to this. I need to stop making excuses for everything. I can try to make it as easy as possible to prepare healthy foods and stay on track, but I need to acknowledge that it’s not always going to be easy. Life’s not about taking the easy way out of everything. It’s about figuring out what you want and not stopping until you make it happen.