I seem to have lost my taste for meat lately

I’m not a vegetarian, never have been. Although, apparently I look like a vegetarian because I usually have to explain to coworkers (repeatedly) that I’m not vegetarian. And while I think it’s an interesting sociological point that if you are particular about food in any way you are immediately assumed to be vegetarian, that’s not what this post is about.

Well, mostly not. I do find it somewhat interesting that the obvious mental association most people have for “is meticulous/particular about food” equates to “must be vegetarian” and not “cares what kind of crap they put in their body”. I sort of wonder why in a country where most of the commercially available food is absolute junk, people would even wonder for a second why somebody might want to be particular about the food they consume. But I tend to write it off as simply the case that most people actually run on autopilot and believe the lie that convenience trumps all. “I don’t have time to eat healthy! I have to lower my standards to eat garbage because I’m so very, very busy!” is an incredibly persistent message that the food industry has been magnificently successful at communicating. It helps that it preys on two natural instincts humans already have by default – laziness and gluttony.

But I digress. What I actually meant to mention today is that I’ve noticed lately that I’ve lost my taste for meat. It hasn’t tasted good to me for several weeks now. It doesn’t taste bad, it just doesn’t appeal to me. It’s interesting to me because I’ve definitely had the reverse – I’ve had phases where certain foods were AMAZING and all I wanted to eat for a while. When I first went off of the VLCD I was all about the oatmeal with brown sugar. I would eat it for breakfast, then I’d come home sometimes and eat it for dinner. Couldn’t get enough. Just loved everything about it – the texture, the flavor, the way I could use oatmeal to deliver just a touch of crunchy brown sugary goodness, in the name of health, right to my tongue. Yum!

I’ve never had any kind of moral objection to meat (well, ok, there was a phase in high school where I went vegetarian for a few weeks – maybe months? – but it didn’t last). Meat’s never been something I craved in particular – I may be the only person who could honestly take or leave bacon. I don’t share the current fad for bacon. It’s ok, I’ll eat it, but I don’t lust after it and I certainly would never wear a shirt proclaiming its awesomeness. If bacon is the gateway meat, well, I’ll just linger here in the doorway then.

If I were in charge of cooking in my house we’d probably eat very little meat, as my lack of interest in it means that I never really learned how to choose, prepare or cook it. I tend to consider it more of a flavoring or a garnish in my cooking – a spice, really, to be used sparingly. I’m extremely conscious of the fact that an animal had to die for me to consume meat, so I’m also wary of buying more than I will use or screwing up a meat dish due to my inexperience and having to throw it away (effectively meaning that the animal that died for my meal died for nothing…a situation I am exceedingly uncomfortable with). I would say my relationship to eating meat has been somewhat complex. I had to think about it for a while when I first met my husband and learned that he hunts (but only for food – he always eats what he kills). Eventually what I came to was that I actually would prefer to eat food he has hunted, as the animal had a life in the wild, free from feedlots or commercial slaughter operations, and therefore is likely to have led a happier life before coming to my plate. It took me a while, but I did finally get around to that understanding.

Anyway, all of this is to say that lately, I seem to have picked up an aversion to meat. I suspect that it is a phase, or that it’s a sign to me that I need to make an effort to ensure that the meat I do consume is coming from a more humane source. I certainly have passed through other food phases without any lingering effects. I wasn’t eating all that much meat to begin with, and I don’t intend to go off it entirely, I just think that maybe for a little while I’ll need to look into my relationship with meat and re-examine my beliefs. Or it could just be that I don’t enjoy it all that much right now – taste buds do change and evolve over our lifetimes.

In the meantime, I’m totally happy to find protein from other sources – yogurt, cheese, nuts, tofu, etc.

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I guess it depends on the kinds of problems you have, doesn’t it?

I’ve been overweight my whole life until recently. When I was a kid I was a fat kid, when I was a teenager I was larger than any of the other kids in my school. In my twenties I was morbidly obese. And that entire time, all I wanted was to be normal. I wanted to lose all of the weight that made me such a pariah socially and my life so inconvenient physically. So I read every article and book I could get my hands on about weight loss, and I started to notice this one trope in particular came up over and over again, somewhere in any article or book this on particular statement would appear, regularly enough that it started to really bother me. Here it is, tell me if you’ve never seen it before, it went something like this:

“Losing weight isn’t going to solve all your problems, you know. You’ll still have problems after you lose weight. Losing weight won’t make you happy if you’re not happy already.”

