I want to thanks Electra again for such a informative and rockin guest post! As she said yesterday, sexy is strong, and I could not agree with that more… I want to build the muscles that I quite unfortunately broke down and depleted during the worst time of my disordered eating. While during this time I saw the number on the scale drop lower and lower, what my illogical brain did not seem to understand was some of this weight was precious muscle. I was perfectly happy seeing the number diminish on a weekly basis as I figured it was all of that “extra blubbery fat” that had to go… Gosh I wish I knew better…
And this brings me to my post today, another twist of What I Ate Wednesday!
I hope I am not breaking any WIAW rules in this post! My calorie count post last week made me think of this. I also saw that Tina did something similar a few weeks ago, where she talked about her old habits. Jenn , I hope this is okay! If you don’t feel like going all thoughtful on me today, I completely understand- WIAW should be a fun day, but I had to add this twist… so just skip through this and tell me the best thing you ate instead if you want to
*I talk numbers in this post, and also how my eating habits used to be. It was no where near healthy and I want to make that clear. I really feel compelled to put this in- if you are easily triggered, please read with discretion or not at all! I know how sly those eds can be!
Last week I discussed that I do in fact count calories, perhaps against some of your better judgments… but for now it does work for me. I can completely understand WHY some people choose not to count calories, or have broken away from such a routine, because it has turned into an obsession- numbers start to control you, food is no longer something you simply eat. It becomes a necessary substance that has a certain value, and this reflects if it is considered “good” or “bad” for you. Well at least this is my impression of how calorie counting can turn sour.
I have a certain understanding of this because I used to be obsessed with values of food, but in a different way… in fact, calorie counting has “saved” me to a certain extent, as it allowed me to let go of the extreme use of numbers in my daily life.
What I am referring to is the change, the program I signed up for, that was more triggering than I ever could have predicted, and threw me back into a destructive routine of restriction, over-exercising, dangerous weight loss, and a general hatred of my own body. Signing up for Weight Watchers when I was 18 years old during my senior year of high school was the “beginning of the end” so-to-speak.
I talked in more detail about this in the very beginning of my blogging experience, back in March, so check that out if you would read a bit more on that.
It’s safe to say that I have a few obsessive qualities and OCD mentalities- I often feel that everything must be put in its place (especially in my room), cleanliness is essential, I like to be the one that makes the plan, routines and schedules are good friends of mine, I tend to give my all into something that requires dedication, as I like to see my efforts pay off. These personal characteristics clashed brutally with how the Weight Watchers programmed worked, as it required attention to details, planning and calculating, all habits that I am rather good at, but turned against me when it came to food.
I can remember that first day so clearly- the signing up and orientation process, but most importantly, the moment I found out my weight. Although I did feel I could stand to lose a few pounds before this day, I had no idea how much I weighed. But when I saw that number, all I could think about was, my god that’s is not good, well at least I am here, and now I am determined! And so it began…
Most people are familiar with the old program- basically every food is given a point value based on the number of calories, grams of fat and fiber within the food. More calories= higher points, and the fiber content may help to lower this number a tad. Very roughly, 1 point was supposed to equal between 50-100 calories, so I never knew how many calories I was consuming. The program has changed since then to the Points Plus, but i know nothing about how it works, and I don’t plan to.
Based on my height, weight, age, and daily activity level, my Daily Intake Number was assigned- 24 and you had better believe I stuck to that amount. You were also allotted 35 extra points per 7 days, that could be spread out as you please- either consuming them all at once, a bit more each day, or choose not to have any at all. You also could regain 4 “activity points” back per day that were supposed to be eaten depending on your personal amount of exercising.
What is appealing about the Weight Watchers program, and why I was initially drawn to it, is because it gives YOU the choice on how to disperse your points throughout the day and what to “spend” them on. Heck, you could blow all of them on a huge dessert, meal, occasion, etc, have a mix of junk and healthy foods, save them up for something and so on. All of these choices that I could make for myself were the allowed me to fall faster and faster down the slippery slope toward an eating disorder.
Things started out quite well. I ate my allotted 24 points per day, continued to exercise but consumed those activity points as well, and never went under… the weight came off, the compliments were heard, and my obsession intensified on my journey to losing weight. I wanted to get rid of faster, I needed those compliments, people were starting to see me as attractive, rather than this huge, tall, semi-chunky teenager. Wow did that feel good, and things just continued to go down from there.
As the weight came off, my “daily point” value went down, as this is how the program works. In theory your body starts to require less food and you need to lower this number in order to continue down the weight loss road. Eventually I was “allowed” 22 points per day, a number that continued to haunt me for the next several years.
Within a few months, I had dropped 10 pounds and felt fantastic. So what would happen if I lost 5 more? Done. How about another 5? Great did it! Okay so I am 20 pounds from my starting point.… I wonder how hard it would be to lose 30 altogether... and then I swear that will be enough. But of course, it never was.
