Gwen asked, "What diet are you following?" The short answer is nothing in particular.
The side story is …
I did have success with Weight Watchers about 7-8 years ago and I contemplated it again but, truthfully, I just can't afford the fees right now and I was never impressed with our local meetings anyway. Those two things alone would make it a no-go. But I also remember being CONSUMED by the whole thing. Counting calories/fat/fiber, counting points, counting down until my next fix … er … meal, counting pounds lost and re-gained, counting my checkbook. Don't get me wrong — I think WW is basically a good system for many people and I did lose 60 lbs with it (all found again when I went off the plan), but I've come to the conclusion that it's just not for me. I need to get away from always thinking about food in one way or another. WW stresses that it's not really a diet but a lifestyle change. I disagree. In my mind, it's a diet. A lifestyle change to me is one that you don't have to think about too much after a certain point and it just becomes What You Do. I don't want to count points or calories for the rest of my life.
But that's getting ahead of myself. Let's backtrack.
The long answer is (pull up a chair) …
I didn't actually set out to lose weight. With all the other upheavals going on in my life, I was relying on my old standby of food for comfort. I was finding lots of love in those cookies and Kit Kat bars. ;-)
But then, I had major dental work (which is still ongoing and will be for a while), which forced a dietary change. I literally could NOT eat the same foods I used to.
So, full disclosure time (pull an ottoman up next to that chair and put your feet up) …
About 4 years ago, I was having some dental pain and went to a dentist who turned out to be horrible in a terribly insensitive sort of way. He told me point-blank that I'd have to have ALL of my teeth extracted and then started pushing implants to the tune of close to $50,000. (Yeah, like I could afford that. I could barely afford the $300 for the pleasure of that examination and bad news.) The bad teeth news wasn't new, even though I have *always* taken good care of my teeth and visited dentists regularly. I had been told previously that I needed periodontal work, but I had NO IDEA it had progressed to this point. I wasn't even 45 and the thought of an "old lady's" gummy mouth and dentures really did me in. Visions of Apalachia and Skid Row filled my imagination. I was a complete wreck.
And I was very embarrassed. So I put my head in the sand and ignored it. But then one tooth visible in the upper front decided to enjoy some gravity action and eventually was hanging down a good deal more than my other teeth. Man, I didn't want to go anywhere or see anyone, and pretty much didn't. (Any photos of me in my control during the last 5 or so years have had this tooth Photoshopped back to normal. Any others, I simply didn't smile with an open mouth.) I know it sounds superficial and what-not, but for my whole life I had always been told I have a pretty smile and it was a part of my identity. And then it wasn't and it was ugly and weird. I was very self-conscious. I never smiled full-mouth in public anymore.
Enter Dr. Amir. I really just lucked into him. I saw an ad, knew I had to do *something* for the job-search and my overall well-being, and made an appointment to test the waters. He's been wonderful (and the previously-mentioned good looks and London accent don't hurt either!). I literally cried out my heart to him, blubbering about suddenly having no job, a pending divorce, being an overall emotional wreck, etc., etc. He told me that I did NOT have to lose all my teeth, that there were really only (yeah, "only") some that were too far gone to save, and all of them except that one dangly tooth were in the back. He was so kind and supportive, and assured me he would work with me on pricing, payments and treatment plan to fit my budget and schedule. And his specialty, I later found out, is implants but yet he wasn't pushing those on me at all. He listened to me and came up with a plan that would work for me right now.
Dr. Amir has been true to his word and now I'm OK. In fact, I'm feeling so much better about all of this that I'm even willing to put it out to the world for all eternity. I've always been a spill-your-guts kinda girl, except this "secret" had been so embarrassing and demoralizing. I can't tell you how glad I am that it's behind me and I can let it go.
So, back to the "diet" …
I had just had the upper extractions done and was given the final partial denture thing to fill in the holes (it looks a lot like a retainer and stays in with clasps and not denture adhesives) 1-1/2 days before I left for my sister's graduation party in Virginia. And my mouth HURT! Dr. Amir told me that it would hurt for a while and recommended soft foods, but *good* foods like fruits and veggies — he's a health nut but more on that later. He was going away that weekend too, and actually called me on his cell during his trip to make sure I was OK for mine. See, I told you he was great!
Anyway, after the first day of feeling too yucky in general to even want to eat anything, it became quite a learning experience to see what I actually physically could and could not eat. Especially on a 14-hour road trip where driving through fast food joints was the plan. I quickly learned that McDonald's french fries were excruciating. I couldn't believe it! (And haven't had one since!) In fact, pretty much *anything* at McD's was out, except those delicious frozen drinks they sell. So for the ride up, I lived on Frappes and frozen strawberry lemonades and watched Alex eat the solid stuff. Yes, those drinks are high-calorie, but when they are your ONLY calories, it's not so bad. As the trip progressed, I also tried some of their yogurt with fruit and that was OK too, except for the apple chunks. Wendy's baked potatoes were OK too.