I saw this almost every time I read any materials about diets or weight loss. I don’t know why, but the people who constantly ram it down your throat that you need to lose weight (ahem…women’s magazines, I’m lookin’ at you) also, for some reason, feel the need to remind you that, honey, you’ve got bigger problems than being fat.

So which is it, media experts? Am I miserable because I’m fat and if I’d just get thin I’ll be happy and sexy and everybody will love me? Or am I miserable because I’ve got big life problems that being thin won’t solve?

Well, let me tell you something, whether you’ll still have problems or not after you lose weight really depends a whole hell of a lot on the kinds of problems you have when you’re overweight. Here’s a list of the kinds of problems I had when I was at my highest weight, you tell me if losing weight was going to solve those problems:

  • Hated going to movies because I was too big for the theater seats.
  • Mortified by flying (and therefore avoided it) because I was too large for an airplane seat.
  • Hips and knees hurt constantly because of the strain my weight put on them.
  • Trouble making friends because of the social stigma against obesity
  • Hated self because of the constant barrage of media telling me I was awful and stupid and inferior due to my size.
  • Finding clothing was a nightmare since I had grown past sizes that were commercially available.
  • Couldn’t participate in any social activities of a physical nature due to being embarrassingly out of shape.
  • Broke the seat slider in my car due to weight. Too embarrassed to get it fixed.
  • Constant heartburn.
  • Yelled at by passersby in the street to “Hey fat lady, lose some weight!”

Actually, allow me to end the suspense and answer my question: Yes, losing weight solved all of those problems. It was a goddamned panacea for the kinds of problems I had in my life. And once I lost the weight and didn’t have those problems anymore, yeah, I was pretty gosh-darned happy.

I don’t know, and I don’t care really, why it was so important to people who sell diets to state so many times (and so emphatically) that losing the weight wouldn’t solve my problems, but I suspect that it has a lot to do with the fact that the kinds of people who have jobs writing for women’s magazines and diet program materials aren’t the kind of people who’ve ever had those kinds of problems. So perhaps they should shut the hell up on topics they know nothing about.

I don’t know. Just a thought.

Even Thin Girls Have to Diet

Exercise this week:

  • Monday – Ran for 50 minutes
  • Tuesday – Walked for 60 minutes (to work and back)
  • Wednesday – Walked for 40 minutes (around neighborhood)
  • Thursday – Walked for 60 minutes (nature trail near house)
  • Friday – Planning a run later this afternoon

Food was fairly well on track this week, I allowed myself some leeway in the evenings to have a glass of wine or a cocktail on 3 evenings this week. That’s probably all I’ll imbibe this week. My calorie totals didn’t exceed 1800 for any single day (which makes the net even better after exercise is factored in). All in all, a pretty good week so far.

How are your numbers looking? You are tracking, aren’t you? If you’re not tracking…how can you be managing your weight?

I ask because I’m always curious if there are people who can manage a healthy weight without any tracking effort at all. I used to think that some people were naturally thin and didn’t have to make any effort (this was when I was obese) and of course I felt that life was terribly unfair to me since I was naturally overweight. But then as I started managing my weight I realized through talking about it with some of my “naturally thin” friends that they were, in fact, also working at managing their weight. This was a huge revelation to me. I thought it was completely effortless for them and they were just lucky (bastards!). Mostly they weren’t, mostly they were working at it every day. Which made it all the more difficult for them to endure vilification from those who were overweight.

Come on, you know exactly what I mean. When I was overweight I sometimes hated those thin people. They would talk about going on a diet and I would just roll my eyes and think, “Oh please, like you have to diet.” What I didn’t realize, and maybe would have if I had opened an honest discussion with them (which I didn’t because I hated them because I was jealous of them) was that their answer, had I asked the question, would have been, “How do you think I got this way? How do you think I stay this way?”

