It’s interesting to start back on a more restricted diet. I’ve already made a few discoveries. For instance, I was indeed right that my portion sizes had grown a bit. I have seriously cut those back, allowing myself no more than two or three ounces of protein at dinner. I also realized that I had again developed the habit of tasting food as I made it, for seasoning and a good mix of flavors, especially when I’m experimenting. (Sam Sifton calls those more spontaneous creations “no recipe recipes.”) So, when I do need to taste now, I take a small bite and then spit it out. Kind of like a sommelier does with wine. You might find it a bit disgusting, but it actually reveals my high degree of sophistication!
When I started on this path in 2016, I cut back on portions very slowly, making small tests of changes. I was also on medication to help me, and after I took that for a few weeks, my appetite just went away, so it was easy to get down to those two-ounce protein dinners. Now? I am just insanely hungry. Not emotionally hungry—I don’t have cravings and I don’t need food as comfort—I am just plain old hungry.
The other thing I’ve noticed? Well, I’ve never actually bothered to diet when I only had thirteen pounds to lose. When you have a whopping amount to lose, you lose a whopping amount in the beginning. Thirteen pounds away? Not so much! After ten days, I’ve lost 1.2 pounds—and heaven only knows that could bounce back up as it’s been doing.
All that is my way of saying that losing only a little weight is tough, and it can be discouraging. As overwhelming as it was to know that I needed to lose half my weight, it was also exciting to finally address the problem that had locked my away from life. It was wonderful to see my efforts pay off in a big way on the scale. I lost forty-three pounds in those first five months! Who wouldn’t feel better?
This is going to be a slower process, and it’s not a very exciting one. I am not looking for the emotional reward of getting a new size in my clothes; I just want the ones I have to fit better. It’s likely no one is really going to notice once I (again) reach my goal weight. I already have an exercise regime, so I won’t get that punch of energy and strength that I got when I started that three years ago. And right back to that bottom line…have I mentioned that I’m HUNGRY?!
If all this sounds like I might stop, I want to emphatically reassure you (and me) that the opposite is true.
First of all, when I was coming off the medication in 2018, I started feeling really hungry all the time. I had to grit my teeth to get through that time, but I did it, and gradually my appetite right-sized itself and I was comfortable again. I know I am not facing a never-ending slog trying to get from one meal to the next. My appetite will right-size. That’s good to know, and to completely believe.
A more important reason, though, is that I am taking care of myself by doing this—I am putting myself first. I am addressing a smallish problem before it becomes a biggish one! That feels really, really good. It felt good to exercise today even though I vaccinated folks this morning—a new promise to myself. I certainly know it’s going to feel good when I get back to my goal weight.
In the long run, this isn’t a heavy lift at all. I don’t have the emotional baggage to work through, I just need to tighten my belt a bit. I figure I will get to my goal weight before the cicadas start dying away! My bottom line is that my hunger to get back to that better weight is much bigger and more pressing than my physical hunger. As long as I keep my eyes firmly on that goal, I can get through some interim discomfort.
“No Recipe Recipe”: Fiesta Salad
1/8 c. extra-virgin-olive oil
Slightly less freshly squeezed lime juice
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. honey
Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl.
Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Bell peppers of any color but green, diced
Some diced red onion
Whatever other ingredients you care to throw in there, such as:
Cotija cheese, crumbled