How do you achieve balance?
- tatamagouche Sep 20, 2007 07:29 AM
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :)
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.
"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!
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...:)
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.
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.
When I really want something a little less healthy, my tactic (besides the obvious moderation comment) is that I'll go farther to get it. For example, there's no good pizza near my office, but one of my favorites is a 20-minute (fast) walk away. So for a 40 minute roundtrip, I can have my guilt-free pizza. (Plus, I'll try to order a slice with veggies, no meats, etc)
Not to say I don't have my binge moments, but I've been seriously working on taming those. Yeah, it's hard, but by balancing with the above tactic, or just negotiating (saying I'm having dessert, so no bread basket, etc) with myself is helping.
I do find that I when I work long days in non-physically demanding tasks (like most days in the office, on a phone, driving places) I tend to have much more of a "boredom appetite" than on days that I have t to spend a lot of time on my feet, carrying stuff around, physically lifting, cleaning, and other tasks.
That "boredom appetite" is awfully easy to throw down a 500+ calorie carry-out sandwich, 300 calorie candy bar AND equally calorie dense shake or similar "go with" and STILL not be satisfied. Really bad for my weight, and I'm not getting any younger. I find that having a cooler or fridge with ready-to-eat to stuff like unsalted almonds, carrots, broccoli, snap peas, leftover grilled chicken breasts and hard boiled eggs is much better for me and requires relatively little advance planning/ disruption. Heating up leftovers doesn't work too well for me at work, further when I do have quality leftovers I prefer to make another dinner out of them. This saves some kitchen time compared to doing the whole meal from scratch and affords me full use of all my kitchen tricks.
I like fruit, dry cereal and yogurt for breakfast. If I have to eat breakfast on the go the blender makes that mixture portable.On the weekends I make far more elaborate fare, typically morphing into a brunch and knocking out two meals with one cooking episode.
The day-to-day consumption of "lighter" meals at breakfast & lunch helps me to balance out my indulgence of heartier dinners -- whether it is meat, fish or fowl I like to prepare good meals in the evening. I tend to like cold, or at least cool deserts, and find that when it comes to portion size smaller is better -- a feeling a bloated fullness is not what I want as I clean the dishes and head to bed. On days that I splurge on lunch, I rarely feel deprived by having a salad for dinner.
While we do bake at home, that is often for guests and we rarely end up with more than a day or two of leftover goodies. Very little of what I see at shops is worth bringing home on a regular basis. Far too much of even the most attractive looking baked goods are made with low quality ingredients, often with so much sugar and margarine that it tastes pretty much like something from the Hostess ovens. Yuck.
When I am on vacation I may have wine with lunch, but never while working. On weekdays I rarely have more that 8-10 ounces of wine (thank goodness for Vacuvin), weekends I'll sometimes have more. In the heat of the summer I may whir together a frozen cocktail in the evening, but I try to keep things healthier by using fresh fruits/juices instead of the premixes with their sickening sweetness. Certain times of the year I go for beer, but a six pack typically lasts Monday- Thursday, with another for the weekend.
Denial? Not really. Moderation. Sure I sometimes over do it, but as I get older the consequences become harder to ignore.
I too have this daily internal monologue, at times it can consume a huge portion of my day, albeit in my subconscious. If I eat too little at breakfast, which I'm often guilty of, I start thinking about what I'll have for lunch by about 9:30. So then I try to make myself snack even though I'm not hungry, but I'm still thinking about lunch, just not hungry any longer. Then it gets close to lunch time, and I base my entire decision about where to go or what to eat for lunch on what I *think* I'll do after work and for dinner. Will I really, really be able to find time and energy to exercise? I'm usually much more successful at having a lighter dinner if I exercise first, something about feeling healthy and wanting to keep that going I guess, so I might go ahead and indulge at lunch. But let's say I end up working late unexpectedly, or I have to stop and run a bunch of errands as I need to pick up prescriptions, pick up dry cleaning, go to the bank and pick up a couple of things for the store - well, even if I have an afternoon snack (which I wouldn't do, because I over-indulged at lunch), it's now 6 or 6:30 and I'm HUNGRY and I don't WANT to go to the gym. I try to think of somewhere healthy to go or something to quickly make that's both easy and healthy, and ask husband what he wants - go out or eat in and if the former, where, and he'll say something like "pizza" and then, forget about it, I'm set on the pizza too and I end up blowing the day, big time. I try to make up for it over the next few days but it seems I'm in an endless negotiation between what I want to eat and drink and what I "should" be doing. And as it gets colder and darker, it gets progressively harder and harder for me to choose "work out" AND "eat healthy." All I know is I'm freezing and I want to go home and sit under a blanket and eat pizza and get drunk. In the summer, it's so much easier. We'll pick up a roast chicken and some salad and take it to the park, then go for a walk or play some frisbee or whatever.
I digress from my original point about my internal negotiations. All I can say is if my negotiations worked all the time, I wouldn't be overweight. Even though I'm not obese or anything, I think I would have to have a job that allowed me to be physically active all day long to eat what I do now and not continue to slowly gain weight year after year; getting older and having a slowing metabolism doesn't help matters either.
