Sunday, August 25, 2013
I have absolutely nothing going on this week. For the first time in a long time, my calendar has lots of clear space. No lunch or dinner out with friends or family, no celebrations, no out-of-town trips, no events of any kind, nothing. Finally! In other words, I have nothing that will give me an excuse to not make healthy choices for the next seven days. What I have is a golden opportunity to work on tracking and staying within my calorie range with absolutely no distractions.
I have been working on this, just not with any great success for any significant length of time. A few days here, a week there, sometimes just a meal or two, sometimes the whole day, some days in my calorie range, most days not so much. But I am not giving up. I have gotten it right some of the days some of the time. I just need to keep at it and figure out how I made it happen at least some of the time and build on that.
When I am trying to develop a healthy habit, I have found that it helps if I can come up with a routine. I have my routine for exercise (every morning, same time), for drinking water (drink a glass before and after meals, and always have my water glass full, with a slice of lemon and a straw), and for eating more fruits and vegetables (1 fruit mid morning and 2-3 servings veggies at both lunch and dinner). Those habits, I feel confident, are here to stay.
My Achilles heel is just that darn keeping track of what I am eating each day and making sure that it stays within my calorie range most days. But there is no getting around the fact that this is a key factor for losing weight and keeping it off. I am quite capable of doing this. I have done it before for days and weeks at a time, so I know I can do this. I have just been allowing myself to accept one excuse after another for all the days when I don’t track and stay within my range. I need to go back and focus on what I am doing TODAY, and not let myself believe for a minute that I really think I can wait until TOMORROW. That definitely has not been working for me.
The routine I want to establish for tracking is to track what I plan to eat each day the night before (though the morning of would also work in a pinch), but at the very least record BEFORE I eat it. My past practice indicates that this is the most successful pattern for me. I can always make adjustments as the day progresses, but as long as the general plan is there, I am better able to stick with it.
Of course, before I plan my meals for each day, I need to make sure that I have plenty of healthy options available. I have that covered. Ever since I read Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, I have very little in the way of processed foods in my kitchen. I go to the Farmer’s Market weekly, as well as receive a farm box each week, so I always have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. I have chicken breasts, ground turkey, and pork tenderloin in the freezer, and no junk food anywhere in sight. Lucky for me, DH supports this effort. Bless his heart!
Truly, I have all the tools in place. I am so close. I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Thursday, July 04, 2013
The more I use the SPARK food tracker, the more I learn. Just when I think I have it all figured out, I find something new. Recently, I was checking through the message boards to see what ideas SPARKERS had for using the food tracker, and I found one suggestion for dealing with meals out. One SPARKER said that she made a grouping for a basic restaurant meal, and that is what she entered whenever she went out. A big AHA moment for me!
I love the grouping option. I have inputted several meals that I most frequently use, and I have found that helps simplify the process of tracking. It never occurred to me to do a dinner out option. I either go to the bother of entering in my tracker what I plan to order, or I promise myself I will enter it later. Most times, I go for the “enter later” option. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. Mostly, it doesn’t.
When I go out, I pretty much stick to the same restaurants, and I know what is on their basic menus. My intent is to always try to go with a salad, dressing on the side, a fish entrée, and steamed vegetables. If this is truly something I want to commit to, nothing says that better that putting that information in a Restaurant Dinner grouping.
Since I was going out tonight for dinner and a play with friends, I decided this was a good time to try out that suggestion. So, I put the basic information for a restaurant dinner in an official grouping. Then I just tapped it and entered it on my tracker today. There is just something about it being there in writing that makes it easier to keep in the forefront of my mind as I am ordering. When I opened the menu tonight, it was so much easier to stick to my plan.
Such a simple thing to do, but so powerful.
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Well, I did! I have been continuing to exercise even though it is crazy hot here, and I continue my efforts to track and stay within my calorie range. Not that I have reached perfection with tracking – not even close – but I still continue to work at, and I am seeing progress and more consistency.
So, yes, I deserve a treat. Not a sweet treat, of course. That would defeat the purpose. Had you worried there for a minute, did I? I opted for a new CD. Have you seen the movie, “Quartet”? It is a British comedy about retired musicians, stars Maggie Smith, and was directed by Dustin Hoffman. It is an absolute gem of a movie. I think it is one that I could watch over and over again. It is a good story with engaging characters, and it is also visually stunning with an incredible setting in both the house (it was filmed at Hedsor House, the magnificent privately-owned Georgian country house in Buckinghamshire) and the surrounding English countryside. On top of all that, it has the best soundtrack I have heard in ages. So that was my treat – the CD for “Quartet”.
