Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bad Habit Breakup: Week One - No Fast Food

I rejoined Weight Watchers about 4 weeks ago and since that time I've GAINED 1.4lbs.  WTF?  Basically, I have been half-ass doing the program and I've slipped back into some of my worst eating and exercise habits.  I've been eating fast food like it's gone out of style and because of my injury/illness, I haven't exercised consistently since last November.  It's no wonder I have gained since I restarted. 

I don't know quite know how to explain this but usually when I go back to Weight Watchers, I try to use the program to address all of my bad habits simultaneously.  Almost like I think the program will help me deal with emotional eating or lack of exercise because I don't want to embarrass myself on the scale.  But since Weight Watchers doesn't prohibit any food, I have been following the spirit of the plan and that's why I'm struggling with gains instead of loses.  Case in point, I had 8 fast food meals last week and not all of them were grilled chicken sandwiches with no mayo either.  I had Jack in the Box tacos on at least 2 separate occasions and although fried zucchini isn't as bad as French fries, it is still fried food.  Add to the fast food frenzy was the fact that I said birthday calories don't count and had 4 slices of Spiced Bavarian Cream cake in a two-day period.  I like Weight Watchers for it's flexibility but I have to be the one to exercise some self-control.

I've identified my 7 bad dietary habits and for the next 7 weeks or so, I'm going to tackle each one.
Dietary Bad Habits List
1. Eating too much fast food (due to failure to meal plan and prep ahead of time)
2. Excessive snacking after dinner (and away from prying eyes)
3. Not enough fruits and vegetables on a consistent basis.
4. Not recognizing fullness; Eating 'till I'm stuffed
5. Drinking entirely too much diet soda
6. Not consistently tracking/journaling food intake
7. Blowing off too many scheduled workouts
So this week, my goal is to follow the Weight Watchers plan but to do it without any fast food.   This means I need to meal plan, prep food and follow through by eating what I've prepared.  It's not like I don't like cooking but it does mean I need to manage my time better. Mondays are my research days at home so I can use the mornings to plan, prep and store meals.  I have a rough idea of what I'm going to do so I'll be sure to post recipes and pictures tomorrow. 

Why address fast food first?  Well, I believe I've developed a fast food addiction.  I'm addicted to not only the convenience of it but also the layering of fat, salt and sugar.  I read The End of Overeating by David Kessler who was the former head of the USFDA.  Kessler says that when his administration of the FDA required food sold in stores to be labeled with nutrition information, the restaurant industry was left mostly unregulated.  This meant that restaurants could use any means necessary to keep customers filling their seats and their preferred method was to over-stimulate the brain's appetite functions with what he calls "layering food".  Layering, for example, is to "double" the amount of fat, salt and sugar to a food to make a person crave it even when they are full.  A real-world example would be Chili Sante Fe Egg Rolls.  Kessler says that these Egg Rolls come to the restaurant already fried and then frozen.  So they are fatty to begin with but the restaurant re-fries them and the unassuming customer is now eating double the amount of saturated and trans-fat they'd normally consume.  Constantly eating foods like this over-stimulates the brain which sends gherlin, a hormone in the pancreas, to trigger a hunger response.

What does this mean for weight loss?  Eating fast food and trying to simultaneously lose weight is like climbing uphill with roller skates on.  Sure, there are healthier options out there but part of weight loss is managing your environment to ensure your success.  I can't have chips and dips in my house and expect to resist them day after day so why continue eating fast food when it causes a similar uncontrollable urge to over-eat response in me?  So for this week, I'm going cold turkey on fast food and building from there.  This is going to be the hardest challenge yet, methinks. 

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