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Make a new plan, Stan

I promise I'm not going to throw earworms at you every day from here to eternity, but it was just too appropriate.

Before I dig into the details, though, I need to comment on the comments. Marla, I'm thisclose to finished The End of Overeating. I made the mistake of starting The Botany of Desire before I finished and, frankly, the end of EoO was kinda scaring me. Sounded like a bunch of "don'ts" coming up, so I bailed. I can set up my own don'ts, but it's not the setting up that works, it's the doing, er, the don't-ing.

Greta, how wonderful to hear from you! And congratulations on sticking with your plan since spring. Care to share the details?

Okay, back to the plan.

I have, in a previous life (heh), been sugar-free for more than five years. I attended Overeaters Anonymous meetings in the late '80s/early '90s, and a requirement (then) for abstinence was No Sugar, No White Flour and No Red Meat. I might be making up the red meat part, but I don't think so. It's been a while.

As Greta commented, the first week of No Sugar is the hardest. The first week lasted three weeks for me: I was unusually emotional, and would cry if you looked at me cross-eyed. That gradually went away and by the end of the first month sans sucre I was fine. (In AA we say FINE is Fucked-up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. I might have been that, too.)

Five months later I'd lost 30 pounds. No exercise, no "diet," no frozen dinners – just No Sugar, No White Flour and No Red Meat. I gradually added exercise (insane amounts of it), decided to add No Fat (this was the '90s, remember) to my list of restrictions and eventually lost another 25 pounds. I stayed at my ideal weight of 128 for about five minutes, and I was on my way back up again.

What happened was that I moved away from my gym and to another state with my now-husband, who thought I was being too restrictive and one day offered me a piece of pie at a restaurant. I'm not saying it's his fault, not at all. But my whole life changed when I moved, and my old friend Food came with me on the trip. I no longer worked – working takes up a lot of time one could otherwise spend eating and not exercising. I was alone during the day and for a couple of years when he worked out of town, I was alone for several days and nights each week.

Long story short: I know how to restrict myself and I know what happens when I stop. And I don't think I want to go there again.

This past year I've discovered the joys of local, whole food. My new eating plan includes as few packaged and processed foods as possible. One of the customs I've adopted in my dining room this year is having pizza on Friday night. It takes all the guesswork out of "what's for dinner" and the pizza is homemade, from scratch, with a healthful whole-wheat crust and reasonably healthful toppings. (I use whole-milk mozzarella. So sue me.)

Since Friday nights have worked so well (the amazing thing about homemade pizza is I have no desire to eat all of it, or even half of it – two slices [an eighth of a pie] is plenty), I'm applying that principle to every night and every meal.

No, not all-pizza all-the-time, but for breakfast I'm having yogurt with either fruit or granola. Each night of the week is a different dinner, but the same each week – stir-fry on Tuesday, beans on Thursday, breakfast food on Sunday, for example. Lunch will be leftovers from the previous night's dinner.

I'm measuring my portions and writing everything down. The past few days I've hit the 1200-calorie mark at the end of dinner. There's very little wiggle room here. One of the things I thought about as I was figuring this out is that when I was growing up we ate three meals a day and no snacks. I thought I was an overweight child, but really I wasn't – I had a couple of very tiny friends in junior high and high school, and so I felt like a cow during those years. But I weighed between 125 and 135 until I got pregnant for my first child.

My plan includes a daily five-mile walk, and I intend to add some running at least two days a week, with the idea of increasing the running and decreasing the walking. I've done this before; I can do it again. I'm going to do a light weight-training routine on Wednesdays. Once a week, no more, for the first month.

One of my problems is my all-or-nothing attitude. I need to figure out what works and what doesn't (I've been doing this for the past month or so), start slowly and work up to previous levels of fitness. I can't jump right in where I was three years and 30 pounds ago.

The Country Music Marathon is April 24, 2010. That's 187 days. Countdown starts today.


denise said…
Sounds like you're going at this very logically. I too am of the mind that I have to find something I can live with and like or it's simply not worth it.

