When Problems Become Idols

I was reading a devotional book the other day, and it talked about how sometimes we let problems and worries take over; they become idols to us. It was a different way of looking at things we tend to obsess over, and it made me realize that my weight issues have become like an idol to me.

Weekly Weigh-In – 9/18/2020 – 9 weeks

Another “up” week. Last week I was down .8 lbs., and this week I’m up .8 lbs. so basically no progress in two weeks. It’s okay. Next week will be a good week for me.

I’m not surprised at my weight this week. I actually breathed a little sigh of relief that it was not more. I’m not sure why since I HAVE stuck to the WW plan this week. I just felt like I had gained. Maybe next week will have a big loss. 

Commitment versus Motivation/Willpower

I am a member of many Weight Watchers groups on Facebook. One frequent comment that is posted numerous times a day by many different people is something along these lines:

I lost my motivation. What can I do to get it back?

I do really well all day, but then at night I lose all my willpower!

I keep forgetting to log my food, and by the time I remember I’m already over my points for the day, and I just give up! What can I do to get the motivation to get back on track?

Recently I read that the difference between succeeding or failing is in whether we rely on motivation/willpower or we rely on commitment.  Motivation and willpower are hard to pinpoint. They’re often intangible and vague, whereas a commitment is a concrete thing,

Back in July when I MADE THE COMMITMENT to start WW again, I knew that this time was different. I wasn’t going on a diet. I wasn’t going to “try” this and see if it would work. I was committed to a different way of living for the rest of my life.

As I write this, it is 10:30 in the evening. Awhile ago, I heard the Baked Cheetos in my pantry calling my name. I’ve used all my daily points, I have only 7 weekly points left, and I still have two more full days before my points re-set for a new week.  I craved those salty, cheesy, and crispy Cheetos. However, I reminded myself of my commitment to REAL change. And real change is learning to say no to those cravings. The more I give in, the more I give in. The more I resist, the more I resist. I know I’m not hungry. I had a healthy dinner and I had some grapes for an after-dinner snack. I’ve had more than enough food today. So I bypassed the pantry and wrote this post instead.

Then I thought of the quote above: Commitment strengthens over time but begins with a single decision. Next time those Cheetos call my name, it will be easier to decide to forego them. The only way to stop eating late in the evening is to stop eating late in the evening. Each single decision I make that supports my commitment makes me a stronger and better person.

Honesty in Tracking

Tracking is the act of writing down what you eat, and it is a key component of successful weight loss for me. Unless I track, I tend to minimize how much I eat. I did not do Weight Watchers for a long time because I couldn’t bear the idea of tracking for the rest of my life. I had to reach the place where I am okay with tracking – to the place where I even like the idea of tracking – before I was ready to commit to it again. I have accepted that I will track what I eat for the remainder of my life. It’s a good thing. 

Tracking in WW doesn’t actually involve writing it down; instead, I log it in the WW app on my phone – or on the computer – and the app keeps track of my point totals. I can click back to see my points for any other day that I’ve tracked – even years ago.

The tracking app is a convenient service. However, you can inadvertently lie to yourself in tracking, too. I have two lies that I have been telling myself since I started back on WW, and they both have to do with logging my breakfast each morning.

Almost every morning, my husband cooks bacon in the oven for his breakfast. He always includes 2-3 slices for me. My breakfast is usually those bacon slices and my coffee.  That’s it.  I looked up points for bacon, chose the one with the least points, and that’s what I’ve been counting each morning: 2 points. I knew that the bacon we usually buy is thick-sliced and that it would probably be more points, but I didn’t think much about it. I was logging it and figured that was the important thing.

This morning, I decided to scan the bar code on the specific package of bacon we had in the refrigerator and see how closely the actual points matched the points I’d been counting for it.  It was 6 points for today since Ron made me 3 slices. I had been counting 2 points – whether he made 1, 2, or 3 slices for me.

I had been counting my coffee as 3 points each morning.  I’ve tried lots of different creamers and sweeteners, and I finally decided that I like my coffee the way I like it.  Whatever the points are, I will just log the points. So, at some point, I figured I used 3 points per cup of coffee.  I named it “Carol’s Coffee” on the app, and each morning I’ve clicked on it to add to my log. However, this morning when I scanned the actual creamer and sugar I use, it came to 4 points instead of 3.  

Instead of 5 points for my daily coffee and bacon, it could possibly be 10 points instead. With 5 extra un-counted points each day, I can understand why my weight loss would be slow. That would add up to 35 extra points a week – and that is my entire “weekly points” total. So, as the graphic above shows, honesty is key.

