“Without wanton snacking and with a modicum of exercise I’ve maintained my post-Jan 8 weight – even the 10 pounds I lost in the hospital and never put back on. Mindful eating, my girlfriend calls it.”
Yes, as opposed to mindless eating which I’ve certainly indulged in over the years and Ashleigh reminds me that I’ve got a bit more to say on the subject of elder weight control before I let it go.
Now into my fifth month of “mindful eating,” I think perhaps that a bit of the wisdom we hope to gain with advancing age is helping me succeed in losing weight. In my younger years, the fight to keep down incipient pudginess was all about vanity – could I get into that one-size-too-small dress I bought by next Thursday – leading to some dreadful eating choices.
Now, having reached the age when vanity is useless, it’s all about health. With vanity out of the equation and smart purchasing choices, it’s not hard to maintain a well-rounded diet that also cuts down calories.
The other attribute I have gained – and I suspect many elders do – is will power. Fortunately, I don’t like carbonated drinks nor have I ever cared about salty snacks – potato chips, pretzels, cheezy doodles, whatever. No, it’s fat and sugar I crave – preferably together: cookies, chocolate candy, pie, certain kinds of doughnuts, cakes with creamy fillings, French pastries, peanut butter and, of course, ice cream and cheese. If it’s loaded with fat and/or sugar, that’s for me.
Although I do not count calories, I know enough about the general number in individual foods to not overdo and know that a few cookies or a piece of cake can use up almost a day’s entire allotment of calories.
So beginning four months ago, I adjusted my route through the supermarket to avoid those sections. I stopped going to the French bakery even for their excellent coffee. And I whizzed past the fresh pies and baklava tables at the farmers market. That’s the will power part.
But an amazing thing happens in a relatively short time with will power – it becomes habit. Recently, I realized I had stopped thinking about avoiding temptation; I just don’t eat those things anymore. They are no longer a part of my food vocabulary.
In time, I may feel that I have enough control to allow occasional treats but I’m not willing to try that yet. Certainly anyone who has tried to lose weight knows the problem of “I’ve already blown the diet; I might as well keep eating.”
Meanwhile, I’ve learned that eating three meals a day, on time, is essential for me because as soon as I feel hunger, I want to reach for a quick snack which always means something on that above list of fats and sweets.
Another plus is that with nearly five months without sugar, fruits have become incredibly sweet tasting, especially the half dozen varieties of small melons – slightly larger than a grapefruit – available at the farmers market. I’ll be sorry when the market closes down for winter in a few weeks.
I think everyone needs to come to their own way devising a healthy diet for themselves. What works for me won’t necessarily work for anyone else. The trick is to know yourself, your weaknesses and strengths in regard to food and incorporate that knowledge into a sustainable eating plan.
As I said in the first post on this subject, I don’t have a scale and gauge my weight loss by how my clothes fit. I’m guessing I’ve lost 25-30 pounds so far with about that much more to go. Already, my jaw line is reappearing, my little jowls have receded a bit, my hips are slimmer and my belly flatter.
Oh, my. Did I say vanity is not an issue?
ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m taking a break from Time Goes By for about 10 days. I will return on Monday 19 September. Meanwhile, stories will still appear at The Elder Storytelling Place as long as submissions continue to arrive and I will link to them, as always, from here at Time Goes By.
Also, Saturday’s Interesting Stuff and Peter Tibbles’ Sunday Elder Music will appear as usual.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jackie Harrison: Twins