Choosing the Right – Diet Day 77

Before I started this diet my favorite vegetable was whatever I could up melted cheese on to mask the taste. To me vegetables were a necessary evil and if I had my way I would use them just as garnishes to add color to my plate.

Our dining room plates consist of white 12 inch Corningware with a black and white checker pattern around the edge. The pattern is important since it acts as a visual aid of where the plate boundaries are. I thought of these as the guardrails to the plate similar to those found on the Interstate. They helped to contain all the food that I would load on my plate every meal.

Pre-diet meals would consist of a steak or some other red meat that would fill nearly the whole plate. On a side dish I would have my “healthy vegetable” which would likely be a baked potato with mounds of butter, full-strength sour cream, bacon bits (how can you not have pieces of bacon on a baked potato), and a few chives for color. Once the inside of the potato was eaten I would again add a layer of butter then melt cheese and bacon bits on the potato skins to finish off.

An hour after dinner I would grab a large bowl of Lucky Charms cereal or a bowl of ice cream and perhaps a Pepsi or other soda. I would eat these while watching television or while sitting in front of the computer for another late night of software development. My exercise routine would be walking from the kitchen to the family room to my favorite television spot or walking back to the living room to my computer.

I was on a death march towards my grave with this kind of lifestyle and I didn’t even know it. I would justify my actions by telling myself that I really wasn’t eating that much. After all I was not eating breakfast and my lunch usually consisted of only a bag of chips and a soda from the vending machine. According to the “nutritional facts” on the package I was really only eating about 400 calories.

When reading the labels on food I would focus on just the calorie number ignoring everything else. Who cares how much fat is in something or what the number of carbohydrates, sugars, or proteins something had. What was the most important thing was calorie counting right?

Looking back at where I am at now I wonder how in the world I ever survived. I was so naïve about nutrition. I took no accountability for what I was doing. On those rare occasions where I would find I put on a “few pounds” I would lament to my wife that I needed to eat healthier and put the responsibility on her to solve the problem.

We would then change for a couple of days and I would add a big bowl of salad to my already unhealthy meal. Massive amounts of creamy salad dressing, more bacon bits, and other high-sugar calorie-dense accompaniments of course would top the salad. Then when I found my weight continued to rise I would shrug and say this was just the result of getting older. I would look around and see others who were heavier than I was and grumble about how society was ruining us all with all the new foods on the market.

When I saw the pictures from our last family vacation and saw how heavy I had become I made the decision that I had to do something. I could not continue down the path I had chosen without some serious ramifications.

I looked for a weight loss program where all I had to do was follow the plan and I would be successful. I didn’t want to have to work at it. When I chose Take Shape For Life I did so because it seemed like an easy plan. There was no calorie counting, no decisions on my part other than deciding what I wanted to eat at one meal a day; the rest was just going to a box and selecting a food item for one of my five “meal replacements”.

I remember having my initial conversation with my health coach Amy. I had that first call because it was required but I really didn’t want anyone checking up on me every week. I just wanted to eat the food and hopefully watch the weight come off. My outlook was that no matter how bad things were I could stick it out for a month or two to get to the point where my weight came down then I could go back to normal.

I was shocked to learn that not only did the program have rules about what foods I could and could not eat but that there would be weekly homework assignments from a book and workbook. I didn’t want to get a degree in eating. As far as I was concerned I already had a Masters Degree in how to eat.

So reluctantly I picked up the book and read along only so that when the question came up each week when I talked to my coach I could acknowledge that I did read the chapter and could answer a couple of questions about the reading assignment to prove I wasn’t just saying yes absently.

As I began reading the Habits of Health book and the accompanying workbook I became really interested in the subjects it presented. I started to look at my life and all of the destructive behaviors I had accumulated through the years.

Soon I found myself actively involved in the food decisions in my life. When I would go to the grocery store with my wife I would look at each item on the shelf and analyze the nutritional facts making a judgment in my mind as to whether a particular item would enhance my health or put me further away from my goal to be healthy.

Dining in our house has also changed dramatically. Now we use smaller plates and divide them into three portions with half being taken by vegetables. Proteins have become a subset of each meal taking up a maximum of 25 percent of the new plate real estate.

Meals are now an educational process and almost an awakening. The bright colors and flavors are a culinary adventure with something new every night. I have gained energy and found myself feeling much healthier. While others in my family have been sick I have remained illness free.

As I look back over the past 11 weeks it’s amazing how many changes have come about because of this journey and how much better I feel. For the first time in a very long time I feel like I am moving in the right direction.

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