Now that I’ve identified my Why, great. But that doesn’t help me remember How! And How is what I need right now.
With each of my failures when trying to get back to eating healthfully, I’ve been both puzzled and frustrated as to why my current attempt was failing when I had succeeded before. Clearly, I could lose the weight at some point in history; so, why couldn’t I do it on that attempt – or the one before or the one after? What did I do differently the time I was successful?
After much thought and examination, I have to admit that I’m still not sure. However, I know what I did in the failures that didn’t work; so, I’m consciously avoiding those behaviors this time.
These were the behaviors that I know fizzled:
- Eating on the fly. If there were no healthy meal options prepared when I was hungry enough to gnaw off my own fist, I stopped at a drive-thru for fries and a frosty – neither of which was small.
- Having a vague goal. I wanted to “lose weight” and “get back into my clothes.” Yeah. So how do you measure that?
- Figuring it out as I went along. I had neither a diet nor an exercise plan.
- Buying prepared foods. In an attempt to reduce fries and frostys, I bought “healthy” boxed foods from the interior aisles of the grocery store.
And I continued to gain weight.
Thinking about the things that I know didn’t work has jogged my memory. I remember these things did work:
- Prepping. When I got home from the grocery, I cut up peppers, onions, mushrooms and other veggies. Storing them in individual containers making them easy to add to salads, soups, sandwiches, eggs and whatever else. I also had salad greens waiting in a bowl to act as the foundation for the other veggies. I was my own sous chef!
- Setting a specific goal. I don’t remember where I got the number; but, I wanted to get down to 140 pounds. I stopped at 144 when I felt like I had lost enough; but, I had a hard number I could keep in mind and actually track my progress towards.
- Planning. I planned my exercise schedule and many of my meals beforehand. One gym bag was ready to go to kickboxing while another was ready to go to the pool. My workouts were planned, as well. Kickboxing was three days a week. Swimming was one day. Walking or running was two days. Resting was one day. Sometimes I would mix it up and go to the batting cages or driving range on a day, or sometimes I’d swim twice in a week and run once. Regardless, I had some kind of structure set up.
- Freshening up. While I would sometimes buy frozen produce or meat, most of it was fresh. The only boxed food I bought was steel cut oats. Otherwise, I bought nothing processed or boxed, regardless of how healthy the label said it was.
- Supplementing. While many studies show that supplements don’t actually have any health benefits, I still took them and I think that they helped me, at least mentally. Every Sunday night I filled my pill containers with the next week’s morning and night pills. I took fish and flax seed oil capsules, a multivitamin, probiotics, hyaluronic acid (for my skin and joints), Co Q-10, a D vitamin and extra B vitamins.
- Journaling. I used LoseIt! to keep track of every calorie I ate and every calorie I burned.
- Vegging. I made certain that my plate contained at least 75% vegetables and that those vegetables were not fried.
- Staging. I ate most of my meals using actual stoneware plates or bowls, and actual metal cutlery. I ate at the table rather than in front of the TV or over the sink.
- Appealing to other senses. I made a special effort to make my food visually attractive with a pleasant aroma and a variety of textures. I often listened to classical music that I liked while I ate. I made it a holistically pleasant experience.
- Avoiding whites. I avoided almost all white food including regular bread, white potatoes, white wheat and rice. If I ate pasta made from white flour or if I ate white rice, I was very careful with my serving sizes.
Would you look at that! It turns out we have at least a skeleton for the How. Well then. Let’s get started, shall we?