Costco Pizza: An Exercise in Moderation

Costco Pizza

Costco Pizza. Image source:

Lessons from a 4 year old
At a family party last weekend, a preschool teacher related a story from work.

A little girl fell down on the playground and started crying. Before the teacher could comfort her, a little boy stopped playing with his buddies and ran up to the girl.

“Hey, Sally. Stop crying! Just get up,” he jumped up and down once… “Shake yourself off,” he wiggled his little behind vigorously… “and go back and play. That’s what my Daddy tells me to do.” Without waiting for a response, he ran back to his buddies.

Such wisdom from a four-year-old. If only we all practiced that.

An Exercise in Moderation
Learning moderation during my weight loss journey is one of my major goals. In the past, if I messed up even once—if I fell down—I’d let it destroy my resolve completely. I’m an all-or-nothing kinda gal, and that has really sabotaged my weight loss attempts.

Now, I plan to “fall down”—or go off plan, then shake it off and get right back on the wagon the following day.

This past Thursday was a particularly trying day. Just long, full of meetings, a presentation (I hate public speaking), and a late arrival home. Not enough time to both make dinner and go to the gym—unless I wanted to be up until midnight.

My husband and I decided to take a day off from the gym. We planned to go to El Pollo Loco for a healthy meal, but veered off to Costco instead to pick up some things. Ravenous by then, my husband wanted a hot dog. I had a ZonePerfect nutrition bar in my pocket that sounded very inadequate at that moment.

As we stood in line, I decided right then and there: “Honey, I’m going to have a slice of pizza.”

“Okay,” he replied.

The pizza was steaming hot, right out of the oven and tasted marvelous. I completely, utterly savored every bite. I could feel all that comfort food coursing through my veins. What a drug. Wow. I even got a little buzz from it. That night, when I went to bed, I felt warm and fuzzy all over. And not at all guilty or ashamed. I fell asleep smiling.

I hadn’t been craving pizza. I hadn’t been obsessing about pizza. I have been on the program for a month, and I was very, very aware of my choice to partake: it was part of my lesson in moderation.  And I enjoyed the pizza far more than I ever did when I could have it whenever I wanted.

The very next day I was back on plan. My Friday menu reflected my one protein day per week.

And you know what? I still lost 2 pounds this week. Even with a big, glorious slice of Costco pepperoni pizza (nutritional information).

Body for Life, by Bill Phillips

Body for Life, by Bill Phillips

I learned the value of having a “Free Day” from Bill Phillips’ 1999 book, Body for Life. It is beneficial for many reasons:

  • Purposely overeating once a week may help convince your body that it’s not starving
  • It gives you autonomy to make choices; people are willing to draw lines and create structure as long as there is a remaining element of freedom
  • You don’t want to set yourself up for failure. You don’t want to say, “I will never eat another piece of pizza again.” That’s just not realistic. And eventually you’ll rebel and give in, then give up entirely because you failed. Phillips gave this example. It’s like Michael Jordan going into a game and saying, “I’m not going to miss one shot.”
  • A free day reminds you what it feels like when you overeat – that sluggishness, indigestion and bloated feeling.

I’ll add my own reasons:

  • Train myself in moderation. Go off plan. Briefly. Intentionally. Then get right back on plan.
  • Keep me on track to maintain my lifetime commitment to being healthy and fit

Have you intentionally gone off program? Were you able to get back on track the very next day?

Have you allowed falling down/going off program to ruin your diet completely?

What are your favorite off-program meals?

From Accidental to Intentional

What I see very clearly is that most people have no clue what they’re doing to themselves with the food they normally eat. Nor are most people aware of how much better they could look and feel if they stopped feeding themselves accidentally and started re-creating themselves intentionally.
—Bill Phillips,
Body for Life

I love this quote from Bill Phillips. I have definitely been guilty of feeding myself accidentally.

Spoiled Girl (Me), Eating Out

The Accidental Then
For the past fourteen years, I have been spoiled rotten when it comes to food. I have a husband who loves me unconditionally—even though I’ve packed on 65 pounds since we met. Neither of us likes to cook. He knows I work hard (at my desk job), so almost every evening when I got home, we would leave again to go eat out. Where we would be served. Where someone else would do the cooking and cleaning up. When we got married, I jokingly told him, “I promise to make you dinner—but only when I feel like it.” It’s nice to be spoiled.

Eating out is expensive. We became masters of the coupon. We’d go through the circulars that came in the mail and tape them to the back of our den door. We’d go to looking for good deals. We’d go to Costco for a hot dog or a slice of pizza. We became regulars at restaurants that had weekly specials, such as $1 tacos on Taco Tuesdays.  We ate very, very well.  And it showed.

Just the thought of cooking stressed me out—except for weekends, when I had lots of time. I had all kinds of excuses.

“I’ve worked hard all day. I’m too tired to make dinner. I can’t deal with the mess afterwards.”
“It’ll take too much time. I’m hungry right now.”
“I deserve to relax.”
“I don’t know what to make.”

The Intentional Now
I work a little harder for my food now. I plan ahead. I think things through. Preparing my food makes it easier to get 10,000 steps recorded on my pedometer each day.

I have to go to the grocery story and pick out Lindora-approved items. I have to haul the bags into the house and put the groceries away. I have to pull stuff out and prepare meals. I have to clean up afterwards. (By the way, I adore my dishwasher.) I can hear my pedometer clicking away as I move around the kitchen, and I’m enjoying the movement after sitting at a desk all day. One evening on the way home from work, I went to Costco just to pick up a rotisserie chicken for dinner. There were quite a few steps required to go from the car to the back of the warehouse and back to the car again. Click. Click. Click.

I realize how spoiled I’ve been, and I wonder to myself, “Who do I think I am that I don’t have to prepare my own meals?” I think of all those women out there who get home from their day jobs and cook for their families or just their husbands. Just because I don’t have kids doesn’t give me the excuse to be a lazy slob.

And why haven’t I cared about healthy foods for my husband and me? We aren’t getting any younger. We can abuse our bodies only so much.

I am committed to working for my food.

Here’s my menu from yesterday.

Saturday, August 20, 2011
Pedometer: 11,120
Exercise: 20 minutes on treadmill, 6 minutes on elliptical, upper body strength training (finished Friday night’s workout), 30 minutes low-intensity swimming in the pool with my husband.
Party Success Strategy: I went to a party this evening. I ate my mid-day meal before we left the house so I wouldn’t have the urge to graze. For dinner at the party, I ate a double dose of protein as there were no fruits or veggies. There was no diet soda so I drank 3 bottles of water (next time I’ll bring my own diet drink). A couple of hours later I had a ZonePerfect Bar. I said no to wine, tortilla chips and salsa, carrot cake, and a pasta salad. Even though it was late, I ate another ZonePerfect bar after we left because I was tired and getting a bit dizzy.

  • 9:30am 3/4 c Cheerios (12), 1 c skim milk (12), Coffee (0) with 2 Tbsp sugar free Coffee-mate vanilla creamer (2), 2 chewable adult vitamins (3)
  • 1pm  1 oz string cheese (1)
  • 3pm Veggie Omelet: 1 egg (1), ¼ c onions (3), ½ Roma tomato (2.5), 1 tsp olive oil, clove of garlic; 2 c Romaine lettuce (3), 1 c strawberries (11)
  • 6pm ZonePerfect Cashew Pretzel bar (13)
  • 8pm Approx 3 oz. grilled chicken (excellent!) (0) and 3 oz. salmon (0), a couple of slices of cucumber
  • 11pm ZonePerfect Chocolate Mint bar (13)
  • Total carbs:  76.5