Thursday, February 13, 2014
I pretty well fell off the wagon from Thanksgiving through the end of the December, so by the time I got to the new year, I was overdue for yet another fresh start. I decided to start with just one thing: tracking my food. I wouldn't worry about over-eating, but I would record every single thing I ate. I would plan my meals as best I could, but my first goal was tracking. My aim was to make tracking a habit, and I figured it would take me a month or so. Once tracking became a habit, I would figure out what habit to tackle next.
After about two weeks of steady tracking, I could see clearly what was going on. I would plan to eat about 300 calories at breakfast, 300 at lunch, around 250 in the afternoon, and the final 700 calories for supper. I almost always did all right through lunch, and often was fine through supper. However, several nights a week, I would overeat after supper. I would finish supper but never really finish. It was nothing to put away 500 calories after supper as I cleaned up the kitchen and did little house jobs. Once I even ate 1,000 calories after supper. Obviously, the scale was not dropping, and I was ready to do something drastic.
So I pulled out a technique I had never tried before. I told myself that for every 100 calories I ate above my range, I would send $1.00 to an organization I oppose politically. I just picked the first such organization that came to mind.
It's been about a month now, and I have been stunned at how successfully this has worked for me. There is NO WAY I am sending these folks a dollar, much less more! I've gone to potlucks, and this week I even went out of town for a couple of days and had to find food at airports and once even at a hotel vending machine bank. (Bless their hearts, they actually had Lean Cuisine freezer meals! ) Through it all, I have kept within my range except for going 16 calories over once when I came upon freshly baked cookies late at night and thoughtlessly downed one. Sixteen calories! That's it for being over my range in a month!
When I started the year, I intended to work on habits that I could live with the rest of my life. This particular practice isn't something I mean to do forever. It's quite negative, really. But it has gotten me into so many other good habits, I'm definitely planning to do it for a while yet. I measure and weigh much of my food. I scope out a potluck table or buffet and decide what I'm going to eat before I pick up a plate. Going out to eat, I think ahead of time and plan what I'll order and how I will say No thanks to the rolls or whatever won't fit into the plan. At the office, I deliberately look away from stuff that doesn't fit into my eating plan. At home, I move temptations off the counter into a cupboard or up on top of the refrigerator, just to make it less likely that it will catch my attention. And many times, even when temptation has struck, I've reminded myself of who will benefit if I lose it and, well, "NO WAY!" It's been quite a surprise that good-old-positive me could be so successfully motivated by opposition. But there you have it -- it has worked. I'm very pleased!