When I figured this out I felt a lot of guilt and embarrassment for my previous feelings. I didn’t know, because they mostly didn’t talk about it. I mostly don’t talk about it either now (except here, online – almost never in person) because it’s hard not to sound judgmental or preachy, and that’s not the goal, for me or anybody else I know. But what I’ve since discovered is that the only difference between me and those naturally thin people was they figured it out earlier. They knew that having a healthy, fit, active body wasn’t a right we are all born with but an on-going project that requires effort and maintenance. I only wish I’d known sooner.

Quelling a Craving

I can’t shake a craving today for a piece of chocolate. Not a whole candy bar, not a piece of chocolate cake, just a simple square of chocolate – a bite would be enough!

Alas, there is no chocolate to be had in that form. I could go downstairs to the cafeteria and buy a candy bar, but that would be more than I want or need. I could go snag some from a candy bowl on a co-workers desk, but I hate to get into that habit. All I have on hand is a banana and a pear. They really aren’t going to cut it.

So I reached into my toolbox and came up with a go-to trick: Made myself a hot cup of tea. Hot fluids have a magical ability to settle down my stomach and remind it that it is not in need of anything further. I’m not hungry, I’m just having a craving. So a nice hot cup of tea it is. This works pretty well for me.

Wednesday Weight Loss Links

Here’s an article that I liked: Diet Crutches: What Works, What Doesn’t  What I like is that they actually got most of these right. So much of the weight loss information floating around on the web is just plain wrong (or pointless), so I wasn’t expecting much but this one mostly hits the nail on the head (and the ones they’re only partially right on don’t really do any damage).

I contrast that with this, which is absolute, pointless fluff I came across recently: 4 Ways to Fool Yourself into Lasting Weight Loss  Serious waste of time. None of the four things here even approach getting at the reality of lasting weight loss. If you follow all of these you will soon conclude that losing weight is impossible.

And here’s a ranking of commercial diet plans by the (possibly credible but not listed) “panel of experts” that US News and World Report consulted: Best Weight-Loss Diets Please note for the record that this is a listing of commercially-available diets. They don’t even touch medically-monitored diets which are highly recommended (and highly successful) for people with larger amounts of weight to lose.

And here’s an article about avoiding the wrong way to lose weight:  Use tools safely to keep body parts attached. (ok, I’ll admit I only included that one because I thought the headline was funny)

Keeping weight off for good

Today was my weigh in day. I skipped last week for the usual reason, and had a very food-intensive weekend, so I was not expecting a happy number.

I’m down two pounds from two weeks ago. Looking back over the last two weeks, I always fixate on the things I did wrong, the food I ate that I shouldn’t have. I mentally filter out all the things I did right when I’m busy berating myself and concentrate on the things I did wrong.

But something has happened over the last 8 (almost 9!) years… I’ve learned to manage my weight by instinct. All of the meticulous skills I’ve built over the years are settling into habits that I do without thinking. I’ve learned to down-size my portions to the point that now when I splurge, I eat a small serving of something densely caloric and that is all I need to feel that I’ve had enough – even too much! I’ve reprogrammed myself to feel satisfied with smaller portions, and to expect to move my body regularly.

I think this is the ultimate goal of all of the years of journaling, measuring, tracking and weighing. To mentally assimilate the “right” ways to handle daily living, to know how to splurge and compensate for it. I’m now maintaining my weight loss automatically, even in challenging food environments. I automatically take the steps I need to balance my caloric equation every day.  This is the goal.

When people say it can’t be done, send them here. It can be done, with a combination of hard work, a reasonable goal weight, and a rigorous focus on behavioral modification. I don’t give up, even when I have a bad week. I just modify and try harder.  You can too.

And of course, none of this means I’ll stop working at it. It’s a lifelong journey. But today I’m savoring the feeling. Today, I feel as if I have succeeded.

Weekend Strategies

I just came across a post with a really great list of weekend weight management tips, organized by different sorts of activities you may encounter. I find I use all of these at various times depending on my particular weekend challenge. I used several this last weekend. It’s also a good reminder to me that even though I wasn’t perfect, I was putting into place a lot of the right tools and skills and should remember to give myself credit for the things I DID do, rather than focus on (and berate myself for) the things I didn’t do.

Anyway, great reading, check it out: Weekends – the antithesis of weight loss. I will bookmark this and set a reminder in my calender to read it again on Friday. Maybe every Friday!