Sunday, August 1, 2010

The End of Overeating

I am overweight. I struggle with excess girth. I pretty much always have. I am not morbidly obese or what even a doctor would term obese but I carry about 25 extra pounds with me everywhere I go. That is more than Molly weighs.  I look at her and think I am lugging around that much extra? and MORE?

So I need to loose her plus a little, for me to be at an ideal weight for my height. That doesn't sound that bad, but it bothers me. I don't like seeing pictures of me because I look so round. I look in the mirror and can't even suck it in anymore. (I know I have had 4 kids but that isn't a good excuse) I am not totally weight obsessed. I just want to look better in my clothes and not worry about how thick I look.

I exercise vigorously at least 4 times a week, weight train a bit, do yoga occasionally and take lots of walks and hikes with my kids. I don't live a sedentary lifestyle. Over the years I have made modifications to our diets to where now I feel like we are doing really well. We eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein from legumes rather than just meat. When we do eat meat it is lean and not usually the main focus of the meal. We also almost never eat out. I read labels and am very careful about the foods I buy. My kids even read labels and keep me to the list of items we avoid altogether. I am sure I will continue find ways to improve our diet but right now I feel like we are eating very healthfully.

So where is my problem? Why can't I get down to my ideal weight. Why are those 25 pounds so hard to loose? I really hate being plump.

Over the past year I have read a number of really good books about healthy food and healthy lifestyle.

Real Food: What to eat and Why
In Defense of Food
Eat to Live

I am sure I have read more than that but I just can't think of them off the top of my head.

But I just finished reading the best one yet. The End of Overeating.

 I think this book explained my issue. Or maybe it just did it in a way I understood. I just plain eat too much. I eat out of habit rather than actual hunger. I eat because food is available. I also fall into traps when there are yummy treats around. We don't make cookies often but when we do I eat them off and on until they are gone. I used to just get mad at myself because I don't have any will power. Now I understand that I just don't have any rules or habits that stop me from eating.
"The shift form wanting to behave differently to actually doing so requires setting rules and practicing them until they become programmed behavior".
The first part of the book talked a lot about why people get addicted to food and keep eating despite not being hungry anymore. I can't say this section did a lot for me. It was interesting but it said much of what I already knew. The food industry creates food designed to make us want more. Once we get started we can't stop. It isn't their fault completely, people just easily fall under the marketing powers of these loaded foods.  I think I am doing alright with my choices of food. We do have goodies once in awhile but the majority of our food choices are good. My issue is just that I consume too much of them.

I need to set very specific rules around my eating so I can create habits that going to help me eat less.  Rules about when I am allowed to eat and how much. So I need to be very aware of portion sizes and need to stop grazing throughout the day. I quickly loose track of how much I have eaten when I just nibble all day long.
"Rules give us an alternative to a conditioned response"
So a few rules I have come up with for now... I am sure to come up with more.
1. No eating after 8:00 p.m.
2. 7:30, 11:30, 2:30 and 6:00 are meal/ snack times.
3. Don't graze between meals.
4. Don't finish the kids unfinished meals.  I would rather it be waste then be on my waist.
5. Bake cookies/or other treats only twice a month (My kids would go crazy if we didn't have sweets once in awhile.
6. Never eat out of the bag or box. Take out a serving and put the rest away.
I was sure I had more until I started to write them down. So I will have to add to my list as I think of them.
"A rule makes explicit the negative consequences of giving into your impulses and the possitive consequences of not giving in"
There is a whole lot more that the book describes or outlines for "eating habits reversal". I think I need to reread that section again. A lot of the reversal requires mental changes. It is much like a drug addict trying to quit drugs.
"Learn to view the pursuit of sugar, fat, and salt in a negative light, and to imbue with equal emotional significance behavior that encourages us to turn away from it"
 I can see how this works. Once I choose to get rid of all High Fructose Corn Syrup in our diet and made it a rule that we wouldn't eat or buy anything with that stuff in it. I haven't had any desire for items with it. Once I find out that HFCS is in an item it looses all appeal. 

So my goal is to set and live by some new eating rules. It would be good to keep us all to these rules. It would be easier to keep to the no grazing rule if the kids didn't raid the fridge anytime they feel like it. I already enforce the rule of no snacking after 4:30 so they will be hungry for dinner. I will just have to set up a few new rules about other snacking times. They aren't eating bad things it is just that they are eating and therefore I end up eating.

I think this book is worth a read if you are like me and just need a little more insight in my food issues.


Alison said...

I don't have a lot of food rules, but can I suggest one? It has helped me. Taste and fully enjoy the food you eat. Another one that has helped me is, "Don't waste good calories on bad food." There is so much out there that just isn't worth eating. I have found that fully enjoying the food I do eat makes me more satisfied on less food. I am trying to remember these as I am out of town and surrounded by my Mom's cooking. Good food, just plenty of it.

Bibliophile said...

I have two suggestions that have helped me when I have kept them: 1. Drink lots of water. Keep hydrated. I find that when I don't drink enough water, my body hoards it. 2. Eat just half of what you usually eat. Don't take second helpings and take smaller portions. You don't get hungry, either.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Hmm.. I'm having the same problem. As I'm eating cookie dough right now reading your post!

2008 was my killer year. I weighed 20 pounds more at the end of the year (after having two miscarriages) than the beginning. Then I had Hershey the next year and now I can't seem to get any of the weight off. I KNOW it's because I graze throughout the day and don't drink enough water.

I think I will check out the books you mentioned.

The Trumpsters said...

I was happy to see your post...not because I'm happy you too are struggling lol! But because it was the extra motivation and ideas I needed! Thanks for posting. BTW, How are you guys?! It looks like you are very busy with homeschooling, I'm very impressed! My neighbor home schools and I just don't think I could do it...well I'm sure I COULD...but don't want to =). I admire all you do with your kiddos! Hope all is well.

Flem said...

Thanks Sarah, I appreciate the post and have the same struggles. I just love food! I have to say that I have overdone the treats though and being away from home all summer just makes it tougher. I like the idea of eating at set times and no more, maybe that will help me.

The only rule I could add to this wonderful list is to eliminate any screen time activities while eating--like watching tv, movies, or my computer. If I concentrate on eating the food it seems more filling. Kind of like Alison's comment I guess!

Shannon R said...

Good luck with this goal. Once you fully set your mind to it, you will see a change. I just know it. My husband decided 5 weeks ago that he didn't like what he saw in the mirror, so he changed his eating habits DRAMATICALLY. I'll tell you that many of the guidelines you listed, he has been following. He's lost 35 pounds. Yes, men lose weight more easily, but he now is eating smaller portions, not snacking, and doesn't have the desire to eat "bad" food anymore. As he loses the weight, it gives him more motivation to go harder at the better food and more rigorous exercise. Good luck with your goal. Just try not to get discouraged, but keep strong. :)

Anonymous said...

You would really like the book The Beck Diet Solution. It's not a diet. It's how to use cognitive behavior techniques to succeed at whatever your plan for healthy eating/diet/weightloss. It's awesome. It could be seen as the "sequel" to The End of Overeating.