Sunday, February 12, 2012

Day 1,253 Really-It's Not About The Food: A Blog Post All About Food

Day 1,253

Really-It's Not About The Food: A Blog Post All About Food

It's completely natural for some to inquire of me about the food I eat. I've said countless times, "it's not about the food" and it isn't. The successful formula for me involved shifting a major portion of my focus from the food and exercise and squarely on me and my behaviors, compulsions, and downright abuse of food--and as a result, myself.

I knew I needed better eating habits. I knew I needed to make better choices. But had I decided to make all of those changes on Day 1, the natural evolution of good choices wouldn't have occurred.

Instead, I would have been struggling from the start, trying to be something I wasn't: A responsible eater who doesn't try to medicate and comfort emotions with food. A person who eats normal portions at appropriate times for acceptable reasons (Because I'm hungry and it's time to eat).

My focus was 80% on the mental dynamics and 20% on the food and exercise. This was an important ratio and difference maker. Taming and training me to be my own best friend instead of my own worst enemy meant getting tough with myself in regards to excuses and rationalizations for bad choices. My Calorie Bank and Trust required me to eat everyday within the bounds of my budget. The focus wasn't on what made up those calories, it was all about keeping myself honest in my calories "spent." The CB&T couldn't do its job without rigorous self-honesty about my consumption.

What happened along the way wasn't premeditated. I truly stumbled onto a dynamic that turned into a powerful blessing I would eventually recognize, analyze, and understand. In an effort to get the most value for my calories available--I had to make better choices along the way. My approach with food became fun. As I would find lower calorie ways to enjoy the foods I loved, I also discovered wonderful choices I wouldn't have considered trying, ever.

And so began this gradual evolution of good choices. My eating habits today are worlds apart from where they were on Day 1. And the most important thing to consider is this: The choices I made and make, work for me--based on what I know about me.

You see--The greatest education we gain along this road isn't really about food and different exercises. That stuff is awesome knowledge to pick up as we go--But the most important--the critical elements involve learning about ourselves. What can we eat? Are we diabetic or allergic to gluten? And what about the very real physiological reactions certain foods create within us? Yes, oh yes---I'm talking about (cue the ominous music), trigger foods.

What I've learned and continue learning about me and food is exclusive to me. You must learn what you can and can't allow within your own limits. And if you do this self-study, while focusing on the mental dynamics keeping you consistent in your journey, then you too will develop an amazing understanding unlike any previous weight loss attempt.

Do I have trigger foods? Of course!!! We all do, don't we? I've learned of a list, exclusive to me--and it's a developing list, and I'm ready to add to it at anytime. This is what I know about my trigger foods:

A jar of peanut butter requires an enormous struggle within me to keep from eating hundreds of calories worth of its creamy delicious goodness. I don't buy it for me. And if a jar is in my house, I'm aware of where it is at all times--and I know, if I want to lose control--All I need to do is grab a spoon and unscrew the cap. The only way I can safely enjoy peanut butter is in a pre-portioned single serve package.

I refuse to ever allow a large carton of ice cream in my freezer. Could my resolve to be a normal portion-responsible eater really be strong enough to dip out a serving into a bowl--put the carton back in the freezer--and enjoy a serving of this amazing stuff? Probably. But I'm not taking any chances. Once the spoon digs in--with this stuff, I temporarily go insane. I would certainly snap back only after the damage was done. And the least of the damage would be physical--in fact, I likely wouldn't notice a physical difference from one single ice cream meltdown--But oh my--the mental damage is too much. I can't trust myself around it, so I don't allow it, period. I do enjoy single serving Skinny Cow products from time to time--and I'm still a big proponent of the low-fat vanilla soft serve cone and the junior size low fat frozen yogurt twist on a cake cone at my local ice cream and dairy store. But these are the limits I must set and strictly abide--for me. Because I know me very well.

