Sunday, February 2, 2014

You, Dear Readers, Are Awesome!

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About 1.5 weeks ago I wrote a post called Are my days numbered?, in which I speculated that the food challenge I was doing was perhaps a bad idea. I received some great comments. Very thoughtful, helpful, and honest comments. About five days after that post I quietly stopped counting the days of the challenge. It was a compromise for myself wherein I accepted the challenge wasn't really my thing while not making a big, "I quit" pronouncement.

I wanted to respond to each comment but instead of doing it in the comment section I wanted to do it here so you enjoy the comments right along with me.
  1. Anonymous 
    I think you are answering your own question, which is the purpose of a little 4-week experiment. There is the attraction of a miracle cure, a quick fix, a new insight that you've previously overlooked...however, the rational mind starts to question: "can I really do this forever?" What is the point of severely restricting food groups based on what - someone's enthusiasm? The amount of contradictory advice is astounding. In the end, and for me, it comes down to: sensible but consistent good nutrition, reasonable portion sizes, and rejection of ongoing tolerance of "oops" of candy, junk food and binge eating. Michelle - it's not sexy, but go back to what brought you success over the long haul - a commitment to watching your food intake and working in exercise as a priority. Don't mess with the formula that has brought you success so far!

    My reply: Yes, exactly. The only thing I struggle with in what you said is, "rejection of ongoing tolerance of "oops" of candy, junk food and binge eating." I honestly struggle with this one. Should I make it a goal to never binge, as some other bloggers I admire do? Or should I continue to try and roll with the punches, getting up each time I get knocked down. I think I'm scared to make reject the "oops" because I'm afraid I'll never be able to eliminate them altogether. Anyway, I love what you said about go back to what works. This is exactly what I decided to do in the end. And you know what, I think there is something sexy about it ;)
    Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  2. I have recent experience with an elimination diet, and I think it was only useful as a tool as a SHORT-TERM detox from my prior high-sugar, high-fat diet, identify the effects of certain foods on my system (I have an issue with some emulsifiers, sugar alcohols, and leafy greens - who knew?), and to completely relearn how to eat in a healthy way.

    It wasn't a liquid diet for 10 days, it wasn't gluten free for a month; it was a structured stage-based program designed by a team of researchers and overseen by my nutritionist who I connected with multiple times per week and made changes according to my particular needs. Week 1 was mostly protein - shakes and chicken with berries, etc. It sucked, and they told me it would. But it was only 7 days and they explained exactly what the purpose was. Then they re-introduced non-starchy veggies. Then they introduced low-glycemic fruits, then beans and legumes, then whole grains and starchy veggies, then all fruits... each was a step towards a balanced regular (though low calorie, for the desired weight loss component) diet.

    For me, restriction for restriction's sake just doesn't make sense. Restriction just to "see if I can do it" is an unnecessary exercise. But as a structured learning experience? Sure, I can tolerate that. And it has been enlightening and, shockingly, my tastes HAVE changed. I used to have the taste buds of an 8-yr-old kid raised on sugar, and now I'm drinking tea with no sweeteners. And enjoying whole foods with alarming regularity. But in most of these restrictive fad diets, they're promised as a quick fix detoxification and reset, with no expectation of long-term habit changes. And is that worth it? I don't think so. But that's just my opinion.

    Michelle, I think you've been so inspiring, and I think a lot of your success is founded in your commitment to your extra-curricular physical activity (you inspired me to buy a bike!!), so all I can say to you is: I think the best thing you can do for yourself is just to keep tracking what you eat. Tracking really is half the battle. Honor yourself by being honest with your tracking and the reality of what you're eating when and why will set you off on making whatever changes should be made. Whoops my battery's dying!! Thanks for reading!!

    My reply: Julie, the elimination thing makes so much sense. Doing these things without a purpose, and, more importantly, without a transition idea for after the change is over is a setup. My sweetness gauge really changed too when I went off processed sweets. Suddenly a bit of maple syrup was all the sweetness I needed. I feel like I learned from the journey and was happy to realize I didn't need to continue it beyond those lessons. Thank you for the encouragement.

  3. Well I say A Big fat yes to the last question :) however you gotta do what you feel is best for you. You learned from your challenge and found it helpful in ways....yes? so in its own way it was a success for you. Is it still helpful in anyway or is it in itself causing a little bit of stress? If you find yourself stre3ssing over it....kick it to the curb and find a new challenge!

