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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tip: The first bite of dessert is always the best. Make it your last bite, as well.

After I cut out sweets for a while, I no longer crave sweets. I have my favorite things still in the house, bite-size candy bars and Little Debbie peanut butter bars, but everything is growing stale while I am of the mindset that I want to get healthy and stay healthy. I strongly believe we should not forbid ourselves anything, lest we then crave it, but conscious eating means that if I ate a bite-size candy bar, I’d have to eat considerably less lunch or dinner than I’d like, and I’d rather eat foods that add to my health, than those that merely add to my pleasure and, unfortunately, my waistline.

One friend of mine, though, says she can’t give up sweets entirely. She simply can’t. Well, I haven’t given up sweets, either; I simply choose to make fruit my sweets, now. What I told her, though, is my philosophy (and I swear it’s true; challenge me!) that the first bite of any dessert is always the best, so there’s no need to eat more than one bite to fulfill a serious craving. She decided to buy the slice of chocolate cake that she loves, take it home, dice it up into bite-size pieces, freeze them individually, and eat one maybe every few days or so, if she gets a craving for a sweet snack. Her idea is an excellent one for folks who find giving up dessert impossible.

Instead of eating high-calorie desserts, though, I weaned myself to fruit when I want a treat. I eat a few slices of fresh pineapple or a pear, peach, plum, or pluot as a snack around 3:00, if I feel a little hungry. I needed to break myself of the habit of eating dessert at all. I used to eat a full meal (usually more than I needed to eat) and then dessert, and sometimes several desserts. After that I might still have a bowl of popcorn, but all that is history. I want health more than I want to stuff my mouth, now.

Every time I get on the scale, look in the mirror, or put on a blouse I haven’t worn in a while and see the improvement in my weight or the fit of my clothes, I’m reassured and reminded that I am doing the right thing for my health. Statistically, overweight people die at younger ages than people who are height-weight proportionate, and I’m of the age that I’ve already lost many friends, some of whom were younger than me. I don’t want diabetes, a heart attack, or painful joints if I can do something to avoid all that.

As I write this, I’ve been on a food plan for only five weeks, and it has become second nature to me already. No longer do I fret over what to eat. I no longer have great hunger between meals, only hunger at appropriate meal times.

What inspired me to start a food plan was a visit to the doctor. I’d been hobbling on painful knees for a couple of years, feeling like an old lady, and finally the pain in my back and knees reached a peak that sent me for help. The nursing assistant casually mentioned weight as being a factor for most orthopedic surgery, and when my doctor also suggested weight loss and referred me to an orthopedic surgeon, I didn’t feel thrilled. A week later, when I finally got into the orthopedic surgeon’s office, I had lost a couple of pounds, but the orthopedic surgeon wanted to put me on heavy painkillers and antacids to avoid internal bleeding, and he, too, suggested that I lose weight. I hated the thought of being so full of painkillers that I also had to take a strong antacid to avoid bleeding internally. How many times did I have to be hit over the head with the facts, before I finally listened?

Now, only five weeks later, and with no surgery, I no longer have pain in my back, and my knees are much better, more flexible, and with only an occasional tweak of pain that passes quickly. I can again walk up and down stairs comfortably. I can carry my groceries from the car and up the stairs into the kitchen without having to set the bags on each step to rest. I can walk down my steep driveway without fearing that my knee will go out and I’ll fall. I walk the dog farther and more often and enjoy every step of the way. I feel normal again, and I no longer feel like an aging cripple. I feel young, spry, and ready to go out dancing, something I thought was over for me, forever, just six weeks ago.

I thank all my fellow food watchers who report I have inspired them to choose to eat healthier and lose weight, and I thank all of you for supporting me. I’m still shooting for that goal of being 200 pounds or under by New Year’s Eve, and it looks quite feasible. I have eighteen weeks and about 21 pounds to reach my goal. After that, I’ll set another goal, until I finally reach my healthy weight, which for me is 150 pounds. I still won’t be a lightweight by most standards, but 150 pounds would be only ten pounds more than my weight in high school.

Let me know what you’d like to weigh by December 31, and we’ll all move toward our goals together!

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