I started to make my own Weight Watchers rules… why do I need 22 points, when I will lose off more eating only 12-14 per day! I also would chose food that was always toward the lower value of a point (like I said, 1 point could = 50-100 calories) so I loosely made sure that I was on the lower spectrum and taking in only about 50- 60 calories per point (what I have figured out since then).
Reflecting on what I have been consuming during past WIAW posts shows clear evidence of my recovery and growth in this process. I remember what I used to eat so clearly during the worst times… it sickens me that I so strongly believed this was beneficial, that I would lose just a few more pounds and FINALLY be happy with myself.
So without further ado… What I (Used To) Eat Wednesday… a typical day at the absolute worst time of all of this.
Breakfast: An apple, always given 1 point no matter what the size and consumed as late in the morning as possible. Basically I would wait until I was about to faint from the hunger and “break the fast” with this piece of fruit.Snack: Carrot sticks and sugar snap peas- 2 points. Even though vegetables were considered “free” I still counted them because of my fear of unknowingly taking in too many calories. I would spend so many hours in a day slicing and dicing my vegetables and fruit perfectly… Lunch: Wait as long as possible again, cook up a crap load of egg whites and place them over a salad beast always containing spinach, tomatoes, snap peas, mushrooms and cucumbers. (3 points with the egg whites) Dressing? Ketchup. Source of fat? Umm are you kidding… of course not! Sometimes if I was feeling extra daring, I would crumble a Morning Star veggie burger over the salad (1 point) I would also try and have a huge serving of fruit with the meal, to help me stay full.(2 points) Snack: Usually a Dannon Light n’ Fit or Activia Light aka the lowest point value yogurt I could find.(1 point) Okay so at this point I have 11-12 (depending on veggie burger or not) remaining for the day, the number I always tried to have so I could “splurge” on dinner. Get ready for my absolute favorite part of the day, what kept me going because I knew what was at the end: Dinner: A baked sweet potato! However, it was always a small one and the idea of putting almond butter over it as I do now, would have caused me to go into hysterics. With the baked sweet potato I would enjoy a tiny apple, a WHOLE CONTAINER of plain no fat Greek yogurt (I know, woah) and a bowl of cooked spinach. Even back then, my sweet potato obsession was still quite evident, I am fairly certain I will never get sick of this wonderful vegetable Total for dinner: sweet potato= 3, spinach= 1, apple= 1, yogurt=1 –> 6 points! Okay so 7 left for the day, time to have a great dessert right? Ha no. I would set my goal to leave at least 4-5 un eaten points for the day and my night time snack was pretty much always a measured cup of Fiber One original cereal and some grapes= 2 points. Total for a typical day in the life of Tessa: 16 points, supposed to eat AT LEAST 22, calorie estimate= not entirely sure but less than a 1,000. Oh and I would like to mention that I was also hardcore exercising a minimum of an hour per day. I honestly feel upset right now, that I allowed such habits to consume me… that I thought I was so strong for taking in close to ZERO grams of fat (if any), minimal amounts of protein, and limited amounts of carbohydrates. And you know how I felt during this point in my life? Angry, frustrated, pissed off, incredibly tired, weak, anxious, and just plain sad. My body was depleting before my very eyes, I was becoming a shadow of the thriving woman I used to be… But I so strongly believed that I was doing what is best, I was finally losing weight and no longer would be the tall, big person in the room! There is a clear correlation here- the more I restricted, the more unhappy and physically unhealthy I became…. hmm I am sensing a connection!
Why I am talking about this all today is because I have successfully broken away from a counting system, a feat I did not believe were possible. But as I discussed last week, I now do count calories (loosely) because in my mind I kinda want to know, how much I am taking in. Now it is a completely different approach as I am making sure that I don’t go over, but also that I consume ENOUGH calories.
Now I eat more than twice this amount, sometimes up to 60 grams or more of fat per day, something I wouldn’t have even dreamed of about a year ago! I also take some rest days, no longer give it my all every.single.workout, have gained some weight…. and you know what? I am at a much happier place in my life. That thriving woman is slowly but surely making her presence known again (yay for third person).
Although the process of recovery is rather terrifying sometimes (I won’t lie, it is), it has also been extremely gratifying to see how far I have come, and how much more I have to look forward to.
Please tell me…
1.) Do you think that Weight Watchers should have some sort of disclaimer for their program? I do. I don’t know how they would even phrase this, but I believe they should make it clear that if you have a somewhat obsessive personality you should at least you discretion. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but I just wonder what my life would be like now without having joined the program…
2.) On that note, do you tend to obsessive about things easily?
3.) Just answer this question if you would like Because it is WIAW, what is the best thing you have eaten in the past 7 days?! I had some rather delicious PUMPKIN ICE CREAM the other night
Have a great rest of your Wednesdays! I will be creepin on all of your blogs in between studying and such