Lean Habit 1 – Eat 3-4 Times Per Day

diet-617756_1280I’m about to say something that sounds crazy. Portion control does not always mean eating less food. Sometimes, it can mean making sure you’re eating enough of certain things to nourish your body and feel satisfied.

Other than times when I’ve teetered on the edge of an eating disorder, I’ve never had to make a conscious effort to eat enough. Between my hunger signals and my emotional signals, I’ve always done this naturally. The last four days, though, have shaken this up a bit.

I’ve been working my way through 14 days of habit 1 in Lean Habits by Georgie Fear. Habit 1 is Eat 3-4 Meals Per Day (Without Snacking). She gives really good science-y reasons as to why this is important, but I think I’d have to read the chapter again to really understand them.

My main concern right now is making sure I eat enough to make sure I can make it to my next meal without a snack to fall back on. I think mini meals or snacks have been my go-to because you don’t have to wait long to eat again. If I don’t eat enough, it’s not a big deal because I’ll be eating again in 2-3 hours.

I’ve been feeling good on the 3-4 meals, though. I think it’s because I am not used to feeling really satisfied other than at dinner time. It’s a nice change.

A few observations about Lean Habits so far:

  • It’s hard to not read ahead, because this habit falls into place with some habits down the line (like eating just enough and adding in vegetables).

 

  • The Facebook community was really helpful when I asked about treats. I’m a ridiculous rule follower, so I wanted to know if I could just eat dessert as a part of my meal or how else to keep my sweet tooth from rising up a mutiny again my new routine.

 

  • I like that the book encourages scaling habits so that they’re attainable. So, you can make the habits your own and either keep them that way or work to up your game when you have the easier version of the habit down. In the case of my desserts question, many people eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and an evening treat. Sounds like me kind of people.

 

  • Habit tracking is a big part of the process, so I have to keep in mind how many habits I would be willing to track forever.
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Lean Habits – Intro

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Back in 2016, I made a list of books to read about fitness, health, weight loss, nutrition. I’m only two books into my list, so I want to try another one.

I’m putting Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss by Georgie Fear on hold at the library tonight. I’ve listened to an interview with her, and I’m interested to see what it’s all about. I also joined the Facebook group so I could get the full experience.

Here’s what I know, so far. The book is about gradually building long-term, sustainable habits. There’s a list of habits, including four core habits. I think she recommends taking 14 days per habit and reevaluating after that to see if you’re ready to move on to the next one.

The first core habit is eating 3-4 meals per day…that’s it. Now, in the past, I’ve eaten 5-6 meals/snacks per day because I wanted to eat…constantly. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with snacking as long as it fits into your nutritional needs and schedule. However, I’m finding it to be kind of refreshing lately to not feel so tethered to the refrigerator.

Once I get started on the book, I’ll try to check in about how it’s going with habit one.

Unnecessary Food

I find it helpful to have some sort of guideline or idea of what an individual meal will look like for me. It’s shifted throughout my weight loss (and gain) history. This seems to work better for me than counting calories or logging food all day long. I can start each meal fresh and it doesn’t have to be a big production.

I’ve counted carbs per meal, I’ve required myself to have a vegetable and fruit and protein at every meal, and I’ve focused only on portion control. Recently, I added in a new strategy.

When I was listening to the Simple Show podcast the other day,  Tsh Oxenreider mentioned that she doesn’t eat much sweets and other simple carbs because they’re simply unnecessary. This stuck out to me. Keep in mind that carbs can be necessary foods as a calorie source for some based on what’s available and affordable. For me, it’s been helpful to focus on necessary over unnecessary foods. It takes away a lot of the emotions involved in choosing food.

This might look like eating less pasta and rice, which is not bad to eat but usually not my top nutrition priority, and more vegetables. It might mean I would choose a steak or chicken breast over a slice of pizza. Or, just eat a spoonful of peanut butter instead of making it into a sandwich. It usually means less work packing my lunch for work because I don’t throw in as many things like crackers, chips, or granola bars.

It’s not that I can’t have these things, it’s that I just don’t need them. I’m not into low carb diets, either. It just happens that a lot of unneeded foods have a lot of carbs in them. I clear need to cut back on something to make this work, so I might as well start there.

Hungry

When I’ve been at work the last few days armed with my sensible and streamlined meals, I’ve realized that I have forgotten what it’s like to be hungry. In the grand scheme of things, this is not a real problem when you consider how many people in the world go to bed hungry every night.

At the same time, the feeling of hunger comes with a lot of different emotions for me, and I’m realizing that I have set up my life to avoid it entirely. I am pretty good at making sure I have snacks for in between all my meals, eating before I’m truly hungry, and eating just because it’s time to or other people are.

I read something recently that said that hunger (specifically in my life’s situation) isn’t an emergency. It’s perfectly natural to feel hungry, and I don’t need to panic and shove anything and everything in my mouth immediately when it happens. So, I’m working on being okay with being a little hungry…not so okay with it that I go days without eating…but okay enough that I can still make good choices.

Returning to my [gym] roots

CaptureWhen I first started making my health more of a priority back in 2014, I was a member of the Kroc Center. It’s like a YMCA, basically. It was my bedrock of fitness exploration and consistency. I tried new things like deadlifting and boxing. I was feeling great…and then it was no longer in the budget. I struggled to find a solid workout routine after that.

