Okay, I’m an idiot.
Okay, maybe not an idiot, but I genuinely can’t come up with another name for the deliberately oblivious. Oblivious is one thing, but stubbornly ignoring what is in front of your face when you know better is something else.
Quick and dirty history–I am 5’2″ tall on a good day. I used to weigh over 300 pounds, and had what Dr. Huizenga on The Biggest Loser finale last night termed “that distasteful weight loss surgery” nearly ten years ago. I lost a bit more than half my weight over the succeeding two years. I have, in the last seven years, slowly put back on about a third of what I lost.
Prior to the surgery, I had tried every diet known to man except the ones where they supply the food, like Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem. I could never afford those, so they weren’t an option. However, by the time I had the surgery, I knew that none of them were ever going to work, because you can’t eat Nutrisystem for the rest of your life. Or Jenny Craig. Or five hundred calories a day. Or never eat a carb, or any kind of fat, or only protein, or whatever was the flavor of deprivation for the day. And, for me, the surgery worked as advertised.
And, like most who have the surgery, I’ve gained some of the weight back–on almost an exactly normal track. Which also irritates me.
However, back to my most recent idiocy–several studies have shown that people who track their food intake in some kind of diary or journal end up losing up to twice as much weight. Another study that’s cited in Time magazine shows that the very first attribute listed of people who keep weight off is that they track their intake. The first couple years after the surgery, I tracked everything religiously, and sporadically since.
First and foremost, you need to know that I am not on a diet, even with all these things said. My own prior history has shown me that dieting is not a successful thing for me–I dieted for 30 years, from age 15 to age 45, and at the end of it, weighed 300+ pounds. Didn’t work.
So, if I can’t go on a diet, what can I do? I can track what I eat. I can eat reasonable amounts for my weight. And I can exercise.
What I found out yesterday is that there are two things about tracking what I eat that are even more important than the calories I’m ingesting. My “duh” moment came yesterday when I added a couple of columns to my food tracking journal pages. One was “hunger level” and one was “time.”
Up ’til yesterday, the tracking sheet that I keep on my kitchen counter and update every time I eat anything was basically just a list – this is what I ate, this is what I drank, this is how much time I exercised.
At some level, I knew I was noshing all day–I work at home, and when I want something to eat, I just walk into the kitchen, often with my laptop or tablet in hand to continue reading whatever is up next for work.
My light-bulb moment yesterday was that my food journal showed I’m eating about once an hour. Even if I eat an average of two hundred calories each time, that means I’m way past maintenance calories by mid-afternoon. Two hundred calories is the equivalent of two pieces of toast with a tablespoon of butter. Or eight crackers with a tablespoon of peanut butter.
My food journal also showed that most of the time, on a scale of one to five, my hunger level is at a two. Which means I’m eating out of habit, out of boredom, whatever, but not because I’m hungry.
It makes me crazy that I’ve either been that blind, or lying to myself for so long. Who does that? How in tarnation can I tell myself something that I know is not true (oh, I’m not eating much, not eating that often, I only eat because I’m hungry), and somehow make myself believe that?
Maybe I AM an idiot.
Or worse, human.