Lazy assumptions

I got an email last night to the email address associated with this blog.

It was from a casting agent, looking for couples to sign up for an “Extreme Makeover Show” for cable TV in the US.

The details of the email seem to suggest that the show will involve people getting plastic surgery, and that the makeover would somehow solve any relationship issues between the couple involved.

First off, I have a real problem with the notion that the way people look has any bearing on the success or otherwise of a relationship. People may be initially attracted to each other because of their appearance, but relationship problems between a couple are rarely down to how someone looks – they’re mostly to do with how they treat each other – and that can’t be fixed with a face lift!

Secondly, I dislike the idea that the casting agent has targeted me with their email solely because I run a weight-loss blog. I haven’t ever talked that much about body image, and I’ve never talked about the relationship with my wife – so I can only surmise that they assume I want cosmetic surgery because I’m overweight.

It’s a lazy assumption to make, and a pretty insulting one. They’re apparently starting with the premise that being fat is ugly, and therefore overweight people will jump at the chance to get surgery.

I know that some people do seek surgical help to help with weight loss, in the form of gastric bands and bypasses, and that can be very helpful in some cases. There are others that get tummy tucks and face lifts to get rid of excess baggy skin after losing a lot of weight.

But it’s a lazy assumption to presume that all overweight people want to go under the knife.

Losing my mojo

I can’t seem to get in the zone at the moment. And I’m definitely going way over my syn limits pretty much every day.

I know what I’m doing wrong, but I can’t help myself.

My only mitigation, and the one thing that stops me going crazy, is to keep going to my Slimming World class. I might be maintaining or gaining, but I know if I didn’t go to class I’d be way worse!

So by keeping going to class I can hopefully keep in a holding pattern, until I find my mojo again.

Monarch butterfly isolated on white with soft shadow

This weekend’s strategy

This weekend comes heavily laden with social occasions, which in theory could potentially be my undoing.

However, I have a plan!

Last night it was leaving drinks for a woman in my office. Most of the people going looked like they were settling in for a full night of drinking, and by all accounts they did. But I decided that I would have just one drink, ignore the platters of fried food being ordered, and head home for my low-syn dinner.

Tonight it’s my company’s annual summer barbecue. There’s free drink and food on offer, and some of the younger staff in the office are already planning which nightclub they’re going to visit afterwards. I certainly won’t be going to the after-party. I’ll be lucky to make it half way through the actual barbecue.

I’m also hoping that the barbecue has a good selection of lean meat (steak and chicken would be nice – wishful thinking) and salads, which I can dig into without a problem.

Tomorrow I have dinner out with some friends. I’ve talked before about coping strategies for eating out, but I’m not always the best at following my own advice! We have a big walk in the Dublin mountains ahead of the dinner, so hopefully that can help mitigate against any bad decisions.

Throughout all these social occasions I’m not planning to drink much. I might have the odd one or two, but I’m not going to lash into the beer. It’s just not worth it. I’d much rather reserve my calories for food!

scales

What is opportunity cost?

The term “Opportunity Cost” is something I remember from the Economics class at school.

The definition is somewhere along the lines of the loss of value or benefit of not doing something in order to achieve something else. An example of this in the world of economics is that if I decide to invest money to get a future return, then I miss out on being able to spend the money now. An example from the world of agriculture is that I forego getting a crop this year in order to let a field lie fallow and potentially increase my yield in future years.

The ‘opportunity’ is the future returns on the investment, and the ‘cost’ is not being able to spend now.

The concept is also sometimes summed up by the phrase “long term gain for short term pain”.

It can be applied quite easily to weight loss efforts, and it sometimes helps me maintain focus on what I’m trying to achieve. The opportunity cost that I have is to stop eating unhealthy foods that I might enjoy in the short term, in order to achieve my long-term goal of losing weight.

I won’t see the weight loss straight away, because it takes time to shift those pounds, so I won’t see a real-time correlation between my actions. Avoiding eating a doughnut now won’t instantly make me drop 3 pounds. I will only see those pounds go over the next couple of weeks.

And that’s why it can be so difficult to keep focused on the opportunity cost. Just ask any addict! They know that their addiction is bad for them, but they find it difficult to prioritise their long-term mental or physical health over the short-term hit of their addiction.

Many people (myself included) on a weight loss journey have an addiction – an addiction to food. They often find it difficult to avoid the short-term hit of the giant-sized piece of cheesecake in front over them over the long-term gain of a more healthy body.

So why am I talking about weight loss using an economic theory? Well, everyone has their own way of rationalising things – and this helps me. Your mileage may vary.

Sugar_Spoon

Retraining the body can by difficult

When you first change your diet to be more healthy, it can be a shock to the body.

For the last few weeks I’ve been completely off-plan, and making all the wrong choices. I was on holiday in America – and then travelling with work – and eating out all the time. It was just easier to forget about food optimising for a while, and eat what I wanted.

There were also plenty of opportunities for sugary treats and snacks between meals, and I got used to grazing on sweets, chocolate and crisps throughout the day. So it’s no wonder I managed to put on over a stone in weight in just 6 weeks!

But now that I’m back on-plan I’m finding that the change of diet is a shock to the system. Meals themselves are fine. I make sure that I have a good breakfast with lots of protein (eggs are my favourite) to keep me feeling full throughout the day, and dinners are good too, as we have a good repertoire of Slimming World free (or nearly-free) meals.

The shock comes from cutting out the bad snacks. I was used to eating rubbish, even when I wasn’t hungry. I would have a sugar crash, and crave something sweet, and I would have it – even if I was due to have a meal in the next hour or two. And I suppose it’s this sugar roller-coaster of highs and lows that I need to get away from.

I know that if I can get past this first few weeks, then my body will get used to a “new normal” of less sugar intake, and be better off for it. But until then I need to deal with the cravings.

My plan of action is to drink as much water as possible – this helps in making me feel full – and it’s useful to remind myself that thirst can sometimes be disguised as hunger pangs. So if I get a craving to eat between meals, then I reach for the water first of all, and only if it persists about 20 minutes after I’ve drunk some water will I actually eat something. My second line of attack is fruit. It’s not ideal to eat a lot of fruit, as it has natural sugars in it that could perpetuate my sugar cravings – but an apple contains a lot less sugar than a bag of wine gums!

So for now I’m managing my sugar cravings, and trying to keep an eye on my goal of weight loss. And I’m also avoid having any sugary treats in the house at all, to help me avoid temptation!