Saturday, September 26, 2009

Breaking Down the Issues

This is going to be sort of a self-reflection post, meant to tear apart the weaknesses in my healthy eating plan. Follow along if you like, but it may be disjointed!

I've been thinking about the why's of *not* losing weight or not sticking to a plan 100% (or close to it). I mean, it seems like if a person decides to accomplish something, knows how to do it, and the something is reasonably doable, it would just *happen.* Yeah, there'd be work. But there is just no reason for me not to be dropping pounds consistently. I think there are some little slip-ups that need to be corrected.

#1: I am tired ALL the time. I mean, I am just exhausted. I feel like a truck hit me some days and have zero energy. It's a vicious cycle: no energy, don't exercise, no energy. Or, no energy, eat junk, no energy. That's how it works. I am MAKING myself exercise and FORCING myself to eat healthy but it is just draining. I remember when I weighed 214 and had SO much energy. Life felt vibrant. The extra 25 pounds is just sucking the life out of me! And I am totally not getting enough sleep. I stay up til 11 working on stuff and get to sleep around 12. And then my daughter wakes up several times in the night, so I wake up at least 3-4 times a night. Then she is up bright and early at 6am. This is just not working out for me. I feel so tired in the morning that I am DRAGGING around the living room and kitchen, half asleep.

The solution to this? Well, most importantly I have to keep eating healthy foods and avoiding junk. If I start eating junk again it will just make the energy issue worse. I am taking vitamins, including B supplements for energy, so I need to keep doing that too. I think the biggest change that needs to occur here is getting enough sleep. Six hours of interrupted sleep is not cutting it. So I am going to make an effort to get 8 hours a night. I'll have to get to bed earlier... around 10. I don't like it. I am a night owl. But something has to give, here. I ain't a spring chicken anymore! So, bedtime at 10. I think that will help.

#2: I am always trying to decide what to eat and am (again) too tired to do the prep. That's the main reason I was eating so much fast food: too tired to come home and make a sandwich. Pathetic, I know. But true. I think fixing the tiredness will improve this but there's more that can be done. I HATE meal planning. I have been ULTRA resistant to making out a menu for a week or even a day. All my life I have "winged it" because I really like eating what I WANT to. And even with the healthy eating, I like listening to my body. Sometimes I feel like I need more protein, or I crave some greens, or maybe some whole grain bread sounds good. I do not want to eat a bowl of oatmeal when I am cravings eggs. Ya know?

But not planning means a lot of spontaneous decisions. And those kinds of choices, when hungry, can be less than optimal. If I don't have a lunch plan and I come home ravenous, I go into the kitchen, desperate for something to sustain me and end up grabbing the first thing I see because, after all, who wants to steam broccoli and grill a chicken breast when they're famished?

I often am in the middle of trying to prep something healthy to eat and WISH I had some cooked vegetables to just throw in a dish, or some washed fruit, or some cooked protein. This, I can fix.

I think I need a happy medium, where I have choices but they are planned, healthy choices. I can do this if I just take a day or two each week for basic prep work. I can cook some chicken and maybe another lean protein, slice it up and have it in containers in the fridge, ready to add to salads or sandwiches or to eat as a meal with veggies. I can cut up some raw veggies like carrots and broccoli and have them in the fridge, ready to eat. I can steam a big pot of broccoli once a week and keep it in the fridge in containers. I use a LOT of zucchini in things, but I HATE steaming it every day, so I can steam a whole bunch of it once a week and have it sliced and cooked and ready to use in the fridge. And I can prep salad greens so they are washed, torn, and ready to just throw on a plate on a whim.

This all seems intuitive and simple but if you recall the garbage I grew up eating, and the fact that I ate in restaurants alot, you'll realize why this simple, time-saving step never worked its way into my life before now.

So here's my "easy prep" ideas:
Wash and cut up fruit
Wash and cut up raw veggies
Steam veggies and have them in the fridge for instant use (I think I'll do 2 or 3 a week)
Wash and prep salad greens in a container
Cook 2 different lean meats, slice and have ready in the fridge
Make one pot of healthy soup per week just to have on hand in the fridge
Keep cans of tuna and beans in the cabinet for easy protein

So, I figure if I do this, it will greatly improve my impulsive choices when I am hungry and have nothing really planned. If you have any other ideas for easy, once or twice a week food prep, let me know. And if you have some magic way to keep salad greens fresh and crisp in the fridge for a week, I want to hear that too! I hate soggy salad.

Okay, I feel better. I have a plan. I even bought some chicken breasts and a pork tenderloin that I can cook this weekend and have on hand for the week. I'll be searching the web for a tasty, healthy, low cal soup recipe that I can make tomorrow too.