I have lost 31 pounds on Weight Watchers since May. Although the points plan is great, lately I find I'm using the "eyeball" technique and really listening to my body to know when I'm hungry and/or satisfied.
Never been a big breakfast eater, and yes I know it's the most important meal of the day, blah blah blah. A nice big cup of coffee (from a coffee maker, Starbucks makes you fat ladies) with about 3 tablespoons of fat free vanilla creamer is my usual, sometimes a cup of soup if I'm feeling savory.
Lunch is usually rotisserie chicken or a small sandwich (on sliced bread... it's the french rolls and croissants that get you in trouble). I try to eat a LOT of beans or anything else with fiber. A natural fat burner indeed.
Dinner varies, and now that autumn is upon us I've been cooking a lot more. Tonight we're having chicken breast (in the crock pot with gravy) mashers (made with broth) and frozen green beans. A little boring perhaps but so is plus size clothing.
Being good like this allows for french fries with aioli on the weekend and nachos on vacation. Never been much of a drinker but the occasional g&t "accidentally" tumbles down my throat.
Another good rule is eat "bad" only when you have no choice otherwise. For example, when at a dinner party.
These things work for me and I've lost an average of 1.5 pounds a week with little to no exercise. Yes, I know I should. But that's no fun.
Okay you got me. But the girls at my office are all about having a
venti iced mocha maccialatte frappafatto (no whip of course)
every day and then starving themselves on plain salad for lunch and wondering why their muffin tops runneth over. You do it right. However if I'm going to have drip coffee with a splash of skim, I'd rather pay .15 rather than $1.65. Just me.
Fortunately for me, I come form a long line of sweet-haters. I can turn down sweets all day long. Except really good chocolate, which I just don't buy. Not to say I don't have a few pounds to lose but my "secret" is to always have some really good cheese in my fridge. I find that the smallest bite of cheese, on its own, literally melting in my mouth, is enough. I don't need to eat tons of it. I don't deprive myself of cheese.
I would probably be qualified to be the webmaster for a site called glutton. The only way i stay at anything near a reasonable weight is by lifting weights 2xweek, yoga 2x week doing yard work , and cardio 2x week. I also am reasonable about breakfast, having oatmeal or dry cereal with skim milk almost every morning, and limting lunch to 350 calories days a week. With all that, I'm the world's worst "tasting cook" I eat about 10% of everything I cook while cooking. We go out usually 2x per week and I'm generally pretty good, rarely eating dessert, but when we're on vacation, look out. we usually spend a week-10 days in europe every year, a week in Mexico every January and usually a week someplace in the US each summer. I travel on my stomach, and usually end up about 5-8 lbs to the worse each time. Then it's back to the gym extra to get back to my svelte 240. My wife isn't a food nut(she enjoys good food, don't get me wrong, she's just not obsessed) and just doesn't understand going to the gym 5+ times a week only to gorge when we're out of town. anyway, Therapy probably would be the only real solution, but I love to eat and drink, and I'm not ready to stop.
Two more thing that help with the guilty pleasure/balance thing.
When I'm craving a bag of Kettle Chips, I get em, but I eat some while I'm driving home and leave the unfinished bag in the car. The next day, I leave the rest of the the bag for someone under the Silverlake/Sunset bridge or one of the dudes who sleeps in one of the doorways on Glendale Ave.
Thank goodness I do not have a freezer, or I'd be eating ice cream all the time.
I cannot throw out food...I will always pass on the leftovers (as long as there are no noticeable bite marks) to someone in the 'hood who I know will eat it.
Sad thing is, sometimes you'll offer some food and they get pissed and ask for cash...no worries, I know the gentlemen who really appreciate some leftover hashbrowns and toast from a Pacific Dining Car breakfast.
I always try to include some forks and napkins.
I just deal with the fact that I'm a bit overweight. I exercise like crazy, so I ward off obesity, but self-acceptance helps a lot. I just consider myself a beautiful, curvaceous woman and leave it at that.
Granted I mostly eat healthfully. I use fat-free dairy products in daily use. I snack at work mostly on fruits and veggies. However, I don't turn down a good dessert when it's offered. If I think something will be better cooked in butter, I'll cook it in butter. When I'm out if I feel like having wine, a rich entree and dessert, I'll have all three.
In terms of weight control, my biggest demons involve whether or not to finish mediocre food, with the two biggest drivers being (a) the human desire to finish things and (b) first world guilt associated with wasting food.
Like a lot of people on this site, I like to do as much chow exploring as I can. If I visit a new city (and often when I'm home in Boston), I'll choose eateries based largely from the information on this site, but I also like to leave some unstructured time to let my chow-dar do its work.
Let's be honest, does that gorgeous sticky bun actually taste as amazing as you hoped? Sometimes it absolutely does; many times it doesn't. For me, the issue arises after I've had three bites and deemed it to be a C or a C+ on a reasonably chowish curve. Do I finish the remaining 500 mediocre pastry calories Sir-Edmund-Hillary-style (because it is there)? How do I feel about giving a big, beefy middle finger to the proverbial starving children of Ethiopia [see also: every dinner I've ever had at an Ethiopian or Bangladeshi restaurant]?
