Friday, March 16, 2012

Time for a cleanse?

The other day, I was minding my own business and taking a quick spin through my calendar for the next few weeks.  Suddenly, it hit me like a brick in the head:  my annual physical was a mere two weeks away (Tuesday March 20).  I completely panicked.  I quickly got a weigh in and was horrified to discover that I was a full 4 pounds over my goal weight (horrors!!!).  

Suddenly the likely outcome of my upcoming physical became so very clear...  I would see my doctor who would have someone take blood samples.  She would then have me weighed and my blood pressure taken.  I would then be left alone, in a cold and antiseptic room equipped only with old issues of Highlights magazine.  I would be eagerly awaiting her return with the results.  However, she would never come.  Instead, the room will be stormed by four large men in suits and sunglasses who would whisk me away and have me remanded to a frightening third world country.  From there, I would be tortured horribly.  They wouldn't even ask questions.  They would then quietly dispose of my body.  Why?

Because I got failing scores in my blood work.  And I never even learned to read!  

OK.  Maybe this was a bit of an unlikely scenario.  I highly doubt that being four pounds over my goal weight would significantly alter my chemistry, and I can only hope the CIA has bigger fish to fry.  But what can I say?  I want a gold star, and the gold stars from my doctor are particularly shiny.    

Having survived this anxiety attack, I made the decision to clean up my act in the nine days leading up to my doctors appointment.  It was time for an intervention!  

One might fairly ask the question as to why I needed an intervention in the first place.  What was I doing that was so bad?  In truth, I wasn't being horrible.  I was just sliding a bit, and it showed up on the scale.  Frankly, I didn't even need to look at the scale as I new that I had gotten a little slack.  

Part of my strategy to maintain my weight loss has been to know when all of those little, itty bitty seemingly innocuous decisions are starting to go slightly sideways.  It's one of the reason that the scale is still helpful for me -- it's a pretty impartial judge (and a fairly sensitive one at that) about the cumulative effect of my habits.  

Another thing I have learned over the past few years on maintenance is that sometimes an intervention is needed when a habit slide occurs.  Sometimes I need to hit the reset button.  

I'm sorry, but really?  The idea of this
 for a week makes me sad.  
For this reason, I decided to do my equivalent to a cleanse.  However, rather than spending a week drinking green slime, I decided to make it a little more simple.  I wanted to execute a couple of changes and live with them for a full eight days.  These were:
  1. No more mindless eating/grazing, particularly after dinner.  The reasons for this are probably pretty self-evident.  
  2. I wanted to take a break from having a glass of wine at night.  The reasons for this one are less self-evident.  I like a nice glass of wine as much as the next guy (maybe more), but I also realize that they are pretty empty calories.  Further, I also realize that the daily pattern of having a glass of wine each night can become more about it being a mindless habit, and less about actually enjoying the wine.  With this in mind, I wanted to shake things up a little bit.  
I wanted to give myself an extra incentive to stick with this little eight day pledge by deciding to Tweet about it each day.  It's funny how well this works on me.  I truly do not want to let down the people who follow me.  I'm also enough of a narcissist to think that the people who follow me on Twitter wait with baited breath on my every stated action.    

So where am I in the challenge?

I'm now in day five of eight.  The no grazing pledge is going perfectly.  I would guess that I have eliminated about 500 to 600 calories per day in mindless consumption (seriously!).  Even better, I really don't miss these little post-dinner splurges.  I'm not feeling at all hungry.

What about the other one?  I happily went four nights with nary a fermented grape.  Last night I got home, and I made the decision to join my DSW, whom I hadn't seen in a couple of days, with a drink (bourbon -- technically a loophole!).  I'm OK falling off this part of the challenge as I felt like I had already achieved my goal of not treating wine as a mindless habit over the course of the week.  Anyway, that's my rationalization, and I'm sticking with it!  

What can I learn from all of this?

I find hitting the reset button incredibly helpful when I'm on maintenance.  At first, cutting out mindless snacking seemed like a big ask, but as the week has progressed, it has seemed less and less a big deal.   It has dawned on me that I really don't need the extra few (or more) bites after dinner.  Ever.  In other words, what seemed like a cleanse-like activity is actually more of a normal state of being (i.e., only eating at designated meal times).  

Beats drinking green slime any day!




  1. Hi Dave,

    Always helpful to read the latest MMS post, even when the topic is less relevant to my situation than in the past. In this case I'm not facing an immediate physical or blood work, and I'm also little lost regarding the bottles - what do they mean? And what green slime are you referring to? Is this a wheatgrass reference?

    The aspect that does hit home however is the never-ending battle with grazing. So I was intrigued to read that after 4 days the experience of eating nothing after dinner became normal. I still find night grazing the single hardest habit to break, and it is without question the main cause for my very slow rate of weight loss. I've lost 34 pounds with WW in 11 months. And while I am very happy about that loss I also know I'd have arrived at maintenance months ago - still have about 12 pounds to go - if it wasn't for the endless dance in and out of kitchen. That dance starts about an hour after dinner and continues throughout the night - right up until breakfast. And while the food I'm consuming from 10p to 8am is mostly healthy and low or zero point, it is all unnecessary. 10 points of healthy choices per night is still 70 unnecessary points per week.

    So I am intrigued that you find it easy to eliminate grazing, at least in the short run. I'd be interested to hear how long this behavioral shift lasts.

    Thanks David, as always!

  2. It's like you are in my head! I am in my fifth year of maintenance, and I have started to slide. Not just the grazing, which I am prone to, but the secretive eating. I went back through my weight loss graph history (thanks eTools) and found a place right when PointsPlus first launched where I was at my best weight and I was on a steady keel - very few ripples in my graph. If I look at my graph over the past six months, it looks like I have been navigating rough seas - up and down up and down. It makes me (sea)sick! Clearly a restart/reboot is needed. Always comforting to know I am not the only one!

  3. I agree that the scale is my little reminder that those BLT's aren't secret anymore. Hope the blood work readings are great. :)

  4. Ugh, the ideas of green slime or lemon juice with cayenne pepper for one week makes me sad too. I would be very cranky by the end of that week.