Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Plan

It's been a busy weekend - a lovely dinner party in honor of my niece and her new husband, and a trip to see my father, who lives in a nursing home a hundred miles away. He hates the nursing home and I hate having him there, but there are no other solutions he's willing to consider, so that's where he is. But his unhappiness is hard to deal with. I love him, but I am happy to be at home.

I am drinking a glass of red wine. My favorite lentil-squash "stew" is simmering on the stove, and I have a very old new-agey CD on the stereo - something I seldom listen to, but tonight I need to have the rough spots smoothed away, and this music seems to be working.

Weekends like this are difficult for me, because I seem to need a lot of solitude before I return to the work-week. Not having it makes me feel as though the coming week is chasing me down before I'm ready. As soon as the stew is cool enough to refrigerate, I'll go to bed with a book. While I wait for it to cool, though, I want to write down some of the things that I think are important in making this new and very big change.

I am working towards two goals: to get my daily blood sugar readings below normal (they aren't, yet), and to lose 50 pounds in 25 weeks, beginning last week.

I'm going to accomplish this with exercise and diet, and that requires changing my routine, changing the way I look at food and eating, and changing the amount and quality of food I eat. I have a lot to learn.

It's important to be realistic about what I'm up against: I will be 50 next year; it's far easier - and more common - to gain weight than to lose it at this time in life. I take two drugs, both of which are conducive to weight gain. My thyroid functions well below normal as a further side effect of medical treatment. And I have a long history of living on pizza, cheeseburgers, and scotch. (And ice cream.)

The first major step towards change is awareness. I got a good start on that with the blood sugar scare last week, but that fear will fade sooner than I think. Here are some of the things I have observed, or want to observe:

Hunger - I think that healthy people eat when they feel hunger. I had reached a point where I ate whenever I was no longer full. I seldom got hungry, as a result, and I often felt overfull. So when I have the urge to eat, I need to pay attention: Am I truly hungry, or am I just not quite full? Am I feeding my head - from anger or sadness or fear - or am I feeding my stomach?

Food choices - last week I worked hard to eat a low-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, and it felt really good. I never felt hungry. This weekend I relaxed more than a little; tomorrow I want to be back on track. As a start, tomorrow's meals are already planned, and that's good, because if I don't plan ahead, I make very poor choices. At the same time, I understand that cheeseburgers are one of my favorite foods; as a result, I get one every time I make the road trip to see my father - one cheeseburger every three weeks. That satisifies me, but probably won't kill me.

Motivation - It would be very easy to say "oh, well, I don't have diabetes after all, so why not loosen up a bit." This is why I've gathered together all my books on the subject - nutrition, the food business in this country, emotional eating - with several books on diabetes added as of this week. Each day I will read some portion of one of these books, and write down the major points in the journal I'm keeping. I want to remind myself, daily, of my reasons for doing this.

The journal is where I'm tracking progress. There is a section to make notes on my readings. There is a food journal, where I track not only what I eat, but how I fight or give in to excess. Weight and blood sugar are recorded here as well,, and exercise for the day.  Then there are a few random pages where I jot down ideas or insights. These are obvious, very broad, and would sound silly to people who aren't standing where I'm standing - but I need to learn to reward myself for making good choices, if only to take a moment to celebrate doing the right thing.

This is the first time in years I've felt confident of making change; the first time, perhaps ever, that I've laid out such a detailed  plan. But it's not an easy goal; if it was, I'd have accomplished it years ago.

I'm going to put my low-fat, low-carb, high-fiber stew in the refrigerator, grab my "prediabetes/diabetes prevention" book, update my journal, and call it a night.

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