Monday, March 15, 2010

Hara Hachi Bu and Other BS

I didn't quit Weight Watchers. I have to be totally honest, I never thought I would join any sort of weight loss program, so when I did the "free trial" for Weight Watchers a week ago, I never considered that I might actually decide to stick with it. But here I was at dinner tonight, using the mobile app on my iphone to calculate my points and decide whether or not I could have a second helping of soup, or how many croutons I could put in my salad. And the fact that I was doing this was exactly how I figured out that I can't quit yet.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.

I lost four pounds. I don't mean for this blog to be all about weight loss, but this has kind of taken over my life this week. We've been eating at home, and fairly healthy meals, but I've found that the hardest part is cutting out snacking and practicing some serious portion control. The Okinawans say "hara hachi bu," which means eat until you feel 80% full. But I have no idea what that really means. Stuffed full? 80% not hungry? That's why I'm currently addicted to my points calculator; I need it to tell me when I'm done because I can't seem to figure out when I should stop on my own.

I was really proud of myself for managing to make every meal at home since we got back from San Diego, and decided we needed to celebrate with a grown-up date night. So Chris and I went out on Sunday for dinner and a movie. We went to Macaroni Grill and got two meals to share between us, the first a relatively healthy meal with grilled chicken and veggies, and the second a delicious pasta, loaded with creamy sauce. I thought it was kind of genius, actually, and got to enjoy some really yummy food while cutting my feelings of guilt in half. And actually, I didn't feel guilty at all since I had saved up all of my "weekly points" as a splurge, and still only went through about a quarter of what I was allotted. But I think Chris might have been happier if we had also gotten some popcorn at the movie theater.

I read Food Rules, an Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan and found it interesting, if not entirely helpful. The book is a collection of 64 rules of thumb related to what and how to eat. Here are a few of my favorites:

Eat food (plants, animals and fungi, not processed, food-like substances)
-Eat only foods that will eventually rot.
-If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.
-It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car.

Mostly plants
-Eating what stands on one leg [mushrooms and plant foods] is better than eating what stands on two legs [fowl], which is better than eating what stands on four legs [cows, pigs and other mammals].
-Eat your colors.
-Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.
-Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you cook it yourself [think about french fries, potato chips, ice cream].

Not too much (slow down, moderate your eating and enjoying it more) 
-Spend as much time eating the meal as it took to prepare it.
-Buy smaller plates and glasses.
-No snacks, no seconds, no sweets- except on days that begin with the letter S.

I don't know how much all of these rules and point calculations are really helping to create long-term success, but I do know that I am at least slowly developing a few healthy habits. And that's what this is all about, right?

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