Can preparing your own meals help you eat less?


 Why do sandwiches taste better when someone else makes them? 

QuoteWhen you make your own sandwich, you anticipate its taste as you’re working on it. And when you think of a particular food for a while, you become less hungry for it later. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, for example, found that imagining eating M&Ms makes you eat fewer of them. It’s a kind of specific satiation, just as most people find room for dessert when they couldn’t have another bite of their steak. The sandwich that someone else prepares is not “preconsumed” in the same way. — Daniel Kahneman

From page 38 of the New York Times Magazine, October 2, 2011 issue.

So now I’m thinking about all of those ginormous restaurant meals that we consume. You know the ones — an appetizer that’s a meal in and of itself; followed by plates that would be used as platters in any other setting holding about 4 pounds of food crammed in between your soup, salad, and bread troughs; all topped off with a 1500-calorie, molten-chocolate-covered cake that could fuel a marathoner for a week.

And, okay, maybe you don’t eat that amount of food every time you sit down at a restaurant, but even if you skip the appetizer and the dessert and stick with the main course, the majority of those choices are two to three times what most folks need to consume at one sitting.

But maybe this line of thinking — the idea that precontemplating your food, especially as you are preparing the meal — might be a support to healthier portion sizes. What a radical notion! So, if I make it myself, I’m likely to eat less of it? Cool.

There’s another piece of this that needs an underline — the ability to eat a different food even when we’re stuffed to the eyeballs with something else. So, if I keep it to a single food or foods eaten together (and not in sequence), I might eat less? Cool.

I’m thinking about this even a step further. What if there’s a spectrum of preconsumption? Maybe sitting down to an a-la-carte, all-you-can eat meal of 50 items (think potluck supper or a buffet) is on one end; ordering off a menu is closer to the middle; microwaving some frozen entrees is starting down the other side; and self-preparing a single, complicated dish from scratch is on the other?

Food Scale-o-Meter: Not to Scale

Clicking on this chart will make it bigger.

Well, then while it will still matter what I choose from my options in each scenario, it may be that by being more aware of my propensity to eat more (and why I would) at  the MegaBuffet Smorgasbord will help prevent me from going banana crackers and having a plate of everything offered. It could also help me make better choices about whether to eat something else after I’ve finished a meal at home. (I do love me some ice cream!)


So, what do y’all think? Can preparing your own meals help you eat less? How do we incorporate this idea into life of healthy eating?

The MegaChallenge 210

Workout GearWe just wrapped up another MegaConference–and it was fantastic! About 1000 people were there (this number–uncharacteristically for me–is accurate) learning, networking, and eating gobs of buffet-style food.

As I reconnected with the folks who inspired me to undertake the MegaChallenge a couple of years ago, it occurred to me just how far down my priority list physical fitness has fallen. Yeah, I am still below goal weight. And I even manage to take long walks and work out a couple of times a month.

But it ain’t enough.

So, we have officially re-issued the MegaChallenge. Only this time the stakes are higher as is the goal. Last time we did it for the glory–and there was some of that–but we didn’t actually complete the workouts. We haven’t decided what carrot we are chasing, yet. That’s still up for discussion. We have determined the benchmark. You ready? We will complete 210 workouts before the next MegaConference. (Of course, if you read the title, you already knew that.)

So, for all y’all who want to jump on board, here’s your chance! What do you need to do? I dunno–maybe sign up in the comments? If we get significant interest (as defined by me–it is my blog, right??) I may even approach Renee over at Fatfighters about posting our progress there or some such.

Who knows? The MegaChallenge 210 may become the tipping point that turns the trend to obesity on it’s cream-filled head.

A girl can dream.

Old Year’s Resolution…

LometaThe new weight (143.5 lbs) is accurate! Whoo hooo!

Yeah. That would be some 5.5 pounds under goal weight (which I have officially maintained for 13 months)… but if you have read up on ye olde archives, you will find my constant ponderizing on the ultimate goal weight–and the likelihood of its being under 140.

Some of you might point out that it took me 5 months to lose 39 pounds and over a year to lose the next 5… and you would be right.

Some of you might point out that I have hardly paid attention to the whole fitness/weight thing over the course of 2006… and you would be right.

Some of you might point out that this news is hardly news since I didn’t step on a scale for months and when I did some 3 pounds had magically disappeared… and you would be right.

But that would mean that there are at least 3 people reading this blog… and since there are crickets in the comments box, I gotta assume that ain’t the case.

So, as I am, evidently, writing for future blog readers who will, undoubtedly, be clamoring to know just how I did this losing-of-three-pounds-without-trying magic, here goes…

I kept eating radically reasonable amounts of food and exercised when I could squeeze it in between grad school and home school and trips to see my out-of-town boy (read: a total of about 10 times in the past month).

Oh, and I didn’t do the holiday eating thing. So what if there are piles of chocolate covered somethings everywhere?? I am not hungry so I am not eating it! I did have a cookie or two and an still working on a quart of egg nog*, but I honestly haven’t been tempted to overeat.

