Ok. This post is part I of II about changes I've made since the first of the year 2016. Today, I'll just give a bit of an overview. Tomorrow, I'll post a list of what life has been like without sugar and processed carbs for two months. Spoiler alert on Part II: it was much easier to give it up and harder to sustain than I thought. A Clash of the Titans battle is emerging of psychology vs physiology. Yeah, that's why it's in two parts.
It's been two months since I began the program designed to “reset” your “set” weight in three phases called “Always Hungry” by Dr. David Ludwig. The purpose of the plan as I understand it is to “reset” downward the weight your body senses is the “right” weight so our bodies, particularly for those of us maintaining a significantly lower weight, won't continually perceive our healthy weight as a negative and provide physiological prompts to regain back the old weight.
And, just to to be absolutely clear, I am not endorsing this program or recommending it, just as I don't recommend “WW” despite being a Lifetime member who still weighs in weekly and will continue to do so regardless of what food program I'm following, or any other program because, well, there are so many programs and so many folks who need different things, different medical needs, who need stuff at different times and god knows I have all I can do just to make choices for me never mind presume I know what is best for someone else.
I do feel confident that I can recommend some habits for success, which I do with increasing annoyance to some, but the choice of food plan? Nope. That's an individual matter.
But, as readers of this daily blog already know, I wanted to do something different after seven years of WW. I chose to explore an alternative to the new revised WW program of December 2015 WeightWatchers called “Beyond the Scale”.
2015 was my 6th year of maintaining a 60 pound weight loss and it was clear to me that week in and week out I was succeeding by following the general parameters of the WW program, but as I've said in other posts, it seemed like I was rounding the corners on two wheels on some weeks and felt less in control than my previous five years.
I was relying more and more on exercise to maintain my weight than in previous years. I didn't have the interest in rolling up my sleeves to master any new edition of the program.
When the change in program happened in early December, I had zero interest in adapting. I could see that some of the changes were for the better but, no matter, the psychological energy needle barely moved on my meter.
My one non-negotiable for six years was to weigh myself every week, and sometimes, since reaching my goal in 2009, I began weighing myself multiple times during the week. I know many find this onerous and dispiriting, but I find it helpful, as one finds a GPS helpful. You simply know where you are and sooner rather than later. And, if it's affirming, it's nice to know and if it isn't, it's good to know.
So, for me, the “beyond the scale”concept is dangerous. I've written before about WW offering a “free pass” to folks not wanting to weigh in at the meeting–it is based on the 100% human instinct not to want to know, but in my not so humble opinion, this option should at least be accompanied by educating folks on a regular basis to at least look at the number on their own home scale each week even if they take the “pass” at the meeting.
It is empowering to take the power of the scale and use it rather than cower in front of it. But, this is, admittedly, my habit soap box. Here's the short version.
I understand that as a business WW derives revenue from folks who attend meetings but not from those who stay home because they don't want to “see” the number. So, they offer this “free pass”. Good for revenue, perhaps good for a member because they attend the meeting and may hear something helpful, but very few of us are good drivers with blindfolds on and it may actually reinforce a habit that is not helpful to each member in the long run, and certainly, not helpful in maintaining a weight loss. My habits at home predict my long term success.
The only one true thing I knew about my own history of weight gain-loss-regain-relose-regain was I needed to retain my seat in what I call “The Reality Ballpark”. Historically, the first thing I'd stop doing in the past when the weight would begin to creep back was to stop weighing myself and fuel the “smarmy”negotiator” in me: “Ok, I'll be better this week and then weigh myself”. How did that work out? Big surprise, not well.
So, when the new program came in with the emphasis on non-scale victories, I wasn't in synch, although for sure there are many non-scale victories. But, for me, they need to be celebrated with the one fitness tool all of us with this problem have: the scale. We don't have to like to do it but, surprisingly, the more I do it, the less onerous it is.
So, add the new program that was going to take work, with what I thought a misleading name and pandering emphasis, and that this past year was the most challenging for me to succeed, I started asking some questions.
Am I simply tired of this problem? Or tired of this program? Am I bored with what I am eating or not eating? Was I simply running out of gas in the motivation department?
I only had to look around to see folks who knew far more than I did about “points” in WW who had regained their weight back yet still attended meetings or those who were totally immersed in program but made little progress, or simply had given up and left the program just as I had done several times when I was younger.
Some lifetime members attended meetings, but either there were fewer of them or fewer attended meetings or so it seems to me in my neck of the woods. The majority of new WW members at the first of the year 2016 were former WW members who had lost and then regained and were coming back to try again.
So, I wondered, was I experiencing in my 6th year a detachment that almost felt like the inevitable? Watching myself slowly march into this trap of eventually regaining?
The statistics on folks maintaining a significant weight loss for 1+year is discouraging at best and they don't even have reliable statistics on 5+ years because there are so few in formal studies.
So, at times, it did seem as if I was out on a limb that inevitably I was going to saw off all on my own.
In Weight Watcher terms, I had vowed never to pay another fee and that meant keeping within 2 pounds of my goal weight. I managed to achieve that for four years by being routinely several pounds under goal but in my 6th year some weigh-in days saw me flirting with ounces. This trend alarmed me. I'd always back off and go down the next week but the pattern was rather constant and the range narrowed to goal +1 or -1 . I hated that narrow edge.
So, that's the background for why, beginning in January, when I saw a few articles about Dr. Ludwig's book (and I had read a few articles by him in the past year in the course of writing this daily blog), I decided to see if decreasing cravings for sugar and processed foods, resetting my “set” weight, would ultimately free me up from feeling this narrow edge struggle which I perceived was going to get harder and more difficult unless I could successfully run 26 miles a day to compensate for my calorie intake.
Phase I of this new program was two weeks with fuller fat dairy and proteins and veggies but no processed carbs, or wheat (not even whole wheat) or any sugar or alcohol of any sort. All my usual suspects of cravings (chocolate, popcorn, bread, crackers, cookies) were targeted and that's precisely why I chose to do it as I felt they were beginning to steer the ship rather than be an intermittent choice.
So, I bought the book and began it second week of January.. I was already at a healthy weight, so my goals were different than someone picking up the book to lose a significant amount of weight.
Phase 1 (2 wks), Phase 2 (as long as need be to lose weight), and Phase 3 (maintenance) had to be seen through my goals.
Tomorrow, I'll outline what they were and what I've learned.