Sunday, October 25, 2009

To Do: Lose Weight.

I touched briefly, the other day, on the qualm I have with people always looking for "the secret," "the trick," the magical part of weight loss that lets us continue to do exactly as we've been doing and still drop the pounds. Well, it's not there. We all know that, or we would all have utilized it by now and not come here each day to discuss and dissect our struggles with this big "To Do."

During weeks that I gain, I have no "To-Do" itinerary, I'm just hoping for a "Ta Dah" at weigh in. It never happens for me however. My weight is highly fluctuating and I must be extremely on top of the ball in order to be successful. I know this is the case for many of you so I thought I would share some of my daily "To Do(s)" that keep me in the success zone.

Eat Breakfast
We've all heard it time and time again, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day." Fine. I get it. I'm not hungry when I wake up. I'd rather exist on copious amounts of coffee for the first half of my day than put anything in my face. However, I always want to overeat at night. Solution? Add calories in morning so my body isn't searching for them at bedtime. To compromise, I generally eat a small breakfast full of fiber and protein such as a banana and yogurt or a bowl of oatmeal and a latte.

Eat Sitting Down
A rule I've recently adopted over the past few months from The Beck Diet Solution, I must be sitting down in order to put anything in my mouth. Consciously practicing this daily felt awkward at first, but I now recognize why it's such a great habit, and there's a number of reasons. 1) I am able to focus on my meal. Enjoying and savoring every bite. This is important when you have a limited amount of calories to imbibe each day - make every bite count. 2) Free food. Cocktail parties, grocery store samples... at first I'd just grab them and nosh as I pushed my cart or carted my drink.. but now that this habit is fully formed in my brain, I'm not ABLE to eat those foods if there is not a chair near by. The light bulb clicks on in my head alerting me to the fact that I don't really *need* that to begin with, it is not a part of my plan and I am not willing to deviate from that plan. I then, in turn, feel very powerful and in control.

Eat My Plan
Every Wednesday after my Weight Watchers meeting I sit down to a healthy dinner with my cookbooks splayed out in front of me. Utilizing a mental list of what's in the fridge and cupboards, I work through a comprehensive meal plan for the week that involves limited items purchased to keep costs and food wasting down, that will feed me, my family and allow leftovers to be recreated into new meals with a little creativity or the help from my favorite WW cookbook Now and Later.

The Weight Watchers plan also encourages 8 Good Health Guidelines (GHGs) which include certain portions of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, dairy, whole grains, healthy oils, water, a multi-vitamin and physical activity. When I sit down to plan my week in meals, I keep a checklist of the GHGs next to that list and check off for the day. If I am not meeting the 8 GHGs, that day is not complete. No matter how prepared I am, if I am not following the program, I am not guaranteed to lose. I want to do what I set out to do. I know the program works and I do my best to follow it exactly.

I make 4 copies of my meal plan. 1 for the fridge, 1 for my daily planner, 1 to put near the oven, and 1 to give to Justin (my partner). I give this meal plan to Justin as means for accountability and also to prevent him from eating leftovers that may be on my meal plan.

I know a lot of people can be successful in weight loss without it, but I wouldn't feel successful in life without it. Being physical allows me to live a life with less stress. Not stress-free mind you, but significantly less stress. It is much easier for me to "make time for myself" when I am doing something constructive such as taking a fitness class. I feel less guilty for being "selfish" in that manner. One of the biggest struggles we face is believing we are worthy of the time it takes to lose weight. You are. Trust me. Your family thinks you are too. They kind of like you and would like you to stick around.

If you're new to exercise, just walk. You can do it anywhere and you can easily progress in it. Walk. Eventually jog. Eventually run. It's free and anyone can do it (unless you don't have legs, in which case I'm severely sorry). If you really want to feel powerful, start strength training. Having muscle helps you burn more calories and fat while resting, which means you can lose weight while watching contestants on the Biggest Loser lose weight. Strength training can easily be done at home with free weights. The lower the weight, the more repetitions you'll want to incorporate. Strength Training should be difficult or you're not pushing yourself. If you're new to fitness and "busy," I highly suggest the 30 Day Shred, a 20 minute DVD that incorporates cardio, strength training and abdominal workouts. It's hard, but it's worth it. There are 3 levels to help you build stamina and stay interested.

I love fitness because it encourages me to push myself and that bleeds into other areas of my life.

Rest, Relax, Recoup
Just stop. Stop for 2 minutes and close your eyes. I do this every day and it centers me. It's another way I can take time (albeit a small amount) for myself. I let my mind wander to all of the healthy behaviors I practiced during the day and silently give myself credit for them. I think about how far I've come and I make drastic attempts to picture what I want my life to look like to keep that goal in the front of my mind at all times.

I eat dessert every day. It's part of my plan. I love dessert and there are a plethora of healthy dessert recipes out there. If dessert is important to you, don't try to give it up! Just sub in healthy substitutes. When you restrict yourself too much or eliminate things you LOVE from your "diet," you're less likely to stick to it. The trick is learning moderation. I obviously can't eat creme brulee every night or chow down on a pint of cookie dough ice cream, but I can eat Sugar Free pudding or make myself a frozen yogurt sundae. It's a trade off that I love.

What do you do every day to ensure your success?


Heidi said...

I have also had good results from "30 Day Shred." Every time I moved up a level I thought I was going to die, but by the end of the week it was, dare I say, easy. I did it five days a week and went running three days, taking one day off completely. I can tell how much stronger I am doing everyday things, especially through my abs.

I also love the "Now and Later" cookbook.

Bella said...

I could never live without dessert. As you, I just substitute (or try to substitute) with low-fat/calorie desserts. That is actually really important for me to stay on the ball. I treat myself to a dessert, and also every now and then to something I would usually not have (maybe once a week), like pizza or a burger, even if it puts me over points. That is if I am really sticking to WW properly (i.e. not lately).

Breakfast is actually really important for me as I start feeling sick about two hours after I get up if I don't eat breakfast. Unfortunately it's almost like the food goes down a black hole because 2-3 hours later I usually get hungry again, especially if I only eat bread (which is a lot on the days I have classes because I tend to eat on the go and pick something up from the bakery).

You really seem to be organized with your meal plans, I usually just have a bunch of food at home that is good for Weight Watchers and I stick to eating that. I try not buying the food I shouldn't eat (and I usually am really good about that, except for snack food lately).

The whole sitting down for eating thing... well I always sit down to eat unless I get something at the bakery but what I want to do is take more time to eat. Chew everything properly and put down the knife and fork in between bites. I read Paul McKenna's book that suggests that and I want to try how that works for me. I should probably also focus on eating more, like I often eat while watching a TV show, so I am paying more attention to the TV show than to eating.

Zanna, travelling tart said...

Really interesting and I love some of your ideas. Thanks for sharing Z xx

Sonya said...

"I know a lot of people can be successful in weight loss without it, but I wouldn't feel successful in life without it".

You totally hit the nail on the head with this one! Totally.

And the dessert thing is good too. I have something a little sweet each day too. Even if it's something simple like a bit of yogurt with muesli on top.

Thanks for sharing.