October 7, 2010


My father has been a serial dieter his entire life. He was the sixth of nine kids, the first eight of whom were boys. They all played sports when they were young, so meals were mostly functional - time to refuel. dad at hammonassett state parkAlways meat and potatoes, and always lots of both. My dad's specialties were football and track and field. He was a big, strong guy in high school, and so he ate a lot. But he was also very self-conscious, so his off-seasons were filled with exercise and rigid diets to try and feel better about the way he looked. After high school, he went right into the work force and although he still played some sports with friends socially, he wasn't playing nearly as hard as he did in school. Unfortunately, his eating patterns stayed the same, and it lead to weight gain.

He would try diets every now and then, and they'd work temporarily, but then he would fall off them and regain everything. Growing up, my sisters and I always heard the story about the time he went on Weight Watchers with Nana (his mother) and lost 40 pounds. Even though he gained it all back and more, he was always so proud of that accomplishment. I'm not sure if that's just the way Weight Watchers was in the late 70s, but he told us the key to his success was that essentially all he ate was "chicken breast and bags of scum mix."

scum mix ... yuckA brief aside:
I'm not sure who started it or exactly when we started calling it "scum mix," but in our house growing up, scum mix was the bag of frozen vegetables with lima beans in it. I believe there were also the standards - peas, carrots, and corn - but all I distinctly remember are (a) lima beans and (b) no one ever eating it even though it was always on the table.

With my own dieting past, I've always tried to emulate the success my father told us about literally thousands of times. I would convince myself that only eating a piece of broiled chicken and a bag of steamed mixed vegetables could be quite delicious ... and my diets would usually last about a day and a half before I cursed it and ordered takeout.

It never really occurred to me that despite his 40 pound loss, it couldn't have been too great of a plan if he eventually broke it. It reminds me of a conversation I had with my sister Katie a few months ago. One of my favorite foods is cereal (seriously, any kind), and I was talking about how I would eat only cereal for the rest of my life if I could. Kate was a considerably better student in science than I was, and she told me that I would die if I did that. Even if your body is full of food, you can die of malnutrition. dad and dannyYou have to have a balance of protein, carbs, vitamins, and minerals. It's like your body is a car, she said - if your car has a full tank, that's great, but it will only work if the tank is full of gas. A full tank of milk isn't going to get you anywhere.

I think one of the keys to staying on track is maintaining a balance. I try to make sure that I am eating enough of everything - not all one thing or another - and it prevents me from getting bored. By not getting monotonous with the foods that I eat, I am less likely to want to binge. I eat chicken, but I also have pork, turkey, and fish - and lots of non-meat protein sources. Once a month I eat red meat, and I am okay with that. And there's a whole world of vegetables outside of the frozen food aisle! Trying new recipes helps, too - it's great to know that I can lose weight and eat delicious and interesting foods. I'm not condemned to a life of plain, unseasoned chicken and scum mix!


Anonymous said...

LOL @ "Scum Mix"
I was a little concerned when I read the term wondering what the hell Scum Mix was but I am relieved to know that it is just those veggies! Here are some things I can say about food and dieting:

1. Variety of good things keeps you from being bored (you said it yourself)
2. Smaller portions of your favorite things are better than large portions of good things that you aren't crazy about.
3. Slow and steady wins the race. Make a change in your eating and exercise that you'll maintain for the rest of your life.

I have 2 friends who have both lost over 70 pounds in the past but both have gained it all back and then some. Know why? They both over exercised, under ate, and cut out entire food groups (like carbs), and once they were happy with where they were, they quit the overbearing exercise routine, ate more, and brought back those things they originally cut out.

Balance is key. You've recognized that and that tells me that you're more likely to keep off the weight you lose for life!

Good job!

Teresa Mof said...

Just found your blog and I love it! Way to go!

Amy said...

I hate frozen vegetables, and refuse to eat them. It's always about fresh veggies for me. My dinner table ALWAYS had them on it too, and only my Dad would eat them (still the same). The only frozen veggies I can stomach are the baby corn, snow peas and water chestnuts (picked from my Dad's bowl of course).

I struggle with weight loss when it comes to being monotonous... I can eat the same thing every day for about 2 weeks and do really well and then I can't do it anymore. The problem is I'm extremely picky... so I just find something I like and stick to it, but then I get bored and refuse to eat it... and become a lazy grazer (a slump I've been in for 2 weeks).

Variety is definitely the key to success!

Ann (-50 lbs in -60 lb challenge) said...

Great post! And I love that last photo - so sweet. Lots of love communicated there!

Variety is a good thing, and it IS about balance. I have to work on the smaller portions still, but cutting out the fat and STILL finding flavor has been crucial for my own journey. I try out a new recipe or food item every single week. Some are hits, some are misses, but it all speaks to variety. I keep the winners and toss the losers.

Keep up the good work!

jayme @ Losing Half My Weight said...

i think 'scum mix' is a perfect name for that disgusting mix of frozen veggies. ugh.

fresh veggies all the way, baby!

but you're right about figuring out plans that you can stick to and be successful for the rest of your life! here's to sustainable change!

jayme @ Losing Half My Weight said...

btw, your profile pic up there is looking good!