At the beginning of the month I outlined how I was going to start to break down my eating habits and this approach has been working really well – I’m a good 5-6lb down at the midway point which is very positive indeed. Each week I’ve been trying to reassess and find the next little bits of my intake to reduce or eliminate – things I’m ready to let go of. There are a lot of things in my regular diet that I feel literally dependent on (we’re all dependent on something right?!) and I know if I cut back too much or too soon or without rationalisation that I will fall into a kind of deprivation shut-down, be much more likely to binge and find myself back in that eternal see-saw of “why is my weight not going down when I feel like I’m trying so hard?” (where I spent much of 1Q) – so it’s important to just find small things to change and be invested in them.
Here’s a re-cap of the potential changes for workdays that I identified at the beginning of the month, along with my progress so far:
- Horribilus days: I haven’t managed to rule these out completely but am gradually narrowing it down, usually it winds up as being one really hefty meal or an unnecessary snack rather than a whole day. Reducing my treats in general (as below) has made it easier to have treat-days without going mad because in comparison to the status quo, small treats are now GREAT!
- After-Breakfast treats: although I’m not aiming to rule these out completely, I have started cutting down – instead of having a pack a day I buy three packs and cut them into ¾ to make them last four days. If I get comfortable with this I’ll move down to a half and it’s a short step from there to ¼ or just stopping having it completely on some days. I’m not that worried about it but glad I have been able to reduce it and have had the motivation to do so.
- After-lunch treats: GONE! I may have one a week (as a treat-day in substitution for a Horribilus day) but as often as not it’ll just be a coffee instead of chocolate/cake.
- Evening grazing: I have been much better about this, mostly thanks to the protein snack before leaving work. It’s harder if I’m hungry but if I manage it successfully three nights out of four that’s still a great improvement.
- Protein snack before leaving work: been doing this religiously, buying chicken and prawns at the beginning of the week to make sure I always have something to hand. This helps massively with getting by on less both and lunch and in the evenings and could be one of the most crucial elements of the whole plan! Plus I think it just helps me feel better and have better energy.
- No snacking in between breakfast & lunch and lunch & afternoon snack – DONE. I maybe lose one of these points out of eight each week. One thing I’m actively working on at the moment is delaying RECEIVED snacks – so if someone gives me something in between meals which I wasn’t expecting, to not eat it straight away but save it to have with a meal or until I have a scheduled snack or a treat-day.
- Herbal tea and iron: still going strong on these.
I’ve already come a really long way in a really short time and cleaned up my act in a major way! I realised the other day that, as a result of these other changes, I had effectively planned to not eat any actual solid chocolate products for an entire week! Which would have been literally unthinkable in March (only THREE WEEKS AGO!) That to me is pretty quick progress! When I fail I feel like each failure is spectacular and I’m months and months away from a healthier lifestyle but I think having picked myself up and started over so many times before, it actually does get easier and doesn’t take that long to revert to healthier routines.
I need to come up with a similar list for weekends, again looking at what my pattern actually IS and then identify small specific areas where it might be possible to reduce:
- Breakfasts: I generally have two bagels with chicken and a yoghurt with tea, and I am quite addicted to this – it takes quite a while to eat and is a really nice tasty leisurely breakfast in comparison to my normal rushed cereal on workdays. I am very reluctant to mess with this but I could make a start by reducing by ¼ to 1½ bagels, which I tried last Saturday because I knew I had a big lunch coming up and I was busy, and it was OK. I feel quite touchy around this issue so it might be the last thing to go but an opportunity is there for when I’m feeling super-motivated. The other thing I could do is cut down on the days I don’t run in the morning and that would reinforce the running-is-good message. But anyway it’s breakfast and I’m not convinced it makes a massive difference either way.
- Post-nap-munchies & snacks between meals: THIS is the biggest thing I’ve identified. If I have a nap, whether it’s going back to sleep after breakfast in the morning or dozing off in the afternoon, I will invariably wake up feeling (briefly) like crap and wanting to EAT. It’s automatic. So these are the times in the past where I’ve headed back to the fridge for “second breakfast” or some kind of snack and that’s often quite damaging as if I write off the day I’ll then be more likely to eat carbs with dinner and graze in the evening. So the new rule is to NEVER EAT after waking up from a nap and just basically to rule out unofficial snacking between meals. If I can stick to this I’m pretty sure I can rule out Horribilus at the weekends.
- Official snacks: the protein rule probably should apply at weekends too, since I’m still working out. It’ll probably help me eat cleaner in the evenings. So arrange to have spare proteins in the fridge and just get in a small snack if I can. Sometimes we have big lunches and then (because we rarely go out) our evening meal becomes quite a big focus as an event, and snacking would take away some of that sense of occasion but would probably stop me from over-eating too. In general, the regular and smaller meals will help me reduce the amount I’m eating overall. Apart from this, I want to try and eat more fruit on weekends as snacks too.
- Monday treat – I tried going without this and ended up eating a load of random crap that was to hand instead! So I think one small sweet thing would be preferable, it’s a long day to myself and I don’t have a breakfast treat or anything else so this would give me one thing to look forward to. If I can limit it to that then I can get on with the rest of my day.
Writing these posts really helps me to recognise the progress I’m making, so I guess this should also be on the list! I was swimming this morning and thinking, it’s almost like a religion, these regular visits to the pool, the gym, the park, the encounters with the floor or the kettlebell. Every workout is like a visit to the altar of a healthier me! I am thoroughly invested in this process.