Cottage cheese. Oh my--I love this stuff. I occasionally buy a carton and I occasionally eat too much of it. I once (in the last six months) consumed over 500 calories worth in one sitting. I think that was the last time I bought a carton. For me--it's best I enjoy a small serving included with my meal in a controlled setting.

Do I have other trigger foods? Yep--I'm sure...And again, I'm always learning about what I can and can't do with regards to food.

My main point to this: My choices can't be anyone's but mine. When someone request a menu from me or mentions simply eating exactly what I did along the way--I try to nicely relate this truth.

If what is wanted is a temporary solution to our weight and food issues--then, perfect--I'll send over 1500 calorie menus right away (not really)...But if we want true and lasting change--not found overnight, but developed in a very natural way over time--with our unique requirements and limitations considered, then we don't need a special menu plan--we simply need to take the time to get to know ourselves better.

Remember--"Good Choices" doesn't mean perfect choices. "Good Choices" evolve in the direction of your effort and attention, slow and steady---and then one day you look back and realize---Your habits and behaviors with food have dramatically changed in the most natural and least struggling kind of way. And they did--because you allowed it to happen naturally over time with what's right and good for you. And these changes are now, so rock solid--It feels almost impossible to ever go back. In fact, it is possible to relapse, of course--as it is with any addiction. But these changes in mentality can be so strong that, the old way of using and abusing food in a reckless self-destructive manner seems as foreign as not breathing. And why are they so strong? Like a craftsman who builds an amazing piece one painstaking move at a time to assure quality craftsmanship in his work--these changes you're making have been and continue to be, just as important. It's this kind of attention making your transformation deep and very special, one of a kind.

You're a craftsman of the you you've always dreamed. Take great pride in your work. You deserve it, my friend.

The following is a bunch of pictures of food I've recently enjoyed. Again--it's not about the food. I offer these pictures as a way to compare what's possible along this road. Just as we look at "before" pictures and appreciate the contrast from today--these "in progress" food pictures represent a giant contrast from the many full plates of the days leading up to today and a sharper contrast from my morbidly obese five hundred pound past.

Thank you for reading. Goodnight and...

Good Choices,
Sean

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A typical weekend breakfast these days. When I have a little more time to prepare--scrambled eggs (with some whole eggs and egg whites used), turkey bacon, some red potatoes, and a 45 calorie slice of wheat toast. Comes in at right around 350 calories.

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If I'm allowing a little more calories for breakfast, like I occasionally do on weekends--I'll sometimes make something like this--A cheese and turkey bacon egg white omelet with mushrooms. Even with the added cheeses (three kinds), the calorie count of this amazing omelet (thanks to the egg whites) is only 275 calories.

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These egg white low calorie pita "breakfast tacos" are amazing. And for me--very convenient when I'm in a rush to get to the studio. And best of all--they're adjustable. If I want one for 125 calories--I can do it with three egg whites, some mushrooms, and a 60 calorie Joseph's pita. If I want to bulk it up like the top picture here--I can do four egg whites and add a 50 calorie slice of mozzarella. Even "bulked up," we're still talking just under 200 calories. The filling protein of this breakfast creation keeps me full the entire morning.

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Having several snacks ready to go for later in the day is a habit I've developed over the course of my transformation. These pictures represent staples for me: Baby carrots, apple slices, bananas, yogurt--and yes, the occasional--but rare serving of baked nacho cheese Doritos...Oh my--they're so tasty.

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One of the biggest changes in my natural food selection is my acceptance and willingness to try vegetables I spent a lifetime avoiding for no good reason--other than, they weren't pizza and cheeseburgers. This loaded grill--full of veggie kabobs was amazing. And the calorie count was astonishingly low!! If you consumed every veggie pictured on this grill--You would have a hard time exceeding 200 calories. That's cool.

