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The Secret to Breaking Through My Plateau

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My week got off to rocky start.

This time last week, I wrote about maintaining my weight through the month of December. And how I saw that as Good News.

But since I'm still a long ways from my weight goal, maintaining my weight would not be Good News for much longer. After a high calorie day last Sunday followed by a super-high calorie day on Monday, and the predictable consequences of seeing the scale numbers go UP not down, I knew I needed to do more than blog about my intentions. I needed to take Action.

Here's what I did last week:

* A Conscious and Deliberate Decision

Starting Tuesday, I made a conscious and deliberate decision every morning to eat within my calorie range that day. On that first day, my decision took the form of tracking my meals in advance. I needed to do that to reset my mindset. It all came back to me so quickly, I didn't need to track my meals in advance. I have enough of a food routine, that once I returned to my eating patterns, I knew what I could plan my meals without calculating them in advance.

* Tracking Everything. No excuses.

I tracked what I ate Every. Single. Day. Most days this was easy. As I noted, I have certain food habits, foods and meals I eat frequently enough, with some variation to avoid the boredom of routine. So I used the Groupings and Favorites feature on the SparkPeople tracker to find my favorite foods quickly and easily.

On Friday, my tracking ran into a bit of a snag. First, I met a friend for lunch. I'm not one to skimp when I eat out. I still need to work on viewing eating out as an excuse to overindulge. As if eating out is a special occasion. Which it is when I'm meeting a friend I haven't seen in a year. But meeting a friend is not an excuse to overeat. I still need to learn to enjoy the company more than I do the food.

The other thing that's wrong with how I think about eating out is that because it's so hard/impossible to track accurately what I ate, I almost immediately think, "What the heck. Since I can't track it accurately, why track it all? And if I'm not going to track it, why bother worrying about the calories?" I can't believe that at my age, I still buy into the childish logic of my inner 5-hr-old. But there you go.

It so happened on Friday that I was also attending an all-day business seminar. At one point, the seminar leader talked about what he calls his "1 Demandment": Track your numbers properly. He also said, "The truth is the truth. Even if you answer No to your daily intentions, tell the truth. A No is not a negative. Life happens. But if you consistently see Nos at the end of the day, you'll be able to see at a glance why you aren't meeting your goals."

I immediately connected his "demandment" with tracking my calories and fitness minutes.

Lucky for me, this part of the seminar occurred right before lunch. So I had this ringing in my ears as I entered the restaurant to meet my friend. I ordered a Cobb salad, the one item on the menu that I knew I would enjoy AND was within the range of healthy, made note of the ingredients, and ate the whole thing while turning 100% of my attention over to my long-distance friend. When I got home, I did my best to estimate what I'd eaten and considered whether to eat dinner.

Second, my book club was meeting that same evening, where I knew there would be wine and small nibbles. I always feel left out when I can't enjoy what others are having, so I skipped dinner and saved my calories for the evening. Here, I looked at everything that was offered, made my choices and mental notes about what and how much I was eating and drinking. When I was finished and wanted more, I asked the hostess for a large glass of water. And then turned my full attention to the discussion and the company of friends. Later, I searched for comparable items in the food tracker, and tracked everything to the best of my ability.

By tracking everything, and I mean everything, to the best of my ability and with utmost honesty, my calories eaten for the week averaged out to a few calories over my range.

* Drinking Water

Another thing I did this week was recommit to drinking 6-10 glasses of water every day. I'm now on day 8 of that SparkStreak.

This week, I'll be adding a new Streak: 10 minutes of exercise every day. I wear a Fitbit, but since I'm having problems with my left knee that even walking aggravates, I don't really count my Fitbit steps as exercise. And I certainly don't get anywhere near 10000 steps. So I need to do Something Else. My rebounder, SparkPeople videos, kettle bells, Jillian Michaels (God Help Me).

* Reading a SparkPeople Member Blog

Finally, I read a blog post by SparkPeople member, CATS_MEOW_0911. Back in June, she wrote, "Getting Ready to Stay the Same: Considering Maintenance While Losing." This is probably the most articulate article I've ever read about when to be planning for maintenance: DURING weight loss. I'm beginning to view all my other weight loss efforts from this perspective. They were all practice runs for weight loss. I was doomed to regain because I never once considered maintenance. I fell into the trap of thinking that weight loss was its own reward. Well, I'm done with that thinking. Thanks to CATS_MEOW_0911 for helping me see the light.

Although my week got off to a rocky start on the scale, by taking the actions I've detailed here, I'm happy to report that the results showed up on my scale. Even without exercise, even with a couple of high days early in the week. Deciding, tracking, drinking water, and reading were the actions that made the difference for me and turned the corner from maintaining to losing.

The secret to breaking through my plateau is that there is no secret. I had to return to doing what works. After all, the truth is the truth.

Here's to a new week!

Photo by Alaskan Dude on Flickr
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    great analysis I just read an SP article on The Truth About Exercise and it pointed out some of the same things you do here. The universe is telling me something!! Thank you for taking the time to share this.
    1767 days ago
    You will be successful - best wishes for a healthy new year!
    1767 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.