Monday, September 17, 2012
When I began maintaining, I worked to keep my mind open to the possible strategies and techniques to help me achieve my goals. I've picked up bits of knowledge and information to do so but after a certain point I became immersed in the repetitious patterns to my days and it didn't seem possible that there were further strategies to employ, I'd tried it all.
Wrong, wrong, so wrong. There are always new thoughts and ideas to try, new studies to learn from, new techniques to prevent stagnation and gain.
I have a number of favorites that I employ as necessary, some very generalized and some very specific, but all very helpful in their own ways.
Whatever I do, whether it is the amount of calories eaten, the exercise I engage in, the best way to achieve results is to be consistent day in and out.
2) Eating every 3-4 hours
I've discussed this before, but it's important for me to do this as eating so frequently works to suppress ghrelin production and ultimately hunger, allowing my appetite to remain satisfied through the day. The downside is that I have trained my body to expect food at certain times of day, but this is the system which works for me.
3) Drinking water
Drinking water is about quenching my thirst (which I can mistake for hunger) as well as keeping me hydrated. The downside is increased bathroom runs, as well as the quick loss of minerals and salt that would otherwise help increase my very low blood pressure. In other words, I get dizzy a lot when standing.
4) Drinking hot tea
Tea is shown to suppress appetite, but did you know that hot drinks do the same? This is a double whammy strategy against hunger and appetite, especially in the evenings when binging is most likely to occur.
5) Sharing restaurant orders
Let's admit it, restaurant portions are not single servings, even for fast food. At double or triple the serving amounts, it is a dangerous game to play with myself in dining out. Splitting meals and sharing drinks and a single dessert among friends is a good way to not only cut the calories, but the expense as well. The downside is that you never know if what they want will coincide with what you want, and if it will be worth it in calories.
6) Protein in the morning
As with tea, consuming protein in the morning works all day long to suppress hunger and appetite. If I know on a given day I will be going out and need to restrict through the rest of the day, I try to start the day with proteins.
7) Cleanse days
This is a new strategy, one that I only just heard about and one that really appeals. I've already shown I excel at indulgence eating within maintenance (aka cheat days or treat days, 24/7), so allowing a day of indulgence in the week would mean nothing to me. Rather, one day of the week should be reserved as a cleanse day, eating low calorie below maintenance, in order to partially offset the indulgences the rest of the time, and celebrating the achieved deficiency.
8) Switch things up
We've heard this time and time again, and fundamentally we understand it is good to add variety to our routine, but most of the time it's just hard to find the opportunities. I'm slowly working on adjusting my food planning systems to attain a more sustainable outcome. I was focused to much on rigid patterns to produce the results I want, so I'm learning to be more flexible. (That isn't to say the rigid system didn't benefit me in the past, but now it's time to move on.) As for exercise, as I've blogged I've taken on a sport and a training regime (running) which I never thought I would ever do, in the spirit of friendly competition. These changes are changes for the better, as long as I'm consistent with them.
9) Letting go of the old
It's easy to fall into a pattern and start to think this is all I need to do. But even what begins as a positive pattern can turn toxic and is no longer sustainable in a healthy way. We focus too much on only one rule only, expecting it to work each time. And when it doesn't, we end up feeling like it has failed. This cycles and becomes a pattern on its own, but we really haven't failed, we've just closed ourselves off from the alternative options and the old rules are stagnating. Keeping an open mind, whether that is conversation with friends, reading new articles and blogs, listening to podcasts, watching tv shows, reading books, entering competitions, whatever you like has the possibility to reopen your mind for the good, gaining new strategies to employ.
10) Take a few steps back
There are certain points we reach where we begin to think we've advanced beyond the methods we used to employ. We dismiss them, they're old, they're simple, they did what they needed to and we've moved forward past them. Yet these simple systems, like walking instead of other forms of exercise, or weighing in once a week instead of daily, or eating simpler meals, these steps back in time can become the systems that not only got us on the right path, they can return us to the right path when we've strayed no matter what level we are at. They worked for a reason then, and they can still work for us now.
Rules set up boundaries for us and these boundaries can protect us from unwanted urges and desires. It can be scary to knock down the familiar boundaries and rules, scary to toss out the patterns we are comfortable with. We don't want to let in the evils we've been holding at bay. But not all rules and strategies will last as we age and circumstances change.
When we find the strength to pull down the familiar and build out with a mind open to possibility, we discover the boundaries are enhanced by change, even extended a little further out to allow us extra room, letting us to continue to seek success and letting us continue to maintain.