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Making Progress

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.
*Track everything
*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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