Have a great weekend!


Anonymous said...

Lyn, I think having some frozen meals on hand works well. Sure, they're more processed and not as healthy as if you make it yourself (think Lean Pockets), but it gives you a break from making something every day. Just an idea....

tiffany said...

I went to the Farmer's Market and bought a huge box of ripe beautiful tomatoes. I rough chopped them with garlic,fresh basil and onions and threw it all into a big ,deep roasting pan.Drizzled balsamic and olive oil over it and stirred. I put it in the oven at 250 and went to sleep. Upon awakening-pasta sauce for the winter! I put it in ziplock bags and threw it in the freezer....

tiffany said...

You could also use the roasted tomato sauce for your chicken or roasted veggies if you're avoiding pasta....

Hallie said...

I think getting enough sleep is a great idea. Superb! As for #2, you have some good ideas, but still no concrete plan. Name the two days out of the week that you're going to cut fruit and prep chicken. I think once you've done that, it'll be harder to gloss over it.

Friend of the Bear said...

Hi Lyn. It's tough having to go to bed early when you're a night owl. I have the same problem. Going to sleep is so boring! But a good night's sleep does make all the difference. Sugar and carb cravings are definitely much less when you're not tired.

I hate food prep too. When I'm dieting I buy ready washed bagged salad which lasts a long time and ditto micro in the bag veg. More expensive but I am much more likely to eat it. I tend to eat fish for protein - in my microwave it cooks in just over 2 mins.

To really do weight loss properly you do need to plan a lot so I think you have some good ideas on that.

Best wishes,
Bearfriend xx

Shelley said...

I like your plan! For me, having the fruits and veggies on hand and prepared saves me from myself when I'm starving. Also, I think I read in Dr. Oz's book that having a few "go to" meals, where you automatically eat the same thing, can help with the diet. That's why I end up eating my yogurt/fruit/cereal combo just about every day for breakfast. Good luck - it sounds like you are on the right track!

metro15 said...

Been lurking forever, thought I'd chime in. :) I was just thinking about the meal planning thing yesterday! I have been super busy at work recently and just grabbing food whereever I can. It has to stop!

Anyway, the other day I realized that frozen veg is a real life saver for me. I keep an oriental mix, broccoli, whatever else on hand along with some frozen shrimp and tofu in the fridge. I have been whipping up delicious stir fries that really take no time to cook. I also have parboiled brown rice to hand, so it only takes 15 minutes instead of 45. Or you can have it with rice noodles instead, which is also delish. I make enough stir fry to eat for 2 or 3 meals.

I agree with having some good quality frozen meals on hand. Look at the ingredient list, some actually aren't too bad. Not great for every day but ok for those days when the only other option seems like McDonalds or something.

Leslie said...

Hi Lyn,

Planning and having good stuff on hand ready to go always helps me. I agree about keeping a few things like Lean Cuisines in the freezer for when you can't handle chopping and slicing. Also, Trader Joe's sell packs of grilled chicken, some plain and some marinated, that are also fast to add to a salad or with some vegetables for a fast satisfying meal.

If you like cottage cheese, I use it instead of mayonnaise with tuna, and it's a double shot of protein and delish! add whatever veggies you like.

Vickie said...

I cook all meat as soon as I walk in the house with it. I do not put raw meat in the refrigerator or the freezer - ever. This has made a HUGE difference in cooking from scratch.

When I started this - we were still eating a lot of meat. Now we are down to chicken and occassionally turkey - so I freeze far less. but I still cook it immediately.

I flash freeze everything that I freeze so it is not in a solid clump. I put things in a large zip lock bag and then put it (spread out, flat) on a cookie sheet in the freezer - as soon as it is frozen the bag can be turned up right or the food can be moved to another container.

You can do this same thing with soup - flat - so that it is faster to thaw and easier to store.

I cook dry beans in the crock pot and then freeze them in serving sizes. I keep all the beans (bags) in a dishpan in the freezer - so they are easy to find.

I cook veggies (that I normally cook - green beans, zucchini, etc.) about once a week. I am very careful to UNDER steam (or UNDER bake) them so they are stay quite crunchy and not mushy.

Melissa Venable said...

Thank you so much for this one! I've been thinking about this a lot, b/c i also hate planning meals. i mean, i just hate it. pre-cutting veggies & fruits is a great idea for me. I love the White Chicken Pizza lean pockets. They are not too bad, especially if you eat them only when you are just not willing to cook & you're tempted to go thru a drive-thru! & i've always been a night owl too but i now go to sleep about 9 or 10 & it's much much MUCH better.:)

moonduster said...

