Monday, August 8, 2011

Full Circle

Four years ago when I came back from that vacation I have often mentioned (the one where I weighed 278 pounds and needed the handicapped access to the beach and even then could only stay 10 minutes), I knew I needed to make big changes. I had dieted for years, but this time was different. I'm not sure if I really believed it would stick, but I just took one step after another, not giving up, changing things as I went along to maintain success.

I am there again now. It's the same time of year that I began this blog four years ago and started to truly change my life. I weigh almost 100 pounds less than I did then, but am at the same point of "something has to give." And I have come full circle to the same focus and strategy I had when I began.

I remember it well. I wasn't sure just what to do; I'd already done Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach, calorie counting, Jenny Craig, OA, on and on and on the list could go. But my epiphany came because my daughter was seeing a nutritionist because of her multiple health issues, and we were given coupons good for $20 worth of fresh produce at the local Farmer's Market. I almost never went over there. Why bother? I never ate vegetables anyway and you couldn't get Little Debbies there. But hey, $20 is $20, and I was not going to let it go to waste, so away we went.

Wow. It was such an eye opener! I never knew so many different fruits and vegetables grew right here in my own area! I came away with watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, cherries, apples, peaches, carrots, corn on the cob, green beans, baby red potatoes, tomatoes, and squash. When I came home, my kitchen was packed with all that fresh goodness, and that became my "diet" plan. All I did at first was try not to eat junk food and focus on eating all that produce before it spoiled. And I lost weight. I didn't count calories, or measure anything, or limit my intake of produce at all. I just ate it and started walking... out the door and across the street to the mailbox and back at first, then slowly working up to a block, then two, then three. That was my plan, and I felt good, and it worked.

There did come a time I stalled and had to start counting calories and biking to keep losing weight. And then came the crazy plateau from hell... 20 months up and down with no net loss whatsoever, even though I counted calories and exercised the whole time. The problem was the occasional binges. I could eat on plan 90% of the time... enough to drop 4 or 5 pounds a month... but then the binges a couple times a month negated the work I had done. I easily would regain that 4 or 5 pounds during a couple days of binge eating. And this went on for almost 2 years. It's all right here on my blog, written almost daily as it was happening. It was tough.

Then came Medifast to break me out of that plateau. I went from 234 to 175 pounds in about 8 months. Awesome! And I learned new eating habits that I will keep with me forever. I learned how to stop the binges for the most part. But over the winter and spring I have struggled a lot. I have not lost anymore weight. In fact I regained a bit and fluctuated between 180 and 195 over the months. Time for something new.

Or something old.

I am tired of rules. I am tired of restrictions. I have always been dismayed when people who've lost weight would tell me I would *always* have to count calories or carbs or weigh and measure my food for the rest of my life. I don't want that! I never wanted it. Maybe it is true. I dunno. I probably will end up counting calories and such again at some point, but right now all I want is freedom. I am listening to my body and making very few rules about what I "can" eat. I look at a food and decide whether it will nourish me or not. I try to eat when I am hungry and stop when I am full. I pay attention to my blood sugar levels, which I can feel/sense after having been on Medifast and getting used to a very stable blood sugar level from eating every 2-3 hours. I still keep that schedule. And I am back to the Farmer's Market strategy. Go, buy a bunch of fresh produce, then make sure to eat it all before it goes bad. That doesn't leave a lot of room for eating junk! I am adding back in more walking, biking, and other activity. That's it. No counting, no weighing, not now. Maybe later. But for now it's just trying to be in tune, eating local fresh stuff, moving more, and weighing once a week or less. We'll see how it goes. Will tweak as needed.

For now, I am enjoying eggs, tomatoes from the garden, yellow beans from the neighbor's garden, Greek yogurt with walnuts and local lavender honey, fresh strawberries, oatmeal with flax, spinach, and all the wonderful foods I love.


Anonymous said...

I love your new plan - it's a REAL way to eat the rest of your life. Even if you're a few lbs heavier than when you're strictly adhering to Medifast food, I think in the long run you'll be happier and healthier.

Anonymous said...

Check out some of Geneen Roth's books.

js said...

Lyn I can SO relate to your statements of being tired of counting, measuring, etc. I just want to eat nutritious food, exercise for my health, and LIVE WITHOUT food being an issue. Period.
Good luck to you!

Ali @ A Serendipitous Life said...

Fantastic! I just did a blog post this morning about eating local, fresh produce and limiting my intake of processed foods. Whenever I eat this way, calorie counting doesn't really matter - I lose weight. It's amazing how real food tastes so good, and keeps you full.

Dawn said...

Lyn - I've tried every diet there is except WW. i've calorie counted, Atkins, meal replacements etc over the years. I've been a slave to the scale. I got to a UK size 28 that way. For 7 months I've not been weighing, counting, measuring - none of it. I've ditched the scales from my life...I feel sure forever. I'm losing loads, I'm happy, I'm more in tune about what I eat and what it does. I know exactly what size I am by the clothes I'm wearing. I know when I'm losing. I've not binged once in 7 months - this feels natural and normal and I'm eating like normal people eat. I cook a LOAD of soups, fresh healthy ingredients. This feels real, forever and happy. I'm not suggesting my way is right for anyone else, but finding what works for you, and sticking to it seems like a plan
Good luck on your way

LHA said...

I think you are on the right track here! Eating a healthy diet has to be the right way to go, and I wish you the best of luck.

I agree with Anonymous that Geneen Roth has a good message in her books concerning breaking the hold that food has over you. Dieting has never worked for me in the long term, but eating good food in reasonable amounts and concentrating on health instead of artificial weight goals is really turning things around.

