First week of the new regime over, more importantly first weigh-in. In time honoured fashion I’ll keep you waiting for the result, first some thoughts on what kind of a week it’s been and what I’ve learnt.
Hey this is easy!
Okay, don’t laugh, but in the first couple of days I really thought it wasn’t going to be that hard. Of course almost anything is easy for a couple of days (except maybe holding your breath). I think the fact that I was eating what I’d normally eat, just sticking to meal times and a calorie “budget” made it feel like not that big a change. Of course the effect is (and needs to be) culmative. The later in the week the harder it got. And by hard I don’t really mean that I felt hungry. There were a couple of times when I felt my stomach nagging me but as much as anything that’s because I tend to eat my tea quite late (9pm sometimes) so that doesn’t really count when I could have easily got up from the computer and gone and made my meal.
So what made it hard?
The Real Meaning of Comfort Eating
It’s funny how you think you know about something when you’ve never really experienced it. I’ve always been the kind of guy to eat what I want more or less when I felt like it. So I’ve always associated “comfort eating” with the kind of thing you see on Friends where they eat a tub of ice-cream when the latest boyfriend dumped them. And whilst there are times when I pig out because I’m fed up it’s not something I do much.
The things is, eating less makes you think about when, how and why you normally eat, and whilst it may not fit my previous definition of “comfort eating” there are definitely a lot of times when I eat because I’m bored, or as a kind of “entertainment” – something to do that gives me pleasure. And it’s this later that’s hardest to give up.
Spreadsheet not Helping?
Last time I spoke about how I made a spreadsheet like I did for my Harry Potter Reading Marathon. I think overall this is a good thing. It’s a motivator to watch my progress and I like numbers (which is why, in the end, calorie-counting, which I hadn’t originally intended to do, works for me rather than against me.) However since the parallel was there this automatically made me think about the Harry Potter experience.
I got a tremendous sense of satisfaction out of achieving something that I wasn’t sure if I could do. I did so by keeping an eye on the target, via the spreadsheet, but towards the end there was something of a sense of grim determination about it. In order to make my ridiculous targets I was eating, sleeping, working and reading, and that’s all. I longed to just flop in front of the TV and watch a film but usually couldn’t spare the time away from the books (I still enjoyed them by the way, just not the reading itself, if that makes any sense). Once I’d finished I don’t think I picked up a book of any kind for several months.
So apply this by analogy to my dieting – what I don’t want to do is work hard for a few weeks or months, make some progress, hit my target and then be so fed up that I go back to eating too much and put it all back on, and to some extent the spreadsheet symbolises that. Whatever I do, whatever changes I’m making, have to be sustainable indefinitely.
Soooooo…. back to the “entertainment eating” thing, giving up of. When I’m sitting down at the end of the day thinking I really fancy something, not am hungry, or even fed up or bored, just really fancy eating something, the following train of thought goes through my mind:
“I really fancy something to eat. Not much, maybe a slice of toast, or one of those yoghurt bars.”
“but a slice of toast is 85 calories and the yoghurt bar is 70 and you’ve only got 50 left”
“so? I’m only going over by a few”
“it’s week 1 and you’re cheating already!”
“good point. Oh well think about the target, I’m weighing myself tomorrow. Once I hit the target…”
“Sure but it’s not about just hit-the-target-and-quit, this is your life now – or it’ll not work”
“Oh. So from now on I can’t just eat a slice of toast (never mind chocolate etc) when I fancy it? That’s my life? Thinking twice over a frikking slice of toast?!”
“Pretty much. But it’s only food. Is your life so empty that giving up comfort eating is such a terrible thing?”
(sadly) “yes. maybe?”
We’re not in Hogwarts Anymore Harry
This is all pretty downbeat but I think there’s room for optimism. I think that there are a number of reasons why it doesn’t have to be like the Harry Potter thing:
- My goal is much more realistic. The Harry Potter marathon was the equivalent of a crash diet adn I’m not doing that.
- It’ll get easier as I get used to it.
- The hard part is psychological. As I said I don’t really get physical hunger pangs.
- I’m starting to exercise. As I get fitter I’ll be able to do more i.e. burn more calories, which means I won’t necessarily be on 1800 calories a day forever.
- Over the next X months I’ll be aiming to burn more calories than I eat in order to lose weight. Once I hit my target weight, I can find a balance between diet and exercise that allows me to maintain that weight.
So I’m not as pessimistic as the previous section makes it sound. In any case, it’s a helpful thing to have to re-consider the place of food in my life. It reminds me a bit of fasting when I used to do that (for religious reasons)
And the Magic Number is…
OK, I’ve rambled long enough. In the first week on my new diet/exercise regime I have lost 2.1Kg or 4.6lbs. More than I thought but not too much. It is the first week and I know that you always lose most in the initial stages so I’m not expecting to keep up that rate of loss.
But I’m pleased.