Dealing with a Hungry Day

Even after years of (mostly) maintaining a big weight loss, I sometimes still have hungry days. You know, those days when you are truly hungry all day and you can’t do anything about it. Actually, you CAN do something about it. You can just stuff your face with whatever and accept the consequences. Or you can fight through it and be miserable all day.

Yesterday, I chose option #2. Here’s how I got through it, with only a little misery. (This is a detailed run-down of the day, maybe TMI for you but important for me to remember what I did and why.)

I was hungry when I got up. I am often hungry when I get up, but since I had a good protein-packed dinner (restaurant meal of mixed grill of 3 ounces each steak and chicken, plus 3 shrimp, a big tossed salad, a half a sweet potato and some brown bread), I was a bit surprised at the hunger pangs. I always plan ahead and build in enough time before I leave for my 6 a.m. train to cook and eat a good breakfast, usually an egg sandwich and some fruit or plain Greek yogurt with sliced almonds and fruit. Yesterday I was tripped up by bad outfit planning and I needed to iron a pair of pants at the last minute. No time to eat, so I grabbed a package of Kind Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars to have on the train.

A word about Kind Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars: They’re better than nothing, better than a pastry or fast-food breakfast. But that’s about all I’ll say. Some liken them to “eating peanut butter cookies for breakfast.” Not quite that bad, but still, there are three kinds of sugar in them (cane syrup, raisin paste and honey). Nutrition info here if you like gory details.

With Kind bars, I make a little deal with myself. I eat them in a pinch, and I agree when I eat them that I will be hungry a couple hours later and will just tough it out until lunchtime. That is, I won’t eat these bars for breakfast on the go, and then eat a second breakfast when I get to the office like some white-collar Hobbit.

Right on schedule, I was hungry at 9 a.m. I had packed my lunch the night before, including some grapes for an afternoon snack. I tried my usual ways of coping. I had some water. I had some hot herbal tea. I tried to concentrate on work. At 9:45 I broke down and ate the grapes. So I considered myself in a deficit.

Lunch could not come fast enough. I had a glass of water and tried to immerse myself in work until 11:30. Then I heated up what I thought would be a pretty filling, protein-packed lunch – 3 ounces each of leftover chicken and steak, plus 1/2 a sweet potato and 1 cup of green beans with olive oil.

I was hungry again at 3. This was getting ridiculous. I mean, the morning I could see because of some dubious choices, but that was a big lunch. I had more herbal tea. I took a 15-minute walk outside to get some air and distract myself. By 4 p.m. I had a headache, which is the usual outcome of being hungry all day, but I knew if I took something for it, I’d have an upset stomach. My back-up plan – the grapes – were gone. I grabbed an apple from the office fridge. This was not my apple, but it had been hanging around in the fridge for a couple of weeks. I stole it. Yes, I am that person. (I replaced it today.)

At 4:30 I left work for home. The apple made no difference. I had to decide: do I eat something caloric but guaranteed to fill me up, or do I tough it out? I told myself: I’m tough. I can take it.

I got home at 7, ravenous and with a brain-splitting headache. My husband prepares dinner Thursdays. He bought a rotisserie chicken from Costco – no veggies, no salad, no sides, no nothing. So I quickly steamed some asparagus, tossed with olive oil, and defrosted 1-cup chunk of homemade macaroni and cheese. I gobbled down almost half a chicken, half a pound of asparagus and half the mac and drank two big glasses of water. I still felt hungry, but at this point I knew my brain and my body had not caught up, so I waited. The headache subsided but did not go away completely.

I wrote down all my food for the day and was a couple calories shy of my daily intake plan. I also hit my exercise goal (walking 10,000 steps).

At 9, still feeling hungry, I had another choice to make: do I tough it out or eat something else to try yet again to stop the hungries? If I tough it out, I risk insomnia and a worse headache. If I eat something, it might work, it might not. There’s no guarantee the hunger will end, but maybe my brain will finally realize I have had plenty to eat. If I say “the heck with it” and pig out, I won’t feel hungry anymore, but I also might sleep poorly and will feel pretty lousy tomorrow just the same.

At this point, I was feeling desperate. So I ate a small piece of leftover frozen pizza that had been in the fridge since the weekend. I was over my calories for the day by about 200. I brushed my teeth and went to bed. It was 9:30.

I woke up this morning, very hungry again, with a splitting headache again. I am in for a second day of this torture. It’s almost lunchtime, my head hurts, and I am very hungry, despite a good breakfast.

I am telling this story not to get your sympathy or to just vent about how hard weight loss and maintenance are. I am just trying to show what happens, some days, when you do the best you can and you feel like nothing goes right.

I was in a hole from the minute I woke up. I tried to fill the hole as best I could. I made a lot of great choices and a few not-so-great ones. The simple act of eating – the most basic bodily function that most of us enjoy and many of us take for granted – utterly exhausted me. I don’t feel defeated, but I do feel humbled and angry. Even after years at the weight-loss maintenance game, I get down sometimes.

 

 

Why Can’t I Get It Together?

I have been trying to lose 10 pounds for 6 months now. Instead of losing, I gained 5. Why can’t I get it together?

