This morning, I was thinking about yesterday’s blog post and what took me so long to finally get with the program, but moreover, what finally clicked? I mean I have experienced an inexplicable shift in perspective over the last month when it comes to eating, which was, in my case, 90 percent of the problem at this point. Exercise? No big deal. As you know, being the faithful reader that you are, I started running in January 2006, and by some miracle, I never stopped. This year, I’ve incorporated even more cross training, strength and stretching into my routine than ever before (and if not just for the toning and added weight loss benefits, then because the aches and pains in my legs are significantly diminished this year).
But yeah… the eating. That can be a problem. Have I moved beyond the sins of my past eating habits for good? No one can be sure. But I thought I’d write out some of my current lessons to live by that are helping me successfully lose weight six months (15 years?) after I started the journey. I figure if I forget, I can come back and read this post. This is for me, not you, but maybe you’re interested or you’re just bored, whatever.
- This is not my last meal. Do you ever go out to dinner and order like you will never visit that restaurant again in your life? God, I do that ALL the time. I have to continually remind myself that this is not my last meal of pizza, guacamole, pulled pork sandwich, chana masala, etc., ad nauseam. I will eat these foods again—probably soon—which means I do not need to go nuts simply because they are in front of me.
- Acceptance of what I can and cannot control. Example: I can control whether or not I walk into a grocery store, make a beeline for the freezer section, pick up a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby, discreetly pay for it, hide it in my purse and make a break for the car. I cannot control whether or not I eat that pint of ice cream once in my possession. Ice cream is one of those foods that I love more than life itself. I cannot, when faced with ice cream, say no. It is simply the truth. So what do I do? I eat it. One scoop. That’s all. No going out of my way to get it, but if it’s there, I’m going to have some and move on with my life.
- One bad meal does not have to mean one bad day. And furthermore, one bad day does not have to mean one bad weekend or one bad week. Shit happens. Parties happen. Nights out on the town happen. Bad days that end with a frozen pizza happen. The moral of this story: get back on track as quickly as possible.
- Play games instead. Half of MM’s family is Filipino, and huge-mongous. It’s awesome and fun and new to me as I grew up with a sister and no close cousins or aunts and uncles, and I have made myself right at home having a big family to call my own in Chicago. They have BBQs and parties quite a bit, and they are big into eating… and big into forcing food onto their guests. It’s how they show love. I’m not being sarcastic, it’s true; it’s a problem for me; and it’s somewhat offensive if I don’t eat. But I’ve found solutions. In some cases, I make myself a plate and discreetly hand it off to MM. Other times, I use the “I’m going to have some in a minute” excuse, and when I’m actually really hungry, I fill my plate with half salad and help myself to smaller portions of noodles and rice. Saving myself from MM’s relatives actually isn’t too difficult. It’s saving myself from myself that proves trickier. The number one thing I’ve learned at these get-togethers is, if I’m playing ultimate Frisbee, involved in a volleyball game, or dancing my butt off, I’m not eating. Luckily MM has a gaggle of cousins in their late teens, twenties and thirties who are always willing to play.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables, but mostly eat more vegetables. I don’t know about you, but I can plow through a carton of strawberries with reckless abandon. Yes it’s healthy. But you know what’s even healthier? Plowing through pound of spinach leaves. Less tasty though. It’s definitely become obvious to me that eating more veggies makes a difference in my weight loss. But to be honest, I’m not really a salad for lunch (or for dinner) kind of gal. It really doesn’t satisfy me. I don’t dislike vegetables; I like them sometimes and even often, but I struggle to want to snack on carrot sticks versus… oh say… a Go Lean Crunchy Bar. I’m working on it. I bring baby carrots and bell pepper strips to dip into low calorie ranch, and lettuce to stuff into a whole grain pita with my low fat chicken salad. Basically, I sneak in my servings.
- Just say no. Or yes… depending on the situation. As previously mentioned I started a new job, and since July it’s been a whirlwind of welcome lunches, birthday lunches, lunches for no particular reason, summer celebrations, donuts brought in just because and ice cream socials. Food is central to this office. Being new, I feel it’s critical that I involve myself in some of these food-related activities, so I get to know my coworkers and am not viewed as an outcast unwilling to join in the fun. On a few occasions, for more informal lunch outings, I’ve suggested Subway and other healthy options; I order salads at restaurants when necessary; I carefully assess and choose my options when dealing with buffets of food; and sometimes, I decline the invitation. That usually only happens with donuts.
- Planning is key. I know this is obvious, but it’s critical. I plan what meals I’m going to make for dinner each night before I head to the grocery store to do the weekly shopping. About 80 percent of the time, MM and I actually eat what we said we were going to eat. I spend Sundays making my lunches for the week. And, if all else fails, I make sure I have healthy frozen or quick options on hand if I don’t feel like preparing dinner, or I can’t stand the thought of having the same lunch five days in a row at work. It takes time, but this (other than the mental switch that seems to have been flipped to “on” recently) is the most important thing I can do.