January 14 – Remembering the importance of hunger

“Man is the only animal whose desires increase as they are fed, the only animal that is never satisfied.” – Henry George

One of the hardest things for me to do when I stated Weight Watchers was to understand what it meant to be hungry, and how much to eat to satisfy the hunger, not just fill the void. Today’s entry in Weight Watchers Success Every Day. 365 Meditations for Your Weight Loss Journey talks about that concept.

I was walking and talking to a new hire at work the other day. The subject of “lunch time” came up. My company has something of an embedded culture of having 11:00am as lunch time. For me it started in my early days on the job when I had a 7:00am to 3:30pm daily scheduled. By 11:00am I was pretty darn hungry, so eating lunch then made sense. We have flex time now as the norm. As a result, some people start at 7:00am (or earlier), while others start their day at 9:00am. But still, the break area fills up at 11:00am, as do the restaurants in the area.

At home on the weekend I tend to follow a similar schedule. Although I might sleep in until 7:00 or 8:00am, and eat breakfast when I get up, come 11:00am I still have the urge to eat.

The comedian Jim Gaffigan has a routine about over eating. In it he says that he hasn’t felt actual hunger in 7 years. Only after I got serious about my weight loss did I come to understand how true that exaggerated, comedic statement is.

When I was deeply serious about my weight loss, and was clicking pounds off the scale on a regular basis, one thing I became proud of was being hungry shortly after eating, and going to bed a little hungry. I am not talking about the ravenous state of hunger that brings “Angry, Hungry Bob” out to play, but that slight twinge that tells me I didn’t over stuff myself, and I appropriately resisted late evening snacks.

When I see advertisements for WW, or read testimonials about how good the program is, I often hear people referring to “never being hungry” as a selling point to the program. Because we eat low-calorie-density foods (like fresh vegetables and fruits), and because we eat lean proteins, we tend to not always feel the hunger craving. I get that concept, and I know it works for many people. For me, when I am on my game, I feel slightly hungry much of the day.

Take right now for instance. My wife and I just came back from brunch at our favorite diner. I had an egg whites, gyro meat only omelet (9 points), two slices of rye toast (5 points), black coffee and ice water (I also had one slice of my wife’s bacon – 2 points). As I sit here and write, I feel satisfied, but also just slightly hungry. To me, that is success. For me to understand that the slight hunger doesn’t need to be filled is the key.

I didn’t start out with this knowledge. When I was new to this, I thought that this slight hunger was a problem. Along the way I adjusted my eating to minimize the feeling. But, more importantly, I learned what was an appropriate amount to eat, and how to live within that constraint.

Today I feel good! I think the positive results from yesterday’s weigh in are fueling my enthusiasm for the process. I have 25 points left today, and plan to spend them wisely.

I have updated my progress charts, you can see them here.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…Learning what is an appropriate amount of hunger has been a key to my success in the past. Re-acquainting myself with that feeling will keep me successful in the future.

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