    My reply: Yep, I did learn from it but then my heart wasn't in it anymore. So I did kick it to the curb, but no new challenge either. I think my next thing will be the Across the Bay 12k in March.

  4. M
    Move on. I think you figured out exactly what works. Keep it up.

    My reply: Thanks M!

  5. It sounds like you've accomplished your goals with this process. What would continuing to count the days do to support your goals/mission/focus?

    My reply: Exactly why I stopped. Not needing coffee or much alcohol...who knew?

  6. Thank you for sharing this! I just gave myself permission last night to throw in the towel on my own 30-day challenge to track all of my calories. Much like you, I was just hoping to learn from observation and maybe make some positive changes. It seemed like a good way to kick off the new year. But you know what? It was driving me insane and getting me nowhere! I found myself way too preoccupied with what I was eating, when I was eating next, and it felt like a diet. Of course I didn't wake up this morning magically 5 pounds lighter, but I did feel a lot more free. Food for thought. :) 

    My reply: "It felt like a diet," is never good. Consciously making the decision to quit a challenge is better than burning out on it, getting resentful, and then getting entirely off track.

  7. I commented on your last post before I read this one. But honestly I think we all go through these phases. We get lost, skip the exercise and our eating goes a little haywire and so we do these things to refocus ourselves. I think it's a normal pattern that we repeat every now and again just to keep ourselves in check. But I think you have to do what's best for you and listen to your body! And I definitely wouldn't call it a diet, 'challenge' is a much more positive term for what you are doing :D

    My reply: Totally agree. You make a good point, it's probably better to see this as a natural pattern that happens rather than as a "slump." I've taken to calling it "a period of low motivation." I like how it sounds less negative, with less judgement attached I guess.

  8. Stop counting the days. It helped you be more mindful of what you are putting in your body so that was helped refocus you on your eating habits (really I'm sure most of us could use a bit of that after the holidays). ;)

    My reply: Done :)

  9. i agree, stop counting the days. you achieved goal #1 of experimenting with gluten and hooray you don't have an intolerance to it! and you've gotten your eating back on track the way you like it to be. maybe continue tracking what you eat for another week, but yes, stop counting the days. i'd call this experiment a success and done.

    My reply: A big success! I should do a wrap-up post to go over what I learned.

  10. During December I went gluten free and grain free for the first 2 weeks and then gluten free for the rest of the month. I also eliminated all refined grains and almost all added sugar.

    I learned a lot from it. I found out that I wasn't sensitive gluten and that was useful to know. I found out that when I do those things I eat a lot less calories. I got out of the habit of eating some junky snacks. And, when I added back in grains I didn't add those junky snacks back to the grocery cart. So, it was a useful exercise and it helped me break some bad habits.

    My reply: Good job! That's one of things I liked the best, breaking the junky snacks habit. I know it's not solved forever but I needed a kick in the pants.
  11. Anonymous
    As a fellow Weight Watcher at goal for almost 3 years (having lost 93 lbs) and still following the WW program like you did to get to goal, I do wonder why you're doing this diet. Yes, I call it a diet because it eliminates so many things from your diet. It's restrictive. And to me eliminating whole food groups and having a list of restrictions is a diet. Portion control of what else is left is what could cause weight loss (or gain). And if you're like me, if I'm told there are things I can't have? Well then I just want it all that much more and well, failure! I personally think, since you asked :), that you're restricting yourself too much. And that caused your derailment from your plan with your burger. Moderation and being "allowed" to have anything you want is what's so great about WW. Anything as long as you track it or count the points for it. I don't see how you can go wrong with that. Have you thought of going back to tracking to help you change what you call "bad habits"? Another idea is to do the WW Simply Filing technique. As you may know, it's eating all powers foods and you only track what isn't a power food. Maybe focusing in on eating only/mostly power foods will help you eliminate your "bad habits"? Just my thoughts. I love reading about how you think about what you're eating and why. It's really helped me too. And this journey at goal is to something we can just "do". It requires planning and thought. And that's what you're doing. I just personally think you're making it harder on yourself with this "diet". - Kelly H

    My reply: First off, amazing job losing and keeping off 93 pounds! I completely agree about all things in moderation. I was curious about the gluten free thing, and I've enjoyed being off caffeine. I'm also learning that alcohol just isn't that important to me. Not that I was a big drinker before but there were certain situations where I felt compelled to drink. But I didn't miss it in some of those situations, which was a good bit of info. Thanks for the support Kelly, I'm glad you get something from my blog :)

  12. Thanks for the shout out! I have been so inspired by you that I'm grateful to have returned the favor in some small way.

