Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Weigh-in Tuesday, and thoughts on empty calories

I'll get right to the point this morning: this week, I'm down another pound and a half. 298!  The farther I get from 300, the more confident I feel about staying away from it forever.

Last week's therapy session was very insightful.  My therapist always helps me see things more clearly, even if they're things I've just said out loud.  It's funny how saying things out loud doesn't necessarily mean that it sinks in.  I was telling her how strangely terrifying it is to not know how you look at a lower weight.  The last time I was less than 300, it was in college.  I was 12 years younger (and those 12 years are kind of a big deal; faces change a lot from 20 to 32.)  From here on, as I lose weight, I'm going to start not recognizing myself.  My therapist connected that fear with my plateau (and with the binge after weigh-in that I wrote about last week.)  My subconscious is having trouble dealing with the fact that there's a lot of change going on with my body.  So I'm doing some visualization exercises, and hopefully we'll shake that subconscious into acceptance.

The survey I posted yesterday (which is still open if you'd like to participate) has been very helpful.  It's sometimes hard to peg what kinds of blog entries (or themes) are most compelling to my readers, and it's very helpful to hear what works and what doesn't. 

I did get one answer about improving the blog that made me stop and think. And think. And think. And if there's that much thinking, it must be something important.  This reader - a friend or family member who knows me from Facebook - would change this about my blog:

"Less about sweet things-- reading about sugar and other empty calories makes me anxious."

I was surprised by the answer, and my knee-jerk response was: "What empty calories?"  I work very hard on keeping all things in moderation.  It's true that if I eat emotionally, it's primarily sugar that I'm craving.  But even those times when I eat an unplanned food, I'm not eating a lot of it. For instance, last week's binge, which was an ice cream cone.  It's not the amount of food that makes it a binge.  It's the reasoning behind my eating.  It's the unplanned and not-mindful way I am eating.  Which, as a food addict, does happen occasionally.  And I'm working very hard to minimize it in my life.

Do I come across as eating a lot of empty calories?  I'm kind of surprised about that, because for the first time in my life, this year has seen the complete elimination of all fast food (it's been 9 months since I've so much as stepped inside one, let alone eaten at one.) 

We cook, on average, 20 out of 21 meals each week, and that one meal out is most likely at Tender Greens, where I've ordered my usual 3 ounces of seared albacore, a cup of mixed greens and either roasted veggies or a half-cup of mashed potatoes (550 or 650 calories total.)  We buy 48 servings of fresh fruit and 72 servings of fresh vegetables every week, and they're gone by the end of the week.  (that's 3 servings of fruit daily for me, and 5+ servings of vegetables.) 

With rare exception, I eat around 1400 calories daily. Yesterday's, for example, was a pretty standard day.

1 slice whole grain toast (70 calories)
Sliced nectarine
2 tb fat free ricotta (mixed with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a 1/4 teaspoon of sugar-free almond syrup) (25 calories)
1/4 tsp honey (6 calories)
1 boiled egg (70 calories)

4 ounces of grilled ground turkey (160 calories)
2 slices of light whole wheat (80 calories)
1 tsp lowfat vegenaise (15 calories)
1 laughing cow cheese wedge (30 calories)
3 pickle slices (negligible calories) 
1 cup of baked yam (177 calories)
1 tb of homemade blue cheese aioli (30 calories)

Afternoon snack:
1 plum (30 calories)

1 cup baked spaghetti squash with 1/2 slice turkey bacon, tsp Parmesan, and 1/4 of an egg (94 calories)
1 cup roasted veggies with tsp balsamic & a spritz of Pam (110 calories)
1/2 cup white beans with sage and garlic & a 1/2 tsp olive oil (134 calories)

64 ounces of water (0 calories)
8 ounces of stevia-sweetened Virgil's (0 calories)
8 ounces of skim milk (70 calories)

Where do the empty calories fit in?  You could say the cheese is "empty," but it fits into my scheduled fats, and I'm still getting the majority of my necessary fat intake from unsaturated sources (olive oil, vegenaise.)  And honestly, regular small servings of things like cheese keep me from seeking large servings of things like cheese.

Nevertheless, the survey answer stung.  So it must be touching a nerve.  I went back to my recipes, to catalogue them, to see if I posted a lot of recipes for sweet things.  Here's the most recent two pages of recipes, going back to late June:

Rosemary Quinoa
Curried Chickpea Salad
Broccoli Slaw
Blue Cheese Aioli
Southwestern Popcorn
Roasted Zucchini
Heirloom Tomato & Egg Sandwich
Ginger Noodle Stir-Fry
Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Cinnamon-Sugar Popcorn
Zucchini-Blueberry Mini Muffins
Figs with Goat Cheese
Key Lime Mini Tarts
Diet Butterbeer
Whole Wheat Pancakes with Fruit Compote

So, yeah.  OK.  They're right.  There are several sweet recipes.  Though most are low-calorie, and most are sweetened with fruit.  Still, it proves that I do include a bunch of sweet recipes.  Too much for one of my readers.  How about you?  Would you prefer to see less sweet?  Are you worried about my empty calories?  Would you prefer, for instance, when I post the recipes for the most recent Supper Club 600, that I skip the 50-calorie tiramisu recipe?

