100 All You Can Eat Meals Later…

A small update in my Weight Loss Journey, Formerly Fat.

I’m a sucker for a good deal, so when I looked at our Faculty/Staff Meal plan at Delta State and did the math, I realized I could solve a few problems with one solution. The first was figuring out what to eat for lunch most days, which I figured was a decision fatigue situation I could avoid just like Jobs, Branson, & Zuck do with clothes. The second was it would get me out of my office for a short walk most days, and the third was that the price was actually cheaper (if you used all the meals) than packing my lunch would likely be. The only problem might have been that our cafeteria is All You Care To Eat.

On Friday, August 13, 2021, I weighed 196.4 pounds when I woke up. As you’ll probably recall from my posts thus far, this was approximately 218 pounds lighter than I was for most of my adult life. However as I settled into my “school year” existence, I wondered how I would handle the challenges of normal eating. Over the past year I’ve talked about my questions regarding “How do I Stop” losing weight, and “How do I determine if I’m hungry?”. In the former post, I talk about “The New Life Changes (e.g., Maintenance)” which I’ll update you all on later in this post.

But returning to the question at hand: Is it a good idea for a formerly fat person to willingly go to a place with limitless tasty food 100 days over the course of 9 months? My conclusion… probably not. Would I do it again… probably. Confused, well here’s my observations:

  • I have a long history of enjoying AYCE wing nights, never ending pasta bowls, shrimp fests, and anything else that provided limitless food – even chips at a Mexican restaurant. I think my record on wings was around 40 in my prime. After each one of those experiences, I felt anywhere from “normal” to “horrible”. Never felt great.
  • But I kept going because when you weigh 415 pounds, you worry a lot about being full. As I mentioned, it took about 50-75 minutes for my brain to register I was full, so most of the time after a normal sized meal, my brain would start freaking out that I was still hungry. Buffets solved that problem because my brain was really sure it was full after I ate that 40th chicken wing.
  • I also like a lot of different kinds of foods, so a buffet restaurant allowed me to pick up a little bit of everything. And if you were to look at my plates at those places, you’d see that while I had favorites, I was more likely to grab 1-2 pieces of everything versus 50 pieces of one thing.

My hope was that by forcing myself to eat 100 times at the same place, I would alleviate the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) anxiety I might have over the third bullet point. If I wanted to try something, but was full today, I could try it tomorrow (or next week, or whenever it rotated back around). This largely was successful.

As you can see from the graph above, my average weight did tick up slightly over the school year… by 2 pounds or so. This is probably not too surprising, as I’m more active in the summer. Oh, and let’s not forget those wonderful pitfalls of holiday eating and overeating when you’re cooped up indoors. According to one study by Cornell, the average American gains 1.3 pounds over the holidays and it takes 5 months to work it back off (Although Brian Wansink was a co-author on this one, so take it with a grain of salt). So did I gain weight in a meaningful way after 100 days of all-you-can-eat lunch? No, but it is easy to think of all the times I could have just “not cared” my way into careless eating. I did feel like I had to maintain a certain level of vigilance which could be mildly distracting.

Turning away from the discussion of buffets, I wanted to update everyone not only on my weight but also “The New Life Changes” that I discussed in January. Here’s where I am with them:

  1. Stop tracking everything I eat: I stopped tracking on Easter Sunday, after gradually becoming less and less diligent about it. In 4 days I’ll celebrate 4 years using MyFitnessPal daily (actually about 11 years since I first downloaded it), and my plan is to uninstall it. It was an essential element but not something I want to keep doing my entire life. I can always add it back in if I ever need to.
  2. Continue to use some tracking devices: Still using my Oura ring and Apple Watch. Also still using the Bello app, but that’s mostly habit – I don’t think it gives me any meaningful information (and it can vary wildly day to day depending on if I place it exactly right on my stomach). Haven’t used the Apollo band in months. If I were starting out today, I would probably have just bought the Oura & Apple Watch, and not bothered with Bello or Apollo. Lumen was very useful to me before it died.
  3. Log my weight daily: Still working on logging just once a day. My eventual goal would be weekly. I’m a data nerd, so It is tempting to see fluctuations during the day, but not the most mentally healthy. I don’t think I’m quite addicted though, since I don’t experience any anxiety when I can’t weigh myself when traveling (Although I am always curious about the result when I get home).
  4. Keep an active voice in my head while eating: Yes, 100% this is true. And 90% of the time it’s helping me make good choices. Sometimes it justifies bad eating, sometimes it’s too puritanical, but most of the time it’s just right. It’s what has helped me not feel the need to log everything.
  5. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: I don’t worry about a starburst or a fun sized candy bar. I only eat 1, and it does help tide me over until the next meal. Maybe that’s what they’re for?!?
  6. Walking and Exercising Daily: Still mostly doing this. I skip maybe one day a month, but most days I’m out for a walk, a bike ride, or both!

So, here I sit with my weight in the 193 – 198 range that I was still in during the previous 9 months, and hopefully I’ve now set a new “set point” (for those that ascribe to that theory). Hopefully if you’re struggling with weight loss seeing my journey is helping you see that there are good days and bad days (see graph above, especially during the cold weather months), that you can still enjoy holidays, all you can eat buffets, and little treats, and that it is possible to keep the weight off (at least I have thus far!). Be well, reach out for support as you need it, and enjoy life.

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