Don't deny your inner child
Okay, first the vacay last week.
Despite the thrice-daily buffet, the beachside grill which offered nachos and fries until 1 a.m., the open bars and the sweets at the coffee bar, I only put on three pounds -- and all of them, plus one more, are already gone.
(Total loss so far: 13 pounds. Hip hip hurray!)
How did I manage to not do more damage?
1. I avoided those fruity tropical drinks which are all calorie and little punch.
I stuck to the local beer, which was five per cent alcohol, and went down a lot more slowly than a Pina Colada. That said, I did teach the bartenders how to mix up a Cosmopolitan Antonia-style, and three in a row one night were responsible for my underwhelming karaoke performance of a Drifters classic.
2. I ate my calories up front.
To me there is nothing more decadent than a big breakfast. It's what I avoid at home, what with my whole grain organic cereal, berries, fat-free yogurt and caffe latte. Every morning I'd load up my plate with French toast, cinnamon and syrup (two slices), and a small custom-made omelet filled with veg and some cheese. I also served myself up a bowl of fresh fruit with yogurt. I figure that was maybe 1000 (YIKES!) calories. But ...
3. I didn't sit around. No, no, no.
After that breakfast, my fellow traveler and I marched up and down that beach for an hour. Then I headed for the gym, where I did a minimum of 60 minutes of cardio, either jogging or the elliptical trainer, plus 30 minutes of weights. One day it was upper body, the next lower body. Then ...
4. Lunch consisted mainly of giant salads from the buffet, with beans or plain pasta for starch, and a little sum'n, sump'n from the BBQ.
Jerk chicken, mmmmmm, with extra hot sauce.
5. Mid-afternoon on most days, there were Caribbean dance lessons. I was so there.
This would account for my ''shaking it like a salt shaker'' on Pirates' Night where I surprised everybody, including myself, with my ability to move my hips with the pros. I spent the next few days telling people who complemented me, ''And I wasn't even drunk.'' But hey, I have an advantage. Not only am I born belly dancer as a Greek but I have been taking lessons. (Prediction: The next big wedding song/dance, a La Macarena, is going to be a ditty about five cents, 10 cents, dollah, dollah, dollah.)
6. I only vegged out poolside about two or three hours a day at most.
7. Dinner, except at that aforementioned Pirate's Night (blackened potato wedges!), was modest, and usually taken at an a la carte Italian restaurant where portions were so tiny that North Americans eating there hit the beach grill for burgers and fries afterwards.
8. I shared a plate of French fries only twice and rarely, if ever, had dessert.
I think that one thing that really worked for me was that I gave myself permission to eat. I always knew I could have seconds. I always knew those fries were freely available. I always knew another great meal was coming. (It was an all-inclusive resort.)
And so, as a result, I never felt deprived, never felt that this was forbidden, that this was my last indulgence ever before tomorrow-I-start-my-diet.
You know what I am saying?
Which leads me to this, today's treeware bit on feeding your inner child, and emotional eating.
I always know my inner child is having a tantrum when she wants me to head home via the drive-through I have mastered the art of handling a stick shift, a steering wheel and a super-sized meal.
Of course, my inner child never screams for fish and steamed broccoli, or skinless chicken and Brussels sprouts. What kid does? She wants what she wants and she wants it right now.
Which is how I know I am not really hungry: when only comfort food will do, and when my stomach isn't rumbling.
But, when I stuff that inner child with food, I end up hating the adult me for overeating – and end up with even less emotional nourishment than when I started.
It's a vicious circle.
"The inner child will come out and do the first thing that pops into her head," Toronto psychotherapist Beth Mares tells me. "People who follow their inner child do things that are counterproductive."
I am sitting in Mares' home office in east Toronto, where I am taking notes on how she would approach my issues with food. A specialist on eating disorders, among other problems, Mares quickly gets a handle on my situation.
I'm just a girl who can't say no – to the boss, to friends and family, to seconds, to a big bowl of nacho chips and salsa...
Please read the whole thing. I got a lot out of talking with Mares, and I think that what she had to say can help you.
By the way, I list some resources at the bottom of the piece. Here they are again, with links.
Obviously, not everybody can find a qualified therapist who can work with food-related issues – let alone afford to pay for one.
But there are many online guides to dealing with emotional eating.
For example, solutionsweigh.com has great information, and a quiz. You can find an eye-opening description of emotional eating on innerself.com. Finally, the comprehensive weight loss community at sparkpeople.com offers everything from articles on food issues to exercise videos and social networking – and it's all free.
March break is almost here and, if you're lucky enough to get away for some fun in the sun, remember to put the accent on fun and not on sun.
Jump up baby!