When I was last successfully losing weight – eating well, exercising and having a good, positive mindset – I had a list of rules of things I needed to do to make it work for me. I’m not talking about crazy or weird rules, I’m talking about sensible changes to my behavior. I’m not sure I remember them and that blog got eaten in the great php update. Still, I remember some and they are intended to help me stay on track.
*As already noted, never shop after visiting Mom or Dad in the nursing home. I’m a stress eater. I’m an emotional eater. I want to fill up those emotional spaces after I go to the nursing home and I will justify anything when I am in that head space. It isn’t “willpower” it’s being smart enough to not put myself in that position.
*I don’t believe in totally denying myself anything. Some people feel better doing that but it doesn’t work for me. It feels like punishment and that is not loving myself – but then again, eating a whole bag of chips isn’t loving myself. There are some foods that I can only buy in small quantities or only eat in restaurants. It’s hard to buy or make only enough Mexican food, for example, for one serving. I could make a lighter dinner when I make my own chicken enchiladas, but then I have a whole bunch of tortillas which will get eaten one way or another. I’m better off eating them at a restaurant. I’m better off buying a small single serving bag of chips when I’m craving the crunch. I’m better off having a frozen custard only when I’m up in Springfield – maybe once per month – rather than buying even small amounts of ice cream at home.
*Writing stuff down keeps me honest. It’s easy for extra food to work it’s way into my meal plan when I don’t weigh and measure. I didn’t write stuff down this weekend because it felt pointless. If I had, I might have slowed down sooner. Sometimes seeing the numbers helps break the cycle of a binge. But it is true also that sometimes I just use it to beat myself up further.
*Along with writing it down, it’s important to be mindful. I like food. I think food should be enjoyable. But it isn’t really enjoyable when I’m eating automatically and habitually – that’s just eating until I hit food coma. Paying attention to what I’m eating and enjoying the flavors and textures make it more meaningful. Small bites. Slowing down.
*Not drinking during meals. This is a lap-band rule and helps keep food in the stomach so you feel full longer. For me, this is complicated by gastroparesis but that seems to be settling down now so I can go back to not drinking during meals.
*Starting over immediately. I’m not going to be perfect. I’m going to make bad choices now and then. But I have a history of telling myself I’ll start over tomorrow or next Monday or the beginning of the month or after the holidays. Putting it off doesn’t really make it any better or easier. Starting over right then does. If I ate too much at dinner, blowing off the evening (or the whole weekend) just makes me feel worse.
*Planning. I don’t do well with really rigid plans but I do need a plan. It helps to have reasonable, portioned snacks available. It helps, especially when shopping, to have meal ideas for the week and to make a list based on the plan. I need a certain amount of routine, not just eating whatever I feel like.
*Going to rehab three days per week and weighing once per week. Not getting freaked out or too excited by the numbers. Remembering that there is a certain amount of natural fluctuation daily and monthly because of water retention. Keeping the big picture in mind.
It can feel overwhelming. If I try to be too perfect I tend to give up at every failure. So making changes slowly, a change or two at a time helps. On the other hand, most of this list is about viewing eating differently. Enjoying instead of stuffing, being more mindful, slowing down, and taking care of myself. Some of it is about not setting myself up for failure, like not buying things that will make it more difficult for me to stick to my eating goals.