Sound too good to be true? A couple of years ago, I would have been stormin‘ the comments with all sorts of whatevers… but it–eat less, move more–works… The catch?? You have to figure out why you are eating more and moving less before it will actually click and stick. My eating was motivated by a stress and depression. Funny, once I spent the 5 years and $15k on therapy, losing some 50 pounds was easy.

Here’s to all the folks who will be starting a new diet for the new year. I am oh, so rooting for you! I remember how impossible losing the weight seemed when I got going, and how amazing it felt to get to goal…

I wish I could blog that feeling.

*Oh my! My sis is a coffee goddess, and taught me the merits of using egg nog in lieu of milk/cream. It is equally outrageous in iced coffee and hot coffee. I am so going to mourn the end of egg nog this year.

She’s So Cool…

Yeah, I know. I am mystifyingly cool.

No kidding.

I can do grad school, homeschool, raise two kids, balance a checkbook, date real men, drive a car, stay at goal weight, and elliptical train for an entire hour without passing out.

Then, I start my heady yeah-I-just-ran-to-nowhere-for-an-entire-hour-without-passing-out walk back to the locker room only to get my headphone cord tangled up with my towel and my sweatshirt and manage to bang my Zen into my nose and draw blood.

And then one of those real men has to tell me that I have blood running down my face, ’cause I am too cool to notice it all on my own.

Now, you know just how impressive I really am.

Oh, and the run-just-prior-to-my-public-humiliation is in the books (126/200) along with another one (run not humiliation) this weekend (127/200) plus an amazing, leaf-crunching (I love fall!!), 5-mile hike (128/200).

I. Am. So. Cool. Don’t you wish you could be like me?

Stop laughing. It isn’t funny.


Welcome Back Old Friend…

It is no secret that I haven’t been the best about going to the gym since I hit goal weight/got the divorce. Frankly, I have probably worked out an average of once a month over the past year–give or take. I have stayed pretty active–who wouldn’t with two kids–but there’s nothing like a good hour-long run to nowhere to get the juices flowin‘.

I just couldn’t put my brain around taking my kids to the gym. That is, until the guy I am seeing* asked me “How are you feeling?” and I said, “Okay.” and he said, “Just okay? Maybe you outta get back to the gym.” Yeah–he said it just like that–out of the blue and with no warning that his question was loaded. And I thought, “Yikes! He’s right. And I really can’t claim any good reason for not going.”

My kids were with their dad Monday night–which eliminated all excuses for not going. So, bright and early yesterday mornin‘ I dug out the sports bra, laced up the shoes and headed out.

I fully expected to fall on my face after about 15 minutes. A year is a long time to barely work out and expect to have any stamina. You may recall that my first workout of the MegaChallenge was a 700 stride 7 minute affair. Imagine my surprise when I pulled out an hour-long 9500 stride (that’s nearly 6 miles!) run on my elliptical buddy (124/200).


And it felt amazingly fantastic!!!

So, having broken the mental barrier, I got up a second batch of gumption and packed the kids up for their first return trip to the gym in over 2 years. Images of screaming childcare workers chased me the entire way there, but I shook them off and kept driving.

I signed them in–fully expecting the staff to say, “Oh no! We remember your kids! They poop their pants to get out of here. We’ll be calling for you in moments. Don’t bother, lady!” When no one said anything, I took off for the elliptical machine telling myself, “If you can just get a sweat–it doesn’t have to be a full workout–you can walk out of here happy.”

Great news! I got an entire hour-long run in! 10,000 strides of sweaty bliss (125/200). I got to listen to my favorite sweat-inducing songs on the Zen I bought when I hit goal weight. Yeah, I finally got a 40 gig (I think it is gig–for all I know it is nano or terrabytes) MP3 player and have used it about a dozen times–after 2 years of only 30 songs to choose from you would think the musical options alone would have gotten me to the gym more.

My girlfriend who was MegaChallenging with me is also back on the wagon. Cool, no?? So, the MegaChallenge is back on! I know! I know! It was supposed to be 200 workouts in a year–but no one said that I couldn’t take a year-long hiatus in the middle of it.

Shut up!

It is my blog and my challenge and I make the rules.

It’s good to be the queen!

*Don’t ask. That’s all you are getting for now.

Oh yeah! It is a fitness blog…

Don’t think that just because I haven’t been working out consistently and tracking every morsel of food via fitday that I am not on top of that portion of my life. I am closing in on 9 months (count ’em) at goal weight. I know it drove Allan (where the hell is he?? Oh wait! He’s back!) nuts that I managed to lose weight with what amounted to wishful thinking, caloric awareness (not restriction), and a handful of trips to the gym.

Call me tenacious (or, like the wasband, evil incarnate) but once I get my head wrapped around an idea I don’t let go easily. ‘Sprobably why I was married for so long. The thing is that it takes me a really long time to get my head wrapped around anything. I think and I research and I plot and I fret and then — it would appear — all of the sudden I leap into action and head full steam toward my new goal. From the outside it must resemble a snail suddenly taking off like a rocket.

