Thursday, December 16, 2010

Still a Struggle

This whole "free eating" thing is actually a bit scary. I guess I wanted to have a couple of weeks relaxing and not thinking about weight loss and staying on plan. I sort of wanted to eat some stuff I haven't eaten in nine months. I wanted to "control myself" while indulging in some goodies like split pea soup with sourdough bread, a bowl of cereal with milk, and fresh fruit. What I didn't count on was that my brain would start to revert back to its former brattiness and start demanding things like candy bars, cake, hot dogs, and potato chips.

Without strict parameters of WHAT to eat and HOW MUCH to eat, I go overboard. I start thinking about all the possibilities and drooling over the idea of going to the mall and getting pizza and a cheese steak sandwich. I have begun to obsess about food... something that I thought was almost completely gone from my life. I see some random "new flavor" of candy, ice cream, chips, anything... and I think "omg I have to have it NOW before I start being really strict again." I have to constantly fight myself not to eat during every waking minute. In fact yesterday I was driving in my car to an appointment and was a half hour early, and for JUST A SECOND I considered going to ARBY's for a roast beef, cheese fries and a Coke. Yes I actually thought about it but almost immediately thought, "blech, I have been off fast food for over a year and I do NOT want to go back now!" The thought of sitting in the car dipping curly fries in plasticy orange sauce actually made me nauseous, as did the image I have ingrained into my psyche of big black flies zooming around a chunk of cooked roast beef under a heat lamp waiting to be sliced. No, I am not *that* far gone.

I bought ice cream the other day, which I already mentioned, but when I realized what a big problem it was (I was ready to eat the entire QUART myself) I gave it to my teens. I was in the 7-11 getting a drink yesterday and while I was tempted to get a soda, I ended up with an unsweetened, plain iced tea. But I am not always successful. When I opened a bag from a local deli with some chicken soup inside, I pulled out the two little miniature chocolate chip cookies they'd included as a surprise bonus, and I ate them. When I went to the grocery store hungry the other day, I picked up a roast beef sandwich (on a white roll) at the deli and a large bag of chips. I sat down to eat them (in the car, running errands, another reversion to a bad habit), finished 3/4 of the sandwich and then ate about 5 chips, realized what I was doing, got out of the car and put the whole bag of chips in the trash. Wasteful? Maybe. But less wasteful than putting it in my body.

It sucks trying to "be both things": a thin woman who is losing weight and knows how to eat right, and a fat woman who wants to indulge in everything all at once. And that's what I've been doing this past week, kind of dancing on the edge, eating some things I shouldn't without going *completely* off the deep end. Counting calories for half the day and then stopping because I know I will be over. Trying to maintain the illusion of healthy eating (the illusion TO MYSELF) by eating a spinach salad and chicken breast, while knowing that after the kids are in bed I am going to eat 4 ounces of cheese and a bowl of crackers. It just doesn't mesh. I guess I can't do it. I think I wanted to try. I sort of miss the "old days" of eating all the yummy junk I could stand... but I do not miss the old body and the old misery. Can't have it both ways.

So the scale is up an astronomical amount in just a few days (186) and it perplexes me a bit. I think, "gee, if I actually started BINGEING I would be over 200 in no time flat." It is scary. In the past I gained 40 pounds in 3 months once, and 80 pounds in less than a year. And I assure you that weight was very real. I do not want to go there. In fact I have no clothes that will fit me if I gain 5 more pounds, so the brakes are on. I have to knock it off. In fact I have to knock it off forever if I want to be healthy.