During various hotel stays, restaurant outings, my sister's party, etc., I learned that pretty much any bread/grain anything was out. I just couldn't chew breads or pasta, which really surprised me because I thought they would be "soft." Eggs and grilled fish were in. (Thank heaven for my mom's deviled eggs at the party!) Other meats were out. Rice, too weird. Ripe fruits and cooked veggies were in. Lettuce, and thus any salads, out. Any of my usual "comforts" such as cakes, cookies, etc. just didn't feel the same in my mouth so they didn't comfort - out. Candy - I still haven't had the nerve to try anything sticky, so out. Hard candy, very weird to suck on but I've had a few. Beer, in. Oops. ;-) But besides many of my usual foods being too painful or weird-feeling to eat, I also had to eat whatever I could eat VERY SLOWLY, and with very small bites. I still do. Now it takes me a LOT longer to eat a LOT less. This is a Good Thing, even if Alex does tease me about how slow I am. ;-)
Once we were back from the road trip, my weekly trips to the dentist for check-ups and adjustments started. As I mentioned earlier, Dr. Amir is a health nut. In a good way, though. He's not preachy, just casually educational and supportive. He wears these really funny shoes that have toes. They crack me up, but they look so comfortable. Alex tells me they are rock climbing shoes.
I could tell in the first week that I had already dropped a significant amount of weight from just plain not eating and I mentioned this to Dr. Amir as a positive "side effect" and we then continued talking about food options during my weekly visits. He said I should stay away from non-fat anything, since the fat is usually replaced with sugar and/or other unhealthy things to make the food still taste good, and that the fats in dairy and proteins are actually good for you. We discussed eggs being the "perfect food" both in consistency for my mouth and for their nutritional values. Eggs are very much erroneously maligned by Big Junk Food. You don't raise your cholesterol by eating cholesterol (eggs), you raise it by eating too many bad carbs/sugar which turn into the bad cholesterol in your body (it's more complicated than that, but this is long enough!). I actually really knew all this already, but we are so marketed about processed junk from Big Food that it's easy to buy into the non-fat hype and not think about it. I'm glad Dr. Amir reminded me because my brain started clicking …
… and after knowing what I was actually eating and still losing weight without being hungry, I decided to do a little bit of research on my own to learn more about why it was working for me. It turns out that I've fallen into a derivation of Atkins or a Ketogenic diet, which is to say cutting carbs and increasing the fat and protein, which causes the body to rely on fat instead of sugar for fuel, and it's this fat-burning process which is making me lose weight. I'm NOT eating like the "induction" phase of Atkins which is to cut out almost everything except fat/protein. It's much more balanced than that, and I'm not feeling deprived at all. I think I would feel deprived during an Atkins induction.
My typical food choices now are fresh eggs or Egg Beaters every day; yogurt with fruit (and fat); fresh fruit such as bananas, oranges, peaches, melons, and tomatoes; steamed fresh or frozen green veggies; soups; seafood such as tuna, oysters, crab, shrimp, fresh fish; and cheese. Meats have been limited to chicken and ground turkey and sometimes very small amounts of beef and pork, depending on consistency. Which is fine with me, because I've always actually preferred fish to meat. Pasta is still nearly impossible to chew so I don't eat much of it and instead will nuke a small potato or eat more veggies. Rice is still weird and will probably always be. Regular breads are out, but I have been making little egg or seafood "pizzas" with the whole-grain 100 calorie rounds because their consistency is a lot easier for me to chew. (My sister had them and I tried one there.) My sweet tooth is satisfied by oranges and peaches, or low-sugar puddings sometimes mixed with a sliced banana, or oatmeal with brown sugar or honey. Surprisingly, I haven't really craved chocolate at all. (I know, right?)
At this point, I'm not really craving anything and I'm not ever hungry. In fact, I'm spending hardly any time at all thinking about food and when I do eat, I'm eating less and still very slowly. It's like the inverse of what I was saying about Weight Watchers at the beginning of this long, long, LONG ::smile:: post. I feel I've made a positive lifestyle change and am not on a diet. It helps tremendously that there are definitely things I simply cannot eat without discomfort, but I'm truly not missing them. They were a (bad) habit, not a physical need. My physical needs are being met and the old habits are being replaced with healthier and more nutritious choices.
But it's also more than that. With my smile back, I'm also feeling better about myself in general and am not inclined to comfort myself with junk food. I'm not embarrassed to open my mouth anymore. I smile all the time. So, I've got a partial upper denture. So what!! It could be a lot worse. A. Lot. Worse. I never thought I'd be thankful for a denture, but I actually am. It's made me feel like me again on the outside, which is making the inside feel pretty good too. Now, I don't recommend getting some teeth yanked out to jumpstart weight loss, but for me it forced a change for the better. I'm choosing to see it as a positive.
I go back to see Dr. Amir tomorrow. I'm having a routine cleaning, a cavity filled, and we'll make plans for the bridge work that's to come for my lower teeth, so I can avoid a lower denture completely.
Life is pretty OK right now. And it will be great when I find a job and can really start my new life.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Gwen asked, "What diet are you following?" The short answer is nothing in particular.