Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Right and Wrong Foods

So the calorie counting has begun. It's nothing new; I lost most of my first 64 pounds counting calories on Sparkpeople. I also continued counting calories for 20 months after that, with no net loss. That was very frustrating, and is the reason I stopped counting and started trying other things. I think this fresh start, going back to counting calories, is going to be helpful. At the very least, it will give me information about what is/is not working.

Something interesting happened to me while I was on Medifast. It's the same mental change that happened to me when I was doing South Beach years ago. Because those plans (both of which I think are good plans) are restrictive about what is "on plan" and "off plan," I had some very black-and-white thinking that was hard to shake even after stopping the plans. For example, on Medifast, you do not get to eat stuff like bread or rice or pasta. Period. NONE. If you eat a serving of grains or a cupcake or whatever, you throw your body out of ketosis and it is like "oh my gosh I ruined everything!!!!!!!!!!!!!" because the cravings come back, the hunger returns, and there is often a sudden gain of 2 pounds or more just from water retention due to the carbs. Same for South Beach or Atkins or any other low carb plan. So if you 'mess up' it is, like, tragic. Well, it felt that way to me anyway. So if you can stay on plan 100% (which I did for many months) it is awesome and feels great and the weight comes off. But when you start screwing around, it is so so hard to get it back together. The mindset I developed was one of guilt about eating certain things. Like I did something 'wrong' if I ate a cracker. And in the past months as I tried to do other plans or stay low carb or stay off sugar and grains (because they hurt my joints), I'd feel BAD if I ate a bowl of cereal or even a banana sometimes. And I got this stressful attitude about food because of it. When you feel guilty for eating a bowl of strawberries, well... that wasn't working for me.

So this first week, I am not restricting any particular foods beyond sodas and fast food. I'm just logging. Just getting back into the habit of weighing, measuring, counting everything and staying within a reasonable calorie budget. Not sure what my calorie budget will be, exactly; I should have a better idea of that next week. Right now my calorie 'ceiling' is 1800. I am pretty sure going over that number would result in weight gain, especially since I am not able to exercise yet. But I will eat the foods I feel like eating, with an awareness of how they feel or what they do to my body. And any foods I choose to avoid will not be out of guilt or a sense of wrong-ness, but because I do or do not like how they affect my body and mind. I won't be eating candy bars even though I could fit them into my calorie budget, because I do not like the joint pain that results.

Heading to the Farmer's Market this afternoon and hoping to bring home free range eggs, fresh strawberries, and organic greens of some type. I will go to a larger Farmer's Market on Friday and get more produce. Maybe I will find something new to try!


Barbara said...

What has worked for me is simply counting or watching fat grams I stick to under 25 g's a day. That's the only thing I look at. Good luck

Amy said...

I totally get what you're saying about low-carb/good carb diets. I am on South Beach, and even when you mentioned pumpkin it caused a reaction in me, like "Oh no, that is so high on the glycemic index!" It's kind of a pain to live that way.
Good luck with the calorie counting. And I'm glad you're feeling better!

Andra said...

This is a good post. I'm going to share my thoughts about the title, especially.

Assigning a morality such as "right or wrong" and "good or bad" to food, or to yourself for eating said food is a bad mind trap.

And I don't mean just those of us whom struggle with our weight. I've observed plenty of thin/fit females make comments about feeling guilty about eating that cupcake or having that 2nd glass of wine, how they'll have to punish themselves at the gym the next day.

This is such wrong thinking!

There are foods that are nourishing and health giving just as there are foods that can interfere with our most vibrant health if eaten too frequently and there are items that are passed off as food that are downright poison. This is how I prefer to look at things.

That cupcake and wine aren't bad or wrong, nor am I for having a cupcake or a glass of wine if I choose to. But I do know that I'm going to feel sluggish and bloated with screaming knees if I eat ALL the cupcakes and I'm not going feel like going to the gym the next morning if I have too much wine.

Guilt has not place in the kitchen!

Cathie said...

Been checking in on you every few days. Glad to see you are enthusiastic again and feeling a wee bit better. I am on medifast and have been for two months. You are so right - one cracker, one apple - one orange and you're screwed. BUT and it's a big BUT.... Medifast works. It works better than anything I have ever tried. It gets rid of the cravings, it provides huge amounts of energy, it keeps me excited and most of all - it keeps me HONEST. Medifast works because it's ZERO TOLERANCE. And even a little cheat is devastating. THAT I believe is the essence of my success on Medifast. I know that one little cheat - and it sets me back days. Two months and I've lost 16 pounds I'm half way to my goal. Oh - and yes - I do cheat - but what I'll do - is I'll be PERFECT for two weeks, then I take three days off. It is working like a charm. Even when I cheat for those three days - I don't gain anything. I don't lose anything - but I don't gain. Oh - and I'm taking raspberry ketones. I think that is really helping my metabolism. Stick with it girl. Keep the head up. And don't QUIT!

Anonymous said...

Hungry girl here, 1500-1800 may turn out to be too many calories. I will be interested to see how it goes. I find that calorie allowances tend to be high on those "how many calories do I burn a day" tools, but it just may be that it's us women close to or into menopause that burn less calories forever. Good luck, 1800 calories sounds like Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one to me! I do count calories, no more than 1500-1600 a day to maintain, less than 1000, more like 800 to lose. Welcome to menopause.

Lyn said...

Hungry girl~

I suspect you're right about the calorie level. I am not aiming for 1800, just using it as my ceiling. I think I will end up lower, closer to 1500/day, but at the end of the week I will look at my average calories and results and go from there to pick a more accurate level. Looking back on older menus, 1400-1500 might be more realistic for me.

Anonymous said...

Trying to catch up on your blog a bit. Have you posted a weigh-in recently? Just wondering how you've been doing during all the diet changes you seem to have been trying lately.

Lyn said...


I think the last time I posted a weigh in was about 2 weeks ago and I was 218. I am 214 now.

Karen said...

Figuring out what the right and wrong foods was key to my success this time around.

Staying on track at Medifast gave me the time ( and peace of mind) to research my weight maintenance food plan.

I stumbled upon it and studied it. There were foods that were just plain wrong for me to eat. That kept me stuck. And foods that were really great and keep me satisfied.

Good luck on your journey, Lyn. You know yourself what does and doesn't work. Keep taking those steps and finding the right groove.

All the attempts at weight loss are worth it, since you can build on what does and doesn't work. If you choose to do the work. Never easy, always worth it!!!!

Karen P.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to second the recommendation to get a scale. Grown women who think they're living on 1000 calories a day (without weight loss) seems... unlikely to me. Without a rigourous accounting by size - that apple you ate, was it 100 calories or 140 or even 200? Studies have shown that people underestimate daily intake by 20-40%, and many food manufacturers err on the side of putting extra food in the container. These errors are even worse when dealing with a high-fat like peanut butter or dense food like oatmeal.

Lyn said...


I have a digital food scale and agree it is VERY important in calorie counting, especially with uncut fruits and veggies that are impossible to measure by the cup, and also for meats and things like crackers or chip-type foods (if you eat them) because you get a very different amount if you measure 1 ounce of chips/crackers versus the label's "about 13 crackers."

Jes said...

I am right here with you, Lyn. Carb restriction was making me binge-y and I recently returned to calorie counting (WW, actually). Gl and keep us posted.

Btw, I know WW is costly and the meetings can be super-geeky, but I am really, really liking it this time. The plan is MUCH improved. I found a great leader. I know it's not your thing, just thought I would share.