"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Friday, September 21, 2007

Using a frugal attitude to lose weight

I've been struggling for a couple of years to lose the lbs of fat I have left to lose without resorting to drastic measures (little changes are lasting changes). This was working great for me until this summer. I was exercising so much and paying enough attention to what I was eating to lose about an inch around the waist per season. I was monitoring inches, not lbs, since working out was really bulking me up. My biggest clue as to my progress was my wardrobe.

My surgery meant that I had to cut out my exercise, and I'll be limited for a long time. I've been watching what I eat enough to not start packing on the lbs, but I'm not losing and I don't feel like being stuck in my current situation. I'm unfortunately at the point where every single extra fat cell is concentrated in my tummy, which poses a health risk and also makes me look pregnant. I thought clothes would fit better after my surgery, but, no. I still find myself having to wear a tent, only this time to cover my tummy instead of my breasts!

One of my big battles with food is that I didn't have enough for a long time and had to eat what I had on hand or starve. Now, I find myself thinking "Why eat the oatmeal packet at my desk when I can afford to go downstairs and get a bagel/muffin/cup of fresh fruit/piece of cheese?" Food is now a symbol of my new relative financial freedom. I have to stop this habit of acquiescing to irrational desire for more appealing food options and to start once again to look at food as being fuel.

Enter my new frugal attitude. Every penny I spend on food is penny I'm not spending somewhere else, right? Don't I prefer to drop 50$ per month on clothes than on food? Well, starting next month, I'm putting myself on a strict 100$ per month food budget. I can eat aaaaaanything I want on that budget, but once I'm done, I have to eat the oatmeal/ramen/muffins in the back of the freezer/nothing until the first pay of the next month.

That said, I do make good food choices, nutrition-wise, I just tend to be excessive about volume, so in addition to the above budget, I want to go back to a habit I had when I was poor. I'd buy the cheapest healthy thing I could that would give me a huge volume of food with little calories. Tonight, for example, I had half of a spaghetti squash (about one quarter the calories of the same amount of pasta) topped with a homemade kidney bean tomato sauce and then sprinkled with a bit of parmesan cheese. It's absolutely stuffing, but very cheap and comes in at only 200-300 calories (depending on the sauce and the amount of cheese) vs 1000+ calories for the same quantity of pasta!


Julie said...

How can you eat on 100$ per month??? That's my budget per week. I'm trying to cut down but find it very difficult to have the discipline and willpower to cook for myself.

Raven said...

Let's just say that I failed. :-)

But I did live on 25$ per month when I was in school and working at the same place you were working. Yup, 25$.