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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Free Days...A Dilemma

Things have been moving right along. Last Saturday I weighed in at 294.4 lbs., down from 323.0 lbs.! That's almost 29 lbs. gone. I feel as though I am now moving out of what I call the "intense withdrawal" phase. It feels good, but I can't help but feel cautious, like I'm warily peeking my poor little head out of Aunty M's storm cellar after the tornado. I don't want to get smacked by any flying houses!

It will take some time before I finally grasp that I am finally living healthy once again. I've been in a downward spiral for nearly two years. I feel as though I am shielding a tiny flame.

Saturday marked five solid weeks of being on plan. The weight loss has been pretty rapid so far, but that's to be expected in the beginning (especially at my weight). My pattern has been six days on/one day off.

Here lies the dilemma...On the one hand, taking Saturdays off has provided me with great psychological relief. It gives me something to look forward to, an end point. I created some guidelines for my off day.

1. A day off does NOT mean a binge
2. I take the day off from formal exercise. I actually take Saturday and Sunday off, and my joints thank me for it. I would like to make this a day for recreational exercise, like going to the Seattle Zoo or aquarium, taking my daughter to the park, or going for a walk.
3. I limit myself to one small sweet on this day. A good example is a vanilla ice cream cone from McDonald's. It has 150 calories.
4. Here's the biggie...If I can't stick with these guidelines, or I start to obsess about what I will eat on a Saturday, then I have to rethink the whole thing.   

I have been doing well on Saturday in terms of getting right back on track Sunday morning, but it takes a tremendous amount of will and energy to do so. On Thursday night's I find myself starting to obsess a little about what I will choose to eat on Saturday. What can I enjoy without setting myself off (not a whole lot at this point). On Friday I make a special trip to the store so that I will be prepared and not make a worse choice in a moment of weakness. This is actually pretty difficult with a toddler in tow. It's hard for me to get to sleep on Friday nights. Truth be told, I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve. Saturday is spent trying to indulge a little without going nuts. This is very HARD for me. I also have difficulty sleeping on Saturday night because I know all indulgences are about to stop. Finally, on Sunday I am inevitably cranky because I am right back on plan and withdrawing all over again.

Written out like this, a Saturday hardly seems worth it, but it's not all black and white. As I have said before, I believe weight loss is mostly a psychological endeavor. The thought of not taking a day off makes me feel panicky and overwhelmed. When I feel frustrated during the week I tell myself "only x amount of days until Saturday" and it helps. Also, my body can use a little extra on that day seeing that my calorie intake is pretty low the other six days of the week.

Still, entirely too much energy is being devoted to this one day. I decided to tweak my off day last week. Since I usually eat around 100 carbs Sunday through Thursday I tend to feel sick if I eat too many carbs on Saturday. So, I am going to eat in the direction of Atkins on this day, without restricting my calories. I'll aim for eating at a maintenance level on my day off.

I am a bonafide carb addict, so hopefully this will allow me to rest without creating so much psychological pain in the process.

The point is...I just don't have the answer quite yet. I could go on and on debating this issue, and I know everyone has their own very strong opinion on the matter. There is no one size fits all answer. Weight loss is intensely personal, so what works for one person won't necessarily work for another.

All that being said. I am beginning to feel much healthier, less lethargic, a tiny bit more confident, and more alive.