The Last Great Hurrah

So I went to the doctor recently (something I avoid if at all possible), and I got the dreaded words, “You need to lose weight.” Now, I knew I needed to; it wasn’t a surprise. And it’s not that I haven’t wanted to. But there are lengths I have not been willing to go to. There are lengths that I’m still not willing to go to, but the time has come to focus on it.

The first part of this focus is confession time. It’s easy to look at my day and say, “I didn’t do so bad overall.” Well, maybe not in comparison to some, but I’m not doing well enough for me.

Confession #1: I am not a morning person.

I am so much not a morning person that I avoid morning until the last possible moment. I crawl out of my blanket cocoon with just enough time to get a shower and put clothes on before it’s time to walk out the door.

Breakfast? I can honestly skip it and did for years. To be very honest, the thought of food within the first 30 minutes of waking up really makes me nauseous. Carpooling with Papa Squirrel has changed all that for me. We’ve developed a habit. I don’t have to get up any earlier, but we still get breakfast. We just stop on the way to work. McDonald’s is way too convenient, and the chicken biscuit is a really tasty thing. The breakfast sandwich on grilled toast at Buns on the Run is a truly beautiful thing. Would I prefer either of those to waking up earlier and eating a cold bowl of corn flakes with nonfat milk? Do you really have to ask?

Confession #2: I hate exercise.

Always have. I’m clutzy. I trip over air. I’ve managed to break bones tripping over air. Coordination? Um, no.

So what about just walking? First, there’s the tripping over air thing. Then, there’s the question of when. You’ve read confession #1: morning is not a happy option. It’s winter, so it’s really dark by the time Papa and I get home. Are these bad excuses? Yes. Don’t I know that? Yes. Have I cared? Not so much.

So what about a gym? Have you seen the people who work out at gyms? I don’t look like those people. Even when I was thin, I didn’t think I looked like those people. And there are mirrors. Lots of mirrors. I’ve never been that into looking at myself. The whole point of a mirror is to make sure that my hair isn’t sticking up, that there’s nothing on my face that shouldn’t be there, and that my underwear isn’t showing. Beyond that, not so much. Find me a gym full of fat people working out alone in the dark. Then we can talk about it.

Confession #3: I like good food.

I like butter. I have a positive love affair with cheese. If I had to choose between cheese and Papa Squirrel? Well… Foie gras? Sweetbreads? A beautiful medium-rare steak with potatoes au gratin? Count me in any day.

I work. Papa works. There are nights (usually at least one every week) when we have had bad days and the last thing either one of us wants to do is to deal with cooking something and then having to clean up the mess. Those are restaurant nights. And while I do try to be moderately sensible at restaurants, I know very well that everything tastes better because of butter. I still think that a buttery restaurant meal made from fresh ingredients is better for us than a processed frozen dinner (not to mention tasting better), but I know that it’s not exactly a waistline friendly practice if you happen to agree with me on confession #2.

Food has always been a focus with us for friends and family (and the whole reason we started this blog). I’m not willing to give that up. I’m also not willing to substitute artificial fats, sweeteners, margarine or low fat cheese. I don’t want to put all of those chemicals in our bodies, and you just don’t mess with cheese. Should I be making things like our famous fried chicken pizza? Probably not, but I’m not going to give up the good things in life. Moderation? That’s the plan.

Confession #4: I’m not a sensible dieter.

This is the hard one. I have dieted in the past. I haven’t always been the size I am right now. But I’ve never been able to diet in a physically or mentally healthy way.

From my junior year of high school until I got pregnant with Squirrelly, Jr., I ate anything that I was in the mood to eat. Some days that was no more than sweet tarts and Sprite, but on days when there was much more than that to it, I made sure that it didn’t stay in me long enough to cause a problem. I made myself get that under control for Jr.’s sake, but I know the urge all too well, and I am scared that it would be all too easy to go back to that. After all, it did work. I was a whole size 2 back then.

I tend to be a little bit OCD about this whole diet thing. I have tried without going back to the errors of my youth, but I found myself panicking if I ate more than my allotted 1000 calories or 10 grams of fat. I ate less than what the WHO labels as starvation in third world countries, and I weighed obsessively three times a day. I kept spreadsheets and calculated every calorie as soon as I had swallowed it. And when my weight loss plateaued, I wasn’t able to keep my “stay healthy” thoughts ahead of the “get skinny” thoughts. I had to push the whole idea of it out of my head and work on liking me the way I was. The weight I had lost came right back as soon as I ate like a normal person. I’ve done ok with that for the most part, but I am worried about getting into that “get skinny” mindset if I start dieting again.

Now I have Papa Squirrel. He’ll keep the insanity from getting too much out of control. Yes, I have started a spreadsheet, but I’m basing it on the FDA recommended 2000 calorie diet. I’m trying to do it more as a record than as a constraint. Am I feeling the urges, though? You better believe it.

Papa Squirrel and I had our last “bad” day this week. I didn’t just look at our portion size and say that we did ok. I actually hunted down the nutrition information for what we ate, and it really was a wakeup call. We did have our McDonald’s breakfast. And then because we were in a hurry at lunch, we had McDonald’s for lunch, too. We went well over the FDA recommendations before we ever took a bite of supper. We’re not going to do that again.