Anonymous said...

Tired of rules? Lacking rules you ended up at 278. Eating natural is good. But you need to be at a healthy weight. How will you get there without rules. Not everything natural is good for you. Like arsenic. Natural but poisonous.

Lori said...

I think we all evolve as eaters and there will be times when intuitive eating works best and times when calorie counting works best and times when meal delivery works best. As long as you recognize the need for change and implement it, you will be fine.

Anonymous said...

this is the best idea ever! and is also what i've been doing myself. my only rules are to watch my portions and stop when i'm full. i don't feel deprived, i don't binge, and i feel healthy. you'd mentioned that you want to work on your fitness now, not just losing the weight. this is the best way to make your body fit-- by feeding it real, whole foods. SO glad to read that you're putting medifast down. awesome!

Karen said...

Best of luck on your new plan. I hope you'll continue to post recipes that you try along the way that are keepers.

Take care and enjoy the fam., the fresh food, and the pup.


Sam said...

I'm excited for this new part of your journey. And I agree, maybe in the beginning someone should not rely on their intuition regarding eating. You've been at this for four years though - you are not just starting out - and I think you are going to do fabulous! I did this last year and I loved it! Honestly, it was tough on my blog though. People don't like it, because it's scary to them. But hang in there. You have a good intuition, and you should trust it!!

Cara said...

I love this new plan and I hope you feel fantastic on it :) I must have missed the memo that I should always be counting my calories and measuring everything though. Oh well, 'cause I refuse to do it :) I haven't counted any calories at all and somehow I am almost 50 lbs down. I am doing it slowly and learning how to listen to my body. I am sure you can do this!

timothy said...

that is the natural way of eating and if you can read your bodys signals that's fabulous' even weight watchers recognizes some people just can't/won't count so they do the simply filling plan which is just that. eat healthy whole power foods till your full and then stop.
no one knows your body better than you so i know you'll be successful.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lyn

I know exactly how you feel - the endless dieting, the need to be "normal" and not worry about the weighing and admin of dieting. However, I think that sometimes rules give you the freedom to just be. They take away all the difficult decisions (should I have that extra healthy egg? etc). Our bodies play tricks on us.

I had always struggled to lose weight. I'm incredibly active and fit and have been so for years, I have always eaten healthily but I just ate too much and at the wrong time. I felt that my body just needed it and so I gave my body what I thought it needed (always healthy food). But my weight crept up.

I have since then discovered the cure - a book by Liesbet Delport called "Eat smart for Sport". It is centered around what you need to eat to be able to exercise, be fit and healthy. It is also based on GI principles which is I think the same as Medifast (??). It is for athletes but anyone can use it.
It has convenient tables at the back saying how much you should eat for your weight, activity level and how much you would like to lose in a week.

What I like about it is the focus on food as fuel. And the GI stuff - I've always struggled with my sugar levels. My boyfriend is a sports scientist and I've read his textbooks - this stuff isn't magic - it's just the way your body works and is standard sports nutrition. No gimmicks. No quick fix.

It is based on a diet of 60% carbs, 10 - 15 % protein and 30 - 25 % fat. I know this is different from what you follow (low carb) but maybe this is a change you need.

I've also followed low carb before and I lost weight but found it really hard to maintain with exercise. When I followed this plan the weight just came off and has stayed off (there are tables for maintenance in there too).

It also doesn't promote any expensive diet food - just normal food with healthy decisions.

I know you're not in the right space for counting right now but when you are you should have a look at this book. It changed my life.

Undercover Dieting said...

Sounds like a good plan to me! :) Have you looked into intuitive eating? There, you learn to listen to what your body needs at any given point, seems like it is what you're looking for. I want to try it when I've reached my goal weight. I've heard people say you can use it for weight loss, too, but right now I'm doing good with calorie counting.

PamL said...

Lyn, Great plan! I have found that when I eat to nourish myself instead of indulge myself, the weight stays off. It's a whole new mindset- eat to live not live to eat! When you are eating what you need for your body to live and not gaining or losing weight, I call that my "happy" weight. It might not be exactly what I want the scale to say, but it's me and healthy feels great.

Krisken said...

I personally hate to think that I will need to spend the rest of my life counting calories. Boooo. I love food, and I think if I can just relearn how to force my body to burn those calories I don't need to be a slave to meal times.

Ideal Protein - google it!

Anonymous said...

And finding a counselor, right? To deal with the issues that make you turn to food as anything other than fuel? Winter will bring a slow down in the foods available in the farmer's market, what will you do when there is little fresh stuff in the house and your stress level goes up? That is the time for which you need a plan.

The problem manifests in food, but it's SO not about the food.

Anonymous said...


I wish you nothing but success. I do wonder if your decision to leave Medifast is about you struggling with binging and therefore not being able to stay on plan, so now you are switching to a new and better plan. I hope I am wrong.

Healthy, raw and natural foods are amazing. I fully support that. I also think that for someone who admits that binging is a problem, that rules are so necessary.

ssm said...

Oh yes. I like what Michael Pollan says in Food Rules: Nutrition is a young science, like surgery in the 1600s. It's fascinating, but you don't particularly TRUST it. It's hard to buy any particular set of "rules." My "rule" is to try and eat as many plants as I can in a day, and let that lead me.

Darcy Winters said...

I think the true key to weight loss is to figure out why one is overweight. I read somewhere that being fat is like wearing a suit of armor. It is designed to not let anything in. Once you realize what is causing you to wear the armor - you can free yourself of it. I'm still struggling with the answer myself, but I think that is actually the first step towards permenant weightloss.