Fast forward to today. We recently reopened our membership to help our girls stay active (we are working on adopting!), and we qualified for a scholarship. Our youngest loves to swim, so I’ve been in the pool a lot. Today, I finally took advantage of the child care and nearly sprinted up the stairs because I was so excited for a barbell.

I’ve lost a lot of ground in the amount of weight I can lift, but my body remembers the movements. It felt amazing. I am hovering just under the 250 mark due to recent progress, and a good workout is just the boost I need. Maybe soon I’ll work up the nerve to post a recent picture, since the one I have up now is from 2016.

Biting the bullet

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That’s right, folks. I’m that person. The one that joins a gym at the beginning of the year.

I have often avoided doing popular things. Sometimes it’s because I am hopelessly uncool. Other times it’s because I am stubborn. New Years resolutions fall under the stubborn category. However, a $1 to sign up is a deal I’ve been, holding out for, and now is that time.

I just finished my first workout and I am feeling pretty good.

My motivation: I’d rather not puke blood (don’t panic…it was only a tiny bit) or hurt all the time if I can help it. I’ve also gained weight, which seems to cause every problem I have.

My strategy: starting with weight machines because my poor joints need the support.

So, I guess I’ll keep you posted. ☺

 

Another year, another stomach flu

I started my new year with stomach flu or some such thing. Things have been touch and go with my acid reflux for a few weeks, and I am working on eating small meals due to a potential distal hernia. I was hoping to eat more than saltines, however.

With a scope on the schedule and new meds, it’s time to get serious about eating with my acid reflux in mind. This is not an easy task, because I should eliminate certain foods from my diet and that doesn’t tend to go well for long.

Now that I can eat again, my priorities will start with very small portions and eating slowly. Once I get those down, we’ll talk about the caffeine and chocolate…

 

Stretching Time

I am a Ted Talk junkie. To give you a glimpse into my world, I have a book exchange in my office at work that is right next to an ever-changing inspirational quote on my white board. When people ask for resources, I can barely contain myself from Googling and spewing out articles, podcasts, video clips, and book titles.

In case I didn’t put enough emphasis on the nerd factor, I caught myself being way too excited that a board game involved scoring points for shelving books in alphabetical order. It had something in it called a “ghost of learning,” and I literally said, “ooohhh” when I saw it.

Yep. I know.

At any rate, I say this to give context to the video I’m sharing about time management. Laura Vanderkam’s point is that time has a way of stretching to fit what’s truly important to us. There are enough hours in a week to fit our priorities, even if we are very busy.

I may have plenty of time to watch videos about time management and all other types of learning, but I can’t seem to “find the time” to do things like exercise and do food prep. Why? Because, even if I don’t want to admit it, it isn’t important enough to me.

Exercise and other health related habits are only a means to an end for me. They’re things that allow me to function better. That’s great and all, but it also makes them slip far down the list of priorities. It’s on the list right next to switching the laundry before I have to rewash it.

So, I suppose I’m at a bit of an crossroads. I need to be more honest about my priorities and about what I’m willing to fit into my life.

Other things are more important to me than weight loss and fitness, and I think that’s okay. I just want to find out what it takes for my health efforts to be enough to accomplish what I want out of them.

Treading Water is Better than Drowning

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A view of the lake during a recent ladies’ retreat with my church.

No matter how hard we try, there’s no way to avoid times in life where we’re in survival mode. Life is crazy and unexpected things come along that take all our best intentions and throw them to to wind. These times seem to be more frequent for me in the good old year of 2017.

When it comes to my weight loss goals, it has felt like hard work to keep up any sort of effort. What I do without thinking on most days suddenly feels nearly impossible. In times like this, my advice is to take a step back and look at the big picture of how you have handled these situations in the past.

How can you make the tiniest steps to make a better choice than before? Maybe it just means ordering a salad to go with your burger because you just can’t bring yourself to cook. Maybe it means you take a nap or drink a glass of water. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering. Just take a moment to remember to take care of yourself in the middle of the chaos.

My weight loss has been minimal lately, but that’s better than stress eating all day and spiraling out of control. I may only be treading water, but treading water is better than drowning, and that’s enough.

 

Label Maker to the Rescue

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I know I’ve been eating healthy for a while when I am convinced that 1/4 cup of ice cream and a 1/4 cup of cottage cheese with berries and a little Cool Whip tastes as good as a giant hot fudge sundae. Seriously, this happened tonight.

A lot has happened since I last posted, including eating a lot of food from the hospital cafeteria (everyone’s fine, but my hubby is now recovering from an infection) and a weight loss of about 5 pounds in a month. I’m at around 261.

The main changes I’ve made include eating a lot more produce and counting my carbs per meal/snack. We’ve also been meeting with a nutritionist who is spectacular. She even helped me organize my fridge so that it no longer looks like a poorly played game of Tetris.

 

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My newly organized refrigerator…please ignore the book being used to keep it level. 🙂

She showed me how to make the healthiest options most visible and easy to eat. In the aftermath, I brought out the big guns: my label maker. After a few months of dormancy, this label maker has been put to work: my spice rack, my file folders, and now my refrigerator.

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I’m learning that if I want something to last, all I have to do is put a label on it. I’ll have to check a month down the road to see if the label system sticks (pun intended). The hardest  part will be cutting veggies as soon as I bring them home.