A few days ago I woke up around 2:00 a.m. to go to the bathroom. My dog, Cabbie, woke up and I ended up having to let her go outside for awhile. I was feeling annoyed because I was wide awake by then. So, while I waited for Cabbie to handle her business and bark at everything she saw outside, I raided the pantry and ate some chips. Then I ate a couple of Rice Krispie Treats – 12 points altogether between 2:00 and 3:00.  I just decided I wasn’t going to log those points because I hardly ever eat in the middle of the night.  The next night, it was late and I ended up enjoying two See’s butterscotch lollypops – 4 points each for another 8 points. I decided not to log those points either. So I had 20 points that I knew I had eaten – and yet I hadn’t logged them.

I’ve always dealt with a certain amount of OCD behavior.  Those 20 uncounted points bothered me. So last night, I logged them – which took away most of my weekly points. However, they are now logged.

Under-valuing my morning coffee/bacon points provides an example similar to compound interest. One time – no big deal. However, under-valuing every single day has a long term effect on reaching my goals.  The lack of honesty would eventually lead to failure because those extra points each day would keep me from reaching my goals. 

So, here’s to honesty being the best policy – and honesty being MY policy for tracking!

Edited to add: I finished this post and headed to get my morning vitamins and realized that I take apple cider vinegar gummies and elderberry gummies every single day. The ACV helps with digestion, and I feel the elderberry helps keep my immune system up to par – which is important with Covid-19 nowadays.  I haven’t counted the gummy points because they’re part of my vitamin regimen. However, gummies have calories and food value. So I scanned and found that the two ACV gummies plus the two elderberry gummies equal 2 extra points each day.  That makes an additional two points I haven’t been counting.  Hmmmm. No wonder I’m losing slowly. I’m fine with losing slowly (“It’s a lifestyle – not a diet!”) Still, to be honest with myself, I will start logging them. 

I will re-think the daily bacon for breakfast. There are other options for fewer points than the 6 points for 3 slices of bacon. I will start working to lower points on my coffee. Many people have said that by slowly decreasing amounts of creamer and sugar, you can get to the point of preferring your coffee black or with very little of both add-ins.

My mother – my role model for good health

My mother is 97 years old. She still lives on her own, although she is able to do that only because I have 3 siblings who live in her town and can check on her daily. My mother has been on her own since my father died in 1986.. Over the years she has developed some habits of good health. Here are some of them:

(1) Walk with purpose. She has always walked briskly in order to get a little more benefit for her health. Although she frequently uses a walker now, until the last few years, she was always a quick walker. How much better for our general sense of well being to walk briskly as much as possible. She still walks out to the mailbox to get her newspaper and mail each day, and she bustles around the house doing daily chores. She wears a Fitbit and keeps track of her steps.

(2) Eat an apple, a banana, and half an orange every day. She says the apple is important for regularity, the banana helps with leg cramps, and the orange is for vitamin C.

(3) Keep the refrigerator and pantry stocked with foods that build health: apples, bananas, oranges, low-fat milk, cheese, eggs, whole wheat bread, carrots, potatoes, butter, honey.

(4) She doesn’t have anything against pork, but she doesn’t eat it unless there isn’t another choice. She prefers beef over chicken or turkey because she remembers the days when chickens and turkeys were sold alive, and the housewife was the one who had to dispatch it and clean it before cooking it. I recall, as a young child, watching my mother kill and clean chickens that parishioners gave our family. She eats both chicken and turkey, but she prefers beef. Of course, if she had to butcher a cow or observe one being butchered, she probably would decide she didn’t care for beef either.

(5) Natural foods are the best. She doesn’t count points. As a matter of fact, I don’t recall her ever dieting. She eats whole wheat bread only, lots and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and small portions of meat. She drizzles local honey on her toast at breakfast.

(6) Use very little salt or sweeteners. When my father had a heart attack, my mother stopped using salt almost entirely. I complained at the lack of flavor in many of the foods she made, and I would sneak in a few shakes of salt whenever I could. However, in terms of health, my mother was right. We should enjoy the natural flavor of foods rather than depending on so much salt. Still, I like a little salt.

(7) Probably my mother’s only “weakness” when it comes to food is ice cream. She loves it. She keeps a couple of cartons of black walnut ice cream on hand at all times.