Make some dishes in the crockpot that you can freeze and reheat when needed. I can give you a bunch of healthy recipes - even some that my kids are willing to eat too! LOL!

Andra said...

Getting enough sleep is essential for weight-loss and good health. I, too, am a night owl but I put myself on a sleep schedule and adapted to it quickly and now I sleep better than ever and have more energy during the day from being well rested. I'm useless when I'm not sleeping well and it will interfere with the energy it takes to get healthy.

I know it's a bit expensive, but I take help where I can get it. I buy pre-washed organic salad greens in the tubs, they stay fresh and are always ready for a quick salad or to pile on a lunch wrap. I also buy pre-cut veggies for quick snacks and buy the sort of fruit that is easily eaten out of hand, no prep work there other than a quick rinse. Kashi frozen meals are a godsend for when I don't have left overs. I work 3-11 and they are a really good option to have for supper.

rachel said...

personally, Lean Cuisine saves my life. yummm. so do light Progresso soups... as far as keeping greens good for a week... dont ever cut them with a knife.. only tear off what you need right then.. i used to wrap lettuce very lightly into a damp paper towel and put in a colander in the fridge. that stayed good for a long time.

Amber said...

For me, if I don't plan, at least a day ahead of time, it's a disaster waiting to happen! I hope your new non-plan plan works out well for you.

Also, sometimes exhaustion is a manifestation of depression or other emotional issues that may be tough to try to work out on your own. Maybe you already have or do, but have you thought about seeing a counselor? I know some folks are really against therapy, but you've been through so much and are still going through a lot, maybe a professional could be a lot of help to you.

Or maybe going to be early is the answer! What do I know?

Good luck Lyn!

Lyn said...

Wow, you guys, thank you for all the great suggestions! And thanks to those who emailed me recipes too. I am definitely going to use them! Moonduster, can you email me a few?? Thanks so much!

Pinning down the days, hmmm. I think Saturday and Wednesday will work for the prep. TY :)

Steelers6 said...

Lyn, I think this was probably helpful to YOU to type it all out there. [your posts are helpful to us too!] And learning from your other posters is valuable to me. Thanks all! Would you mind sharing the recipes you enjoy the most with us maybe eventually? I was disappointed that the recipes weren't posted for all. =)

Some great plans. I do feel like we have to go to the supermarket a lot around here...trying to eat fresh stuff. I will miss the produce from the produce stands. =(

Be careful with those frozen meals that are mentioned...they are so often labeled as healthy and may be low cal, but very high in salt. (yuck) I do understand the advice means in a real pinch and instead of fast food. So yeah, better than the ol' kitchen grab o' rama, I guess! And sometimes if ya wait too long and are almost too hungry to make something it would be helpful, I'm sure. A thought on that though, that I think you mentioned before---is your lunch tote a habit now? I remember you talked about it awhile back. (taking dd to see her physician) I try NOT to get overly hungry, and take my cooler w/me almost always. Saves coming home way too hungry, and saves me from thinking I must find healthy? food somewhere bc I am so hungry. So I usually have fruit, raw almonds, water, lowfat cheese, etc on the road w/me. It is always ready w/the non perishables, and I just add the cold stuff before heading out.

Since I started my journey, I just love a veggie sandw w/provolone on one pc of whole wheat bread for lunch. Kind of like a salad between a pc of bread! ha I don't like the fixing, but I do look FWD to it. ha Yum.

I have made veggie soup and canned it. Yes, it is a big day of work on the day, but nice later.

Cheering you on, gf!!

Diane, Fit to the Finish said...

I do a lot of prep work right after I get back from the grocery store each week. It really saves time as I'm preparing meals. I chop veggies, precook chicken, and make the rice, etc.

I think you have some really great thoughts on making your plan work!

Ames said...

Maybe you could also make a plan for which nights you will stay up late??

screwdestiny said...

That was probably really good for you to write that all out, to put down on "paper" what exactly you're doing wrong. It's funny, I'm pretty much the opposite of you--when I'm cooking at home regularly, I HAVE to have a menu. I'm such a planner, and it will literally take me about two hours every week to plan out the whole menu for the week (including snacks!) and make my grocery list. But I find that I really like being able to cross off each meal/snack, so I usually follow it pretty closely. I'm glad you've got some ideas that you think will help you out in making healthier decisions in the near future.

beerab said...

I know you can do it girl, I've read your blog since the beginning- I say let some of the housework slide if you can to get more sleep!

