Back in a week

I have a bunch of stuff I want to write about, but I am a bit overwhelmed with everything I need to do in the next 24 hours to get ready to leave on my vacation.  I know, poor me!  Anyways, in the meantime, I want to recommend a really good website called Refuse to Regain.  It was started by Lynne Haraldson-Bering and Dr. Barbara Berkeley.  I have really gotten a lot out of it, and am already trying to adjust my diet a bit from some of the information on their site.  It is mostly about maintenance, but I really think that maintenance is something you should think about from the very beginning of your weight loss journey.  Check it out. 

The Conundrum

What was I going to do about chocolate chip cookies?  Really, this was one of my biggest questions when I started Weight Watchers in January 2005 at the invitation of a friend.  I actually did not believe W.W. would ‘take’ in my life, but I was willing to give it a try, because everything hurt, every day, and I was on the verge of having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar (diabetes,) all of which my father suffers from, with devastating results.  Even so, for a long time I had lived with the thought that I  would probably die early because I didn’t think I could do without chocolate chip cookies (among other things.)  It sounds bizarre now to even write that, but I am trying to make a truthful record of this process, mostly for myself, so I won’t forget what has happened, and what led me to this point.

Back to the chocolate chip cookies.  I pretty much knew that they would be one food I just couldn’t leave alone.  I am a good baker, and I had perfected my collection of chocolate chip cookie recipes.  As an example, my most favorite recipe had 4 cubes of butter, 4 cups of sugar, 4 eggs, and 4 cups of flour–YIKES! (I actually haven’t even looked at this recipe for 3 years.)

So, I sat and thought, what am I going to do?  And what I came up with was this:  dark chocolate was the ‘essence’ of chocolate chip cookies.  And ‘they’ say that dark chocolate is good for you.  I also knew that there was a limit to how much dark chocolate I could eat in one sitting.  So I found the best dark chocolate I could (Trader Joe’s, pictured center above) and saved points almost every day for some.  Since I had so many points to start, I think I started saving 5 points for the whole bar.  But soon, I pared it down to half a bar, and now most days I will have one points worth.  To me, I think this is still the best solution to the ‘conundrum.’  I eat the little square slowly, savoring each bite, and really find it very satisfying.

 Along the way, I did try many ‘energy’ and granola type bars that were labeled chocolate chip.  Some I liked more than others.  The thing about those was that they took longer to eat than a regular ch.ch. cookie, and when I was done with it, I did not want 20 more.  However most of those bars cannot really be considered nutritious food.

 I also experimented with developing a lower fat whole wheat ch.ch. cookie recipe, but they were not as good as the ‘real’ cookies, and they went down too fast, still leaving me wanting more.  The Fiber One bars pictured above are REALLY excellent, but they do have the reputation of causing a bit of gastrointestinal upset, to be delicate.  To be honest, I live alone, so they are definitely worthy, in my opinion.  I don’t take them to work anymore…

The CLIF bar pictured on the other side is a brand new addition to my ch.ch. cookie obsession.  I have only had one, but honestly, it was more satisfying than that bakery ch.ch. cookie I wrote about the other day!  The wrapper tells about how the guy who developed them was trying to make a better tasting energy bar.  It has lots of organic stuff, 5 grams fiber and 10 grams protein.  But it doesn’t have the weird taste that a lot of energy bars have.  The bad thing is that they are 5 points (240 calories,) so definitely not an everyday occurrence for me.  But I think they might just be the closest I come to a healthy chocolate chip cookie that I can enjoy occasionally (in the presence of other people!)

So there you have it–the chocolate chip cookie conundrum, and one woman’s solution.  Maybe someday I will evolve to the point where I don’t feel the need for chocolate chip cookies, but honestly, I don’t think life would be worth living without them! 

 

Eating Bad, Eating Good

Going to town can be dangerous for us country girls.  Yesterday I had to go to the big city for my physical therapy.  Whenever I go to town I have to seriously consider all the food options offered to me.  Since the appointment was in the morning, I decided I would not go out for lunch at one of my favorite restaurants.  But I thought, I’ll get myself one really good chocolate chip cookie.

