Project Louise: Seeing The Truth — And Seeing The Future

It's not the wine that adds weight -- it's the food that the wine lets you think you can eat. (Aka via Wikimedia Commons)

It’s not the wine that adds weight — it’s the food that the wine lets you think you can eat. (Aka via Wikimedia Commons)

By Louise Kennedy
Guest contributor

Two steps forward, one step back … or is that the other way around?

It’s been a challenging couple of weeks for Project Louise. School vacation week knocked me out of my routine, which was both good and bad, and then last week I was so busy catching up with what I’d missed at work that I didn’t even manage to remember that I had a routine.

So, by the end of last week, not only was I feeling behind on developing my life’s mission and vision statement (as I’d promised coach Allison Rimm and you, my readers, I would do), but I was also facing a weigh-in with my nurse practitioner, the wonderful Patty Moran, and knowing pretty well that I wasn’t going to like the number I saw.

I didn’t like it. At all.

For those not keeping score at home, I began in December at 189. At some point in March I got as low as 178 and seemed to be heading, slow but steady, in the right direction. But National Eat Like a Teenager Week, even in modified form, was not helpful; nor was the stress-induced return to a bad habit of having a glass or two of wine just about every night.

I find it’s not the wine calories that really cause the problem, but rather the post-wine attitude toward food. Disinhibition, they call it. Eating every high-fat salty snack in sight, I call it.

And here’s what the scale calls it: 185 pounds.

Misery. Self-flagellation. Regret.

None of which, frankly, fits into my vision for my life. So from the moment I heard Patty say it, I started trying to kick all those bad feelings overboard. Instead, I steeled myself to have a real conversation with her about what was – and wasn’t – going on with my weight-loss plan.

We ran through a typical day –  good breakfast, salad for lunch, more or less anything goes for dinner – and did not have to spend much time figuring out what the problem was. “Anything goes” does not appear to be a successful dieting strategy. Especially when there’s wine involved.

So, OK. No more wine during the week. And not much on weekends. And, yeah, get back on track with that exercise thing. I have a feeling that the food intake has more effect on my weight than the exercise does, but the exercise makes me feel better, gives me more energy and serves as a regular reminder that I’m trying to take better care of myself. So I just need to do it.

And … what do you know, Allison was right again. Because when I focus on my evolving vision for my life, “drinking too much wine and not getting out of bed the next morning to exercise” is not really in there.

What is? Well, a lot of that is fairly personal, and even though I’m willing to put my weight out here, some stuff I’d rather keep to myself, at least for a while. Suffice to say that it has to do with my frazzled, complicated family life, which may also just have a little something to do with my having that second glass of wine more often than I should.

But I will tell you this: Having a vision really makes a difference. So I am now spending a bit of time, every night and every morning, ruminating about exactly what I want my life to feel like: how I spend my time, what I do with my family and at work, where I live, what I do for fun. And I’m writing about it, in detail, so that I can really start to see it.

I urge you to do the same. At first it can feel a bit forced, and, if you’re like me, you may resist carving out time for something that doesn’t have any apparent immediate benefit. So many of us, me emphatically included, spend our days racing from urgent task to urgent task that it can seem crazy to drop everything and just think about the future. But if we don’t, the future will look just as crazy and overstuffed as the present – my present, anyway.

How’s your present doing? And what would you like your future to be?

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  • lindam313

    Hi Louise, Since I’ve been responding so much, guess I’ll keep going – you’re doing fine! You’re learning about yourself, your strengths, weaknesses, strategies that work and don’t – so maybe you get closer to your goal weight in 3 years, but along that journey you find out ways to keep a weight, lifestyle, exercise, balance, etc that is closer to something realistic and manageable. I would say that it’s all a win. (typo I initially made said wine, hahaha) It’s all about just getting up and starting each day fresh and keeping your own goals in mind, not those of other people. I still say that exercise is the key for everything (I’m being reminded of how hard that is to keep going after an injury and be motivated to do the things you CAN do while waiting for the main, enjoyable exercise to be allowed) in terms of overall health and more importantly mental health. I love the info about neurons growing more in the brains of people who exercise and how one is prepared better for stress when it happens if one exercises, etc. That is motivating for me! I appreciate your honesty about saying some things I don’t want to put out there – good idea. My “celebratory drink” is a cranberry juice with a splash of tonic water and a lime. Tastes great, has some sugar for fun, has some bubbly and looks cool. My own vision for myself is to attempt to be fitter than 90% of people my age – right now I’m certainly not because I can’t run yet, but hope to get back to trying to meet that vision in two months. I want to be able to be strong enough to do whatever is necessary as I age, maintain my balance and not fall and die from some stupid pneumonia brought on by a broken hip, and in general be an active, physically fit person. As I’ve gotten older (56 now), I’ve become more and more intent on maintaining that “stronger than the majority of people my age” mentality. Keep up the good work!

