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How do you achieve balance?

This is aimed at those of you who know yourselves to be creatures of overindulgence. Those of you whose souls are at peace and who can do the whole living in moderation thing, well, more power to you, but your mentality is alien to me.

The recent "things you only eat for their health benefits" thread, as well as an older one on food crawls, has got me thinking about the way I negotiate the desire to maintain my weight with the desire to eat and drink virtually everything in sight.

The general daily tradeoff that seems to work best for me personally, for various reasons (though it's far from foolproof, and I'm not saying it's healthy either--weight maintenance, let's face it, isn't always about health so much as vanity), is green lighting protein and alcohol but red lighting most carbs/sweets.

But then I end up at some coffeehouse, like, say, now, watching the perfectly fit person next to me downing a gorgeous sticky bun, and oh, how I covet it! And I have to remind myself, wait, this person will probably not have half a bottle of wine and an array of cheeses tonight, like you will.

So there's my daily negotiation/internal monologue. What's yours? What are your tradeoffs? What are their pros/cons?

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  1. P.S. I should add that I'm talking about what I do on average, in the everyday. Carbs/sweets are not off-limits under all circumstances--that would be highly un-Chowish!

    1. Dinner out (and we go out 3-4x week) is my downfall. Breakfast I give up the donut and have wheat toast with a smear of PB or if I want something sweet, cinnamon toast. Lunch I have a new committment to doing better (I love pizza for lunch and subs and the like) and am getting healthy salads or sandwiches sans cheese and creamy condiments. Dinner at home...no bread and portion control. Having said that I would love to lose 10-15 pounds.

      1. excercise daily to eat w/ less guilt (increased bone density, endurance, strength and flexibilty are all great bonuses but gluttony/vanity is my main reason).
        proper portions of meat and more veg (unless it's a special occasion)
        whole grains as much as possible
        one (or usually more) treat a day / not depriving myself or being obsessive about food because food should be fun
        eating out on once a day on weekends only (unless a special occasion)
        making all my other meals
        my vice is my sweet tooth so i make my own desserts w/ less fat/sugar to compromise
        skipping unnecessary cals like juice that i'm indifferent about
        judicious about fried foods
        never been into alcohol, coffee or fast food so there's no issue there.

        1. Daily exercise is absolutely necessary for me, Bleh. I don't love it, but if I want to eat and maintain my weight it is a must.
          During the week I count calories and try to eat as low fat as possible.
          I give myself a day off, where I dont even think about it each week, but also relax calorie counting a little throughout the weekend.
          I also allow myself to indulge my sweettooth daily, normally in the form of low-fat fro-yo I keep on hand, but this does come out of my calorie allowance.
          My diet could be better, more protein and less sugar/natural sugars/artificial sweeteners, but I have lost a significant amount of weight in the past 18mos and managed to keep it off so I will probably just continue doing what I am doing.

          1. At the end of the day, you gain weight when you consume more calories than you burn. If you exercise you burn more calories and you can/need to eat more to maintain your present weight. Not to mention building muscle and getting other health benefits.

            Regarding balance, I never limit what I want to eat but if I do have huge steak dinner, i'll usually have a salad or soup for lunch the next day. And I usually eat healthy every morning during the week for breakfast (weekends are off limits).. something like a fage 2% yogurt and a banana so it frees my caloric intake to eat what I want the rest of the day. I don't drink soda and I don't really dig the sweets, so I also don't consume many "filler" calories.

            7 Replies
            1. re: ESNY

              OK, but what I'm really looking for are Confessions of the Insatiable. What are your sticky bun moments, and how do you resolve them? What are some of the more outrageous/extreme things you've done to achieve balance (paradoxical as that sounds)? I'm not looking here for the success stories of the well-adjusted but to hear the voices of your inner demons and how you combat them.

              1. re: tatamagouche

                Now you are communicating better. You just moved to Colorado which has the most physically fit residents, and you observe sinewy jocks scaling mountains, kayaking, and running 10K's weekly; all in apparent conflict with C'hound style of eating and the 7th mortal sin. Is the devil not getting his due? Your tinge of schadenfreude needs to know...where's the pain?
                My top demons: I can eat any quantity of any cheese until it is gone. Similarly for grilled meat.
                My compromises: Wedges of cheese, no more wheels. I choose meat cuts I can grill and slice into sane proportions. My marinaded pork tenderloin medallions are killer, but 3 or 4 is plenty for a single sitting. Beef tenderloin? A Brazilian bauru sandwich. Delicious (and I get to use cheese!!!) Sirloin and arrachera, same. A 20 ounce rib eye or porterhouse is a beautiful thing, but I have learned to look but not touch, like at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum.
                Other control techniques that often require no sacrifice: 1) I eat twice a day, 2) a jumbo salad for dinner with lots of good stuff is not punishment at all. 3) I was born (blessed?) with practically no sweet tooth. I volunteered in a post a while back that if I were condemned to a desert island with just chocolate or just chilis, gimme chilis.
                Feckless technique? Hanging around with only fat people :)

                1. re: Veggo

                  Iced tea, unsweetened or artificially sweetened. Like when I'm really bored & hungry I will get up from desk and walk to the 7-11 (formerly a White Hen) and buy the 99 cent Diet Green Tea 24 can and suck that down. The walk and the excess fluid leave little room for a Baby Ruth, and the anti-oxidants might even be good for me.

