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Thinking through food choices

Friday, October 05, 2012

I hear stories of how people lose weight or maintain loss, and they always involve the details: how many calories or nutritional differentials or exercise. That is WHAT they do, not HOW they do it. I can tell you WHAT I do, but how DO I do it?

I live my life like everyone else, but there is an undercurrent of thought, a second, constant, background line that is made up of my Rules. These are rules I made for myself long ago, primarily so that every food encounter wouldn't become a debate with myself. (Can I eat this? Why can't I eat this? Maybe if I give up dessert on Friday or walk a few more miles?) I always lose debates with myself. I'm not the best debater in the world, and when I am on both sides of the debate, I am doomed.

So to avoid the debate I have rules. They aren't universal, but they were handed to me when I started losing weight and I have incorporated them into my bones. I don't eat between meals. I don't eat junk food. I seldom eat dessert. I rarely eat in restaurants. I would never tell others that these rules are the "key" to successful weight loss or maintenance but they work for me.

And I don't think it's the rules themselves, but the fact that I have them, I follow them, and they are so ingrained in my sub-conscious that I don't have to think about them anymore. Over the years and the decades they have served me well.

There are people who enjoy seeing every instance in their lives as an opportunity for choice, but that way of living would exhaust me. I have enough choices to deal with (need a new doctor, how do I fix my plumbing) that I don't have the emotional energy or confidence to make every food opportunity into a choice. Most are pre-chosen as "No". Most of the rest are "If I have to think about it the answer is No."

I pre-plan my food so that I make my appropriate choices before any longing enters the equation. It's hard enough to buy a house or a car or a dress without emotion bungling up my decision making process. Food choices present themselves far more often in today's life, and at the most inopportune times. Like when I am tired or bored or just want something pleasant to happen. Having rules to help me pre-choose is almost sub-conscious by now. It's taken years of practice to have a reliable sub-conscious, and I can articulate that sub-conscious as my Rules.

People who are desperate about weight jump at any plan that promises they can have anything they want "within reason". For me, reason works for a week or a month or a year, but the day will come when emotion wins. I rely on my Rules. And the weight has stayed off for a very long time.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Makes a lot of sense. I know I have built a number of "food rules" over time which have helped me to get as far as I have. The next challenge is to re-vamp those rules so I can reach my goal and STAY THERE! :-)

    2081 days ago
    good info
    2084 days ago
    Very good advice. I'm subscribing to your blogs. I like your approach! I was at goal for almost a year. Have gained back almost 50 lbs. not very happy with myself!! emoticon
    2085 days ago
    Thank you once again, Nell. Like Karen, I've requested your blogs (once I knew that was possible!). I have your previous one on my wall (about LOOOOOOOVVVVVVING). I'll put the rule part of this one up too.

    We complicate things so much sometimes.

    2085 days ago
  • MOGAL1946
    Great Blog with Super great information. emoticon
    2085 days ago
    YOur rules sound like a very good plan to me, and they certainly work for you. I wish I had the discipline that you do every day.
    2085 days ago
    It's so great to get inside your head and understand how you have maintained for so long. Lots of food for thought there, valuable stuff!
    Thanks for sharing, Nell!
    2085 days ago
    I love this. I too have rules and find that they really help me stay on track.
    2085 days ago
  • --KREN
    Nell, I don't often take time to comment on your blogs, but I want you to know they are really wonderful! You ARE the success story and I love the way your success has continued for so long. All your insights and advice is really good and I am beginning to rely on it. It is seeping into my hard little head and I hope it takes root there and thrives, lol.

    I have subscribed to your blog now, so I won't miss any.

    I would like to know how long it took for all these wonderful tactics to really "settle in" your mind.

    Thank you so much. Keep writing!

    2086 days ago
    Thank you very much, I relly agree!
    2086 days ago
  • 123ELAINE456
    Awesome Blog. Well Written. Thank You for Sharing your Rules with Us. God Bless You and Hava a Wonderful Weekend.
    2086 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/5/2012 11:08:44 PM
    Great blog and well put. Thanks for sharing your rules.
    2086 days ago
    Love your rules. Sounds like a good plan to you. I practice some of them. I rarely eat out. I plan my meals way ahead of time and usually cook my dinner at lunch time so all i have to do is heat it at dinner time. rarely eat between meals. So many of your rules, "rule" for me.
    Have a great week end.
    2087 days ago
    emoticon I mean it. What a sensible way to do it. You hit the nail on the head, that's the only way I can say it.
    2087 days ago
    What a good reminder! I always do better when I have rules, and I get in trouble when I let them slide a little. We can play all sorts of interpretive mind games with ourselves, The Rules are the nonnegotiables.
    2087 days ago
  • GABY1948
    I LOVED this, Nell, and I totally thank you. Especially, one sentence JUMPED out at me: "If I have to think about it the answer is No." I actually just had that very argument which did turn out to be no but your way would have saved me at least 45 minutes...

    Most of what you say is very true even for me. I have gained back like 30 pounds but that is VERY small compared to the amount I lost to begin with so part of it I am doing and I actually believe with your philosophy you have helped me a great deal and that is worth more than a million dollars to me! Thank you again and have a GREAT weekend!

    2087 days ago
    you have made it clear what to do THANKS
    2087 days ago
    You write so plainly and matter-of-factly about your weight maintenance. Your blog is the sound of sanity amid the siren calls of miracle weight loss formulas.

    Where I get into trouble with food rules is that as soon as I think I can't have something, I want it all the more. And yet, I know that certain foods truly are off-limits for me if I expect to have any control over binge-eating. It's far easier to prevent a binge than to stop one. I also know that eating more than 3 meals a deal doesn't work for me, for the same reason. My life is much calmer when I'm not fighting binges, pre- or mid-.

    So what I do is to plan my weekly menus and enter my meals in the tracker ahead of time. That way, every day when I get up, all of my food decisions have already been made and I just have to follow my plan. It's a lot easier for me to say yes to sticking with my plan than it is to say no to food. And since I do my planning at a time when I'm thinking clearly, it's very easy for me to exclude those certain foods. It's not that I can't have them, they're just not in my plan.

    There may come a time, after decades of experience, when my Rules will be so deeply engrained in my subconscious that following the Rules won't be hard. In the meantime, I have only one Rule: follow my Plan.

    Thank you again, NellJones, for this thoughtful and clear blog. You are leading by example, and I'm grateful for your leadership.
    2087 days ago
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