  • Ray

    Hmmm. I have read the other posts, and can’t believe that it falls to me to unfurl the tattered old flag “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper” along with EIM (everything in moderation), it may be the only, reliable, workable formula anyone needs. Add to that learning to snack, which is to tune into your sense of hunger and have a tiny bite of just about anything, anytime, with water, still or sparkling, to extinguish the hunger and enable you to continue what you were doing. The hard part about that is learning how to make snack-able items available throughout your day. One fallback strategy is to use “legal candy”, like granola bars and protein bars, 100 cal packs of this and that. Some dietitians recommend “four meals” per day, which is another approach if it works for you, with the emphasis on light meals late. When it comes to wine, it is most satisfying late, and I find the perfect end to my day as I wind down just before bed, to enjoy some music or a TV show with one (1) glass (can be generous) of red wine and a couple of squares of very dark chocolate. This is the reliably sensuous treat that rewards me for getting through the day. (-8

    EIM and snacking should work well with any level of activity, keyed on tuning in to hunger. Of course we all like to dine well at times, but that must fit in the EIM rubric. It simply must.

    • Ray

      Coincidentally, on my trivia calendar today it is stated that Jean Nidetch, when she went on the diet that led to her founding Weight Watchers, weighed 214 pounds and wore dress size 44. Perhaps their algorithm actually works

      • Louise Kennedy

        All very sensible advice. And a good reminder that I need to restock my drawer of healthy snacks at work. Nothing left right now but dark-chocolate-covered almonds, and those were supposed to be a rare treat. Today, they were lunch. Not a good plan.

        • Ray

          If a handful of chocolate nuts were your total lunch, probably OK. BTW It took Jean Neditch 2 years to “get there”.

  • Cynthia Oehmig

    I’ve been in this place and admire your willingness to share! I’ve found that focusing on one improvement at a time helps me. Right now I’m using my Fitbit to get me moving and find I’m slowly changing some of my eating habits as well. It’s a journey; enjoy hearing about yours.

  • Bella

    Do you like salad for lunch? I used to get into that mindset of “oh, look at how virtuous and good I am with my green lunch” and then at dinner my body was like “thanks for starving me all day, now let’s eat everything!” I switched to bigger and more satisfying breakfasts and lunches, and now when I get home from work I am not famished and wanting to make up for lack of food during the day.

    I also used to find myself reaching for more wine. It dawned on me that I might just be thirsty. I found when I keep seltzer in the house, I drink that instead of the wine (well, I have 1 glass) and feel much better all around.

    • lucymartin

      I was recently reintroduced to the wine sprtizer last summer. I had kind of dismissed it as tacky 70s housewife but it is, frankly, perfect for me. Even just adding a little seltzer to a glass of wine gives me the relaxing flavor of wine, with less of the “disinhibition” and late night calories.
      I had a rough week too, Louise. I can’t tell you how reassuring and helpful it is to hear someone else say “yes, it’s been kind of a crap week but I’m going to pick myself up and move on.” Makes me feel like I can do it too!

    • Louise Kennedy

      I definitely need to include protein in my lunch salad. If I do that, I’m OK — otherwise, you’re right, leaves are not enough! And I think thirst is important to keep in mind too. Time to buy more seltzer!

  • Bubbles Again

    I love reading about your progress. I make a pitcher of iced mint tea each day and after my first glass of wine in the evening, I find it kills any desire to have another drink or a snack after dinner. It’s especially refreshing in the warmer months.

    • Louise Kennedy

      That’s a great idea! I’m putting seltzer with lemon in a wineglass, so it feels like a treat, but I like the mint tea idea too. Thank you!

      • Frances Y J Wheeler

        You might try putting a splash of champagne or white-wine vinegar in your seltzer–gives the sparkling water a refreshing edge similar to dry white wine.

  • bostongirl

    I have greatly appreciated Project Louise. You are incredibly brave to open yourself here. This post must have been hard to write. Facing up to one’s real or perceived shortcomings is not easy. It seems like your experience is not unusual, it’s hard to make big changes and life has a way of being unpredictable, but your response is quite remarkable. You did not take the easy way out but met the issues head on in this piece. I respect you for sticking with it and sharing so freely, and also for keeping some things private. I am learning a lot from you, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    • Louise Kennedy

      Thank you so much, bostongirl. You’re right, it was hard to write — that’s why I didn’t post at all last week! But it really helps to know that people are reading, and it is truly humbling to hear that you’re learning from me. Thanks for writing.

  • Lee Crabb

    That glass of wine looks so innocent but it is not! Keep it up I am on this journey with you and glad to “read” you back on track.

    • Louise Kennedy

      Thanks, Lee. The only way I can imagine doing this journey is with company, so I’m glad you’re coming along.