March 30, 2011


Three days ago, I started to do something new: I took a fresh new notebook and a pen and I began tracking my daily food, water, and exercise. It may seem strange, especially after writing last week about my usual food routine and how regimented it is. for all that i hope forFor eight months, I haven't closely tracked my calories, so why do I feel the need to start now?

Well, for starters, to say that I have not tracked at all isn't true. I've been tracking my workouts since January, though that has been more out of curiosity than accountability. But I've tracked food before, too - I usually start tracking food when I am having a hard time - when I'm struggling emotionally or when I notice the scale is not moving as much as it could be. Tracking helps me stay focused and keeps me mindful of how much I am eating. I tracked when I was in Connecticut for the holidays. I tracked when I was stuck at home during a blizzard. And now, I am tracking daily until I feel ready to stop - likely the end of the semester.

I still weigh daily, and the scale hasn't changed since last Friday. I've been working out a lot, but my deficits have been really low, as I've been eating most of my calories. Making good choices, not bingeing ... just eating more than I usually do. To the tune of 1600-1700 calories a day, which is a lot considering I try to stick to 1200-1300 most days. In the moment, I justify the extra piece of fruit, cup of yogurt, or 100 calorie pack - I'm hungry. But afterwards, I almost always realize that wasn't actually the case. I'm bored. I'm stressed. I'm lonely. I'm thirsty.

I have a lot on my emotional plate right now, and I need to make sure that the emotional hunger doesn't get soothed by physical feeding. On deck:
  • The end of the semester - which not only means the usual wrapping-up work of exams, papers, and final grade calculation, but also the end of my contract at the university. Not knowing if I will have a job next fall is a little scary and a little exciting, and lately it's been more scary than anything. Could I honestly sustain my healthy lifestyle if I have a different job?

  • My mom and brother decided to come out to Chicago for a visit - they started planning without really clearing it by me, and while I am very excited to see them, they're a big stressor for me. Most of my mom's to-do list is food related (Chinatown, Hot Doug's, and Molly's Cupcakes, just to name a few stops). On top of that, the week when they'll be here is the week before the last week of classes for my students and me.

  • I made 15 weight loss goals between my starting weight and my long term goal, and at this point, I have more crossed off than I have to still meet. My next goal is onederland, and that has me pretty anxious. I don't remember exactly when was the last time I weighed under 200 pounds, so the uncertainty of being a stranger in a strange land has me frightened. Also, my body is changing an awful lot as the numbers fall, but especially now and in the next few numeric "decades" of loss, the look of my face is transitioning. It's a very weird feeling to catch a glimpse of yourself and think "Oh ... so that's what I look like." Because even if I did remember what I looked like the last time I was under 200 pounds, I was in one of the middle school grades, so it wasn't my adult face. I'm meeting someone new, and I am her. And that's stressful.
I'm really proud of the fact that I can anticipate stressors and that I have an attack plan. In the past, I would get anxious but not do anything about it, then drown my stress and sorrows in food. That's just not going to work for me anymore.
  • I have most of my lesson plans done for the rest of the semester, I just need to make sure I stay on top of the grading.

  • I am already looking at the syllabus to see how I can make it all work with guests but still be available enough for my students.

  • I am in charge of making my mother's itinerary, which will be mostly organized so that her big must-do food stops are during the hours when I will be at work.

  • I took a giant grown-up step and told my mother that while she is in my house, if we are eating at home, we will be eating what I cook. My house, my rules - and she took it pretty well! I share my weekly recipes with her and she thinks most of them sound pretty good.

  • Since my mom and brother will be here after the Shamrock Shuffle is over, I registered for a 10k in early June to make sure I have an exercise goal to be training for.

  • I am looking for some good reading material to help me with the physical transition to onederland. I've been reading a lot of blogs lately, though I'm also on the lookout for some good books, preferably something with emotional exercises included.
These, paired with tracking, will help keep me focused and relieve at least a little of the stress of the next few weeks. I can do this!

What about you? Do you track food and/or workouts? How do you live the healthiest life possible while you have guests? What are your best tips/tricks for dealing with stress without turning to food? Any suggestions for books/blogs?


Amy said...

Sounds to me like you've hit a bit of a plateau; however you've always got a plan and reaction to every situation you're in and that's EXACTLY why you've lost 122 pounds already.

Ann said...

I'm a huge believer in tracking - it helps me see where I've been. :) for now, it's a useful tool for me in my weight-loss journey.

downsizers said...

Marianne Williamson's "A Course in Weight Loss" is excellent. It gave me so many insights and "epiphanies" - those "aha" things.

Shannie (akaSolidice242) said...

I hope things go good while your mother is visiting, sometimes parents forget they they aren't "in charge" anymore. I track my exercises, I love exercising but I hate getting up to exercise, so I find that tracking help me get into the habit of exercising. I don't get hungry when I am stressed, mostly I eat at my worse when I am bored. I guess the best advice is to probably go out and be active... But when you found out the answer please let me know...Good luck!

Meghan said...

I do track my food for usually 6 days out of the week, it really helps me feel in control. I don't track my exercise into any program, although I might start making a spread sheet next month. When I really want something when I'm not hungry or stressed I have been asking myself, "How will I feel about this in the morning?" and it does seem to help. I also go to to a room that isn't near the kitchen and read or surf the net. I also crunch ice or sugar free popsicles so I trick myself into thinking I'm having something. So far that has been helping me.

Krista said...

I track everything I eat using a program called tap & track on my iPod. I love it! Counting calories is the ONLY way I can lose weight. It sucks.

Karen said...

I tried tracking for a while last month and right now am eating very well and consistently so stopped. I admit that I struggle a lot with guests. Sigh. We will have family visiting in May when my son graduates high school. Lots of food and off plan stuff around then.

100 in 11' said...

I teared up when you said " I am meeting someone new, and I am her." I am so ready to meet myself and get past this misery! You are so inspirational!

The times where I was successful with company and food were the times I focused on the people, and their company rather than worrying about the food. Good for you about the whole my house, my rules thing, that is wonderful that you are taking that stand for yourself. ;)

Unknown said...

I'm right on the verge of wonderland for the second time and it really hit home for me when you were talking about how scary it is. I was at 199 for a week before I freaked out at the unfamiliarity of it all and went haywire for about 4 months. I only gained 6 lbs and I'm back on track now but almost back to ONEderland once again.

I think I can deal this time but the more tools you have to work with the better ya know? If you get any good book recommendations let me know.