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Did somebody say PIZZA!!! Oh yes---I've been occasionally enjoying these pizzas made with Joseph's Pitas all along this transformation road. I love pizza. Let me say that again: I LOVE PIZZA...and this low calorie alternative is delicious and well within the bounds of any calorie budget. And like everything else--completely adjustable to my liking and calorie budget limitations. Pictured here is dinner one night--Kelly reminded me I hadn't made her one of my signature pita pizzas--so I did...I made her two and me two. And using veggies and one 50 calorie slice of mozzarella on each, the plate with the pieces all cut up---checks in at 275 calories TOTAL. I occasional dine out on pizza---when I do, I simply insist on thin crust for me and I stick to veggie toppings. This strategy is still more calories than making them at home--but it works for me in the situation. Funny thing is: Even at my heaviest, my favorite pizza out was thin crust-veggie.

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This is two ounces of whole wheat pasta and a single serving of sauce. It looks like a bunch--and it was a bunch---and still amazingly under 300 calories.

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A serving is two ounces. This was the weighed portion for the two of us recently.

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This is Olive Garden. I recently made a business trip to Tulsa with Kelly where we dined reasonably and responsibly. The trick here is asking for the Garden Fare Menu. You must ask for it--and they'll bring you the calorie count for almost everything. This beautiful pasta dish is 310 calories. It was the lunch portion of Linguini Ala Marinara. The stuffed mushrooms were 280 for the whole order--140 each. And the famous Olive Garden Breadsticks? Not pictured, but I had a half of one for 75 calories. (I think it's very interesting that an Olive Garden Breadstick and a Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit both have the same calorie count--150.) I also enjoyed a few croutons (50 calories) picked from the salad and some minestrone soup (100 calories). By the way--if you're allergic to gluten--they have gluten free selection on the garden fare menu!!

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I love beef tacos. I found these amazing little taco shells for 35 calories each. They're made with white corn from La Tiara. They're gluten free, only 4 carbs, and 35 calories each. With the meat lettuce, cheese and olives---we're talking an entire taco for about 100 calorie a piece. I can handle that! And they're so incredibly delicious!!

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Kelly prepared this amazing meal recently for me, mom, Courtney, and Bradley. It's the most incredible Turkey meatloaf with roasted red potatoes and asparagus---all cooked outside on the grill!

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One of my favorite things is chicken pot pie. I've largely stayed away out of concern for poor calorie values. Kelly understood my concerns and prepared a wonderful, filling, and delicious pot pie that wasn't loaded with extra calories. The potatoes and crust were the most (and still not too bad at all)--but the veggie filling and "sauce" (97% fat free cream of chicken soup) made it absolutely enjoyable in a portioned way!

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Surf and Turf! Shrimp is an amazing calorie value!!!! This is a serving and a half of shrimp for a measly 52.5 calories. The top sirloin was one steak--prepared and cut into 4 ounce portions for 220 calories. I added another ounce to my plate, as you can see. With the half a small baked potato--and the grill roasted veggies---this entire dinner still came in at right about 450 calories!!! And since there was only one steak to buy (splitting!)--it's cheaper than the occasional steak dinner treats of the past--where I probably would have put away 16 ounces, easy. I enjoyed this plate immensely and felt amazing about it and myself, afterward.

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Dessert. This is my favorite. Fresh strawberries over a sugar-free angel food cake with a serving (or two) of Redi-Whip real whipped cream. This is deceivingly low in calories....It looks like a couple hundred or more---But the entire thing sits at a wonderful 100 calories. That's amazing and delicious and FUN!

I hope you've enjoyed the tour of recent food selections around here. And I wish you the best in your quest for your very own gradual evolution of good choices. Yours based on your likes, dislikes, required restrictions, possible allergies, trigger foods, and anything else you must learn about you and your relationship with food. Because we're all very different. And we all have the power to choose change, regardless of those differences.

