Obviously I need to be doing something differently. Yes, I've dropped my calorie intake. But as the fates would have it, my activity level took a hit at the same time. Bodies being the dynamic and adaptable machines that they are, mine seems to have burned off about ten of its extra pounds and then found a point of stasis.
For the last four weeks, my weight has fluctuated between just over 174 pounds to just over 176 pounds, back and forth, back and forth. Frustrating to say the least, but that is the way of bodies. Especially when temperatures are below freezing, they want to stay insulated and keep stores of energy, just in case. And hell, sitting at a damn desk all day and not able to walk much, I might as well be in some kind of hibernation.
Now, about that physical activity level. The foot thing is still not resolved. I have found a brace/pull on ace bandage type thing that does help, and I've now cut out the circulation-obstructing parts so I can actually wear the thing all day. But given that the foot still hurts pretty good every morning, and that my sciatica is acting up like crazy, I still don't know that it's a good idea to try my real long walks. I've at least been able to resume my normal walking: the three blocks from my apartment to the subway (don't laugh - that was pretty difficult for a minute there), and more importantly the ten blocks from the N train to my office.
So what to do from here? I have a few ideas.
First and foremost, I need to get back to the chiropractor. My back is goddamn killing me. Not being able to move normally, and not moving as much, is definitely throwing things out of whack and exacerbating every problem.
Then, regarding food. I'll continue to eat the same number of times a day - about five. It breaks down as follows:
1) cereal and tea when I wake up (about 150 calories)
2) a yogurt or other small snack around 11am (about 150 calories)
3) lunch between 12:30 and 2pm (300 - 400 calories)
4) another small meal between 5:30 and 6:30, when I get home from work (300 - 400 calories)
5) a final small meal around 8pm (300 - 400 calories)
This is what I've been trying to do since my "diet" began, with varying levels of success each day. Challenges come on Thursdays, when I have an evening appointment (which I ALWAYS forget to plan for food wise) that throws things off, and leaves me starving and tempted to eat whatever crap I can buy from a bodega or drugstore or the nuts-for-nuts guy. Weekends are just one long challenge, because they lack the schedule that is imposed on weekdays by the office job, which comes with its pre-ordained lunchtime and, by its very nature, demands that I pack pre-measured appropriately portioned lunches for myself. I could of course do this for weekends too. I, um, don't. Would you? No, didn't think so.
So what am I going to do differently, if I'm doing all of that the same?
Well, for starters I'm going to stop counting calories for a while. It gets really tedious, like homework for a class you hate. And one universal truth about any diet is that if it really aggravates you, you'll never keep following it. So I'll keep packing appropriate portions for my lunch and such, and trying to mentally calculate the ballpark of what the calories might be, but no more calculating. Not for a while at least. And I'm going to take a break from the weekly weighs, because it's becoming disheartening, and that's not productive.
I also need to take a good look at the actual food I'm eating. In this long, hard, mentally and physically challenging winter, I've strayed far from the whole grains and raw fruits and vegetables that I should be focused on. I've been incorporating much, much more processed food into my diet in the past two months than I'd really like to, and that has to stop. It is likely another factor in why my weight has ceased to drop.
So through the month of March, I'll be working on shifting my focus back to raw and lightly cooked vegetables, complimented with fruits of all kinds and a multitude of whole grains - which I really do quite enjoy. There's brown rice, which awesomely enough I can get perfectly cooked from the takeout Chinese place around the corner from my apartment. There's quinoa, which I have more success at cooking than I do with rice, and which is so versatile a grain that I could easily be eating it twice a week without getting tired of it. There's wheat, which I try not to eat a lot of because it is so omnipresent that we tend not to notice how much of it creeps in - but some truly whole grain wheat is a very nutritious substance indeed. And in reality there are dozens of others - barley, oats, and a bunch of stuff that I don't know the name of... but could!
And of course we can't forget our legumes. beans are wonderful, full of protein, available in an endless variety, and tasty on top of it all. Soy of course falls into this category. I'll continue to eat tofu; I'm not cutting out all processed foods, just the majority, and as far as processing goes at least it's a fairly low level. As to what processed foods I will eat, maybe that good old rule of thumb: only the ones whose ingredients I can actually recognize?
As I mentioned, I really do need to kick the sugar. This is a battle I've been trying to fight, and actively losing, for literally at least a decade. I know I can't quit it entirely; every time I've tried I've ended up in a binge that's made me ill. I'm a serious addict, with no less a chemical problem than a chain smoker. And of course it's also an emotional crutch. So I'm going to try to take an emotional, bribe-type approach to it: I believe I'll allow myself one really terrible treat just once a week. It'll be on a set day, probably Sunday, when I'm always a bit down in the mouth (because I have to go to work the next day) and therefore having serious cravings. Then, when cravings strike during the week, I'll just have to tell myself, "But on Sunday the giant peanut butter cup is waiting for you. You can hold out. And if you have that ice cream now, no peanut butter cup..." We'll see if that works.
Long term, I have a bigger plan. April will be my month to get serious. The plan is to go... on a pseudo juice fast!
What does that mean? Well I'll tell you. Four of my five meals will stay the same. But the one in the middle, that 12:30-ish one, that lunchtime one, will be replaced with fresh juice! I'll be hitting up my juice cart man for a large carrot-orange-celery, or maybe carrot-beet-spinach, or perhaps even orange-beet-kale! Sky's the limit over there. The plan is to do that throughout the month of April.
Then, on May first, I'll get on the scale and see where I'm at, and begin with the calorie counting again. And with any luck, the weather will have calmed and be warming a bit by then, and perhaps my body will have settled down enough that I can actually start walking again! That would be real progress.
So until May, no more weigh-ins. I'll of course still be talking about the trials and tribulations though - it's not as if I'm going to magically become a person who can keep quiet.