I'm torn.  Part of me wants to listen and take heed.  There were times in the past where I didn't want to hear people's thoughts on my dietary intake, and it wasn't for the best.  But part of me... knows exactly what I eat, why I eat, and how hard I'm working on what I eat.  And that part of me just wants to say, "FORGET YOU*, I'm taking care of me, and you don't get a say in how that's done."

Because it is being done. 

Take care of you today.  You're the only one who gets to do it.

*Cee-Lo Green radio-edited for politeness.


  1. I enjoy your sweet posts just as much as your savory posts. In fact I would be terribly sad if you stopped posting your sweet recipes. I find it amazing that you can make such amazing desserts with such low calories.

    If you do move off of Blogger and onto something like WordPress you'd be able to customize post types so your sweet posts could come with a spoiler-type warning before you can read the post. You could also make different RSS feeds so one could include all posts and another could only show non-sweet posts.

  2. Personally, I love the sweet recipes. It helps me to see how I can still have a treat that I deserve, but also keep it healthy.

    Treats are a part of enjoying life. And, we all deserve to enjoy life.

    I do understand where the reader might be coming from though - sweets might be their personal enemy. That one part of their own battle that is the most difficult to bear. But, I do think that their statement is also a way to learn about themselves and why they feel that way.

    Regular soda used to be my vice. I was nearly 2 liters a day for over a decade. During that first month that I quit it cold turkey, I couldn't even be around it. Even seeing a Coke advertisement would spark emotions of anger, fear, shame, frustration, desire, craving, and so many more that whirled through my mind in split seconds. Eventually though, it died down. It took time. And, to help myself through it, I purposefully removed myself from its exposure as much as possible until the anxiety finally nullified.

    I think it's great that you want to accommodate, but there's also a reader responsibility too. I think a good compromise would be to put the recipes behind "more" links. That way, they can read through and ultimately make the decision on whether or not to click that link open.

    What works for you, works for you, and might not for everyone else. While some see those things as "empty calories", it might be helping you stave off binges. So, don't beat yourself up over it. You're moving in the right direction, so you're obviously on the right path for you. :)

  3. *steps on soapbox*

    I love all of the posts... even the sweet ones. I think what's important to remember about the comment is that the person is saying it makes THEM anxious. Not you. It's your blog, you write what you want. You're not writing for Shape magazine or Weight Watchers...you're writing for Finishing the Hat. Your creation. Part of the reason that I blog, at least personally, is because I write professionally and have to write what other people want me to write all day. So with no disrespect to the commenter, and even kudos to them for their candid response, I think you need to remember that this is your blog and you should write about what you please... especially because these sweet recipes have been part of the reason for success... in not allowing yourself to be deprived, in learning how to adjust cravings, in learning how to HAVE YOUR CAKE and EAT IT, TOO. Our reader's thoughts are important, but one reader's thoughts can't dictate a whole editorial change. But again - kudos to you and the commenter for having such valid thoughts, and for the taking the time to think about it. But if you like the sweet posts... you should continue them :)

    *steps off soapbox*

  4. You are eating mindfully. Empty calories? I don't see it. I guess that comment was meant in a general way, that sweets are not the best fuel for our bodies. However, everything in moderation!

  5. If anything I thought you talked about veggies more than sweets! In the survey I suggested more recipes in your blog because I saw that you focused a lot on veggie themed dishes and I am looking for more interesting ways to prepare them.

    I also wanted to say that this blog is for you and a reflection of your lifestyle changes. You should write what you enjoy and what you want to share. If people are not interested in the sweets or any other subject, then they can skip the post.

    I would hate to miss out on a 50 calorie Tirasmiu recipe ;)

  6. I wish you would just stop posting recipes altogether. Are you trying to drive me nuts with how I could easily eat so much healthier? Sure, I don't need to lose weight (just the opposite, in fact)... but my diet is bordering on poor, and I really don't need to be reminded all the time how I could eat so healthy and be so much more well because of it. Stop already! ;-)

  7. The sweet posts are healthy and fun ways to satisfy the sugar urge without and still being . Those recipes are always mindful of a healthy journey and I don't see you shoving empty calories into the mix.

