I read a very interesting book lately about diets and weight-loss (Rethinking Thin by Gina Kolata). I’ve been oooh-ing and aaah-ing all the way through, nodding vigorously and having a permanent lightbulb of realization flashing above my head, but one sentence stuck with me in particular: what is your weakest point in your weight-loss efforts? Historically, I mean. Because, you know the proverb, the chain is only as strong as the weakest link in it.
So I’ve been conducting a mini experiment to unmask my weakest link(s) and learn to deal with them more efficiently.
My little experiment is very unscientific, and it involves watching myself like a hawk every time I think about/fancy/walk past/touch/put in my basket/buy/take home/make or bake/display on the kitchen counter/eat anything I am not supposed to. (Yeah, for those who are not banded in the audience: the band does NOT stop you eating crap... I stop me eating crap.)
So let’s analyse these links in my chain – I will score each link from 1 to 5 according to the likeliness it leads me to eat “out of order”; 1 being ‘highly unlikely’, 5 being ‘highly likely’
- Think about (WeakLink score: 1): that is where I find my band really helping, as I’m not nearly as interested in food as I used to be. Pre-band I was willing to rearrange my day if I fancied something from a store at the other end of town and needed time to get it. And I thought that was normal... duh! Now I can watch a food show (it’s like porn for us, as I’m sure other band-mates can attest) and not wanting to jump up from the sofa and try to recreate it in the kitchen. I actually enjoy these shows more, as I can be more absorbed without feeling the instant force of head-hunger. I haven’t even cancelled my Good Food magazine subscription – I enjoy finding new (WLS friendly) dishes and trying them at home. Interestingly, my focus shifted naturally from cakes and bakes to high protein meat based dishes... And I haven’t even tried to do that, it’s just happened!
- Fancy (WL score: 1): I do have cravings every now and then (yep, the band did not eliminate those either...). However, so far I haven’t given in once since my op. Whenever I ate some crap, that was a conscious decision made by me, calculated and accounted for in my food log and paid for by extra sessions in the gym or less calories on other meals that day or a not-so-great loss next time I stepped on the scale. I haven’t once fallen of my Band Wagon yet! And I don’t feel that such a chore either. It seems I have now the power to say NO in the early stages of a craving, and then to stick to my decision. That’s pretty cool.
- Walk past (WL score: 1): sometimes the previous link of fancying something even takes me to the shops. Or I’m at the supermarket when I suddenly fancy something naughty (I curse them every time for blowing in the scents of the bakery at the entrance!!). I go to the aisle; I face my foe; ... I face it some more...; then I can decide I do not really need it. Having gone through all the unpleasant parts of the surgery (have I mentioned vacuum pump hanging out from my stomach for 24 hours to automatically suck out the leftover blood in my abdominal cavity? I haven’t – I shall rectify that soon.) I acquired an uncanny tool of recalling all that and it puts a great perspective on my current foe: I don’t really need this, that’s not why I done this; I deserve more from myself.
- Touch (WL score: 2): Well, sometimes I’m tired or stressed or excited and my visual recall of the nasty post-surgery things just not working. So I pick up the offending food item. Now, listen to this: I always read the labels!!! Yes! And more often than not, I found the calorie/sugar/fat content so off-putting, that I put the thing straight back on the shelf.
- Put in my basket (WL score: 2): recently I went to the movies with my sis. Pre-op that meant a bag of M&Ms for yours truly. So, I picked up the pack and – after reading the label and tsk-tsking all the way – I proceeded by putting it in my basket. I had other things to buy too – good things. By the time I finished with the other stuff, the bag of M&Ms in my basket was burning a hole in my conscious and inducing a major amount of self loathing. Thin Me – who I recently empowered to take charge every now and then – was asking fat me: “remind me why did we go through all This (that’s how I refer to procedure – with capital T)? Not to ruin it with keeping up silly habits. You can take a protein bar to the movies, if you fancy something sweet.” Let me tell you: Thin Me won. I put the bag of sweets back where they come from. She keeps winning more and more easily each time.
- Buy (WL score: 3): If the story would go every time like in the last five points, there would be nothing to worry about, right? WRONG! One of the earliest thing I realised is that this whole WLS journey must be much easier for a single person. When you are single/do not have family you do not have to take other person(s) into consideration when you do your shopping. You only buy what You need, you only cook what You fancy... This is much harder when you have others to think about. And I’ve found that my mind makes it even harder by playing tricks on me. Prime example: My husband and stepsons LOVE cookies, amongst other naughty foods. And they can eat it by the truckload, because they are lucky that way. Sometimes I think of treating them to their favourite Millie’s box of 24 various shop-baked cookies. Or a dozen of Krispy Kremes. But when I’m paying really close attention, I always find that I don’t really want to treat THEM, but want to treat MYSELF by giving in and buying it. I caught myself several times thinking “oh, David would loooove these xxxxxx (you can put anything from cheesecake to brownies in the empty space). Let’s buy him some!” But then I take an honest – HONESTLY HONEST – look deep into my reasons, and I am constantly shocked that it is really me who I want to treat with these naughty foods, not so much my husband... Figure that! So now, when I pull the “let’s treat D” card on crap food, I always ask myself: did he ask me to buy it? Does he really want it? Can he live without it? And the end of this honest conversation inside my head is that I have bought only one “treat for D” since my surgery – it’s a Hungarian sweetbread D really-really loves, and I bought it in our specialist shop at Budapest when I walked past. I bought him 3. I ate one.... Well, my point exactly!!!!
To be continued...