                2. re: tatamagouche

                  Ok, tatamagouche,
                  as for:

                  "Confessions of the Insatiable" and "What are some of the more outrageous/extreme things you've done to achieve balance (paradoxical as that sounds)?"

                  ...here's one that takes the cake...:

                  Two weeks ago I went to San Francisco, TO EAT. and knowing I was going to EAT and DINE...I made it worth my while before and during and the day after..How?
                  Well, the 2 days before, I taught 2 extra dance classes and took 1 extra spinning class and taught an extra spinning class.
                  See, I'm a personal trainer/group fitness instructor and I LOVE TO EAT WITH ABANDON! There is no other way around that...you've gotta exercise...do whatever makes you happy as long as it makes you sweat.

                  So, the first night, we went to the Doger/Giants game...we walked (since I live in LA and we never walk to a game or to dinner, this already earned me some extra eats and drinks). The walk earned me and extra hot dog and a beer..but I stopped at one hotdog since I knew we were gonna do a tasting emnu at AME and I also wanted to try some other things on the menu as well...I've had enough great hot dogs in my life, I wanted to save my reserves for more drinks and for the next night.
                  Well, I drank enough on Friday to put a sailor to shame so I woke up early and went to the YMCA, next to my hotel, and took the worst Spinning class...mix a druk-girl-9am-haze with a boring spinning instrucotor and I alomost wished to just endure the hangover, but I had some serious eating to do for the rest of the weekend..so I sucked it up, sweat out that morning booze-fog and did some lifting and some core work, then walked to the Ferry Building for some Deviled Eggs topped with Blue Crab, Two Eggs Over Med, with Bacon, and Hashbrowns and a glass of Prosecco (woof woof-hair o'the dog).
                  Did some more walking and took a 2 hour nap before getting ready for the Dining Portion of the Weekend at AME. My friend never fully recovered since he slept in and went to McD's in the morning...we went to diner, I felt great, ate all of my tasting menu and most of the 3 extra dishes we ordered...I also included the wine pairing, and had no regrets since I had already worked out.
                  The next morning, for good heart health and caloric consideration, I walked from the Ferry Building to Presidio Heights-stopping at Grace Church on the way...I earned my weekend, none of my clients would have ever noticed all the calories, fat, booze that I consumed over the weekend since I worked it all off.
                  It's worth it and I don't do crazy things like that all the time..even though I went to Pacific Dining Car for breakfast yesterday after teaching a few fitness classes, but there is always a trade off...I cannot give up my food, my wine, and cheese is good!
                  Remember, nothing tastes better when you've earned it..when I sweat and feel good, I know there is usually a good meal and a great galss of wine at the end of the workout.
                  Next week, the big splurge will be more wine and another order of Sweetbreads from Bashan..yum!

                  1. re: tatertotsrock

                    Well, I've been a gym rat since well before I became a chowhound, so I hear you all re exercise...and I agree that when you get right down to it, exercise and portion control are the twin pillars of maintenance. It's just that I'm good with the former, not so good with the latter...:)

                    1. re: tatamagouche

                      Portion control is the key.
                      Last night's dinner at Bashan's had me weighing my priorities...get an appetiizer before my steak or get the pannacotta and a glass of Tawny Port...I chose the dessert/port combo...I'll get my extra veggies tonight.
                      I'd much rather work out a little longer than give up the goodies.

                  2. re: tatamagouche

                    My personal vice is tortilla chips. We have some great local companies that make paper bags of tortilla chips, and I can easily eat an entire big bag by myself. My main solution is just not to buy them. But I discovered that one of the companies makes a mini bag (about four servings). So when I absolutely have to have some I get the mini bag. I still know I've overindulged, but only one-third as much as I used to.

                    I love Chinese food, but it's terrible here, so I only eat it in New York, where I go about four times a year. Likewise, I adore chocolate covered marshmallow. The best kind costs $39 a box (Edelweiss from Beverly Hills.) I can't afford that, and it melts in the summer, so I order one box before Christmas and one after, and that's when I get my fix.