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May 23, 2006

Gaining Control and Taking Responsibility

The difference for me was control. By becoming informed of the impact my food choices were having on my life, I became personally responsible for the outcome of those decisions. Suddenly I was doing this for me and not for what others thought of me.

Knowing the calories eaten, calories burned, activities that impact calories burned, and the nutritional value of my food selection decisions suddenly opened my eyes. For years I had been trying ineffectively to balance my dietary wants by periodic deprivation. That is, I would notice my weight creeping up, most often by having to buy a size larger pant. Confronted with the evidence I would avoid the good things in life until either I had lost the weight or grown accustomed to the new pant size.

I was trying. I was on a diet plan more often than not and feeling guilty. I viewed the diets as an intermission from living. This is not a good way to change one’s life. Frankly, that was not my plan. I simply wanted to shed the weight then get back to living!

One year ago this all changed. With the aid of one of many computer nutritional planning programs I became aware of the nutritional impact of my food decisions. This simple information made it easier for me to make meal decisions that got me on a path of losing weight. Granted, during the weight loss period I had to set aggressive goals concerning food selection and daily calorie intake. But, when I had a reason to slip, such as a party or night out, I found it easy to get back on track. I lost 20 pounds in 9 months.

Now I am at my optimal weight of 155. I have enjoyed being there for ninety days. I say enjoyed because it has not been a struggle to remain within the 154 to 156 range I allow myself. I enjoy alcohol, fun foods and the occasional sinful food. I also plan for those occasions and when my weight slides up a pound, I know that it will come back off again in a few days as long as I maintain my plan. And, for the first time in my life, I actually have to watch losing too much. I work to keep my weight on as much as I do keeping it off. This even has my wife laughing at me!

Why is this working for me? Because I have no excuse for it not to work.

There is no one but myself to blame because I decide what to eat and when. There is no sneaking around hiding the bag of chips from my wife. No stolen ice cream cone on the road. If I want one, I am man enough to say so and have it. And then I am also man enough to compensate for it and balance out my weekly plan.

Am I advocating calorie restriction? No. I am advocating selecting foods based on their nutritional values, including calories, and making choices that will achieve my goal. Without really focusing on it, I have maintained a balance of 33% protein, 33% fat and 33% good carbohydrates. That balance and watching caloric intake (we each need a differing amount of calories to maintain, gain or lose weight) has proven far easier than I thought.

I can walk into any restaurant and order a meal that conforms to my needs. I could, after two months, estimate the impact of any meal on the menu. It is a function of the foods selected and portion size. A twenty ounce piece of prime rib is nice, but it does not take a rocket scientist to know that is too much food for one meal. So why eat it? In the past I would eat it all. Today I enjoy a much smaller portion, and because I made the decision not to eat more, I don’t miss it. It was when that little voice in my head said I shouldn’t eat it that I really, really wanted it. That little voice, when it speaks up now, is drowned out by me. I can choose to eat it or not. Now I choose not to do so. I am responsible.

PS I also exercise and lift weights. But this is not for the calories burned. It is to stay limber and fit so I can enjoy the best years of my life which are yet to come. The past is history. The future is to be lived fully.

Posted by Ben at 7:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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