  8. When you write in your blog, it should be for you. This is your journey, your journal of what you've done, what you want to do, where you've been, where you want to be. Those are moments, experiences, lessons that have taught you something important and have helped you get to where you are. Don't change what you blog about or how you blog or what you eat just because someone else finds issue with it. You will never be able to please everyone. Stay true to yourself. :)

    BTW, fruits and cheese are not empty calories. They are full of fiber and/or protein, which helps to keep us feeling satisfied for longer.

  9. I'm always impressed how you can work sweets into your plan and have them be so low-calorie! And everything sounds delicious!

    I don't have a lot of thoughts on how to handle the person who feels anxious at you posting about sweets. Part of my brain says it's their issue, and part of my brain wants to find ways that you can help them avoid seeing posts about sweets. I'm sure there are more options that don't occur to me at this point.

    But do register me as loving to hear about your sweets. And I'm with you on small servings of cheese helping avoid craving large servings of cheese....

  10. Hi Heidi!

    I wouldn't worry about the sweet recipes if I were you. The whole idea behind your plan, mine and those of many others is to get a handle on being able to eat anything in moderation. Perhaps these recipes are a trigger for some . . . I don't know. I truly enjoy the recipe sections and all the beautiful photos of the dishes you prepare or find at restaurants.

    Now, you did ask for feedback and the comment didn't sound mean-spirited or anything. So, I think you should graciously accept the feedback/comments, make adjustments where you see fit, and move forward. It's impossible to please all of the people all of the time.

    I didn't take the survey because I pretty much enjoy everything that you write about, from fashion to recipes to adventures to stuff about the city where you live to family/pet posts and much more. You didn't have a question about the cake pop entries, specifically, which I've already commented about. On the other hand, if you posted about crushed potato chips and dip pops, I'd be all over that! Ha ha ha!

    Keep on writing. I know we all enjoy your blog.

    Anne at http://chesapeakebaydiary.typepad.com/fat_chat/

  11. One of my top favorite things about your blog is your ability to cut calories out of a meal without cutting flavor and satisfaction. Your recipes are all beautiful examples of how eating healthy doesn't have to mean eating boring. Sometimes that means a salad chock full of fresh veggies, and sometimes it means health-friendly cake pops. Making the dietary shift required to lose weight and keep it off can seem daunting, and knowing that you don't have to give up treats like pancakes and cake pops forever makes that shift much easier.

    Keep the sweets, baby. :3

  12. Personally, I'd be tempted to be really offended at that comment. So your regime hasn't been "perfect." And it shouldn't be. We don't have to strive for perfection, but for excellence. Your attitude toward yourself and your care has been that: excellence.

    My question to you would be: Why ask at all? It IS your blog and your journey. It would still be your journey if no one were watching. Would you change anything if that were the case? If so, then I might ask myself the reasons for that, and get a new insight into what I was doing. I still might want to quote Cee-Lo but at least I could turn it into an opportunity for self-reflection? Just a thought...

  13. Keep doing what you're doing as long as it's working for YOU.

  14. Only you can determine what is best and what is the right way to enjoy any food in moderation. I do understand why any sweet-related post might make a friend and reader anxious, as sweets were often your go-to when you did succumb to emotional eating. There's always the fear of the slippery slope and I'm guessing this friend is just worried about you and fearing the worst case scenario. If you know in your heart and mind that you can indulge yourself in small doses, using healthier recipes without falling back on old habits, then it's probably fine. But others might take the stance that you should avoid sweets altogether, and that you need to develop a different attitude about them altogether. Which is very hard because on top of the pleasure of eating something sweet is the immense pleasure you take in baking. Giving up sweets entirely might also mean giving up something you really love to do, which is very, very hard.

    I don't think any of your friends can really weigh in with advice here. Ultimately, I think you need to determine what's best for you. Does the allowance of sweets (as a topic and small indulgence from time to time) keep you from backsliding because it keeps you from feeling too deprived of something you enjoy? And sometimes when we feel deprived we simply cannot stop thinking about that which we want, to the point that when we finally give in. This can be said about many things, food related and otherwise, and I know there's great release and pleasure in the big ole cave-in.

    Or does keeping some focus on sweets allow you to romanticize something that is potentially a real danger for you?

    I don't know. Who the heck knows? But I think it's the sort of thing that you should be asking yourself, and I think it was good of your friend to bring it up.

  15. Also, I think you are amazing and I'm so, so proud of all that you are accomplishing right now.

  16. This is YOUR blog. Write about whatever you want. If someone doesn't want to see sweet recipes, she can easily skip that day's post. Simple.

    Please don't stop doing what you do, because I love it, and I'd hate to think that you were changing your journey even slightly to fit into what someone else wanted. This is about YOU.