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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tip: Watch Out for the Dieter’s Dilemma!

I’m at the stage in my weight-loss program when my loss has not only slowed to a crawl but sometimes backs up, and I have to spend a few days taking off a pound or two that I put on. At this stage, it’s harder than ever to stick to a food plan, because I’m not getting the reward and excitement of seeing the needle on the scale dropping. The urge is strong to say, “That’s it; that’s all I’m gonna lose. I may as well eat that ___.” Fill in the blank with a high-calorie food—I’m faced with plenty of them.

I keep running up against what I call “The Dieter’s Dilemma.” In the past, when each week I saw progress in my weight loss, I could easily refuse something calorie-laden. Now that I have little to no new losses to cheer about, I’m tempted to splurge on calories. Here’s a perfect example. About two weeks ago, my sister and I went to a restaurant after bowling. We smartly ordered one meal to share. When the server made a mistake on our order, though, she fixed it and added that the owner wanted to apologize by giving us a free flan for dessert. Dessert? I haven’t had a dessert, other than fruit, in months. Flan? Egg custard? Are you kidding me? Flan is one of my all-time favorite desserts on earth. No, the whole universe. A few months ago, I would have been able to refuse it, but not when I’m no longer losing pounds every month. The fresh, jiggly, mouth-watering flan came out on a dish with a large dollop of whipped cream, my other most favorite treat in the whole world. Fortunately my sister and I shared the dessert, so neither of us consumed all the calories, but we both had plenty, and I practically licked the plate clean.

Last week we went to another of our favorite restaurants, and during our conversation with the server, we mentioned how many times we go to that restaurant. At the end of our meal, as a thank-you from the owner, the server offered us another free dessert. What gives? When I was fat as a slaughter-ready hog, no one gave me free desserts, and that’s when I would have snorted them down without hesitation, happy as a pig in sugar.

What the heck, we said, bring on the key lime pie. Perhaps as some sort of offering to the calorie gods, however, this time my sister and I tacitly left the last couple of bites on the plate. Maybe we’re getting better.

Oh, and if free dessert isn’t a dieter’s dilemma, how about Passover, when one plate after another came out, this past Monday night. We’re also supposed to drink several glasses of wine, too. I did manage to sip only one tiny glass of wine and turn down some of the dishes of food and all the desserts, but I left my brother and sister-in-law’s house with a full belly, anyway. Yes, we Jews love any holiday that involves eating. On the bright side, my sister-in-law cooked fewer dishes this year and made sure they were low-calorie, because she’s on a food plan now, too.

My current mission involves fighting the dieter’s dilemma. I must remember to say “no” to free food, free dessert, second helpings, and other tempting treats that undo all the hard work I’ve performed so that I can fit into normal-sized clothes. I keep looking in the mirror to remind myself how much better I look, and it would be a shame to ruin what I’ve accomplished. Every time I leap up from the sofa without having to rock, balance, and groan, I remember how much healthier I am, too. Each time I run up the stairs, I recall how I used to climb up them painfully, one step at a time, and could barely drag the groceries up the stairs into the kitchen. No flan or key lime pie or plate of anything ever tasted as good as being healthy feels, and if I don’t lose another ounce, at least I’m determined not to go back to my unhealthy weight.

Truth be told, I’m still at a less-than-desirable weight, so I’m not abandoning my quest to lose more weight. I do, however, accept that fact that it will take longer than I hoped. Even if I don’t lose any more weight, knowing that I’m still trying to do so will keep me from turning loose of my self-control and forgetting all I’ve learned on my journey toward obtaining a healthier body.

With the support of my readers and my own mental discipline, the next time someone says, “Free dessert,” I’ll say, “That’s the dieter’s dilemma, but no, thank you.”

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tip: Get Off the Sofa!

I went to the gym today. No big deal, you say? Not so. I’ve had to meet deadlines with my editing projects and had appointments and been tempted by other diversions and have come up with any other excuse possible not to go to the gym for at least two weeks. This morning, though, I couldn’t come up with a single excuse. I’ve met all my pressing deadlines. I have no trips planned for the week. I have no appointments scheduled with my doctor, my dog’s doctor, or the optometrist, unlike most of my days, lately. The weather also offered no hindrance, being sunny, dry, and warm out. I had run out of excuses.

Off I went to the gym. A sign on the door says, “Know that getting here is half the battle.” I had won the first half of the battle; I was there.

I climbed onto the recumbent bike, told it to give me a good workout, and began pedaling. Whoa! Within a couple of minutes the muscles in my legs screamed at me, “You can’t put us through such torture!” What? Two weeks ago I pedaled for twenty minutes with no problem, and now I’m tired after three minutes? That’s what happens when you slack off from working out. I pushed myself to fifteen minutes, anyway. It helped that I could watch the Comedy Channel and some really funny comic, whose name I never managed to get. When he quit, so did I. On wobbly legs, I moved on to the machines, but not without a little bitterness. The darned bike not only tells me my heart rate, how long I’ve been pedaling, and how “far” I’ve gone, it also tells me how many calories I’ve used. Fifteen minutes of pressing those pedals burned a meager fifty calories. To put those calories in perspective, a cup of raw carrots is fifty-two calories. I had not even burned off a cup of carrots!

Resentful that I’d expended only fifty calories while pedaling my heart out, I moved from machine to machine, working out every possible muscle in the human body for more than an hour. Next I slipped into a bathing suit, slid into the pool, and performed fifteen minutes of water aerobics and swimming.

Next came my reward: the spa, the hot tub, or whatever you want to call it. Hot water sprayed through jets that massage my weary muscles. What could be better? I had time to think about calories while I soaked. I keep saying I don’t count calories, but I keep them in mind on my food plan. I know that any time I reduce the calorie count of a meal, I’m doing a good thing, but really, until I watched how few calories my body burns, despite what I consider hard exercise, I realize why losing weight is so darned difficult. It also explains why I absolutely have to get exercise that burns off calories; otherwise, my body stores every calorie I take in and don’t use, and what do we call that storage system? Fat. Yup, big globs of fat. Every roll of flab on my body constitutes hundreds of calories I consumed and didn’t expend.

I came home feeling stronger, happier, and upbeat. I promised myself I’ll get to the gym more often. No excuses!

Yeah, right. Next time I get to the gym, it will be because I fought my own demons and excuses and forced myself to go again. Maybe I should dangle a cup of carrots in front of myself.

Starting weight: 245
Weight last week: 189
Weight this week: 189
Total pounds lost: 56
Goal weight: 150