To Do Lists With Lots of Things

How To Write A To Do List That You'll Actually Stick To

It’s been a rocky month or two, food wise. Oh, I know all the things to do. I just don’t want to do them. I want to eat things that have no business being in my house but inexplicably are. Well, of course there is an explanation: I bought them. A year ago I wouldn’t have been tempted by them, flying high on successfully transforming my eating and my body. But that’s come to a standstill and I’ve been up and down the same few pounds – which seems worse when you weigh every day than it probably actually is.

So what’s going on? I’m stressed on multiple levels. And I’m comparing myself to friends or even strangers in my Facebook weight loss groups who are doing great. I know it’s not a competition and that comparisons are odious. We’re each on our own journey with ups and downs that don’t match up with another person’s ups and downs. But it’s depressing to see them doing well when I’m not. There are a couple of options: eat better, own up to what I’m doing and stop beating on myself, stop following the Facebook groups if they are making me nutty.

But mostly I think I’m bored. I’m really, really bored. I’m tired of wearing masks and staying alone, but I’m also not quite ready to get in groups and party. I’m tired of eating the same foods all the time. No one is making me do that, I can make different choices, but I’m not doing it because same is easy and I know how to fit those foods into the calorie allotment I have each day. I’m ready for a vacation from work which I haven’t had in longer than I can remember. But I don’t know what I’m going to do with it other than not go.

I like lists and structure and plans. So I’m making some to help me move forward and feel in control.

Things Already Done or Scheduled:

  • Unfollowed the two weight loss Facebook Groups until after Easter; will reassess then
  • Threw out snacky food in the house
  • Made haircut appointment
  • Scheduled Mah Jongg group lunch and game day
  • Scheduled landscape designer visit tomorrow to come up with redesign plan
  • Scheduled Pain Management procedure for SI joint injection and right knee nerve burn

Things to Do in the Next Week:

  • Work out menu options for meals that can be swapped out.
  • Eat three different breakfasts and three different lunches during the week.
  • Make a date to go to visit my brother at the ranch in the next month.
  • Schedule times three days a week to go to the gym.
  • Schedule a session with the gym staff to get oriented on new equipment.
  • Check the April calendar at work and decide when I can take three days off to make an extra long weekend.
  • Weed closet of clothes and jewelry to take to consignment shop.
  • Take 2 boxes of papers to be shredded.

Other Things To Get Done:

  • Call electrician to fix broken outlet and check out porch ceiling fan
  • Get front exterior faucet fixed
  • Buy and plant flowers in pots for front of house
  • Talk with TIAA to rebalance portfolio
  • Clean carpets
  • Take cats to the vet for shots

Derailed into Storm Eating

(This post is really more of a journal entry because I need to get the words out to help me figure out what happened.)

Here’s a great description of “Storm Eating” from Dani at Clean and Delicious:

Storm Eating is binge eating or eating out of control.  It is anytime you can’t stop yourself.  You are aware that you are eating and you want to stop but you feel like you can’t stop or like you can’t control yourself.  It’s almost like you are watching another person inside your own body.  Sometimes this happens if we let ourselves get too hungry and sometimes it happens when we have an overwhelming emotion that we do not want to feel.  Storm eating is usually followed by regret and shame.  Many times it’s done in private or in hiding.” (https://cleananddelicious.com/the-four-types-of-eating/

My day started out well: up at 5:00am, 25 oz bottle of water consumed by 5:45. Sat with MyFitnessPal and planned out and pre-logged my food for the day before feeding the cats and making my usual breakfast: oatmeal with blueberries, 1 TB of whipped butter, and a TB of creamer. Got dressed, made second breakfast (blueberries with yogurt) and took it to work where I ate it 2 hours after first breakfast. Yes, I’m a Hobbit and need 2 breakfasts. So far this was all normal.

Went to the doctor for a follow up visit and headed to Panda Express to get my planned (and anticipated) Grilled Teriyaki Chicken entree. I love that stuff something fierce. But there was a big line for the drive through, so I shopped At Home first – and came out only to find the line three times longer than the first time.

This is where things derailed. It was almost 1:00 p.m. and I was legitimately hungry – but also very thirsty. You don’t drink much before doing to the doctor because you have to get on a scale there. This was not a good combination for me, both hungry AND thirsty.

Stopped at Tuesday Morning, which I’d planned to do, but ended up bringing home a box of Meyer lemon meringue cookies. Okay, not so bad, 8 cookies for 80 calories. Except why stop at 8 when there is a whole box full and I’m hungry? Never mind that I had just sent an order FROM THE PARKING LOT to Jersey Mike’s for my beloved #2 Jersey Shore mini sub on rosemary parmesan bread. It was 15 minutes away. But those meringue cookies were right next to me. It was not pretty. I had no excuse for picking them up in the first place except maybe just that I was hungry.