After stocking up at Trader Joe’s, I went into the bakery next door, which had been recommended to me.  Their free sample was some luscious blueberry crisp type of thing.  So, I got my chocolate chip cookie, AND the blueberry thing.  I ate the whole cookie, which really wasn’t worthy in my mind, but I couldn’t make myself stop eating it.  Then after doing a bit of shopping, I was on my way home, and I ate that whole blueberry thing while driving in the car.  AARGH!

But that evening for dinner, this is what I chose to eat:  a 4 ounce skinless salmon filet (I had them pre-cut at the store) that I cooked just using the spray oil, and served with some mango/papaya salsa that I had picked up at TJ’s.  And a big serving of asparagus, again cooked with the spray oil.  And a glass of fat free milk.  This was the most delicious, luxurious dinner.  It seemed even better because it was what I actually wanted.  In my past life, I really had to have a much larger piece of fish coated in flour and fried in oil, and I had to have some kind of potatoes with fish.  I used to drink 2% milk.  I finished the evening with a big bowl of fresh strawberries with a little lite cool whip.  I wrote before that the only way I used to eat strawberries was with powdered sugar sprinkled on top, and covered with heavy cream.

But all evening, I was frustrated, thinking about my poor choices that morning, and how much time I have to think about how I will eat and how I will exercise.  This morning my brother (who never had a “weight problem” but does work very hard at staying fit) pointed out that it is really like a hobby.  I had almost had that thought the night before, but him saying it out loud really put a positive spin on this whole thing (NOT a lifestyle change–haha!)

So as you can imagine the whole incident started from a previous post about my chocolate chip cookie conundrum…I’ve been thinking about what to write in regards to that for 3 days.  Conclusion:  its not so good for me to spend too much time thinking about chocolate chip cookies, and a good bakery is a very dangerous place for me to visit!

Is it a Lifestyle Change?

My blogger friend Jill  wrote a really good article challenging the use of the phrase “lifestyle change.”  She really made me think.  This sentence is the heart of the matter:  “My lifestyle is dictated by factors other than what I eat and how often (or not) I work out.”

I have never been as worked up as Jill is about that phrase.  But that’s probably because I didn’t think about what it meant.  And I completely agree with Jill.  Because for me, as much as possible, I did not allow being overweight to limit what I wanted to accomplish in my life.  I went back to college and became a nurse, became accomplished enough in the spinning/dying/knitting world to teach on a national level, was hired at one of the finest medical centers in the country, and worked as director of women’s ministries at our church, all while ‘morbidly obese.’  I have been blessed with plenty of friends, and never felt I was being judged by others for being fat, because that perception was not acceptable to me.

On the other hand, when I decided to lose the weight, I really made some significant changes in how I spent my time. I remember reading in Dr. Phil’s book about High response cost food being foods that cost a lot in time to prepare.  I got what it meant when I stood in my kitchen chopping up healthy foods for a recipe.  Standing there all that time made my back hurt.  And deciding that exercise had to be a true priority in my day meant that I had to cut out some of my other activities, like watching Oprah (well, really, I just recorded Oprah and watched her later.)  I really had to change how I packed food for my 15 hour workdays.  It would usually take me half an hour just to pack my food.  The longer I’ve gone on, the less I want to eat out in restaurants, which is a standard ‘friendship activity’ for many of my friends.

Anyways, I’m glad Jill made me think about this.  I never did call it a lifestyle change.  I didn’t like calling it a diet, because for most people, a diet has a definite ending.  So when asked what I was doing, I would just say eating differently and exercising more.  And in my mind, I always add, for the rest of my life.

Ancient History

I stopped growing when I was in junior high school.  That is, I attained my full height of 5 feet, 1/2 inch.  I guess I really didn’t stop growing.  I always had a ‘weight problem’ as long as I can remember.  I just love food.  Especially sweets.  Especially chocolate.  Oh yeah, as I got older, I identified that I REALLY liked foods that were very high in fat.  Exactly how much butter could you squeeze into one chocolate chip cookie?  Strawberries and cream?  Yeah, heavy on the cream straight out of the carton.  You got more that way than when you whipped it.

