I’m changing the way I eat. Famous last words, right? In this case, it’s actually happening.

So one day I was eavesdropping

A couple of months ago I overheard some of the women at the gym talking about a weight loss program the company sponsored last year. They mentioned that someone had lost 11 pounds, another 18, and one woman lost 55 pounds. My ears perked up. What – is this a magic solution?

A couple of days later I saw the woman who lost 55 pounds as she came in from her 8-mile morning walk (yes, that’s before work) and asked her for specifics. She explained the program, and said she had lost the weight in 8 months, her energy level was high, her cholesterol dropped, and it was something she knew she could maintain for the rest of her life. Let me just add that she’s older than I am. I’ll take any program seriously if someone over 50 has had good results!

My backstory:

Growing up in the 60s and 70s I was normal sized. My sisters were both scrawny, and my mom is and always has been slender. Treats were doled out sparingly, not because of the health impacts, but because money was tight and grocery dollars went to garden peas not potato chips. At one point in my early 30s I was on a fitness kick and almost got to the ‘too thin’ range. Then about 15 years ago I found myself putting on weight. Weight Watchers helped at one point (no pun intended) but then it didn’t. Every year there were a few more pounds and along the way I’ve tried almost everything: Calorie counting, running, no sugar, lifting weights, cutting carbs, high protein, eating at particular times, not eating at particular times, sitting down while I eat, self-hypnosis tapes, and nothing helped. I could not lose a freaking ounce.

This January I saw some pictures of myself taken from an angle and I truly did not recognize myself. Dammit, time to make a dramatic, lifelong change.

So I jumped on the program

“Naturally Slim” was created by a Physicians’ Assistant/ RN who is also an RD. It’s a pay program and isn’t cheap, but my company is subsidizing and let’s face it, over the past six years I’ve wasted how much money on weekly fees for Weight Watchers, and on Jenny Craig food? Unlike other pay programs, you go through the 10-week series and then you’re done. I think you can take a maintenance course, but the intent is that you learn what you need to know and then go about your life using your new eating skills.

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Here’s the simple breakdown:

“It’s not what you eat, it’s when and how you eat.”

  1. Eat what you love.
  2. Eat when you’re hungry.
  3. Eat enough to fill your stomach (yes, that fist sized pocket).
  4. Eat slowly. Like 25+ minutes a meal.

The first video session talks about something I knew – that it takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full – and something I didn’t know – my brain needs to have its taste center satisfied before I can say, “enough.” Chew a potato chip normal fast. Then chew another potato chip slowly and let the food sink into the taste buds all along your tongue. After which bite did you know you actually ate a potato chip?

Week 1 provides a couple of lessons for the skeptics, and a couple of tips to help you along (drinking a very diluted orange juice to start) and then you are on your way.

The few rules are simple enough to follow. Avoid sugar for the first few weeks. Don’t drink wine because they’ve found that those who drink wine don’t lose as much weight but beer and liquor are okay if you consume when you’re actually hungry. Avoid cereal and milk. Otherwise, eat what you love. No diet foods. No hundred-calorie packs. No cardboard frozen meals. No soy laden prepared mail delivery foods. No weighing, no points counting. You can eat in restaurants, or cook organic at home, or whatever you chose. Nothing is off limits.
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There’s a caveat. You need to be conscious of how much you’re eating so that you only eat for the size of your stomach, and until it is full. When I have a meal I divide the plate up into a serving size about the size of my fist, start with the foods that provide the most satisfaction (for me that’s protein) then move on to the other foods. It took me a couple of weeks to start recognizing my body’s signals, but now I can tell when I’m truly hungry, when I’m thirsty, and when my stomach is full – but not stuffed.

Every week there are different lessons. One week was about understanding what psychological need food fulfills. Another week was about sugar and I have to say that I must have skipped junior high health class that week because I had no idea what excess sugar and insulin do to a body.

Now I’m Four Weeks In

I’m eating twice a day, about 7 hours after I wake up in the morning, and then again about 6 hours after that. I have plenty of energy to do weight training in the morning, and don’t feel the need to eat before lunch. The scale has dropped down every week and I’ve lost a total of 7.6 pounds in 4 weeks. This body has not consistently lost weight in years. I’m not depriving myself of anything  so I feel no need to go crazy on weekends. I can have cocktails, and I don’t even want cake or potato chips. This week I’m focusing on getting 10,000 steps a day, which is good for weight loss and now they’re saying it’s even good for your brain.

But I knew all this stuff

Now that I’m well into the program I know that this is the way I was taught to eat. This is how we ate when I was a kid. Dinner was 30 minutes long. We started with the protein, vegetables and a small starch, and finished with the salad. Maybe there was dessert, maybe there wasn’t. There were rituals that signaled the beginning of dinner, and the end of a meal. This is how my Mom eats. She chews so slowly that it can make me crazy to watch. But she savours every single bite, and she stops when she’s satisfied. And really, that’s the way I ate until about 15 years ago when something changed in my life. I know what it was, and I’ll talk about that in a future blog.

Until then, this is working. And this feels like the right way to eat for the rest of my life.

This post isn’t intended to be an advertisement or endorsement for this program. I’m just excited to have found something that is working for me. Sometimes you have to create a little chaos in your life to achieve a change you’ve been looking for. Changing the way I eat may be the chaos I need.

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