I hope you'll friend me on my personal facebook page: www.facebook.com/seananderson505
And also on the facebook page for my book: www.facebook.com/transformationroad

If you haven't bought your copy of Transformation Road-My Trip To Over 500 Pounds and Back--I would love to personally sign and ship your copy! You can by yours on my website:
www.transformationroad.com
The book is also available wherever books are sold (if not in stock--they can order it for you) and at amazon.com You'll find it available for Kindle, Nook, Sony Ereaders, KOBO, and iPad iBooks.

Plus--coming soon---Transformation Road--The audio version!!! I'm thrilled to be voicing the audio version---and I must admit--It's a bunch more work than I imagined. I can't wait to finish it!!!

13 comments:

  1. Thanks so much, Sean! When I get stuck thinking of how I want to put a meal together, it can send me into a panic. Seeing photographs of your actual meals, with your explanations, really helps diminish that panic. It gives me a starting place and puts my brain back into the right place so I can THINK more clearly about choices. It's not that I don't "know how," because I think we've all acquired that over the years, but it's that frantic lack of focus that does me in. Thanks again for being a touchstone of how to do this well.

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  2. You are such a joy. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. Thanks for sharing! Now I'm off to find those La Tiara taco shells!

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  4. Sean, this is so well said. Much of a lasting weight loss takes place in stages, and we each have to learn what step we're individually ready to take. My own journey followed a different path, but I've ended up with similar findings.

    Best of wishes in everything -- and congratulations on the book!

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  5. I can tell you put a lot of effort into this post and I really like the balance of info. with the advice on what we all have to figure out for ourselves. It's really the only way to go and the only thing that makes sense to me.

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  6. Yes, thank you so much Sean; your writings are such an inspiration to me. And your food ideas along with calorie counts and pictures are such an added boost of help and encouragement. Meal by meal, morsel by morsel at times...the journey is comprised of making right choices bite by bite sometimes. Your ideas have helped me so much. Thanks for taking the time to help us and thank you for thinking of us out here as "friends". It means so much to me in this struggle of mind over matter...mind over what matters in life. As I have said before, I am so thankful to have had the privilege of meeting you and talking to you when you signed my book. I am going to get to my goal weight this year!!

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  7. Fantastic explanation, Sean, of the way you started and evolved in your choices. And that no one should try to "duplicate" you exactly, but do their own self-study. Wonderful way to look at it. We all have a lot in common, yet so much needs to be individualized. I hope more people continue to discover your book... they will be so glad they did!

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  8. At any other point in my life I would not have agreed with this idea that food was not the issue, but that has changed dramatically in me in the last 6 weeks. I have done hours of journaling after reading your book and I know that I can look at the pictures of what you eat and make that my plan too and it will change nothing for ME. I can and do relate to so much of what you say, but I have had to look at why I have overeaten personally, and learn to stand up to myself and hold myself accountable. I've had to learn to have tough love with myself when I have those crazy food thoughts suddenly shoot through my mind, uninvited. The other day I was feeling so good and on plan and I drove by Dunkin Donuts and all of a sudden I had the strongest urge for a donut. And not just one. It felt like that old craving was going to win and I pulled the car over in the parking lot and just stared at Dunkin', not really knowing what to do. So I started talking outloud to myself, sort of like a parent talking to child. I said "Nope, you cannot have that donut, no matter how much you pitch a fit and scream for one. You are not a victim anymore and the FOOD does not call your name and you rush to answer. You think you want a donut but what you WANT is a much sweeter, happier, healthier life up ahead. One that gives you the ablity to live and do whatever you want to do. One that allows you to dream and feel HOPE. I refuse to let you settle for 30 seconds of fleeting pleasure followed by regret, dispair and much more bingeing before you come back to your senses, fatter and defeated. Nope, you are not getting that donut today. One day you may be here and able to have a donut and cup of coffee with a friend, but that day is not today." And I drove off and the craving was gone.

    Sean I can't tell you what a powerful moment that was. I am 58 this year and I have been bingeing since I was 8. So this is my 50th anniversary of overating even though I did lose from 378 down to 283. I have gone on down to 262 since reading your book and have no doubt I will complete this journey now. I have an iron-clad commitment and a plan and I have never felt shaken to my core as I did when I read your book or this blog. I know I needed to be shaken that deeply to get to the heart of what was wrong and face those fears.

