I’ve lost 11 pounds since June 5, when I started tracking calories. I resisted tracking for a long time because I imagined it would be a major hassle, and I didn’t want food to control my life in that way. But, to be honest, food has controlled my life since I was six or seven years old; I can’t remember the last time I ate a donut or other “bad food” without a twinge or anxiety. For better or worse, I think counting calories is an effective tool if you want to lose weight.
In the past, I might have lost a lot more weight over a six week period. But this time around, I wanted something sustainable, something I felt like I could do long-term. I didn’t want to cut carbs, desserts or fats out completely. I wanted at least one small, sweet thing a day. So I’ve been tracking, and allowing myself to eat carbs and sugar within reason, some days more within reason than others. I know that in order to better manage my pre-diabetes I’ll need to cut further back on carbs/sugar, but I’m taking it one step at a time. I’ve been working on this lifestyle change for about three months now:
April: I started walking with my coworker during lunch break. We started off doing about 1.5 miles, and eventually got to about 2-2.5 miles. I know walking doesn’t burn massive amounts of calories, but I enjoy it, and it helps me mentally. Walking consistently tends to mean I’m feeling in control and my anxiety is manageable. I’d say that regular intentional walking is a sign I’m doing well. I do about 45 minutes of intentional walking everyday — and by that I mean I’m not counting the steps I get walking to my building from my car, or walking the hallways; I’m counting the time I spend outside, in the sun, walking to clear my mind, with no specific destination in place. I spent all of April just working on building my walking habit and didn’t even worry about food. Although it wasn’t necessarily my intent to improve my eating habits, I do think I binged less than usual in April. I don’t think I lost any weight, but I felt better after that month.
May: : I started working on my binge-eating in May. One day I hope to have the bravery to talk about binge eating in depth, but that day is not today. But I can tell you what helped. I started listening to this podcast called Weight Loss Made Real hosted by a woman called Cookie Rosenblum, who takes a very CBT approach to binge and emotional eating. In one of her episodes, she talks about how even though binge-eating feels like being out-of-control, there is a moment, a small, tiny moment, when you do actually have control and can stop yourself. The more you’re able to stop yourself from starting or continuing the binge, the easier it becomes. I’m not sure why, but her approach has worked well for me. Not perfectly. I’ve had two half binges since May, but I was able to stop myself before I was completely out of control, and before I reached the shame stage of a binge. I’ve practiced saying no to binges hundreds of times since May. It’s only been a couple of months, and I still get the urge sometimes, but this is the longest I’ve gone my entire life, dating back to when I was six or seven, without experiencing periods of binging. I think dealing with this behavior been the hardest part so far. I was white-knuckling it the first month, constantly dealing with compulsions/desires to overeat or binge, but I just kept telling myself no, and it’s gotten much easier. I assume this will be a lifelong battle for me, but right now, I’m going through a period that feels like a reprieve. During May, I didn’t worry much about overeating or emotional eating — I focused exclusively on continuing my walks and NOT binging, and this took pretty much all of my energy.
June: I started tracking in June. The first few days, I just ate normally (sans binging), and found out that I was eating about 2500-2800 calories a day, and at least 2x the fat I’m supposed to consume in a day. Since then, I’ve been averaging about 1900 calories a day, and I’ve mostly avoided processed foods. My headaches have decreased. I have a physical on July 24, and I’m hoping to get some validation in the form of lower blood pressure, a lower A1C, and lower cholesterol.