I am back in pre-contemplation about re-starting my downward trend in weight. I would still like to get below 140 as there are a few lumpy spots that I would like to eliminate. Dressed no one is the wiser, but I know it is there. That 11 pound lifetime gain thing is in my head, too. I weighed 129 in college (the first time through) and getting under 140 would put me in that 11 pound gain range.

My struggle? Finding time to do the gym thang with my kids. They do not do well in the childcare at my gym… I am sure there is an early post about it. Suffice it to say, that I worked up more of a sweat running back and forth between the nursery and the bathroom than I ever did on the elliptical machines. Perhaps it is time to revisit that option, though. They are a year older… hmmmmm.

In the meantime, I am working up one stinky sweat cleaning out the garage. Of course, I picked the hottest stretch of one of the hottest summers to go at it. But when I make up my mind to do something…

Yeah, I used to blog…

I know. Yeah. It has been a really, really, really long time without a post.

I could give you the 400 really, really, really good reasons for my absence.

But you wouldn’t think any more (or less) of me if you knew what was up.

So, I will just say that I am still at goal weight.

I work out sometimes.

I finished my degree in June.

I saw my daddy, step mom, two sisters, grandmother, uncles, aunt, great aunts, great uncles, and cousins for the first time in 21 years.

I am starting grad school in a couple of weeks.

My wasband’s new pet name for me is “evil incarnate.”

I had an alarm installed.

I graduated from therapy.

Did I mention that I have been a little busy?

I knew you would understand.

All In A Day’s Work…

So, you know how sometimes you build a day up to be a really big deal and then you are all let down when it isn’t such a big deal? Well, I don’t have that problem. At. All.

November 21, 2005.

It was already scheduled to be a big day as I had my court appearance for the divorce this morning. It took all of 5 minutes to get the judge’s signature on the order, and I managed the whole thing without tripping over my feet and landing in his lap. That’s a good thing.

As quickly as the court part went, the clerk part was not. Quick, that is. I waited 2 hours for the court clerk to make a certified copy of my decree. See, you have to have that to change your name on your driver’s license and social security card and all of those other places where you have told someone that you have a name. So, I waited. I was absolutely convinced that she was hand scribing the damn thing.

So, I am divorced. Yikes. I have had a couple of panic attacks when I think of the reality of being single with two small children. Beyond that I am just really, really sad.

Knowing that (I am sad) think of the mind blow when I stepped on the scale and discovered that I have achieved goal weight. Yes! On the day I end my marriage, I end my diet. Funky weird mixed emotions are everywhere. And, get this, I didn’t just hit goal weight. Nope, I sailed right past it to 148.5 because why would I ever be allowed to actually see my goal weight pop up on the scale? Yeah, because that would be the expected outcome. Not that I am complaining. Since I am aiming a little lower for good measure (like to the low 140s – I will fine tune it as I see how I look/feel) the bonus half pound is all good.

We are going to move the car, but it does weird things when you lose more than your goal. So, I am going to put in that I am at goal and not beyond goal. If I can adjust to all the stuff that is going on around here, y’all can deal with the ticker confusion. Right?? Thought so.

So Close…

I am finally out of the 150’s with a morning scale reading of 149.5 lbs. Yep. I am a half pound away from my goal weight! Yeehaw! It feels amazing and surreal to be this close to a goal that seemed so far away when I started the MegaChallenge back in June. Let’s see what this does to the car:

I am also less than 24 hours away from seeing the judge to finalize my divorce. Yikes! I am sort of in shock – numb and disbelief are the feelings of the day – but at the same time I realize that what we are doing makes sense. Of course, no one walks down the aisle in 40 yards of organza with the hopes that they will end up divorced some 10 years, 4 months, and 6 days later (but who’s counting?). I said those vows believing that we’d be a couple until death. Luckily neither of us resorted to murder to keep that vow. Though, I am sure we were both tempted a time or two.

Hint: You know your marriage is over when your spouse is 4 hours late getting home and you start thinking of ways to spend the insurance money rather that calling hospitals. It is never a good sign when you are disappointed that they showed up alive. I never wished my wasband dead. And I actually still care a lot about him. So, don’t worry that I have come completely unhinged. I’m just sayin’.

Not Nearly Enough…

Yeah, I went to the gym. On Monday. It isn’t just the fact that I am falling behind on my goals. It isn’t that my weight loss is slow going without the workouts. It is the fact that I am tired and unmotivated and sluggish and depressed when I don’t get to the gym. Physical activity (or lack thereof) has a direct impact on my spirits. Given that I am going through one of the hardest transitions of my life, I am not at all surprised that I am feeling a down, but I really do need to take better care of myself.

Having said all of that, I can report another half pound has gone missing from my rear. Yup. I am down to 150.5 lbs and 1.5 pounds from goal. I toyed with the idea of buying myself a super-huge MP3 player as a reward for hitting my goal weight, but looks like I am giving myself a new life instead.

Oh, and for all you race fans, here is the latest result in my efforts to move the car:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...