I got a comment or two over the last few days berating Medifast for "not teaching me anything." I have to say, I have learned *so much* on Medifast... so much about myself, my eating, my needs, even my emotions. If you've read my blog for the past 9 months you know what I mean. It also taught me HOW to eat correctly and that I can be very satisfied with dinners I cooked while on that program, no grains needed. I learned how to eat in a restaurant and be satisfied. It's been a huge blessing in my life. That said, I understand how people want to point fingers at the program because "see, you went off Medifast and are struggling." Well, of course. That isn't the plan's fault. The key point is that I WENT OFF. I did not follow Medifast's guidelines. I knew I was doing that and I chose, and am choosing, to do it anyway for my own sanity. Nine months I have done Medifast, and I decided to take a breather. Of course I will struggle trying to figrue things out my own way. I am okay with that... it is part of the journey. Not part of what Medifast recommends, but part of what I decided I need at this time. Medifast HAS a very detailed transition program to go from Medifast foods to all regular foods, adding in fruits and dairy and grains on a schedule. That plan works. It does teach people how to eat at maintenance. Just like Weight Watchers or any other good solid program *works* if you follow it. When someone ignores the guidelines and starts eating cookies, you really cannot blame the plan. I own my behavior. And this experience has shown me many things, one of which is that I do need and want to go through Medifast transition to get back to healthy eating in a more organized, less "free-for-all" manner.

In the meantime, I'm counting calories and cutting the crap because I am at my limit for weight gain right now.

Breakfast was yerba mate tea and a smoothie made from plain, nonfat Greek yogurt, fresh mango, pomegranate arils, ice, and fish oil.
Snack was a protein bar and a cup of coffee.
485 calories so far.

I am off to volunteer in my daughter's classroom, and then I plan to try and figure out how to do some of my new physical therapy exercises on my weight machine. I am missing a part (ankle strap/cable) so I need to either find it or order another one. I also want to start biking at least 15 minutes each evening. The PT says to start very slow to lower risk of injury. I hope to work up to quite a bit more.


Mom to the Fourth Power said...

I'm sorry it's been such a struggle and that your inner food beast is trying to emerge. Good for you to notice and put the breaks on! That's not always easy to do this time of year.

And I agree 100% what you said about Medifast and their program and transitioning. If you follow it - it works wonderfully! I am afraid of my inner food beast and where I'd go it I gave that beast full reins. So following the Medifast program works for me to keep myself reined in and those cravings at bay. Life is so much better for me without those constant cravings.

Keep it up girl... you are a wise woman and have a whole lot to be proud of!! :) Stay focussed.


PlumpNotFat said...

Like you, I am addicted to food AND I gain an absurd amount of weight in a small period of time. I'm 151 (125 is the high end of what I should weigh) now but have been as high as 208. A friend of mine, seeing my picture at 208 stated "OMG, how did you let yourself get to that?". And honestly, I didn't know. I gained over 50 pounds in less than 6 months.

Food IS my drug. There's no two ways about it. Unlike other addicts, we can't just stop eating and be on our way. It's like an alcoholic having to just drink one drink a day in order to "stay sober". It ain't gonna work.

I've tried the premade foods because I also want someone to make the decision for me. It's quite apparent my choices aren't good! I have never been able to stick to one like you have so you can be very proud of yourself for that :)

Thank you so much for your blog. I read it start to finish (sent you an email which you graciously responded to) and it's just so nice to know there are others out there fighting the same hard fight I'm fighting. I've always said I'd look a lot better physically if I'd chosen to be a meth addict, lol!!

Leah said...

I'm sorry to hear that it's been such a struggle! It has to be hard to go from Medifast to calorie-counting.

I'm sure that everyone and their mother have already recommended Weight Watchers to you, but... here it is again:

Weight Watchers works! It's basically just eat less, move more, which is what you're doing. But with WW, you get the support of others in the same situation.

Just my $.02, in case you were looking for a sensible new way to eat without having to cut any certain foods from your diet.

Though the rate of loss is much slower, I've lost 50 pounds in the last 50 weeks, and have really made a lifestyle change this time around.

Best of luck to you!

Chubby McGee said...

I can completely see how you can learn on Medifast. You separated yourself from that evil, but wonderful thing (food) so you'd be able understand why you were eating and such. But it really must be difficult to go off it and count calories.

You're strong though! I know you can do it! Hang in there, kiddo. You've come so far. Yaaay!

And...ew...Arby's meat with flies on it. Amen to that! Thanks for teaching me that little trick of picturing something good in a nasty way so that I want to avoid it.


Anonymous said...

The food addiction, it is weird. I suspect that 100 years from now we'll all have gastric bypass surgery and laugh at the frou-frou we used to put ourselves through. I really think my body is just broken. A little less broken than others, perhaps, but it wants to eat more and would probably stabilize at 100 pounds over my ideal weight. Or maybe never. I had a terrible day, I deserve junk food. I had a great day, I deserve junk food. I ate my protein and vegetables and fruit, can I have my junk food? I exercised, I earned it.