My answer is that it varies. Sometimes, for better or worse, the instinct to clean my plate is simply overwhelming. Other times, such as with my Memorial Day weekend effort to try a slice of pizza from every purveyor within walking distance of my house (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/406058 ), if something isn't worth consuming, I'll [guiltily, begrudgingly] throw it out and move on.
Oh, I also exercise like a madman and count calories by day, then declare open season on all species of chow for dinner.
I SO hear you. The bitch of it is those times when I do say, well, to hell with it, I'm going to have this sticky bun--knowing full well it won't deter my having the wine and cheese in the evening, basically accepting that I'm overdoing it--I polish off the whole thing all the while thinking, you know, this is pretty uninteresting as taste sensations go. That 3-bite test of yours is a great idea...
There's actually a wonderful segment in a recent episode of NPR's This American Life about our inner demonic voices that everyone who's contributed to this thread might want to check out--there are moments of recognition that will make you smile (wryly, perhaps, but smile nonetheless).
How funny, I was listening to that episode while driving through Culver City trying to find new places to eat...thinking of the trade off..."do I want something sweet and sure to be satisfying, or should I try that little taco shack and hope to not get gristle..."
The only tradeoff I'm trying hard to make for myself is to remind myself just how mediocre a lot of takeout/fastfood etc is, so I won't eat it just because I'm lazy or just because DH offers to buy it... why spend that much money on empty calories that I won't even enjoy? A nice omelette with fresh vegetables doesn't take any longer to make than going through the drive-through and it's got a lot more food value.
food food i live for food. good food. cant eat junk, mediocre just not worth it. portion control is the key for me. so i eat everything but tiny tiny portions. so if i want dessert then dinner has be healthy. trying to think of my last crazy indulgence it has to be my birthday dinner when i ate everything on my plate including the dessert but that was once a year. i believe in balance hence the constant food trade offs. if i want something good then i have to balance it off with less portion. not too much of an exerciser . one of those i need to exercise but never happens deals.
I don't deny myself anything. once i start thinking about my weight i start to gain a little. if I want to eat a lot, I do. If I want to eat junk food, I do. If I want to smoke a cigarette, I do. What it comes down to is that I am extremely dependent on my body's feedback: after a week of eating frozen meals for lunch, I will not be able too stand them anymore and I will buy more fruit and start roasting vegetables to bring in. after a couple weeks of a sweet-tooth, everything with any kind of sugar will taste too sweet to me. i can't drink a lot because I don't like feeling sick, I can't eat a lot because of the same. Excessive amounts of fat or protein make me feel sick and I can't eat any more. Also - and I highly recommend this - I eat good bread (hard loaf, not packaged!) every day for breakfast with some kind of protein. sometimes I'll have fruit and/or yoghurt with it. without the bread, my appetite is demanding and chaotic.
also, eating out every day or for more than one meal a day will eventually move your stable weight up a few pounds.
p.p.s. exercising just to lose weight will cause you to gain weight.
If you want to change your habits the fewer simpler rules, the better.
The first two are non negotiable.
NEVER eat standing up.
NEVER eat in the car.
Snacks and dessert are fresh fruit except on special occasions.
The palm of your hand represents all the meat plus cheese you can possibly use in one day. Have more only on special occasions.
If you are still drinking soda switch to brewed tea (not bottled) and wean yourself down to less than a teaspoonful of sugar.
I might add that it is the rare person who is perfectly fit who will eat a gorgeous sticky bun every day.
I believe in everything in moderation. And that includes exercise. Exercising more so you can eat more doesn't seem the right approach IMO.
When cooking at home, I try to use high quality ingredients, serve lots of salads and vegetables, and limit butter, cream, and other fats, except EVOO, to small amounts. Eating reasonable size portions also helps.
Dining out, we find that the better restaurants serve normal size portions, and we have a three course dinner, or two courses each, and share a dessert.
My DH is tall and very slim, and his weight never changes, no matter what he eats. He is also very active. I am not that fortunate, and have to watch the sugars and carbs, or else it starts to show. It is still important to eat healthfully, and avoid overeating and junk, for reasons other than gaining weight.
Neither one of us eats any junk food or fast food,.never did growing up, and never do now.
It is a constant struggle in life, to acheive the balance between enjoying one's food, having a wonderful time cooking and dining and, and being healthy.
I'd say you're doing pretty well with that internal monologue, tatamagouche. Mine goes something like this: I want, I want, I want, I want. Then I go and get. Thankfully, I somehow manage to have a reasonable breakfast and lunch usually, then just let the rest of the day go to hell. When I do manage to eat at home for dinner, I double up on the veggies, add a lean protein and pray to god there isn't some sort of baked good in the house. The trade off is: by eating really well for the first part of the day, I can pretty much let it all hang out at night and otherwise. I just don't want to turn down the wheel of cheese or that bottle of wine, so I don't.