While my first session of DWTL was successful, I did not take away what I needed to get my weight under control. By the summer of 2009, I was still 304 lbs,miserable and scared from the aches and pains I had from being obese. I had chest discomfort for 3 years now and wanted to know why. I did my annual physical during the summer and was referred to a cardiologist who did a full set of diagnostic screening. I had a false positive on a routine stress test in Dec 2005 that was cleared with an echo cardiogram stress test. The conclusion of the testing was that everything worked fine, but I had to lose weight and get my lipid profile much lower.
My doctor (Dr. Parris) stated that although the blood work was within the normal range, the numbers were at the higher end of normal. This made a big impact on me because I had thought I was doing well. I had been using the “in reference” criteria for years and now was told it is likely too high in the range for me.
The second “eureka” moment was what she told me when discussing weight loss. She explained it like this. My stomach is an organ that originally was about the size of my fist. The amount of food I eat at one time to avoid stretching my stomach should be about the size of my fist. It made sense to me. I left her office ready to make some changes.
I began portion control without any other changes to the food I was eating. I ate when I was hungry, but no more than a fist sized amount. When I went to a restaurant I would cut a small portion of my entrée and put it on a small salad plate. The rest I would have boxed to go immediately. I would eat 6 to 8 times or more a day for several months, but never more than a small portion. I would carry a bag with nuts and fruit (sometimes some veggies) so that I always had good food to eat. I switched to a much smaller plate size and served my own food. When a guest at an event, I would make sure the host new that I could only eat a very small amount and that if I was served more than that I would need a box to take it home.
This was very difficult for 3 weeks. Especially since the third week was Thanksgiving, which is a big family and food celebration. Support from friends and family during this time was very important, and I’m sure I aggravated more than a few folks in my misery. I had to train my brain to un-learn my unhealthy habits (eating too much). I constantly asked myself “am I hungry now” or “should I stop eating now.” I also told myself “yes, the food tastes great and I want more, but I can wait 2 hours and eat again”.
One item taught in behavioral training is that it takes three weeks to unlearn a bad habit before replacing it with a good habit. This must be correct because by the end of November, the smaller portions were no longer a struggle to control. I may have been eating the same amount of food, but I was already seeing the results on the scale. A side effect of eating small portions frequently is that I lose my appetite for desserts. Once I got use to the small portions I began to notice how much food was served and wasted in New Orleans. Six months later I have a hard time believing I was ever able to sit and eat the “normal” portions served in New Orleans, or anywhere in the United states.
It should be noted that I focused on 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, used almonds as a regular snack and determined oatmeal (regular, not instant) was the best food invention known to man. My blood pressure which was usually 120s/80s was 105/53 when checked at the doctor’s office today.
Summary of milestone 2:
- Continue lessons learned in DWTL
- Small portions eaten often is possible
- Lipid profile “in range” may be a poor success criteria
- Three weeks to change a habit