Recently, I have strayed from the path of Weight Watchers-related righteousness. In fact, the past week or two have been like one long binge, with small pockets of on plan eating shining through the haze very occasionally. After two years of keeping my eating relatively under control, I have slipped, and I am having trouble getting back on track. My size 14 jeans are feeling tight, but the good news is that I got rid of the size 16 and size 18 pants in my wardrobe, so I don’t have anything to grow into (save a few pair of corduroys that are going out in my next Goodwill bag). Therefore, I have no other option than to pull myself up by my bootstraps and get back with the program.
Now, I am kind of an à la carte Weight Watchers member, in that there are things in the program that I very definitely put my own spin on. First of all, I almost always go over on my weekly points. On whatever happens to be my “cheat day,” I tend to overeat to the point that there is no way to count how many points I have consumed, OR the number of points I have consumed are much more than whatever I have left over from the weekly 49. I also don’t drink plain water ever, although this is less of a thing on the new plan (it calls for six glasses of nonalcoholic liquids each day, which I definitely do consume). I also don’t do a great job of tracking the good health guidelines (and often don’t fulfill them all…especially the healthy oils one), and I rarely get specific physical activity in (although I keep meaning just to get out and start walking a couple of miles each day… especially as the weather has gotten nicer). However, I do use the points plus structure to track my eating on most days, and I do attend (and love) meetings (most weeks…not these last two) because I love the community feeling and the support I get.
I have tried many, many diets, and Weight Watchers is the one I have stuck with the longest and the one I know works for me. However, my info ho’ nature means that I continue reading about nutrition and how different foods work with the body, and this has brought me to where I am today, which is on day one of a wheat-free way of eating. And I reached this place while reading the new book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis. Dr. Davis is a cardiologist who reports in his book that he has seen a wheat-free diet “cure” his patients of such ailments as colitis, type II diabetes, obesity, arthritis, and a variety of other ailments that are either caused by inflammation in the body or an autoimmune condition. I use the term cure loosely because obviously these underlying conditions do not go away totally, but they do control the symptoms to the point that some of his patients enjoy a complete “remission” of these conditions when they give up wheat.
Back when I was in my late 20s and early 30s, I had some pretty severe inflammatory symptoms, including heart burn, stress-induced irritable bowel issues, and severe arthritic pain in my knees to the point that I could not just stand up under my own power from the couch or from the front seat of the car. Instead, I had to either pull myself to a standing position or push up on the back of my seat to stand up. It was around this time that I tried the Atkins diet for the first time, and I found it to be revolutionary for me. First of all, the science behind it made sense to the nerd in me. Of course, if I stopped eating carbs, my body would become a more efficient machine. I enjoyed moderate success on Atkins, but the low carb lifestyle was not easily sustainable for me, so I eventually strayed. And I don’t believe that such a fad way of eating is really good for most people in the long run. However, when I was following Atkins, some interesting things happened. First of all, my irritable bowel symptoms got better. Secondly, my heart burn went away. And third (and best) of all, my knee pain got almost 100% better. I still found myself with some pain if I spent too much time in one position (like on a long car trip sitting in the back seat), but over a couple of months I started to be able to get up under my own steam, without having to come up with a plan concerning what fixed object I was going to use to catapult myself into a standing position. And it was at this point that I started to think about the inflammatory effects of food on the body.
Fast forward to January 2010, when I hit rock bottom as far as my weight was concerned. I started counting calories and paying attention to what I was eating. Eleven months later, after a long plateau, I joined Weight Watchers and started losing again. And fifteen months after that, I found myself having achieved 72 pounds of weight loss and feeling (not including the last two weeks) pretty great about myself. For the most part, I have been in control of my eating and have been following Weight Watchers (or at least my version), and I am healthier than I have been in a long time. I have done this my eating a wide array of foods, but I have still noticed that eating some carbs (bread, cookies, cake, crackers, etc.) makes me crave those carbs and all their cousins. And this is where Wheat Belly comes in.
Over the past two weeks, most of my binge-y foods have been in the forms of carbs. There have been cans of Pringles, bags of Chex mix, boxes of Life cereal, plates of homemade cookies, slices of cake, baskets of pita chips, and many other carb-y, wheat-based foods standing in the way of me and control over my eating. I stood in the break room at work the other day and ate what probably amounted to ten cookies that a sweet NICU family had left for us to thank us for caring for their twins. I tasted the first cookie, and it was really yummy. I don’t know that I completely tasted or appreciated the following nine as they made their way past my lips. I was not eating mindfully. I was just shoveling the food in.
I find myself this morning feeling sluggish, with some very definite heartburn and an ache in my knees. I don’t want to go back down that path of not being able to spring up from a chair under my own power and feeling always like there is a burning lump in my throat. Therefore, I am going to see if Dr. Davis is onto something. I am not giving up all carbs because, again, that is not sustainable. And I am not jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon (while I know that many people truly do have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease, I don’t believe I have such an issue, and I think that the current trend of gluten-free products is partly a marketing gimmick). Instead, I am giving up wheat. This means that I will have to be more mindful of what I put in my body, which is a good thing, and most of the processed foods that are my nemesis will no longer find their way into my house.
On the scale this morning, I was up nine pounds (some of it, I am sure, water weight) from my lowest weight on this journey. I am looking forward to saying goodbye to those pounds and more of their friends. There is plenty of fresh, whole, healthy food out there waiting for me, and I can’t wait to get started on it!
Make it a great day, everyone!