You see, I am changing my ways, and Papa’s by default. We’ve been waking up and eating corn flakes at home in the mornings even though we have been less than thrilled about it. We are planning to start walking together (together so that Papa can pick me up off the ground when I fall). Those unplanned restaurant nights are going to turn into salad nights instead. Delivery pizza is going to turn into homemade pizza. We’ll still go to restaurants, and I’ll still be able to enjoy a good meal there, but we don’t need to do that as often as we have been. Here at home, I’m not going to stop using butter and cheese, but I am paying attention to how much we use, and I’m not planning on making Paula Deen’s fried butter balls anytime soon.

Will I lose weight? Maybe. Whether I do or not, it’s not going to hurt us, and it will make us healthier parents for Squirrelly, Jr. Am I going to obsess over it? I’m going to try my best not to, and Papa promises that he won’t let it get too crazy. Are you still going to see good food on this blog? Yes. We’re not going to eat processed foods just because they claim to be what dieters need. You may see healthier foods here, but I promise, they’ll still be good.

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6 thoughts on “The Last Great Hurrah

  • January 24, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    Seeing as the last time I checked, I was heavier than any single player in the NFL, I think I know where you’re coming from. I’ve decided to suck it up and join the local community rec center, where I’m delighted to find that, while I still may be the fattest person there, I’m far from alone–and the weight has started dropping off.

    In the past, I have found that a good “diet” for borderline OCD is The Hacker Diet, created (sorta) by the founder of AutoDesk. A 2000 calorie diet based on that, coupled with taekwondo three times a week (which was far more expensive than the gym), allowed me to drop sixty pounds in six months several years ago–and I was having beer and pizza. Not every night, but still, every couple of weeks.

    And one specific fast food that was great for dieting: Wendy’s Chicken BLT salad with lowfat ranch dressing. Less than 500 calories, too much salt, and bacon!

    Good luck!

  • January 25, 2008 at 10:40 am

    The World’s Healthiest Foods website at is a good resource. Good recipes and lots of helpful information.

  • January 27, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Ahh compulsive dieting, I know it all too well. After my big weight loss I was OCD about keeping it off. I too have fretted and starved, and calculated and weighed. I’ve played games to see how long I could go on as little calories as possible. And I have been much smaller and much bigger than I am now.

    And I too and focusing on healthy Laura, not skinny Laura right now. So far it seems to be working. And no, I haven’t given up my butter or cheese. Please please please shoot me an email if you need some motivation/support/or to vent about the pains of readjusting lifestyles. I’ve also got some pretty good tips on moderation too. My favorite one as of late has been “If I want junk food, I have to cook it”. Let me tell you something, french fries/ potato chips lose their charm if you have to stand in the kitchen for 45 minutes getting them ready.

    As far as exercise is concerned, when next summer roles around, plant that garden yourself girl. Farming’s good for the body and if you’re already down in the dirt, it’ll be harder to trip over air.

  • January 28, 2008 at 3:52 am

    Hi there! I’m Julianna, and I’ve read you guys blog for a little while now, because I love cooking, good, food, and well, interesting blogs. I’ve never commented, I suppose because I thought it was reserved for friends and aquiantences of yours, but this post really hit home, and I gotta tell ya, I think your plan is about 99% accurate to what I did to lose weight a while back. i am a butter fiend, as well as being addicted to southern home cooking (don’t get me started on my grandmas cornbread, made with a healthy heaping of LARD). I just wanted to say, I hope you stay commited to the wonderful, inventive dishes ya’ll always seem to come up with. But if you are looking for some good snakies, that won’t “break” your day, so to speak, get some edamame and instead of blaaahh chicken salad, throw some lean seared steak on there. I ate that three times a week for dinner and you wouldn’t believe the difference it will make, meanwhile letting you get some get taste in with what might feel like some ho-hum food. Anywho, best of luck to you and your hubby! I know that for me and mine, the biggest thing for us was those urges to just pick up the fast food and say screw it for the night. But, if you pre-cook the steak and keep the salad tossed in a salad keeper, it will be more convenient than leaving the house for sure! peace! Julianna

  • January 28, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    WOW I got the same thing from my Cardiologist last week. You know you have made it when you have a Cardiologist! He told me to swim. He told me low impact, and lots of benefits. I found a fairly cheap place, with an indoor pool, joined and have been swimming for a couple of weeks. Lost 5 pounds and the clothes fit a little better for sure. The really big deal is I am not starving myself. Nothing really changed other than trying to control the potions a bit. Good Luck you re not alone!!!

  • January 30, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    I’d like to suggest Dr. Shapiro’s Picture Perfect Weight Loss cookbook. He shows how to cook great tasting meals so that you can lose weight without dieting. It really does work! I’ve lost 10 lbs. over the past 3 weeks. The recipes are really good.

    Oh, and for when I’m rushed, and just don’t have time to eat right, instead of fast food, I’ll eat a Special K meal bar. Those are NOT the cereal bars you find on the cereal aisle. They’re actually meal replacement bars that you can find in the diet section. I love the strawberry. The chocolate is good, but tastes too much like candy to me.

    I wish you luck!

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