I'm pulling for you! LYN LYN LYN! WOOOOOOO!

Dorothy said...

This soup is awesome, and very healthy! I made it this morning, simmered all day in the crock pot and had a big bowl for supper. Skim milk instead of light cream made no difference, and I added a dollop of fat free sour cream to make it pretty. Yum!

I know you said you take a vitamin, and that's great, but consider getting your iron checked. Most women just cannot manage to get enough from their food alone.

Jennie said...

Jennie soup:
1 x 796 ml can of diced tomatoes
1 x 540m can lentils, rinsed
1 soup cube of your preferred flavor
1 cup carrots, cut into coins
2 cups water
garlic and spices to preference (I like garam masala)
humus for garnish
boil water, spices, soup cube and carrots for 3 minutes, add lentils and tomatoes. Boil for 6 - 8 minutes, or until carrots are cooked. Voila, low calorie very fast soup.

stephseef said...

Lyn - no time to read the comments - this might be here already - but have you thought about those disposable ziploc microwave steaming bags? they really work. you could pre-chop the zucchini and have it in a bowl ready to throw in the bag. Just a thought!! keep up the great work. I KNOW you can do this.

Rachel said...

I just plain don't lose weight when I'm not getting enough sleep, even when I'm doing everything right. Well, I probably am not doing *everything* right during those phases, but it seriously feels like my metabolism slows down or something.

You might like to do something my aunt does for her five children, though she's a bit more structured with her planning than it seems like you prefer. She has a grid with days of the week and then the type of food for the day - casserole, Mexican, etc. - and seven or eight healthy meal choices underneath. She posted the grid on the fridge so the kids can see what day it is, Mexican Monday or whatever, and then voice their opinion about which one of the healthy choices they'd like. It not only saves my aunt time and energy from having to make choices when she's tired and hungry, but it also gives the kids the structure they need and want as it relates to food. And there's less whining when the schedule's already posted :) Hope that idea helps a tiny bit!

bbubblyb said...

I definitely understand the needing more sleep thing. I have been running short on sleep for years. My whole family suffers from insomnia so I usually only get about 5-6 hours a night.

How I handle eating healthier is I make up a meal plan for the week then I make what I want on what day I feel in the mood for it. I always make more than needed too so I can package up leftovers for lunches and also for those nights I don't feel like cooking. I usually cook about 4-5 days a week and the other 2-3 days we call "fend for yourself night" and we all eat whatever we want.

Since I'm not big on veggies I just keep a lot of fruit in the house and also nuts so when I'm coming in and starved and still have cooking to do I will grab some grapes or an apple and a few almonds and that will usually tide me over till I can get dinner fixed.

Sounds like you have a good plan. You can do this, you have done this. Just keep having faith in yourself. *hugs*

Shelli Belly said...

Sounds Great. Boy the issues are so familar Its amazing how common our steps are.

Make sure you have wind down time before you go to sleep so that by 10 you'll be ready to close your eyes.

I'm trying this approach because I just can't expect to make all my healthy choices when I'm surviving on "nap power."

So night owls unite and go to bed.


Twix said...

OK, I confess! I hate meal planning and I'm a night owl. It's 1am here and no meals planned for the week yet. Plus been winging it for over a month. I can make a menu but following it through, lol, is another thing. Don't even get me to try to go to bed right now. I've been on a very weird shift for most of the year. Bed by 3 and up at 9. I don't even feel with it until about 4pm. And I'm the leader of the band...hahahaha!!! :D
For reals, make a menu. Keep it simple and don't kick yourself for wanting those eggs. Eat them! Keep the menu simple and flexible. ;-)

Vickie said...

I don't actually PLAN the details of each meal.

I have a variety of lean proteins, a variety of veggies (I eat half of my veggie intake raw and the other half lightly cooked), a variety of complex/whole food carbs available.

Then I simply decide at each meal WHAT of those safe choices I want to eat for that meal. And because everything is prepped - I can just pick from them.

So for years, I would eat oatmeal/egg white omelete/fruit cottage cheese for breakfast,

and then for lunch I would pick a combination of lean protein/veggie/veggie/small complex carb

and then for my snack I would do fruit/yogurt

and then dinner was lean protein/veggie/veggie/small complex carb

so it wasn't planning out the exact food - it was picking out categories. this is Kay Sheppard (who works with food addicts) plan.

Anonymous said...

Just a note on iron - excess iron can be very unhealthy, even dangerous, so have your levels checked before adding it!

Winivere said...

You are right. I work such crazy hours that I have to prep my foods for the week on the weekends. Cooking everyday is not a good plan for me. I'm to busy for that. GRRR...