Monday, July 01, 2013
One of the keys to weight loss success is eating a healthy and filling breakfast. During the colder months, my go-to breakfast is most often some variation involving oatmeal. This SPARK article included not only information on why oatmeal is a healthy choice, but also a bunch of variations so you never have to have the same oatmeal twice in the same month.
Well, now it is summer, and hot oatmeal just doesn’t appeal to me, especially this week where every day here is going to be over 100 degrees. Yikes! I was getting bored with my options, so I went searching through SPARK recipes for some new ideas. Imagine my surprise to find a recipe for summer oatmeal. Apparently, you don’t have to cook it. That is not entirely new information to me because I have used oatmeal to make a pretty good smoothie in the morning. I do like a good smoothie, but most mornings I don’t want to be bothered pulling out the blender and putting it all together. Plus sometimes, I find that drinking breakfast is just not as satisfying or as filling as actually chewing something. Who knew you could eat it just like cereal? When I saw this recipe, I realized I may have been missing out.
Just so you know, I don’t think the calorie information for this recipe is correct, and I found that letting it sit overnight as per the directions made it mushier than I like. I also want more protein, so I made some additional adjustments to increase that. Most of the time I use ½ cup old-fashioned oats and ½ cup 1% fat milk. To that, I usually add 1 Tablespoon of ground flaxseed and 1 Tablespoon of unsalted natural peanut butter and mix it all together. That is about 336 calories and 16 grams of protein (or 8 WW points+). I just make that a grouping on my food tracker, and I am good to go. As with hot oatmeal, there are a ton of variations. You don’t have to look any further than the reviews that accompany the recipe, but that is just a start, I am sure. It may not be for everyone, but I think it is worth a try.
Monday, June 24, 2013
In my last blog, I outlined a plan for myself to help form the habit of consistently tracking what I eat and staying within my calorie range. I quickly discovered that I needed to add some additional steps to my plan: make the commitment to be mindful of negative comments and to re-start when you falter. These last two steps, of course, apply to the whole process of forming healthy habits, but I especially need to remember them for this segment of my efforts. As I have heard more than once, forming a habit is a marathon, not a sprint.
I don’t have a long streak going yet, but I am seeing more consistency in my efforts to track. In one of the articles I have read about forming new habits, the author stated “Missing one day in a row is not the end of the habit. Missing two days isn’t great, but you can recover. Miss three days, and the habit is shot.” The article doesn’t cite sources, but it makes sense to me, and it does match my experience with other healthy habits I have formed.
I have had more on days than off days, and never more than two off days in a row. As I move on, I am going to work on having fewer off days. Key to that is building a routine that encourages the habit I want to form. I covered that in the very first step in my original plan by stating I would pre-plan my meal plan the night before. That works for me.
Where I have faltered is with recognizing and planning for obstacles. For one thing, I neglected to include the part about actually following through with the plan and coming up with a Plan B for next time if the first plan didn’t work for me. I had two obstacles that I recognized and planned for this week, and I had some - but not - complete success.
One obstacle I had this week was dealing with those times when I felt I was hungry. The worst time for me these days is mid-afternoon. It used to be all the time, I swear, so this is infinitely more manageable. I know that drinking water helps or eating some vegetables or fresh fruit, so I keep those readily available. Today, it was a real struggle, but I stuck to the plan and stayed within my range. It was closer to the top of my range, but it was still within range. I was trying to figure out why this is such a challenging part of the day for me, and I realized that I had formed this habit since childhood. I have a lot of un-doing to do. This is going to take time, and I need to be patient and persistent.
The second obstacle dealt with managing to stay on track while eating out. I had an unusually high number of meals out this week, which made it especially challenging. Everything considered, I stuck with the plan most of the time and went off once. A positive is that I did not use the one off day as an excuse to continue to have off days. I think I can fairly say that that is a sign of progress in itself.
Foundation habits I will continue to work on:
*Pre-plan meals for the next day.
*Run summary each day and evaluate success and areas that need improvement.
*Follow the plan for eating out (i.e.order a salad with dressing on the side, skip the bread basket and dessert, stick with water, when possible use on-line menu to pre-plan order, track everything as completely as you can) - luckily I only have one meal out this week
*Have fresh fruit and prepped veggies readily available.
That’s my plan, and I am sticking to it!
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