I have probably tried every diet ever created–liquid protein, Atkins (loved the cream!), apples all day, every day (I made this one up myself)…  But in my 20′s I made a serious attempt to lose weight.  Through a variety of diets, and a lot of exercise, I lost 86 pounds, and got down to 124 pounds.  But I wasn’t satisfied with that, and I was eating so little, so that, when a crisis occurred, I gave up and gained it all back plus some.  Looking back at that time, I think that I didn’t really study how to eat and fuel my body properly, and hadn’t really identified that this was going to have to be a “for the rest of my life” decision.

I vowed never to diet again.  I even wrote a college paper called “Winning the Losing Game.”  My main theory in that paper was that you had to change your way of eating forever.  And I stuck with that thought for the next 20 plus years.  I actually still think it is true.  I just had some erroneous ideas about it, like ‘I just can’t give up chocolate chip cookies for the rest of my life.’

So on my next post, I’ll discuss what I did about my chocolate chip cookie conundrum. 

Other Worlds

Today I treated myself to the movies. I went to see Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian.  It was good, but too much war stuff for me.  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was my favorite book in grade school.  Even though I always went to church, I really didn’t get any of the imagery that C.S. Lewis included alluding to Christianity.  I was just fascinated with the idea that you could somehow get into another world.  

As I’ve gone through life, I’ve noticed that there are “other worlds” hidden right in our own society, and you are never aware of them until you happen to take an interest in whatever they happen to involve.  Some of the “other worlds” that have intersected my life are dog showing, angora rabbit showing, fiber spinning/weaving/knitting, rug hooking, and now my Bloggy World!  I’m glad to be here, and am enjoying the support and encouragement from people I’ve never even met.

So, back to the movies, I really don’t go anymore.  Partly because of time, but partly because I really don’t want to sit through a 2 hour movie without movie popcorn with extra butter and candy.  So today I planned to get the popcorn, and brought 1/2 bag of M&M’s from home, and a W.W. mint bar.  I decided to order the kid’s popcorn deal, partly because I am a cheapskate, and couldn’t spend $11 for popcorn and a coke.  I’m glad that I did that, it was plenty to satisfy me, and really, I am just as happy with my Jolly Time Healthy Pop Butter Popcorn or Kettlecorn at home. But old habits (addictions?) sure are hard to give up, aren’t they?

 

My Back Hurts!

 

Ooh!  Now there’s a catchy first title to get people to read my blog.  But here’s my plan.  I’m going to start from where I am now, and then maybe go back and forth with my weight-loss history.  I’ve been reading PastaQueen’s book, and her descriptions of all the changes she has gone through both mentally and physically have made me reflect on some of the changes that have happened to me over the past 3 1/2 years.  I had almost forgotten some of the things that have happened, and I think it will be helpful to me to write them down so I will remember that it is a good thing that I have lost this weight.  Later I will write a profile of me (in case anybody is interested) but for now back to my aching back.

Somewhere along the line I have hurt my back–the xray says I have some ‘slipping and narrowing’ of the discs.  I actually have an appointment with the spinal doctor next week.  But for now, its not terrible.  Some irritable numbness and tingling in my legs, and my lower back sometimes feels like it felt everyday when I was fat.

I joined Tigerlily’s walking challenge (http://walkwithtigerlilly.blogspot.com/2008/05/cleveland-oh.html) but for the last two weeks I have had a bad cold, and basically have not walked for 2 weeks.  So, today was the day to get out there again.  I started out with high hopes of making 3 miles, but right at the start my back started aching.  But I kept on, and pretty soon it disappeared.  I ended up going a lot farther, about 7 miles total, and saw some gorgeous scenery (I live in the sierra foothills) and took a break by a stream with all kinds of little waterfalls, and ate the apple and string cheese that I had in my backpack.

 

It was a great day, and mostly I was so happy that I could still do it.  I still have the feeling that everything is going to disappear if I goof up with food and/or exercise.  I have walked for my exercise since I started losing weight, but thanks to Tigerlily, I have really upped my ability to walk longer and stronger, and it felt great to know I had not lost all those hill-walking muscles in the past 2 weeks.