Weight Loss Is All About Attitude
Weight Loss Is All About Attitude
by A. Gagliardi
I have begun a new weight loss program by joining Weight Watchers for the second time. I was successful previously, in losing weight and reached my goal but I had trouble keeping it off.
I think it’s all about attitude. Our attitude is a central factor in if we are going to loose weight or if we are going to work hard at not loosing.
Once I began working more hours, I felt more tired and had a harder time fitting exercise into my schedule. Long work hours are a challenge and I need to think about exercise as an integral part of my day—something I cannot do without, such as eating. In addition, my exercise has to provide some variety so that I don’t get bored. I wanted to join a gym, but there is that scheduling issue again. What gym can offer classes at all times of the days and nights during the week and have the perfect class for me at the specific time I want to take it?
I needed to find a place that offered exercise during a time of the week that was good for me, plus have my own at-home resources so that I can actually work out everyday. And I have to steel myself to not wimp out when I’ve had a really stressful day. So, my attitude changed from ‘this is so difficult’ or ‘I hate to sweat’ and ‘I’m so stressed’ to ‘this will really help me get the stress off’ and ‘I will feel so good after this workout’. These are true statements and help me focus on the positive aspects of exercise.
With an increase of work hours, I ate more meals driving from one place to another even when I had packed a reasonable meal. I would stop at a coffee shop because I needed a chance to depressurize. We all need the down time, no matter what we tell ourselves, such as, “I am a ‘type A’ person, so I go 100 miles an hour all the time.” If that is you, realize that you still need down time. Sometimes, that need for stopping hits me in the face—usually, the hour traveling between schools. Teaching for six hours, then driving across town in rush hour traffic to that second school was the lowest point of my week. My plan had to include some motivation and anticipation for the down time at my designated destination. Plus, I found out, it had to include foods that I was excited about eating. Or, I had to be motivated enough to wait until I got home after that last class, to eat a nice meal with a glass of wine or a piece of chocolate as a reward.
The Weight Watchers program asks members to count points. All food has a point value. For me, the time it takes to figure out what foods are higher in points and plan according to my daily points number, was a challenge. I have memorized the points value of a few foods I eat frequently. I also typed up a page that lists all the foods that are zero points (I can eat them without counting) and display it on my frig. These add flavor, fiber, and nutrition, but don’t blow my daily count. It’s a fast and easy reference, helps me create our shopping list, and makes meal planning easier.
I found that making this ‘counting and keeping track’ a little game really helps me to change my attitude about counting. My mission (should I choose to accept it) is to stay under 20 points a day, get the nutrients I need, and feel full, or at least reasonably satisfied. I am also learning how to eat right for my body type. Learning new recipes and new ways to fix old favorites adds to the game. These last things are the bonus I get for staying true to my daily points ration.
Part of the weight loss game is fooling ourselves into thinking we are eating as much as we used to eat. I use smaller plates that normal. I choose fat free versions of salad dressing, tuna, and Mayonnaise. I add ice to my juices to make them look bigger and drink steaming cups of water with a slice of lemon instead of coffee. And, I fill half of my plate with low point value, high nutrition vegetables. Lucky for me, I LOVE VEGETABLES, and that is an attitude I don’t have to change.
What happens when we get stressed? For me, I want certain foods--which translates to macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes or French fries, fried chicken, ice cream--in essence comfort. So I need to change my thinking about what constitutes comfort foods. Will a nice cup of yogurt make me feel as good as an ice cream cone? Can I look a carrot in the eye and feel the solace that comes from a bag of French fries?
I don’t know about you, but nothing does it for me better than chocolate. Not the cheap chocolate in a regular candy bar or M & M’s. No. I have to have a truffle or something equally expensive. But, I have found that I can be happy (most of the time) with the 2 points per bite Weight Watchers chocolates. So, my attitude change is striving to assuage my stress with something that will sooth me, but not make more stress about my weight loss efforts. When we put different connotations on the foods we eat, we change the emotional implication they hold on us. Why can’t carrots or celery or beets for that matter become our comfort food? Who’s to say a nice big bowl of spring greens with cherry tomatoes and asparagus spears isn’t as comforting as a bowl of macaroni and cheese? Anyway, I’m going to try it and hope something good happens.
When I completed my first round with Weight Watchers and achieved my lifetime member goal, I was going into a year of working and attending grad school full time. I knew I wouldn’t have time to attend the meetings. I knew I would probably gain some weight back because of the strenuous schedule I was about to begin. And, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now, I have to change my thinking to how can I keep the weight off even when my schedule is grueling?
I know I am a stress eater. I eat when I’m sad, mad, glad, and all the emotions in between. One tip someone gave me is to distinguish between hunger and appetite. She said, “If your last meal was within the last five hours, you probably don’t need more food.” Now, I try to chew gum when I’m mad, sad, glad, etc. The chewing helps me ‘eat’ my worries away instead of adding pounds to my hips. Another thing that helps me is to drink a glass of water. More often than not I was thirsty and not hungry.
Another thing that happens to me, because of that ‘type A’ personality and a busy life style, is that I eat fast. I can eat a whole meal – standing up and not really taste anything I’ve eaten. When I intentionally sit down and spend the time to eat my meal at a leisurely pace it helps: 1) my digestive system not go into shock, 2) my palate to really taste the food I’m eating, 3) my stress level go down as I breath better and 4) gives me a chance to feel full before I’ve eaten more than I need.
Sitting down to dinner with the family, has been touted by more than one expert, to be the secret to a better life. It lowers the incidents of delinquent children, helps raise grades in school, provides a better weight loss, and a happier family. Taking the time to create your meal and eat it together is a big challenge for today’s busy families, but one worth the effort.
One of the excuses I hear for inability to loose weight is poverty. It is cheaper to buy a gallon of Kool-Aid than a gallon of milk. I know that my food dollar does go farther if I purchase a ten-pound bag of rice or beans, than ten pounds of fruits and vegetables. But, eating healthy can be done on a tight budget. Again, it takes planning and thinking about what the goals are and how I going to reach them. Rice and beans are part of a healthy diet and can be the base for stews, soups, and casseroles with vegetables and small amounts of meat. Many families stop at the fast food places too often, provide too much candy for their children, and give portions way over the needs of their children. When we consider a piece of fruit as dessert instead of baked goods, we add fiber and keep our diet healthy. I have found that if I stock my refrigerator with melon and berries, I offer those for dessert instead of baking a cake.
My husband has a sweet tooth. One of the internal tapes I keep running is the need to keep my cookie jar filled. I also have a son-in-law who feels he’s having a good day if he reaches into that same cookie jar and comes out with something round and sweet. So, my challenge is to provide sweets without eating too many of them myself and to provide sweet alternatives to the cookies. Again, having a variety of fruits on hand is a way for me to meet this challenge. Another thing I like to do is fill those cookies with fiber and nutritious ingredients, so the men in my life are getting a little more than they bargain for. Adding a tablespoon of ground flax seed, raisins or other dried fruits and nuts to the cookie dough makes it more filling and better for you than a regular cookie. (Shhhhh. Don’t tell them! ) Of course, I could also change that tape from “keep that cookie jar full” to “keep lots of vegies and fruits on hand for snacks”. I wonder if the guys will buy it.