A surprising thing happened between last Wednesday and this Wednesday. I’ve been working with a nutritionist for a couple months thanks to a program through work. I started at about the same time I started training for my half-marathon. At our first meeting we went through my goals and efforts I’ve made before in terms of weight management. I explained that I don’t want to make any changes I can’t maintain. I don’t want to measure food. I don’t want to count calories. I’ve already eliminated a lot of the food pyramid just by being vegan and I want to figure out how to be a healthier vegan in hopes that will also adjust my weight. I’m not aiming to lose 40 lbs. I just want to lose the excess I’ve been carrying around…maybe 10 or 15? But I’m feeling happy with myself generally and I’m willing to take small steps. We came up with a general plan and one of those step was to weigh myself each week and update her with the number. I like to be held accountable in this way.
I’ve been doing that every week for a few months. The number would go up a pound, down a pound. Up two pounds, down a pound. In the meantime, I was running, doing core exercises and taking dance classes. I was flummoxed that the weight wasn’t dropping but also not dwelling on it a great deal. I knew that I ate a lot of bread. I snacked on cookies. I ate my vegan ice cream. It’s not as if I was limiting myself in some great way, so maybe I shouldn’t be flummoxed about the scale. In the meantime, my clothes were fitting a touch better. That was progress.
At the second meeting, the nutritionist took my measurements in order to have more than one method of tracking change in my body since the scale wasn’t doing much. Shortly after this meeting, I had my yearly visit with my nurse practitioner, where I learned my triglycerides had dropped by over 55 points and my weight by 5 lbs. All the other numbers were normal, too. I took this as a terrific development and more important than scale numbers, considering the scale is vanity more than anything else. The numbers for what’s going on inside my body are certainly more important than the number on the scale.
I met with the nutritionist last week. The scale had gone up a pound, I believe. I had kept a very general food diary the week before, at her request, and I was to bring that with me when we met. Looking through my food diary, it was clear why I was having trouble with the scale. I had french fries twice that week. And a vegan pizza. And some tortilla chips with refried beans. And bagels almost every morning with avocado. She took my measurements and I had lost an inch on my waist and hips, which was great news and explained why my clothes were fitting better. She went through and circled all the places where I had eaten refined carbs (anything made with flour). There were many. Nearly every day. She said, I bet if you cut out refined carbs, you’ll see the scale change. I had a million questions. I’m going to lunch today and was planning to get a sandwich. What if I get it in a spinach wrap? She informed me that wraps—particularly wraps from restaurants—are some of the worst forms of bread you can eat because of how they are made and the ingredients that keep them “edible” for a long time at restaurants. Okay, what about breakfast. I eat bagels because I like savory breakfasts. I have a vegan quiche I make with potatoes and leeks but it has a crust. It that bad? She suggested making it without the crust. Okay. Good idea. I told her that part of my struggle is I don’t prepare foods for the week so I’ll get home and just snack on something salty. We came up with a plan for that.
The following day I had a bagel for breakfast like usual but I cooked lentils, potatoes and carrots in the slow cooker overnight and had that for lunch. During the day I snacked on olives and artichoke hearts and nuts. One night, I made my crustless quiche along with some steamed veggies and my vegan broccoli and cheeze soup. I was eating SO MUCH food all week. Quiche and an apple with peanut butter for breakfast. Artichoke hearts for a mid-morning snack. Lentils, a bowl of soup AND a salad of tomatoes/artichoke hearts/olives. A banana for an afternoon snack. Maybe some more lentils in the evening (I LOVE my lentils/potatoes/carrots). Every day was like this. Some of my colleagues who are trying to lose weight were cutting calories by eating small amounts of food. I was eating so much. I felt slightly self-conscious at lunch, sitting at my computer surrounded by bowls of food.
I woke on Wednesday morning to do my weekly weigh in and the number on the scale dropped by 4 lbs. It’s a digital scale and it’s known to show different numbers based on its location, so I moved it repeatedly, thinking it couldn’t be right, but the number did not change. 4 pounds simply by cutting down (not even eliminating because we know how I feel about eliminating) refined carbs. I don’t expect that kind of a weight drop each week because my appetite changes from day to day, too, and there was at least one day when I ran last week and then had an apple and peanut butter for dinner because I wasn’t that hungry. That doesn’t happen terribly often…more common is me eating all day long. But knowing that such a change is possible even while eating a lot of food is heartening.