(8) She enjoys coffee – and she seems to especially enjoy the vanilla lattes I make for her when I visit. I used to go to Starbucks each morning to get them, but now I make them myself. She always drinks every drop and talks about how good it is. When she is on her own, she usually drinks a very weak cup of coffee with milk in it. She talks about how she and my father would always end a meal by sitting at the table, sipping coffee, and talking.

(9) She keeps her mind busy. She has always read a lot. Right now she is reading through the Bible again. When I talked with her yesterday, she said she was into the Psalms. She underlines as she reads.

(10) Last of all, she drinks lots of water. She takes TWO glasses of water back to her bedroom each evening to get her through the night, and she keeps a glass of water next to her during the day. Thanks to my sister, Janice, and my niece, Amanda, for reminding me about how my mother always drinks plenty of water and encourages all of us to do likewise.

That’s about it as far as the habits that I want to emulate. Just think, though, about how we could build our own health by following the 10 guidelines above.

Comparison is the thief of joy

I’ve joined a lot of Weight Watchers groups on Facebook.  Multiple times a day someone will post something along these lines: 

I have tracked every single bite this week, I’ve guzzled so much water I’m drowning, and I’ve walked 10K steps every day, and at my weigh-in, I ONLY lost 15  pounds! I’m so upset and frustrated, I want to quit.

That’s really not much of an exaggeration. I just read one post where a woman said she’d lost 30 pounds in two months. Really?

I read posts like that and think, “Yeah, I’ve been at this for eight weeks, and I’ve “only” lost a little over 8 lbs.”

Theodore Roosevelt had it right: if we start comparing our lives with others, we will often lose our joy because there will always be those who have more, do more, spend more, eat more, lose more, paint more, travel more, etc.

The word “only” should be banned. It a word that diminishes and trivializes, and we don’t want to diminish and trivialize things that are important to us. It’s denotes a false and unbecoming humility that we use so no one will think we are bragging.

Losses each week of 1/2 lb, or 1/10 lb, or 1/100 lb add up. If I stay the course, it will eventually equal a big weight loss. And what does it matter if it takes 3 months, 6 months, one year, two years, or more to reach my “ideal” weight? The time will pass anyway; wouldn’t it be better during the passing of that time for me to be doing what is best for my body? Wouldn’t it be better that I spend the time developing habits that will serve me well into the rest of my 70s, into my 80s and 90s?

So I pledge to congratulate others on their achievements, but to remain happy that despite what the scale number is, I am now in my 9th week of taking better care of myself. My whole self – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Recipe Fail: Chocolate Muffins

My experiment today was to make chocolate muffins without a sugar free cake mix as the base.  I wanted to develop my own recipe. It sounded so simple. However, I found that I greatly over-estimated my creative baking skills.  It was such a disaster that I won’t even list the recipe, but here are the ingredients I used:

They looked so nice in the pan and cooked up beautifully.  I couldn’t wait to taste them.

I took one bite of the warm muffin – and promptly spit it out into a napkin!  There was no sweetness at all – it actually kinda set my teeth on edge. All 12 muffins (minus that one bite) went right into the “chicken bowl” that we keep in the kitchen for scraps to feed the chickens. 

I decided to give it another try immediately. I decided to add some monkfruit sweetener, vanilla extract, and a little Fage nonfat Greek yogurt. Surely those additions would make the muffins wonderful – or at least palatable.

So I made a second batch with those modifications. Again, I was eager to try them out. They looked and smelled wonderful. This time I got 2-3 bites down before tossing all the rest into the chicken bowl.  The second batch didn’t set my teeth on edge, but they simply didn’t taste good.  Sigh.

I have to say – those sugar-free cake mixes are looking a lot more appealing at this point! I’ve run out of muffin-making steam for today, but maybe tomorrow I will be go back to the original sugar-free cake mix chocolate muffin recipe!

Chick Fil A to the Rescue

Chick Fil A has become my go-to for fast food. I can get a 12-piece grilled nuggets (0 points), barbecue sauce packet (2 points), a small fruit cup (0 points), and I usually have my own Yeti tumbler of ice water with me. If not, I can get a Diet Coke or diet lemonade. It provides a tasty 2-point lunch (or dinner).

I got out of the house today, and after running my errands, I did my Chick Fil A run, and I’m good to go till dinner time. I will likely enjoy some frozen grapes when I get home, and I want to make some low-point muffins, too.

Ron will likely stop by Whole Foods on his way home and get fish for us to grill for dinner. Ron eats fish on a daily basis. I can eat it several days week. Halibut, especially, is my favorite.