    My change is coming from the inside out and I am finally doing the work necessary to make that happen. It's not easy but the thing that has blown me away is how JOYful this journey is. I do not feel deprived at all... I feel incredibly grateful for a chance to change before change chose me.

    And even though I appreciate getting some meal ideas for my plan from your pictures, I know that I have had to look at my own trigger foods and put them on hold. But I do allow myself certain things I love, but in moderation and keep it under my calorie count limit. So I feel like I am not on a diet at all. You have taught me so much and I appreciate you more than you know Sean. 10 years from now I wonder how many of might not have been here if we hadn't read your book and became determined to have a better life ahead, and were finally willing to truly change, not just go on another diet. Sean, my friend, thank you from my heart.

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  9. My friends--wow. After reading these comments--I'm emotional---seriously touched. Thank you so much for the gift you've given me. I'm not sure you realize how much your words fuel me--and give me even more of a reason to continue doing what I do here-in books, and speaking...Thank you for giving me the opportunity to truly live and work my absolute passion.

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  10. Shirlyjean's heartfelt comment brought tears to my eyes. So moving...

    I just KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will not only be helping to change lives, you will be saving lives. I'm going to add a badge in my sidebar for your book, and send them to your website (if you want it directed elsewhere, just let me know).

    Loretta

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  11. Wow, been a long time since I came by... And you have a book! Well done Sean. You are an inspiration.

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  12. The food looks yummy and I can tell...healthy. Just wrote about you today on my blog over at Sparkpeople.com. (http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_journal.asp?id=MAGGIEROSEBOWL)I talked about fat prejudice. I read your book, and there was a part where you talked about the remote you did at Walmart, and eating breakfast there (I said it was a bagel, not sure if that was right, but I knew it was something some people might perceive as not being healthy) and about the guy making the derogatory comment about the fat guy eating. Of course you were losing weight, unbeknownst to the smart A$$, and were going to figure your bagel (or whatever it was) into your 1,500 calorie bank for the day. Those nasty comments are something we've all dealt with in our fat pasts and as a very thin-skinned formerly fat woman, it was very hard to deal with for me. I hurt easily and felt humiliated and embarrassed as well.

    Anyhow....I also put a mention in there about your book and your blog. I figure people there can benefit from reading what you write, just as I have.

    I especially liked your pictures from Olive Garden because I just finished my own lunch and it was OG fare. I drove out there Sat. and got two salad and soup luncheons to-go. They are $6.99 each. I had the first salad for my lunch on Saturday. I get the low-fat Italian dressing, tastes just like the real full-fat dressing. I hold the croutons, but I add some REAL Parmesan cheese, not that grated kind they give you in the little packet. I like my Parmesan shredded. It's a real low-cal lunch. I had to cook for the family on Sunday, so didn't eat any of my OG food. But I ate the second salad for lunch today at work, and have both bowls of soup in the fridge in the coffee room down the hall, and will have one bowl tomorrow for lunch and the other bowl for lunch on Wed. For $14, I got four delicious low-cal meals. But now I want to go back and eat IN the restaurant and try that pasta you had--it looks delicious! I throw the breadsticks in the trash however. I don't like their breadsticks much, so I don't waste any of my calories there. I do eat the little chocolate however. It's only 25 calories and so yummy! They put a mini chocolate in the to-go meals too!

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  13. "It's not about the food." When I grasp that concept, half the battle will be won. When looking at all of those wonderful food pics, there is no way anyone can say you deprive yourself of anything! That is the best part of your transformation in my humble opinion. So many believe they have to give up food they love, when all any of us need to do is use self control, and have the will and determination to stick to our plan. I am working hard to get back there. I'm not giving up. Thanks again for everything Sean.

    God Bless You friend!

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