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Monday, July 4, 2011

Tip: Stay Strong!

Everything we do, all day long, every day, relates to our health, well-being, and weight gain or weight loss. Weight loss, especially, requires a mind-body connection that cannot be broken for a moment. In a fleeting moment, I am able to convince myself that I deserve those four squares of dark chocolate embedded with almonds, and they won’t have an impact on my health or weight. One little slip, and I’m on a downhill trail. Why is that?

Nutritionist Mary Strugar had the answer when she said, "Foods with a high fat and sugar content cause certain chemical changes in the brain similar to those experienced when someone has used an opiate, so it is easy to see why some people find it hard to control food cravings.”

The problem with opiate-like substances is that when they enter your body, your body soon craves another infusion and then another and another. While I fooled myself into thinking dark chocolate and almonds are both good things to eat, because they both have health benefits, I forgot that a dark chocolate square also is laden with fat and sugar, and fat and sugar are as bad as any authentic opiate. Once I eat something even slightly sweet, I soon crave more. Once I cave and eat more, something in my brain says it’s okay—and even mandatory—to do it again and again.

While dark chocolate does have health benefits, moderation is key, and I’ve heard that it should be eaten perhaps twice a week in small quantities, and that’s it. Once I bought that gigantic dark chocolate and almond bar (Trader Joe’s is at fault, right?) and tasted one square of its deliciousness, I still had another dozen or more big, fat squares available, so I ate another square, and then another. Thankfully I managed to spread out my consumption of that gargantuan candy bar over a two-week period, but all the while, my body was screaming, “Sugar and fat! Give me more sugar and fat!”

Such inner voices can destroy a food plan quickly. Thankfully I had a wake-up call when I went to the doctor for a routine blood test. During intake I’m always told to get up on the scale, and to my horror, I learned I had gained (not lost, folks, but gained!) two pounds since my weigh-in at his office two months prior. Because I’m not naked at the doctor’s office, the way I am when I weigh at home, and because the doctor’s scale is no doubt more accurate than my home scale, and because I’m not weighing first thing in the morning at the doctor’s office, I’ve always weighed a few more pounds there than I do at home, but what did his scale read? The dreaded 200, the mark I swore I’d never see again.

Of course the truth depressed me. What did I do in the past when I was depressed? Eat chocolate, of course! Did I eat chocolate this time? No. Instead I analyzed the last few months of my life, and I know this: I reached a plateau of weight loss and was having trouble breaking through. My inability to report a weight loss on my blog led to my not writing in my blog as much. My not writing in my blog meant I was a little less accountable for my actions. Being a little less accountable meant I could eat that chocolate or take a second helping or eat more pasta than I should.

It may be the middle of the summer as I write this entry, but I’ve been snowballing, gathering excuses, rolling downhill, and getting larger in the process. I had one word for what I needed to do: Stop!

After the weigh-in at Dr. Lee’s office, I stepped off the scale and stepped back into the weight-loss mindset. The chocolate bar was history, although it probably lives on, clinging somewhere around my middle. Back to blogging, eating consciously, working out, and walking farther and more often with my dog.

On the good side, my blood test results were the best they’ve been in years. Although my cholesterol and blood sugar both had been mildly elevated for years, they are now in the normal range. I credit the cholesterol reduction to the addition of ground flax seed and fish oil to my daily routine, both recommended by my doctor. He believes as I do that it’s always better to take natural substances than to take drugs. I have desperately wanted to avoid taking statins, believing that any drug that requires I have my liver tested regularly for damage can’t be good for me.

Anyway, I’m back on track. I weighed in today at home, it being Monday, and my weight is back closer to what it was at my lowest on this food plan. I am back on track. I will not join the majority of people who gain their weight back after losing it. Even if I never go below 190 again, I’ll never go above 195 again, either.

How frustrating it is, though, to realize I cannot let anything slip. I can’t let my food plan slip. I can’t let my blog slip. I can’t let my exercise program slip. I envy the folks born with small frames and whatever genes there be that fight off obesity, but I’m all the more triumphant for being in charge of myself, my mind, and my weight. I'm convinced it makes me a stronger person.

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