The baby turned 18 months old yesterday. His babbling is peppered with "Mine!" and "'Elp-bee! 'Elp-bee!" and "DOG DOG DOG DOG DOG." He answers Yes and No, tells us when he needs a new diaper, uses forks and spoons and regular cups like an expert. He is coming right along.
It is time for me to stop making off-hand remarks to Mark and other people about how frustrated I am that I have not yet gotten back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I think it is happening kind of on its own, but very slowly. The number of pounds left to lose is not terribly large -- about eight pounds -- and honestly, it isn't a bad place to be; I think I look fairly normal. But I'm longing to get back into my old clothes, which are tantalizingly, only one size away. I've held off buying a new wardrobe in the larger size that I've been wearing for most of a year.
But these yoga pants are not going to last forever. Eventually I either have to get back to the old size, or buy clothes that fit me now.
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It isn't so much the need to go on a crash diet as it is the need to refocus on my lifetime maintenance habits, with strict enough attention to calories that I can't fool myself. I never really have emerged from the "eating for two" mindset, and if I want to eat for one in the future, I need to remind myself exactly what it looks like and feels like.
I know what this takes: single-minded attention that prioritizes the Calorie Project above all else. (See this category if you don't believe me.) Mark knows what it takes too: a lot of support from him. For example, I'm going to cut out alcohol with dinner for six weeks, and he will help by not opening bottles of wine or offering me a beer with dinner.
So together we looked at the calendar and picked out a roughly six-week period this summer: July 21 through September 3. There's not a whole lot going on for us in there, and it seems like a good time to try.
I have been thinking of it as the "put up or shut up" block. It isn't good for me to be constantly fretting about still carrying around extra weight, but not making the commitment to do something about it. At the same time, I'm not ready just to say "oh well, I guess this is my size now" until I've achieved some closure by taking a real stab at it.
So, I keep saying: "I'll work on it for six weeks, and then I'll stop complaining about the extra weight."
And Mark keeps reminding me: "You know, if you really do work on it, you might actually lose the weight."
And I reply: "Well, then, I hope I do stop complaining about it."
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I must prepare for this.
I have so much less disposable time than I did the last time I focused. I need a strategy that does not rely on me laboriously counting each day's worth of calories the night before. Hence, I am going to try for meal-at-a-time counting, which I can do pretty well on the fly, and shooting for 400 calories at each meal.
And I need serious meal planning, ideally of all six weeks at once. I started by sitting down with a calendar and methodically working out the following information: there will be
- 11 evenings that we have to eat quickly and then go to the gym
- 6 Sunday cheese-and-cracker suppers
- 5 date nights
- 5 ordinary Saturday evenings
- 4 ordinary Friday evenings (similar to Saturdays, but meatless)
- 4 consecutive evenings with Mark out of town
- 4 weeknights after busy days
- 3 dinners I take to H's house
- 3 dinners provided by H
Then I considered family favorite meals and consulted a couple of 400-calorie-meal-plans to come up with ideas. I rejected all meals that I usually compulsively eat more of (e.g., homemade garlic-bread-crumb-topped macaroni and cheese).
Repeats are okay, and some things can't be planned, so I came up with something less than the corresponding number of dinners for each type.
- Chile cheese egg bake, salad, and a cooked green vegetable
- Sweet and sour cabbage salad, kielbasa, and mashed potato
- Skillet gyros (it's just ground beef and oregano), pita bread, and Greek salad
- Turkey BLTs (that is, deli turkey plus real bacon -- no turkey bacon), broccoli, and apples
- Slow cooker tortilla soup, limited chips, and fruit salad
- Southwest corn and bean chowder with ham, limited cornbread
Ordinary Saturday evenings:
- Yogurt-marinated chicken on the grill, sliced cucumber salad, pita bread, cooked greens
- Grilled steak, corn on the cob, tomato salad, melon
- Moroccan-spiced grilled chicken, couscous, salad of sliced radishes and oranges
- Hamburger patties, on buns for everyone else, cooked green vegetable, carrot salad
Ordinary Friday evenings:
- Minestrone soup, fruit salad, and a limited supply of parmesan pita toasts.
- Cheese tortellini with red/yellow/green peppers.
- Tilapia fish tacos with pineapple chunks, cabbage slaw, and guacamole.
Mark out of town:
- Grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade tomato soup for kids. Soup, cheese, crackers for me.
- Roasted chicken legs, fruit salad, bread and butter, and cooked green vegetable.
- Baked teriyaki chicken breasts, white rice, kale, oranges.
- Rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, sweet potatoes, broccoli.
- Deli turkey sandwiches with asiago cheese, apples, almonds, and chips.
Meals taken to H's:
- Crockpot hili over whole wheat spaghetti with shredded cheddar, french-cut frozen green beans
- Crockpot salsa chicken in brown rice bowl with cheddar, cilantro, beans, corn, lettuce.
Date nights and cheese-and-cracker suppers don't need a plan as much as a strategy:
- For the date nights, it has always worked well to split everything with Mark in about a 2-to-1 ratio.
- For cheese-and-cracker suppers, I'll make sure I have my own little three-ounce portion of some nice blue cheese, a couple tablespoons of fig preserves, and some Triscuits, and not touch any of the other stuff. I know my blue cheese is safe from everyone else at the table, so that should work. Or I'll have my own three ounces of lox and a couple tablespoons of cream cheese. A pot of decaf coffee already brewed will help, too, for the end.
I'll plan each week in more detail when I sit down to make the grocery list, but at least I have already done the work of identifying meals. For breakfast and lunch I will probably employ the same-thing-every-day-for-a-week strategy. I guess I'll check in on that later. For now, it's business as usual.