Diana said...

Lyn, I can't remember how MediFast works when you're coming off of it, but it seems like there was a transitional period where you eat part regular food and part MediFast food.

When I did Jenny Craig years ago that's what they had me do when I reached goal. I think it was three days of regular food, four days of Jenny food, gradually increasing the days of regular food to where I wasn't eating JC food at all. To be honest, I went crazy on the regular food and didn't follow their transition to maintenance. I quickly gained all my weight back

Could you try something like that, maybe three days of non-MediFast food where you could have some split pea soup? :)

I know this is hard, but you've worked really hard to get to where you are now, I know you'll rein it in and get back on your plan.

Also, I remember something my girlfriend told me that did MediFast for six months and lost 60 pounds. I asked her when she was going off of the MediFast food. She told me her "counselor" told her never. In order to maintain her weight loss she would always be eating some MediFast food. I thought that was odd, she did too. So when she was almost at goal she went back to eating like she did pre-MediFast and of course, gained all her weight back. I know you won't do that, you've learned to much.

Ex Yo-Yo Dieter Debbie said...

Perhaps it would help that you don't view all foods as options right now.

You have lots of choices, but only choose amongst healthy foods. All the garbage foods are off-limits for now - they'll make you feel ill anyway, and set off cravings for other junky stuff.

When you were on Medifast, you didn't entertain the idea of eating this stuff nearly as often because it wasn't on the plan. As you devise your own healthy eating guidelines, it might be wise to not include the junky stuff on that plan either.

I've been eating sort of "free-form" for over a year now...there are many, many healthy things that I eat frequently and a few less healthy things that I eat once in a while. Sugar is usually an sets off wild cravings within me. It is a major trigger food for me.

Do you have any specific trigger foods?

It may be of use to stick to your transition plan, and then add in other foods one-by-one, and see how you react to them.

On the positive side, January is just a couple of weeks away. I love's the time of year when almost everyone is watching what they eat, so it is a time when you get added support all around!

Katie J said...

I made the mistake of having junk food after 6 months of avoiding and let me tell you Lyn it is NOT WORTH IT!! My tummy is still hurting today :(

MargieAnne said...

I've just read somewhere that ideally we should replace our carbs, ie bread, rice, crackers with fruit and veggies . it means doubling the usual number of fruit and veggie serves recommended.

This makes sense to me.

I know you wanted this break from Medifast and it's not a bad thing to do but I'm wondering if you should have put a couple of restrictions in there to help you stay within your calorie allowance.

Is it possible you need to add baked stuff including crackers to the icecream for now?

Just asking. You have been wonderfully successful and you don't want to continue messing-up.

Maybe by giving yourself some time out you also gave yourself permission to eat anything when all of us addicts know there might always be no-go zones if we want to maintain our weight.

You'll get it right and work it out.

Blessings and have a wonderful day.

Rachel said...

I didn't have much success when I traded in my calorie counting routine for 'intuitive eating'. I ended up embarking on a two-month free for all and gained a very real 15 lbs. It was tough. I got very down on myself and felt like a total failure -- an abnormal person. I've been tracking my calories lately, but still encounter a day or two per week where I am not as diligent about it. Seems like letting myself eat all that crap as made it harder to say no again. I'm retraining myself yet again, but forgot how much work it was. :)

My experience has lead me to believe that I set extremely high and somewhat expectations for myself by going cold turkey and experienced some really low 'lows' when I started feeling out of control. Cue 'the cycle' of compulsive eating!!! Instead of going cold turkey, it might have been a good idea to gradually switch eating regimens. I needed a break -- just like you -- but I wasn't ready. It took me months to realize that it was OK. And that the realization that came from my failed attempt was extremely valuable in its own way.

Thank you for sharing your struggles and successes and doing your part to make the world feel a little smaller for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmmm, "Split Pea Soup, with Sourdough Bread". Hard to believe this could be so bad for a person, or a diet -- I mean we're not talking deep-fried, chocolate-covered Twinkies here! But, I guess it can be (and yet, if wholesome wholefoods/homemade Split Pea Soup is wrong...I'm not sure I wanna be right...? ;-)...).