I have kept off over 50 pounds for several years now, so I know perfectly well how to do this. I just cannot get into a groove. I will lose a few pounds and then slack off, for so reason I can fathom.

OK.

Maybe I can fathom a few reasons. Boredom, complacency, laziness, denial. Sometimes, I don’t care all that much. And then I have to squeeze into clothes that fit well 15 pounds ago, and I get so mad at myself. I am just so damn SICK of it all.

You see, I got me what’s called “a bad attitude.”

I was reminded last night of what’s the matter with me. I got my hair done and then went out to dinner with my husband. My hairdresser used to be overweight and unhealthy – smoking, drinking – and then she shaped up. She is very fit and slim and talks constantly about her various exercise, eating and cooking routines. All I can think of when she talks is “what a bore.” As I was paying at the desk, she left for her evening workout, dressed in athletic gear, looking great. And all I could think was, “I don’t want to have to work that hard to stay in shape.”

We went for dinner at an Asian noodle shop that my husband has raved about. I was in such a foul mood – pretentious hipster place, very crowded with college students, Genesee Cream Ale on tap, for chrissakes. I ordered the lightest thing on the menu – a chicken-based pho with veggies – and ate maybe half of it. Washed it down with several glasses of water. Thought, as I was eating it, “You’re going to be bloated AF tomorrow from the salt in this.”

And I am, so I guess I know a bit about what I am doing.

Sobriety

I am laying off the drink for a while. I have never been a big drinker; even in college I’d have 2 or 3 beers and call it a night. But lately even one drink is too much. It’s like my body can’t metabolize it anymore. I was no more than halfway through the gin & tonic for evening cocktails on Thursday when a headache bloomed in my brain. It stayed there for four days.

I had no alcohol on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or New Year’s Day. I haven’t done four sober holidays in a row since I was 16.

Is my husband on board? Perhaps this photo of his shopping excursion last week tells the tale better than I can:

img_20161222_160549683

I am trying a sober January. We’ll see how this goes.

Caretakers

My cousin called me last night to tell me her grandfather had died. He was my great-uncle, and he had been in poor health for several years, but still it was a blow to everyone. My cousin had been primary caretaker for both her grandparents, as well as her mother and mother-in-law, so they could stay in their home. Her brother does nothing.

My sister-in-law is battling her mother over care of her father, who has dementia and falls down all the time. He is staying in their home without any extra help. Her brother does nothing.

My cousin is helping her mother (my great-aunt) care for my great-uncle, who has advanced dementia and still lives at home. Her brother does nothing.

Anyone see a pattern here?

Caring for the sick and elderly is the biggest distaff deal of all. Women’s work. The kind of essential but unpleasant, tiring and depressing work women do all over the world, often for free, or at best, poorly paid.

Why won’t men step up? Why don’t women make them help out?

I don’t have an answer to these questions. Men are stepping up more when it comes to child care. Every father my age or younger I know has changed diapers countless times; my father never did. So that’s progress. But when it comes to care of the elderly or ill, no dice.

If anyone has suggestions, I’d appreciate it.

165

I stepped on the scale this morning. 165 pounds. I can’t believe it, and yet I can.

In 2010 I started on a diet, for the nth time in my life. I was furious and disgusted with myself. I swore, again for the nth time, that this time was “for real” and I would not give up until I got to my goal of 140 pounds. I joined Weight Watchers online, started a blog, followed the program and got busy.

And you know what? I almost got there. It was easy some days, hard other days, and I was not able to get to 140. In about 2 years was able to get to 150, so I called it a “win” and set about maintaining. I bought nice clothes, changed my habits and enjoyed the “new” me.

Right away I learned that if weight loss is hard, weight loss maintenance is a bitch. A grind. A slow drip from a faucet that requires constant maintenance and attention. And if you do everything right, you know what you get? A brief reprieve from the dreary drips.

The damn faucet leaks some days more than others, and on really blessed days, it doesn’t drip at all. But then it started dripping more and was harder to turn off. So I put up with a few drips. A small price to pay for my sanity, right? That’s how 150 pounds became 155 pounds became 160 pounds became 165 pounds.

How does this happen? I mean, I know how to eat, how to exercise, how to deal with boredom and stress without stuffing my face. But I was not prepared for one big problem. I was not prepared for loneliness. For I have been going it alone for about 6 months, and when I go it alone, I get into trouble.

I credit much of my success in 2010-2012 to a blog I kept on WeightWatchers.com. I started it to be accountable to myself and to remember what it was like to lose the weight and struggle and win. I made some good friends there, enjoyed the daily ritual of writing, learned from people and shared my ideas. It really worked for me.

I drifted away from Weight Watchers because I didn’t think I needed it anymore, I ran out of things to say, then the program changed and I could not cope with the new program. Finally, I cut ties for good when they stopped hosting blogs – the main thing I needed to keep going.

I planned to start a new blog immediately, and yet I didn’t. Why? Laziness, boredom, worry about sharing in an untested environment, excuse excuse excuse. I joined LoseIt to keep tracking my food and exercise. At the time I had 7 pounds to lose – to get back to 150. Now I have twice as much weight to lose  and nothing to lose by blogging again.

So here I am. Thanks for reading.