Picked up the sub at Jersey Mike’s and ate it outside on a balmy day. So tasty, so good. Pulled out my MFP app and changed the recorded food to what I actually ate. But when I came home, I was still thirsty. Instead of getting water, I got a diet soda. Not a good plan. Looked for something to graze on and found not very much because I’d already purged the snacky things last week.

But I managed. instead of green grapes (which were IN THE FRIDGE), I found mint chocolate chip ice cream which has been there for a least a month, bought for my brother who never came for Thanksgiving because I cancelled the visit. I wasn’t stomach hungry but my mouth was wanting something – and I must say I was a little afraid that I’d lost my sense of taste which is a symptom of Covid. So I was trying to see if I could taste what I ate.

So there was a little cup of ice cream. And some Ozery snacking rounds which need to not be in my house and are going in the outside trash as soon as I stand up. A little spoon of peanut butter. Topped by 1/2 serving of chicken and dumplings.

Now I feel sick to my stomach because I ate foods that my system was not really used to eating. At least not all in one day. And I’m heart-sick because I thought I had some of this under control and here it is, raging through me while I just find food that I really don’t want but am eating anyway.

I’ve stopped now. But I needed to write it out, and to write it on my food log to be accountable to myself. My 65 lbs weight loss is down to 60 lbs – but still, that’s SIXTY POUNDS down from one year ago. I think I’ve been feeling depressed and like a failure for having gained a little of it back, and when I’m stressed and depressed, I eat. Long-standing pattern that is very hard to break.

So what happened? Yesterday I had pizza for only the second time in a year. Last weekend I baked 14 dozen cookies after almost a year of not baking. Unlike tracking food in Noom, I’m actually seeing the macronutrient values for things like sodium, carbs, and fat – and I’m radically changing what I try to eat to keep myself within set limits. I forgot that “eating normally” for me really wasn’t all that normal which is how I got so fat in the first place. I need to remember that I can eat anything I want to, but not all in the same day.

Immediate things I can change:

  • Schedule my water to make sure I am not dehydrated, which makes me think I’m hungry when I’m really not.
  • Eat all my meals at home for the next week. I have more control here than when I’m out and about – and I don’t need to be out anyway. Seeing the doctor doesn’t mean I need to get take-out lunch somewhere.
  • Throw out the remaining bread things (Ozery rounds, Dave’s Killer Bread, Orowheat Sandwich Thins)
  • Melt ice cream. Do not buy more.
  • Schedule snacks like green grapes which I don’t really like but serve a purpose.
  • Start a gratitude journal to focus on finding positive things instead of things that make me feel like a failure.

Oh, and why was I out shopping? To get steps in. I do better if I have a cart to hold on to and push around. I can whip around a store like Sam’s or At Home and rack up steps without buying much if anything. Masked, of course, and avoiding other people. I was only actually out because of a doctor’s appointment with the other things planned for stops on my way home. Note to self: just go home next time, which is tomorrow.

“Eat Me,” said the Snack Bag

“I’m small, I’m portion controlled. Only 70 calories and you can enjoy my wonderful sweet and salty tastes,” said the Skinny Pop Kettle Corn Single Serve bag in the drawer. The one with the other Skinny Pop and a few Pirate’s Booty bags. They all came together in a sack from the grocery store snack aisle which had no business leaving the store let alone get into the house.

Why, you ask? Because even though they are nicely portioned out, there just isn’t enough stuff inside to be satisfying. So I end up eating two and then three trying to get enough. They are empty calories that I can afford to squish into my day if I’m careful, but then there are other foods that are so much more satisfying and sustaining that I have to cut out if I am to stay within my daily calorie target.

Or I could just keep eating my planned healthy little clementines and baby carrots or even real food for dinner AS WELL AS the empty snacky foods. Seems I’ve been doing a good bit of that lately and it doesn’t make me happy. So why do I do it? There’s the question.

I don’t particularly feel deprived. I’ve been eating carefully for almost a full year and know that I can eat anything I want as long as I can figure out how to account for it within my limits. Mostly that’s calories – I’m eating 1540/day now, but aiming for less – but also a minimum of 70 gms protein, under 2300 gms sodium, and 35 gms or more of fiber, plus 80-125 oz of water.

So I spend time every morning planning out what I’m going to eat that day, all three meals and snacks. It usually reminds me that I have food scheduled and planned that I know is actually in the house and available. I arrange for my beloved slider basket from the club at least once a week because I love it. But I also read labels as I shop and even as I look at restaurant menus for possible takeout. Foods I used to eat regularly I just can’t justify eating anymore because of the calories. Oh, I can eat them, but to make it work, I need to not eat much else. I love Pad Thai but hey, I love not starving the rest of the day more.

Back to snack bags. The fact is, I don’t really like eating baby carrots and healthy things. I know I should, but I don’t. I still have the acquired love of salty things even more than sweets. I can pass on ice cream but crave tortilla chips – but know that I just can’t stop myself with a measured amount. So the snack bags of popcorn are replacements for the chips but inadequate ones, so I keep eating more.

