Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Back to School

September’s here, and it’s back to school season. Back to the basics, back to reading, writing, and arithmetic. Actually, any time is a good time for a band refresher course. It’s easy to lose your focus and take a few too many side trips to the land of potato chips and chocolate while you trudge along the bandwagon trail. When bandsters ask how to get back on track, the most common response I’ve heard is a very sensible one: BACK TO BASICS. So I suggest that you re-read the basics in Bandwagon: the 21 rules for success (chapter 6) and the 15 band eating skills (chapter 12). You don’t have a copy of Bandwagon? That’s easy enough to remedy. You can order both Bandwagon and Bandwagon Cookery by clicking on one of the ordering options on the left hand side of this blog page. Bandwagon Cookery print version is available on Amazon, and Bandwagon’s 2nd edition is now available in Kindle format on Amazon: Click HERE to go to those Amazon listings.

While you’re waiting for your copy of Bandwagon to arrive, let’s talk about the 3 R’s: Readin’, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic. What are the 3 R’s of band success?

1.  R is for Reading – learn to read your body’s signals about hunger, satiety, and restriction.

2.  R is for (W)riting – keep a food and exercise log. Studies show that people who keep a food log lose more weight than those who don’t.

3.  R is for (A)rithmetic – weight loss, as hard as it can be to achieve, involves very basic arithmetic. As long as you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. This doesn’t mean that you have to count calories to lose weight, or count calories for the rest of your life, but if you’re struggling and not sure why, try calorie counting for at least one week. Online tracking programs (like such as those at sparkpeople.com, livestrong.com, and choosemyplate.gov) make it easy to log your food intake and calculate your calories. And by the way, calorie counting is meaningless if you’re not weighing and measuring your food. Yes, more arithmetic!

       I haven’t seen a report card for some 38 years, but I clearly remember the looming importance of each semester’s report card. In elementary school, we were graded on effort as well as achievement. Tell us honestly: what’s your WLS effort grade today?

       I’ve seen 2 different trends in other bandsters’ WLS journeys:
1.    Weight loss is relatively easy in the beginning, when you’re at your heaviest and also most gung-ho, but eventually it gets harder as you get smaller (and burn fewer calories), the novelty of your band wears off, and your underlying eating issues (like stress eating, emotional eating, etc.) aren’t addressed.

2.   Weight loss is hard in the beginning, when you don’t yet have enough fill in your band, but eventually you and your band click and the weight loss gets easier.
       Both situations #1 & 2 require extra effort on your part sooner or later. Neither situation is better or worse, but your awareness and understanding of your situation can help you deal with it with less “poor me” and more “go me.”
       I’ll illustrate this with an example from a frivolous but always fascinating aspect of life: hair. I have straight, thin hair, and not a lot of it. I wish it were thicker, curlier, shinier, but it’s not. With the help of my hairdresser, I can make my hair look better, but agonizing about it does not do a single thing to make my hair curl. And I’m not going back to my 1980’s poodle perm, thank you very much.
       Similarly, I have an inborn intolerance for idleness and am easily bored, especially when it comes to food and exercise. I wish that weren’t so, but it is. With the help of my dietitian, food magazines, and cookbooks, I manage to plan and prepare healthy, delicious, interesting meals. With the help of my fitness instructor, I manage to participate in a wide variety of fitness classes that are never boring.

       On the back of my report card was a space for my teacher to write comments about areas in which I exceled or (more often) I needed to improve. Mine usually had to do with talking and clowning during class too much (what a surprise). So, what opportunities for improvement await you this semester? Mine is to back to planning and logging my food every day. Further, I need to start paying more attention to the resulting nutritional data rather than logging and moving on.
       If I don’t pay attention to the data, I can’t evaluate the quality of my food intake, but I’ve been logging about 1200-1300 calories a day without taking the time to notice some major inconsistencies in my macronutrients, especially protein. I need to pay attention to my protein intake not just because my body needs good-quality protein to repair the muscles I stress during my daily workouts, but because low protein intake often represents maladaptive eating. Rather than slow down and eat carefully so that solid protein doesn’t cause me problems, I take the easy way out and eat the easy stuff, almost always in the form of carbs that don’t offer much satiety value.

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