Sunday, 4 October 2015

On Eating Healthy

About two weeks ago I went to the doctor and discovered that my weight was twenty pounds above where I thought it was. (I do not own a bathroom scale, lest I become obsessed with the numbers it assigns to me.) This was a bit of a shock, and I resolved immediately to eat healthier, climb more stairs, and lose those extra pounds. (It also came with realizations like "maybe that's why half my jeans don't fit." Though the expensive ones probably also shrank in the wash.)

The core of my strategy was my mother's tried-and-true healthy eating method: Lettuce as a Delivery Vehicle. I resolved to do partly as she does and eat salads for lunch instead of sandwiches. After two weeks of this, here are the results:

1. Salads got boring. I cannot eat lettuce every day, not even with green onions and sandwich meat on top. I am sick of salad the way I got sick of sandwiches. Also, bagged lettuce goes bad after about three days unsealed in the fridge.
2. I'm learning to take advantage of everything in my kitchen and have added stir-frying to my repertoire. I can do this because I am a social science grad student with a fairly open schedule; before this, I've always been much busier around the lunch hour.
3. Exchanging sandwiches for salads isn't the only change I've made to my eating--in fact, it's been much less productive than simply not eating snacks. A lot of that weight probably came from all the extra chips and chocolate I've eaten over the last six months. Giving up snacks has been surprisingly easy--I just don't buy them, and then I leave what I do have on the other side of the room so I'm too lazy to get up and eat them.
4. Not snacking has led to a couple of interesting discoveries:
4a. There's a difference between being hungry and just having a bored stomach. These last two weeks have made me significantly better at making that distinction, and at stopping eating when I'm full. Leftovers can always go in tomorrow's stir fry.
4b. Sometimes being thirsty feels like being hungry. Figuring out the difference will not only help me cut calories, but also stay better hydrated.
5. There are some vegetables you can add to just about any meal to improve it. Green onions especially.

This is the equilibrium I've reached in terms of food. Almost no snacks, more water, more vegetables, smaller portions of more varied meals. I think I can do it.

As for the climbing of more stairs...well, I've stopped taking escalators at the train station, unless I've climbed a hill to get there and my legs have noped out. And I'm going to try spinning more yarn; I use a drop spindle, which means I have to stand up to spin, which means I'll be spending less time sitting.

I am not on a diet. Thinking about it as a diet isn't helpful. I realized this yesterday while "cheating on my diet" with lunch-truck poutine. (Poutine is delicious, and can be made more delicious with the addition of green onions.) In fact, thinking of what I'm doing as a diet is counterproductive, since diets are generally presented as strict sets of rules that you're going to break all the time and then wonder why they didn't work. What I'm doing feels more like a mindfulness exercise, and it's something I've settled on on my own, not because I was told to do it. Maybe I should buy a scale, to see if the exercise is actually working; but right now, I feel pretty good about my choices and the steps I took to get to them.

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