How I lost 13 pounds

Fine, fine, fine, I’ll get back to the summary of how I lost 13 pounds, which I promised several days ago (or yesterday).  Thirteen pounds brings me to 120 pounds, which actually was my original goal weight, but … but now I think I’ll go for a couple more and see what happens. I finally get that whole anorexic control thing. Now that I have experienced weight loss, I can see that weight really is something that each of us can have total and complete control over. It also makes me appreciate how difficult it is to eat and exercise consciously – losing weight is hard, because it means REAL CHANGE in what you do every day (since what you do normally keeps you at the weight you are).

To begin with, I just started watching and recording what I was eating. For two weeks I recorded everything I ate and calculated the number of points (weight watcher’s) I was eating every day. You can either spend time with a friend who has done weight watcher’s and borrow her books and slide rule calculator OR work out your own point calculator on an excel spread sheet, using the formula (in a previous post). This process of observing and watching your usual eating habits is also recommended in a book I enjoyed, Frenchwomen Don’t Get Fat. I knew I was aiming for 20 points a day and that I was normally eating about 35 points a day.

Then when I rolled up my sleeves to get started, I started with another Frenchwomen Don’t get Fat suggestion, that is, I spent a weekend eating only zero-point soup. (I’ve posted three different recipes.) That jumpstarted my weight loss and helped me to tune into that dieting feeling. See, normally I don’t allow myself to feel hungry, so even getting remotely peckish makes me nervous. During the whole first month of dieting, I kept lots of zero-point soup around in the house (I was even enjoying it cold – straight out of the fridge) and lots of carrots and steamed green beans, so that I could snack whenever I wanted. I think this was important as a transition, because most of my other food was still pretty high in points (relatively high in calories and fat), so I could eat only small portions.

The “dieting feeling” is hardest in the beginning, because your body is burning up its own fat and detoxing. That means bad breath and maybe stinkier armpits and sweat. I was taking at least two showers a day during that time (plus the desert is hot…)  Fortunately, your body will get acclimated and the bad breath goes away. There is also a certain hollow feeling, similar to fasting, but less intense. It is also similar to that clean feeling you get after exercising, when you are more aware of your body.

In any case, I really stuck to eating 20 points a day, and added 3 points for every 1/2 hour of vigorous exercise (jogging). Slowly, I began to figure out lower point meals and to eat smaller portions. At first I measured out servings according to the labels and 1/2 cup of anything looked pitifully small. Later, I noticed that I was able to appreciate much smaller quantities of food and feel satisfied. I think that my stomach shrank quite a bit in the last few months. Another good tip from Frenchwomen Don’t… (I hadn’t realized so many of my ideas came from that book…) was to “splurge” only on treats that ranked a 10. Instead of eating Hershey’s chocolates, I bought expensive dark chocolate from the health food store and ate one chunk for dessert. I avoided cheap cake and soda in the staff room and I waited for homemade cheese cake later that week. I was also encouraged to exercise more when I knew there was going to be an “eating event” coming up. By the same token 1/2 hour of running was equal to a very small portion of ice cream – so I savored every last taste (I could only run so much).

I noticed that as I started to regularly eat lower point foods – that I was frequently left with points with the evening! For instance, I now eat 1/4 cup plain oatmeal every morning for breakfast for 2 points. Scottish or Irish-style seem more substantial to me. Then I eat one apple (1 point) or one low-fat yogurt (2 points) for a mid-morning snack. Lunch is usually a turkey sandwich or tuna, with no cheese, low mayo or only mustard, on sprouted whole-grain bread (Food for Life bread is so high in fiber that one slice is only one point). That meant that I could have a pretty normal dinner: palm-sized protein (4-6 points), one cup of white or brown rice (4 points) and half a plate of steamed veggies with points left-over for a bite of chocolate or a fruit popsicle (one point).

Importantly, I always ate up all my points – and my 35 flex points per week too. If I felt like I were depriving myself too much, I would never be able to keep this up. And while I don’t think I was losing the 2-3 pounds a week that weight watcher’s system boasts, I could see slow but steady weight loss and still feel like I was eating enough food to be satisfied. I only weighed myself every two to three weeks on my chiropractor’s scale, so I wasn’t freaking out about the daily (and monthly) ups and downs. Also, people began noticing my weight loss immediately, and their compliments encouraged me a lot.

Now I feel younger and more fit! It’s like I have wriggled out of a thick padding I have been wearing for the last fifteen years. I feel like the me I remember myself to be. It really feels great – and thirteen pounds is really not so much. Pretty interesting to see how different I feel at 120 pounds.

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