Lyn said...


split pea soup is very good for you! so is fresh fruit. But both are off limits if you are low carbing. So whether they are on plan or not just depends on what your plan is! I think whole grain bread is pretty healthy, too, but seems to be a trigger for me.

LHA said...

The thing that really resonated with me was when you said you felt that you had to hurry up and eat a lot of things you wanted to before you went back to being really strict again. I have had this happen to me so many times, and it has ruined many a weight loss attempt. That is one of the things I am working on...not feeling like there will EVER be a time when I have to totally deprive myself. That way, when the appropriate time comes to indulge in a special (but less than healthy) food, I can have it in moderation. If it makes you feel any better, there are millions of us out here fighting this battle daily just as you are.

I SO understand what you are going through! You are using all of your intelligence and experience to rein things in, and I know you will be successful. Best of luck to you, and thanks for sharing your journey with all of us.

Shannon said...

" I sort of miss the "old days" of eating all the yummy junk I could stand... but I do not miss the old body and the old misery. Can't have it both ways."
that totally hit me like a ton of bricks! You are SO RIGHT!
thank you!

I'm new to your blog and am blessed by what i see. thank you!

Anonymous said...

When I do that, it isn't my brain being bratty. It's the flour and sugar re-asserting themselves. Eating just about any amount of wheat flour and sugar makes me want to eat more and more of it. It's the first bite that's my mistake, not the 100th. If I avoid the first, the 100th never happens. Easier to say than do, of course. Just keep fighting the good fight, you're doing a really great job.

Cynthia said...

I have to admit, I can understand you being tired of eating all that processed Medifast food. I'd probably have flipped long ago. But I do think you may have jumped a bit fast on eating all kinds of carbs after being low-carb so long. Atkins has a transition to maintenance, I once did a lean n' green kickstart plan for two weeks, even THAT had another two week transition plan.

The quick jump probably helped trigger a lot of cravings, it's you know, kind of normal to want anything and everything when you've been eating restricted for so long? I'm taking a two week maintenance break, and the first two days, I, uh, went overboard. By enough calories to easily gain a half pound.

If things are too tough, and honestly, this is a tough time of year to suddenly jump to a different way of eating, you might want to go back to Medifast and then do their transition plan off.

OR, at least ease up on the heavier carb stuff. If you've mostly been eating green veggies for your lean n' green dinners, start adding the colored veggies in. Then as you adjust to more veggies (which will up your carb intake), start adding the lower carb fruits, like berries. Work your way up gradually to the starchier stuff like oatmeal and cereals, breads and the like. Give your innards a bit of a chance to adjust. Further, you do seem to be easily triggered by sugar and starch, so being careful there and starting by working more vegetables and fruits in might be a plan.

So far, I'm 4 days into my maintenance period and though the first two days I went a bit nuts, I'm back in the driver's seat again. You said it, it boils down to what we want more, our health or the food.

Anyway, hang in there, you can get the hang of real food again, but it is never totally easy to have all the choices that are out there in front of us. The best we can do is make as many good choices as we can and hope that habit outweighs the old bad choices habit.

Renee Beck said...

Diana -

I wanted to address your comment about your friend who said she'd never be able to go off of Medifast products. While choosing Medifast products are a great low-calorie, low-carb, high-protein choice, once you go through Transition & Maintenance, you are not required to continue with Medifast products. If you continue to use the tools that you learn on plan and in T&M, you don't HAVE to use Medifast to maintain forever.

Just wanted to clear that up!

Renee Beck
PR Coordinator, Medifast, Inc.

dauchka said...

I lost 70 lbs on Medifast and have kept it off for over 3 years!! It does work, and it does teach you alot of things! I got control over my eating, but you must do the transition diet! Keep up the good work, you look great!

Anonymous said...

I added a brightly colored sticky note to my food log each day this week. On it I wrote the food temptations I avoided that day. I was able to avoid almost all the holiday temptations this week, while I indulged in most of them last week. Getting to write them on the sheet and giving myself credit for avoiding them was really motivating.

Maybe something like that would help.