Next project: find snack sizes of tortilla chips. Maybe that will be satisfying enough that I can stop with the measured, portioned amount. If not, I’m back to carrots even though I don’t want to be.

Trying to get a grip

Emma and Ellie on the porch

I threw out food yesterday. The important part was the almost-full box of individual bags of Skinny Pop Popcorn recently purchased at Sam’s. I could have found someone to give them to, but it seemed important and symbolic to put them in the trash.

There was nothing wrong with the popcorn. I knew how to count it and enjoyed a little bit of “normal”. Except I forgot that my normal snacking was abnormal, and the popcorn led to other things like cookies or eating an English muffin for dinner because I loved the jam. Which is now completely eaten up – it was wonderful! – but I’m not buying more of it.

I looked back at my Noom food logs to see what I ate back in the beginning when I was starting and extra careful and motivated. Popcorn wasn’t anywhere in there, and I didn’t miss it. I ate lots of green grapes (which I don’t even like but they were satisfying) and individual boxes of roasted red pepper soup for snacks, and learned that if I plan and balance my meals, I didn’t really eat snacks – and didn’t miss them.

It’s also time to cook. Back in January I cooked and stocked up the freezer, partly in anticipation of pandemic shortages but also to make sure I had plenty of easy to grab food that fit Noom. I’ve actually eaten most of the prepared things and need to restock with chili, stew, meat sauce, chicken teriyaki, and soup. I can make another batch of gazpacho to eat or drink as a snack or before a meal to add veggies

So today I’m making chili in the crockpot and inventorying the freezer and pantry before making a shopping list. I need to see what I have and work out a plan for cooking as well as organizing the freezer so I can find what goes in there instead of just shoving them in the front.

Also today I’m off to the appliance store to buy a new microwave since mine conked out yesterday. It’s probably at least 12 years old so I shouldn’t be surprised, but since I use it all the time, this requires rethinking what I eat until the new one can be installed. Probably salad – sigh, I’m sick of salad – but you eat that cold.

But first, thank you all for the hugs and comments and kind words to my hard day post. They helped more than you know.

Experimenting With Breakfast

Breakfast FoodSome people find that night eating is the hardest challenge of the day. Other people want to snack all afternoon (learned from after school snacks?). Others nibble through the day and use all their points/calories/whatever in a big blowout meal for dinner.

I’ve become aware that I am none of those people. I like to eat all morning long, particularly on week days. I think it’s because I really am not a morning person and resent getting up at 5:45am when I’d rather snuggle in bed with Tessie. I eat a perfectly reasonable breakfast at home but still find myself snacking through the morning – more than just my planned snack, and usually those extra snacks have been pretty empty of any kind of nutrition. The salty ones are very tasty even if they are empty, though.

My best friend Phyllis and I were talking about our common problem of being morning eaters and decided that one approach to dealing with it is to deliberately shift our food intake. We know we’re going to eat more then, so we might as well make sure what we eat is better for us than the crap we’ve been grabbing. Muffins and chips and bagels and cookies don’t have the nutrition we need.

I’ve been in a rut with my breakfast, or rather a series of ruts. I need something easy and fast that doesn’t require me to think very hard so when I find a combo that works, I tend to eat it for weeks and months on end. My current choice is a banana with 2% Fage yogurt, a few craisins, and a squirt of honey, often with a Kim’s Light Bagel.

Unfortunately, my tummy isn’t totally happy with this. I have pills I have to take with food in the morning and I’m getting queasy which is not a good thing. So I’m rethinking back to what I’ve had in previous breakfast routines when the pills were less problematic. Those have included steelcut oatmeal and Vive cereal with a banana, and occasionally Kashi blueberry waffles with sugar free syrup. But those don’t stick with me long.

So I’m considering having cottage cheese, which I absolutely despise but which is full of protein. The fact that I despise it is a bit of a drawback but I have a little tub of Friendship 1% whipped cottage cheese that’s supposed to taste pretty good. Add some fruit with it and it should be okay, at least for an option. And I bought some real Thomas’ cranberry English muffins and had one today with the yogurt. It tasted yummy and I also didn’t get queasy, so that bodes well.

The next trick is to figure out snacks to bring with me to work to keep me from raiding the vending machines for something to fill the empty place. I know it’s not really physical hunger as much as some kind of emotional hole being filled but for right now, I need to make sure the things that I do put in my mouth are better for me than Snickers bars or Fritos.

So my project for the week is to experiment, both with breakfast food and with morning snacks, that will leave me feeling satisfied by the time I get through lunch. I’d rather use up a bunch of points in the morning on healthy, balanced food and eat less later in the day, since the crazy-making time is definitely between 6am-noon.

The things you learn about yourself.