Karyn said...

Sounds like you are on the right track...

I keep a pot of your taco soup in the fridge - I use no salt added beans and tomatoes and LOTS of chunky veggies - sometimes I leave out the meat. This is my lifesaver.

I also keep a roasted chicken - usually bought from the deli at the grocery.

Salad...I mix up the greens and put in a large, freezer sized ziplock bag...suck the air out and seal. The other 'salad fixings' are chopped and stored in separate containers - it helps to keep them apart since things like tomatoes and cukes makes the salad too wet after a day or two.

Frozen meals do NOT work for me - too much sodium....but I used to use them. If sodium isn't an issue, the Lean Cuisine meals are tasty and convenient.

Sleep is an issue....apparently, your body produces an appetite suppressing hormone while you sleep. I posted about an article I read on this subject some time ago. But I can sympathize - I do not go to bed early enough most nights to get 8 hours of sleep.

Your analysis sounds right on track and also sounds very familiar.

Melinda said...

Lyn, When I get home from the grocery I always take my lettuce (usually romaine) and wash and chop it. Once it's through the salad spinner I portion it into a couple zippered bags along with a couple of paper towels. The paper absorbs the excess moisture and I have the basis of a salad, wrap, etc. for the rest of the week. I also wrap my herbs in paper towels and store in a zippered bag and they keep several weeks.

On another note, I really enjoy your blog (I have been reading it for over a year now). Thank you for sharing your journey.

lyricgirl said...

It sounds like you have a case of the boredoms. All that you have done in the past is old to you now. It's time to shake up your daily routine. I agree with making plans but make it fun. First, set some food boundaries-yes thats right boundaries. This is different from eating in moderation or allowing yourself to have a free pass. Only eat foods that have "nutritional value" so you wont have to ask yourself "why did I eat that" and feel bad about it later. Add some excitement in your workout rountine if you have one like" Jumba, Boot Camp Yoga, and weight lifting. Before you go to bed every night write down 5 things that you really love about yourself. When you wake up write them down again to remember yourself. You can do it so just hang in there and be strong for yourself. Remember very day is a new day. Good luck!

Claire said...

It's about taking the other foods off the table. If they are no longer an option you do take the time to cook that chicken.

Don't deny things completely but make them once a week, once a month treats.

As my sister said once 'We eat too much party food all the time. We should save it for parties.' She's right.

Anonymous said...

I am another night-owl. I resent having to go to bed. I love the quiet of night-time. I feel groggy most days as I get up at 7.30am, and I merely go through the motions. It's a sort of chicken and egg situation. I am sure bad sleeping and eating habits engender long-term low-level depression....and when you feel the world is a bit grey it's doubly difficult to care about what you eat. I tell myself I am worth the effort of making something healthy to eat, which I often find a real chore, so thanks for the tips here regarding keeping healthy, nutritious foods handy.

Like so many of us, I grab things from the fridge and the cupboards that don't need cooking. My children are young adults now, and the boys especially are always hungry after a day at work. They graze constantly when they come in and they like and need their carbs.
Do any of us grab an apple when we have the urge to eat? (I know my urges aren't hunger pangs...they're often 'wanting something sugary or greasy pangs!)I just wish I could learn to love crispy apples.

Like most things, eating well has to become a habit. I have all the theory - now I need to practice it! I know I am good at a stupid form or self-sabotage.

Thanks again for your thoughts Lyn. Once again I wondered if you are able to read my mind!

DBee x x x

Chibi Jeebs said...

I'm good at buying the fruits & veggies and washing/cutting them for ease of eating, but I'm not good at remembering they're in the crisper drawers: if I don't put them on the shelves where I can see them, I won't use them. Maybe that might help you, too?

As well, what about batch cooking, say on a Sunday? Do you have the freezer space to make your own "frozen meals"? That's what we do now instead of buying the ones from the grocery store.

Josie said...

I saw SO much of myself in this post. The last thing I want to do when I get home is prep and cook food, which has caused us to eat out FAR more than we should have. It really is a vicious cycle. I need to eat healthy and exercise so I'll have more energy, but I never have the energy to eat healthy and exercise. So, thanks for the tips on prepping once a week to make things easier through the week...Love your blog - so very inspirational!

Rina said...

I'm going to confirm what Melinda wrote - to keep lettuce and such crisp - send them through the spinner, then put them in a large ziploc bag with paper towels at the bottom, middle and top. They keep for a very long time. Keep the leaves whole though, and rip them up right before you make your salad. Crisper that way.

Thanks for all your inspiration!!!