Tuesday, November 25, 2014

So Much To Be Thankful For

159 lbs.  (back in the safe zone!)

In the United States we will be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.  I will be preparing a big turkey dinner for family and then joining friends for dessert.  Recently I have been reading about how people are approaching their food choices around the holidays.  I thought I'd write a bit about my strategy.

All of my thoughts on eating during the holidays are colored by my recent weight loss and new lifestyle.  Over the past several months, and 99 pounds later, I've learned that my relationship with food is tricky.  I have psychological and physical cravings, as well as a long-standing (but thankfully, fading) urge to eat for emotional reasons.  Part of my recovery from obesity has been to stay mindful of triggers and stay accountable for the food that I eat by logging my foods and trying to stay within a calorie range. I've also decreased dramatically my intake of processed carbs and sugar.  This has made a huge difference for me.

I've had some ups and downs in Maintenance, but I'm getting better control over weight fluctuations.  It feels wonderful to have lost a couple of pounds recently, after exceeding my safe weight zone.  All of this is new, though.  I'm still insecure about my ability, through decreased calories, to lose unwanted weight.  When I was 100 pounds heavier, calorie counting seemed like an impossible route.  I hadn't had much success with it or any other method of weight loss.  I felt like I would never get a handle on my weight.  Now I've proven to myself that with smaller weight fluctuations, I AM able to do it, and will continue to monitor my weight and take action when it creeps up.

Last year at this time I knew that I would be embarking on this Optifast Adventure.  I had had my initial intake appointment and would be starting the classes and product in January.  At the time, I didn't want to overeat too much since I'd already had my initial weigh-in.  I didn't want to arrive in class with a huge gain from the holidays.  I ate everything in moderation (for me), but didn't hold back too much.

Fast forward to this year.  I have a whole new mindset and a new understanding of why I eat, and what foods may be triggers for binge eating.  I have been logging my foods on MyFitnessPal for 304 days straight.  In this time of figuring out maintenance, the data has been invaluable, and it has helped me to adjust my calories for weight loss.

People on the diet boards come with varying opinions on holiday eating.  Some will try and cook healthier versions of their favorite dishes; others say that they plan to enjoy the day and take a break from their diets.  It's only one day, after all.

But would it be only one day for me?  I'm not certain of it.

I'm the cook, the leftovers will be in my fridge.  In all my life it has never been just one day of feasting.

This year I don't feel comfortable just letting it all go for the day.  Logging food is a reminder that my weight and health are a significant priority in my life.  It isn't a chore for me to log, and at least for me, it has been a motivator to make better choices.  My plan will be to cook smaller portions of the carb-heavy sides and eat smaller portions.  My supportive family is cool with that.  They don't need mashed potatoes and stuffing for days.  Turkey is something I am happy to have left over.   I will also not feel deprived having been able to load up on turkey, salad and green beans and just have very small portions of stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry.  I will do my best to log ALL of it and if I end up in the red zone, so be it.  But what and how much I eat will be a conscious choice.

For a food addict, Thanksgiving is a tricky time.  It is a whole holiday centered around food and memories of times with family.  Sometimes family can be stressful, and some of you might find yourself vulnerable to emotional eating or drinking.  For me, my parents and in-laws have all passed away, so we forge our own traditions and keep our parents close to our hearts.  I always try to channel my mom's spirit when I'm preparing stuffing!  My mother-in-law was an expert with cranberry sauce.  I enjoy remembering them while I'm cooking those dishes.

If you're in the U.S. and celebrating the holiday, I wish you a wonderful holiday.  No matter what your eating strategy will be, let's be so very thankful for the loving, wonderful people in our lives (past, present and virtual).  I am also thankful for my healthy new life.  Thankful and happy!

No comments: