Why Must Italian Food Torture Me So????? a/k/a How I Survived Saturday Night!

In my last post I gave an introduction to who I am, this blog, and what I am doing here, although, it DID end up being a little bit longer than I initially intended.  Whoops! It is also my goal to try to check in on a pretty regular basis to talk about what is going on in my world (what isn’t, these days) and chronicle my struggles with getting the number on the scale lower and getting my exercise ramped up.  So, let’s just jump right in, shall we?

One of the things that I find so debilitating about  trying to lose weight is that I truly just enjoy food. I love the texture and taste of new foods, and enjoy nothing more than gathering with friends and loved ones over a good meal, with a bottle of wine to catch up, laugh and enjoy each other’s company.  Such a gathering is made even better when the food is prepared with butter, is rich in cheeses and lots of flavor.  Doesn’t it just sound heavenly?

In my pre-WW phase, when I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, regardless of the calories or health consequences, I would look with anticipation toward a night out with friends or loved ones, in one of my favorite places in the world, an Italian Restaurant. Let’s face it, though, now that I’m counting Points, and watching (and writing down) everything I eat, it became  hard for what my mind knew to expect at such an outing to reconcile with my new reality, i.e., spending the entire time counting the points for my food and drink.

When Patrick and I decided to eat at Tuscany this past Saturday night, I was filled with a combination of glee at going to an excellent Italian restaurant, apprehension at the thought of having to pass on my favorite dishes because they would be too many Points, and the tiny little devil part of my brain that was whispering “you only live once, if you want to splurge, do it!”  Add on that I’m working diligently to increase my veggie intake at every meal to balance out my proteins and starches, and I began to think I wasn’t going to be able to eat anything worth eating at the restaurant

In the past, when faced with such a conundrum, my inner devil voice would always win out, with a good heap of self-imposed guilt topped on the next day, just for shits and giggles. I would think in my head “oh, it’s only one meal, it won’t hurt too much” as I order multiple glasses of wine, an appetizer, salad with what I’m sure is a corony-inducing amount of dressing on it, pasta covered in cheese and dessert, while my rational mind knew that I wasn’t making the decision that was right for me. I would ignore the healthy part of my brain that was trying to shout out “hey Kelly, this is NOT a good idea, and I know your body and I know you’re not going to be able to eat all this food, much less need to eat it,” literally tuning myself out. As a result, I didn’t think twice about what I was doing until I was done scarfing my dinner down, feeling like I was going to explode and regretting everything I had shoveled into my mouth.

Since I’ve started this process of attending WW meetings, and consciously trying to make these changes, I’ve been trying hard to take a long, hard look at why I make certain choices with respect to food and drink, and trying to self-analyze the reasons behind it, so that I can change. (Note 1: Self-analysis is cheaper than therapy, not necessarily easier.) (Note 2: This is hardly something new to me since I joined WW…..I have always known that I’m an emotional eater and a stress eater, and that I needed to find another way to cope with those emotions.) I simply feel that I am finally at a place where my head and my heart are reconciled with the fact that I need to re-train my own brain not to work against me, and not to flood my head with the memories of wonderful meals past that I can no longer have, but to focus instead on what I know is going to make me feel good today.

Why, you say? Because at the end of the day, after binge-eating my go-to comfort foods, in portions that are 3 and 4 times the size of what I should be having, I always feel like fucking shit.  I’m sorry if that language offends anyone, but it is truly the way that I feel and nothing else will express it in quite the appropriate way.  I feel bloated, tired, gross, can barely move, and will likely end the day with heartburn or a mild case of diarrhea.  About 30 minutes after I finish gorging, my brain starts functioning again and the healthy part of my head tells me that I made a bad choice. In the past, I would just ignore myself and move on, without looking at why I ate in such a way. But now I am trying to figure these things out, and listen to what my body truly needs versus what I want to put into it.

I’ve been trying to track when my body gets hungry, and how I feel after I’ve eaten.  For example, I know that I inevitably need a small snack at 3pm….I also know that eating  humus and carrots for said snack is going to (a) satisfy my hunger at 3:00 p.m., (2) not unnecessarily use my remaining Points for the day; and (c) give me the energy that I need to finish with my day  before I can get home and cook dinner.  I’ve also been journaling what my head has told me I have a craving for, and if I made it out alive without giving in. I know that the pull of the drive-thru can be intoxicating, at times, and provide a quick fix to what my body is telling me I want right at that second, but if I refuse to give in and waste 25 points on a value meal that I would previously have called a “snack” I feel better and, miracle of miracles, don’t gain 5lbs that day!

All of this self-exploration leads, of course, to our night out on Saturday at Tuscany.   We had to make an appearance at a birthday party for a friend of Patrick’s for dinner, and thus our reservation for dinner ended up being at 8:30 p.m.  I did a little time backtracking in my head and figured that if I ate a later-than-usual lunch, I would still be full from lunch at the party and would not gorge on whatever they were serving, and be just the right level of hungry by the time dinner rolled around. I was, for the most part, accurate on this score, although I *did* indulge in a few Doritos at the party.  Thanks to the guys  who were also there, though, I was only able to get a few chips in my mouth before the bags were devoured and gone altogether (hey, better them than me).

The next step was for me to survive the ordering process at Tuscany….”focus, Kelly, focus” was my mantra for the night. I knew I had about 22 Points left to spare for the day for the meal without even dipping into my weekly Points allowance. We got seated at the restaurant, I allowed myself a glass of white wine (2 Points) and began to peruse the menu, checking out the specials and paying attention (silently, in my head, of course, to how hungry my body was and what I was really looking for for dinner). The menu listed a special that sounded divine…..grilled beef tenderloin with gouda cheese, and a wild mushroom reduction, with a horseradish risotto. (Patrick had the seafood linguine special, gout be damned.) We had discussed an appetizer, but once I decided what to eat for my entrée, decided to pass on it and just eat the meal.  When our dinners came, the dish looked fantastic,  and was pretty good…the risotto was a bit heavy, and the meat could have been slightly rarer, but all in all, very good flavors.  The size of the dish, though, was grotesque (actually served on a platter), had 3 large slices of tenderloin and half a platter of risotto. Before I even started eating, I put half of the meal to the side so that I would not eat it then and there, and take it home instead. I found that by eating only half the meal, I was comfortably full and satisfied, AND I had enjoyed myself and the meal.  I “guestimated” on the number of points in my meal, came in where I wanted to be, and felt comfortable that I had enough points to have a little bit of dessert, thus having half a chocolate cannoli that I split with Patrick.

By the end of the evening, I had enjoyed 2 glasses of wine, eaten only half my meal, had half a dessert, and felt better leaving a restaurant than I had in ages, because I had been successful in accomplishing my TRUE goals for the evening, i.e., having a good meal that I enjoyed the taste and look of, in a healthy portion size. I was able to turn off the little devil voice, and the reality won out — no, eating the entire entrée would NOT have made me feel good, it would have made me sick.  And likely would have added 5 pounds to my already substantial ass.  (Immediately start singing “I like big butts and I cannot lie” to yourself…..)

All in all, instead of looking at the big picture of how much weight I want/need to lose overall, I found that taking it one day at a time got me through just fine.  By slowing down and listening to myself, thinking clearly about what I wanted to eat at that moment, I was able to make a decent decision.  Because at the end of the day, Maggie is right — I’m not a hermit, I’m not going to sit inside my house and never leave again, and its better that I learn to live in the real world in the right way than create a fake world that won’t get me anywhere.  Tomorrow, Wednesday, is weigh-in day, so I guess we’ll really see how “good” I was this week and how making a decent decision translates to numbers on the scale. Regardless of whether I lose weight, stay the same, or gain a little, I know that I did something that freaked me out (eating out while on WW and not indulging) and I did it successfully! It’s just one small step in a journey that I hope lasts me a lifetime.


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