People say if you lose weight you live longer. I say if I have to do it by eating broccoli and baked chicken every day, why would I WANT to live longer! ;-)

Somewhere in the middle there's got to be an answer!
D said…
Isn't it funny how we can remember that "moment" with a formerly forbidden food that seems to lead down the path of no return. For you, a piece of pie. For me, malted milk eggs at Easter of 2005. And it wasn't anyone's fault (not your husband's, not even the mere existence of malted milk eggs). More like my own fault for being so crazy restrictive. It backfires. It always does. Rational thinking about food should prevail, but somehow we lose rationality when it comes to food and weight.
altopower said…
It's so important to know what works for you now, since often things we were willing to do in the past no longer fit. Eating local, whole food instead of processed makes a huge difference in a good way. I admire your ability to craft a plan that is full of "do" and not "don't" - it's more positive from the get go.
Sunny CA said…
Hi, Debbi!
Your new plan sounds great! I could use a bit more regularity in my meal planning, myself, but I am not quite ready to do that. Sounds admirable and useful, though. The weekly rotation gives you variety plus an overall predictability. I will mull this over to see if I can somehow do something similar.

I like local whole food and manage that a lot of the time. It is getting easier since we have a great farmer's market and my grocery stores are now labeling the local produce, too.

Since I am cooking for 1 and am time-challenged most days, I am very unmotivated to cook. As a result I've have approached the problem from the opposite direction. What can I make in 30 seconds? I too am being more flexible in what I eat this time around, but it made me laugh to read Denise's comment, since my previous plan was vegetarian for over 15 years and only in the last year or two have I finally decided to allow any sort of animal to make up part of my meal. As a result I am at the stage where roasted chicken breast and vegetables is a divine taste sensation. Ha ha ha! When you compare chicken and veggies to veggies and beans, the chicken wins out big time in taste. I am open to ideas on what to eat and trying to expand my repertoire.

I just broke my post into two parts since it won't let me post it as written.
Sunny CA said…
Part 2
What I am doing:
Recording everything I eat. I was using a small notebook for a long time and then started using my new BlackBerry with the FatSecret app to record all food plus weigh-in and exercise. I love the way it stores foods that I input and then I can click on the regular quantity I eat in one step or alter the quantity.

Calorie target: I am aiming for 1,200-1,450 calories a day. I just can NOT seem to get my calorie intake even. I range from about 750cal to 1,500cal and have been working to try to bring it closer to an even 1,200 a day, but it is sure hard for me to maintain consistency. Even my weekly averages are different from week to week.

Other Goals: I am trying to avoid manufactured foods which is tough when you pair that with my general avoidance of cooking. However, I mostly have been able to do it. I am also not eating sugar or white flour. However, I am not perfect. About 3 weeks ago I had lunch out with a girlfriend and she ordered a basket of sour dough (white) bread for the table. She ate NONE of it, and I ended up eating 3 pieces. I volunteer at the Exploratorium science museum and they keep buying pizza for volunteers who work a long shift. Somehow that is too tempting to pass up most times even if I bring a lunch. Also at the Exploratorium I ended up eating a scone after they sat in front of me at a meeting for 2 hours. Anyway. I am not perfect but largely trying to get it right. Also I am trying to exercise a lot. I'm doing as much as my joints will allow both with daily walks and on the elliptical.

What I am eating:
I am trying for more variety, and to expand my food list. Here's what's on the list now:

B: most days 2/3 dry measure old-fashioned oats cooked with 2 peaches or 2 apples. (fruit is cooked too)
alternates: 2 packets of instant oats or a cup of Fiber One dry cereal.

L: Either dinner leftover or salad. Salads are homemade or purchased from Trader Joes (especially the reduced fat shrimp Louis). Plus 1 or 2 fresh fruit.

D: whatever I manage to cook. My easy cooking meals are either boneless-skinless chicken breast broiled on a cookie sheet with vegetables; or salmon, or prawns or pork loin. I love the vegetable brochettes pre-made by Whole Foods which are just a skewer with very large mushrooms, pieces of sweet purple onion, red paper chunks, zucchini chunks. I have one of those Misto pumps and spray on a fine mist of olive oil on the veggies. I will often toss some mini-potatoes cut in half on the cookie sheet at the same time. Favorite veggies are mushrooms, summer squash and zucchini. When I cook on the stovetop I make string beans, corn on the cob, artichokes.

When I have spent more time, I prepare a baked eggplant dish layered with low fat ricotta and spaghetti sauce.
I make a wonderful dish of shrimps and scallops plus chopped sun-dried tomatoes cooked in white wine.
I love my curried lentil-garnet yam soup which I prepare in a huge vat for days of eating.
I like a curried combo of a head of cauliflower,1 eggplant, potatoes, onion, a can of chick peas, white kernel corn (a bag). Everything is cooked with curry powder and water then the rinsed chickpeas and corn are added at the end and heated through. I do this in my crockpot. The lentil soup and cauliflower combo are favorites from vegetarian days.


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