I made it under 200 lbs. last week (a.k.a. “Onederland” on the Weight Watchers boards) but, for now, it has been short-lived: My weigh-in this past Monday was at 201.0. While this isn’t a major gain (1.4 pounds), I know that I have had a string of days where I haven’t been eating on plan.
What set me off? I was laid off from my job about 3 weeks ago. My official last day isn’t until Thursday this coming week, but it has been a trying time. Not so much for the layoff itself, because I anticipated it, but because there are so many decisions I have to make about my future. Do I want another full-time job? Do I want to go the freelance route? I have recommitted myself to temping in the meantime, and that helps to keep me from feeling rudderless. But it is mind-boggling to have to come up with a way to contribute to putting food on the table and decide a life path at the same time.
So, I turned to food, my old security blanket. The past few weeks have made me realize that I don’t really have an alternative coping mechanism. Sure, I have been praying about the job, playing with my son and spending time with my husband but, on many occasions, the pull of food has been stronger than all of that.
The best I can say is that I have been able to minimize the damage. In the past, I might have just kept on eating away the stress, but not now! Here are some strategies I came up with:
- Not eating a whole serving (or more). I find myself wanting protein after work, and this is also the time when I tend to be most out of control. Chicken nuggets are a particular weakness. Rather than eating a full serving of 6, I might just eat 2. This is the same principle as eating a forkful or two of a decadent dessert–sometimes a little taste is enough.
- Drinking water. I tend to be lax in getting in 6-8 glasses of water a day, so drinking water when I’m jonesing for comfort foods kills two birds with one stone: I get to catch up on my water intake, and drinking a good amount of water (at least 20 oz.) helps to make me feel full.
- Going to light options first. I find that if I can talk myself out of eating something high in fat and calories, there are many healthy, filling options that satisfy. A good snack I’ve been into lately is a small bowl of bran flakes with Splenda. I get fiber, knock out a milk serving, and satisfy a sweet craving. For a salty/crunchy craving, I turn to 2 taco-sized corn tortillas microwaved in the oven with salsa, maybe with cheese if I’m on a protein jag.
- Pairing a comfort food with a healthier option. One particularly nice Friday recently, I wanted to treat myself after long days of work and stress. So yes, I did go to a restaurant, a Mexican one. You’ll hear from successful dieters that food is not a good reward choice, but I felt like I needed it that particular day. What I ended up doing was to order an appetizer plate of buffalo wings and a bowl of gazpacho soup. In the past, I may have gotten the wings and a heavy plate of flautas (basically fried, rolled-up tacos) and cheese-covered rice and beans, but I decided to make a healthy balance. In other words, damage control!
- Dieting another day. You often hear of people new to diets kissing the diet goodbye after a bad day or two (or 7). But quitting doesn’t get you anywhere, except back in your big girl pants! I, too, have said “forget it” when something has gone wrong in my life and I leaned heavily on food to try to make it better. But I am trying my hardest, this time around, to not let disappointment and depression get the best of me. I acknowledge I made a mistake, then get back on the right path as soon as possible.
If you are on a diet now, or are worried about starting one because you feel you won’t be able to stop yourself from eating your favorite unhealthy foods, stop worrying. Do the best you can. As I always hear people say, you didn’t gain however much extra poundage you have in a day or a week; it was a process that took months or years. Don’t expect to be perfect right away. In fact, don’t ever expect to be perfect. As I’m learning, true success at losing weight comes from making more good choices than bad ones.