    In terms of your challenge, I think "experiment" is a good thing to call it. You're not looking for it to be a lifestyle change. You're learning that maybe it doesn't align much with your true goals. And yet maybe you will have a couple nuggets of wisdom from it in the end. I think it's also great you haven't been rigid with yourself about following it, you've kept it real and keep moving forward.

    My reply: Good point, I started modifying it almost from the start. I like the message that if you're going to follow some time-based challenge or even, heaven forbid, a "diet", that it's better to modify and continue to follow what works than to toss it altogether. Don't have to be black and white about it. In fact, it's better to learn flexibility, which is what real-life weight maintenance is about.

  13. Michelle, what the hell are you doing? There, I said! haha
    Anyway, diets don't work. The end.

    My reply: You are right. The end. :)

  14. Customizing my food template was the key to my 40 year weight yo-yo ing, emotional eating and long term weight maintenance. I learned the most on 2 elimination diets ( one in Jan 2013 and one in May 2013). Two months to solve a 40 year struggle. Very short time.

    Good luck and the answers will reveal. There is no one way, but finding what works is pure gold. Safe travels. 

    My reply: That's a message we don't spread enough, "there is no one way." I find that someone finds their way and then goes into the world trying to convince everyone that it is the way. People are so different it just stands to reason our way of successfully losing and maintaining weight loss would look different for all of us. 

  15. I gotta admit that I was a little concerned when I read you started up this "challenge". I only recently found your blog, I think the same time I started Weight Watchers on new years day. I'm really inspired by your story, I've got about 80 pounds to lose and so far in 3 weeks I've done great. I previously failed an attempt with another program strictly counting calories eaten and calories burned with exercise but it really got me no-where. I lost that quick 15 and got discouraged with the loss slowed and I gained it all back. Weight Watchers is awesome because it doesn't require me to track stupid things like calories or focus on a specific diet or any set of rules. Just do what I gotta do and slowly embrace a healthier life style. I for one super love grains, pasta, and carby things. No matter how "good" for me it'd be to give up these things, I never will, because that's not me. I don't think that doing some crazy restrictive diet is you. It was a fun experiment, but don't beat yourself up for not being the poster child of this program. Time to move on and find some other cool thing to do! :) Thanks for being awesome, Michelle!

    My reply: Thank you Jacquelyn. I love that with WW you can follow whichever program, no program, change programs, etc and still use WW. You are right, crazy restrictive is just not me, definitely not the poster child. Moved on, that's what I did. Thanks again for the support.

Well, there you have it. Aren't you all brilliant? I really enjoyed all the thoughtful comments and feedback and wanted to share it so everyone could maybe get something from it.

I'll have to catch up with all my eating and exercise antics in my next post, where I hope to be telling you all about my awesome run today. Ok, Michelle, time to get off the couch!


  1. Thanks for taking the time to respond, that's super sweet. Do you have any advice on the WW meetings? I'm having a hard time handling this by myself now, with just the online program and after a month I'm feeling myself losing steam. I'm willing to pay the extra bit if it's worthwhile.

    1. Jacquelyn - Have you tried doing the traditional with meetings. I found out that the online program didn't work for me, but the weekly meetings and weigh in worked great.

    2. I think you should check out the meetings for sure. And if you don't like one, try another one. Hopefully you have options in your area. Some people just like different types of leaders. Remember, you don't have to say a word but I find the experience of being among people who know my struggle to be very encouraging. So yes, I think it's worth it. YOU'RE worth it. Hang in there! There will always be times when you're "losing steam" as it comes and goes, the trick is to not give up during those periods.

  2. I liked this post going through the comments. I do think it can be illuminating to try different things and explore what works and what doesn't work.

    1. Thanks Kitty! And sometimes what works stops working and it's time to find a new thing. Thanks for reading.


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