I was having a really, really hard time reining in my eating habits. I couldn’t muster up that sense of urgency I had before, that feeling that every little decision makes a difference. I couldn’t seem to find any fucks to give. I’d try to mentally reset myself, and then something would just sound good, so I’d eat it; or I’d order the wrong thing from the coffeeshop, but drink it, anyway; or I just wouldn’t feel like running in the drizzly cold, so I’d rationalize it by taking a low-activity week to monitor my back pain.
I decided it was time to reinstate some basic guidelines for myself. After that first dreadfully off-the-rails week of April, I made some rules:
- I will only buy lunch once or twice during the week — the rest of the time, I pack.
- I won’t eat after Connor goes to bed — not even a little treat with my decaf or tea.
- I will exercise daily, whether it’s a full-on fitness class or a lunch walk (or run) or yoga before bed.
It was the middle of the week — hell, the middle of a Thursday afternoon — when I instated my new rules. I didn’t have to wait for Monday, or weigh-in day, or even tomorrow. The sooner I could get back on track, the better, honestly. If I could turn my mentality around while I was thinking clearly, I (hopefully) would have already made the right decisions by the time the decision-making time was upon me. I hit a couple of bumps that first half-a-week (one big one involving a box of Kraft Dinner), but for the most part, I successfully started turning things around.
Going into the second week of April, meal prep was key. Aaron bought a pound of ground turkey breast, and I froze it into two 8-ounce patties for making into evening meals for Connor and myself. (If I cook up a pound of turkey into stroganoff, I will eat the whole thing. I know myself too well.) I also realized I enjoyed having cooked white rice on hand, so I cooked up a few cups and portioned it out for future meals.
I stopped setting myself a short-term target on my weight graph, since it was only serving to frustrate me, and instead focused on pulling my trendline back to a projected loss instead of a slowly creeping gain. It took me about a week of refocused eating with intention, but I did it.
(Skipping forward in the month a bit, you’ll see that my birthday weekend marked a backslide in my habits that lasted for a week or two afterward. Thankfully, though, I didn’t undo ALL of my progress. Quite.)
I realized that I need to decide what it is that I want — what kind of balance do I crave? What am I willing and able to let go in favor of achieving that balance? I’m finally comfortable in my own skin, for the most part; why do I feel the need to drop another 10 pounds, or another pant size or two, or reduce my body fat percentage?
(I sought out some online body fat calculators and learned that I’m on the tipping point between “healthy” and “obese” — why there’s such a jump in terminology there will definitely be the subject of another blog post, especially since I had a lengthy discussion about it with the director of my work’s Fitness Center.)
The day after I learned my body fat percentage, it felt like I’d made a mental shift. I woke up earlier (although still not early enough), drank some water, and made myself some oatmeal for breakfast. I made plans to lift weights at home that night, and agreed that my photo walk on Friday would be a reward to myself for working out at home. I also agreed to sacrifice the photo walk in favor of weights in the gym on Friday if I failed to make the time to lift at home.
What if I had to permanently sacrifice my occasional lunchtime photo walks around downtown in favor of adding one more workout into my week? (Bummer… but so be it.)
If I find that I’ll need to give up my regular Wednesday lunches out with my co-workers, would I do it? (I’d miss the social aspect and the delicious food, but I could do it.)
How about if I need to wake up early to do some sunrise yoga or lifting at home? (I know myself too well; that one isn’t going to happen.)
What about carving out some time for weekly lunch and dinner prep? (I should be doing that, anyway, instead of flying by the seat of my pants every day.)
And why can’t I work out on Saturday or Sunday mornings at home? Wouldn’t it be a good idea for Connor to see me doing some bodyweight exercises or lifting some dumbbells? (Except that he wants me to engage and interact and play with him nowadays, not just be in the same room watching him play or draw or watch TV… That’s no reason not to knock out a couple sets of pushups or squats or dips, though.)
Anyway, once I reset my headspace, April went pretty well.
Until my birthday weekend, that is.
Tacos and ice cream and pizza gave way to multiple lunches out during the week and evening snacking and bad habits returning. As I write this, I’m struggling to re-establish the mindset I’d cultivated just a couple weeks ago.
My relationship with food is in a delicate balance, and as much as I’d like to think I’ve internalized all the habits I need to reach and maintain a healthier weight (or, as I recently saw it referred to in a magazine ad, my “happy weight”), weeks (and months) like this make me realize that it still requires constant vigilance on my part.
Not all of my April Reset rules made it to the end of the month, obviously. Actually, none of them did. But May is a new month, and any day is a good day for a mental reset and for deciding what guidelines I’m willing and able to follow right now.
It does satisfy me to know that a week is about the maximum backslide I can mentally handle before my brain and my body sync up again and tell me to get my shit together. That’s promising. That’s a lifestyle change right there.
Slow and steady…
PS: I wrote the majority of this blog entry in past tense as I was making these decisions and changes, in the hopes of mentally influencing myself to consider those decisions made and done and immutable. It worked, for the most part. 🙂