Work vs. Home Habits

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My fancy habit tracker.

For some reason, I’ve been under the impression that if my eating habits at work are going well, then I must be doing just fine. I keep my low tech habit tracker (aka a Post-It note) at work so I can get my day started off well. I eat two meals a day at work during the week. That’s significant. But…

I counted up my meals at work vs. my meals at home, and they are nearly equal during a typical week:

Work meals = 10 per week (breakfast/lunch x 5 days per week)

Home meals = 11 per week (dinner x 7 days per week + breakfast/lunch x 2 days per week)

If you throw in a couple of evening treats, my at home habits hold a lot of weight…or, potential weight.

So, here are a few things that are helping me avoid a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation. First, I’ve been focusing on consistent portion sizes at every meal. I fill half of my plate with veggies, a quarter with protein, and a quarter with carbs. This makes it tough to go crazy and overeat at dinner.

I’m also pulling back on my habit of a sweet treat every evening. Sometimes I do, but sometimes I’m just fine without it. For instance, I ate french toast for dinner last night, so I figured that was sweet enough and skipped dessert. It’s nice to break free a little of my need for sugar all the time.

Another thing I’ve been working on at home is my water consumption. I’ve been drinking a ton of water at work, but I tend to forget at home. This is a work in progress, but aiming for a glass of water at and in between each meal is helping.

If you have any work vs. home routine struggles, or maybe weekday vs. weekend struggles, feel free to share them in the comments.

 

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A Weigh-In Day and Some Non-Numerical Progress

Since it’s been a while, I thought I’d throw in a weigh-in post. This morning, I weighed in at 243.8 pounds. That’s 31.2 pounds down from my weight of 275 in December 2014. It’s also 9.2 pounds down in the last 8 weeks.

Now that I’ve been very intentional about my habits for four weeks, I have a few other benefits to share.

  • I have been seeing some Facebook memories from a few years ago when I was trying South Beach. I was miserable. I’m glad I don’t have to avoid birthday cake any more. 🙂
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A sad, sad memory 😉

  • I have more energy. I went to the gym yesterday and decided to run for a few minutes just because I felt like it. That’s right, people. I ran. Because I wanted to.

 

  • I have been drinking more water. Since I’m not snacking, I am taking in quite a bit of water in between meals. Apparently, this is helping me wean off of constantly having access to food or calorie-filled beverages 24/7.

 

  • I feel like I can trust myself to make sensible food choices. I don’t feel as torn between my long-term goals and what I want right now.

 

  • I feel better about my daughter seeing my attitudes and behaviors around food. She’s always watching me, and I’ve fallen into trying to make the best choices when she’s around only to make weird ones when she isn’t. The last month or so, I’ve felt more stable about all of it. While I want her to have someone to model healthy behavior, that can’t be all my motivation and I also need to show her that it’s okay to have treats sometimes.

Lean Habit 2 – The 30-60 Minute Wait

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I’m about 10 days into the second habit in Lean Habits by Georgie Fear. Interestingly enough, it’s a very similar concept to something I wrote about recently. It’s part of the reason I picked up the book to begin with, and it’s all about hunger.

For this habit, I need to recognize when I’m starting to get hungry and then wait 30-60 minutes until eating. Staying hungry for 30-60 minutes can be scary for some people. The feeling of hunger can bring up memories of past trauma, poverty, or disordered eating. For me, it’s the last one.

It took me a few days to settle into this habit. It put me on edge for a while. When I posted in the Lean Habits Community on Facebook about it, one of the admins asked how long I could go without hitting that nervous spot. It’s good to see that there is support out there when I need it and that personalizing the habits are important. One size doesn’t fit all, and they know it. Plus, they’re all about helping people think through the rough patches instead of just giving them an easy answer and moving on.

Now that I’m getting close to the end of my two weeks of focusing on this habit, here are a few notes:

  • Sometimes what I think is hunger ends up being just a feeling from digestion. Apparently, not all stomach sensations mean it’s time to eat. Huh.

 

  • I have to be careful not to eat too fast. Taking smaller bites and punching out at work for a few minutes at the beginning of my lunch has helped me slow down.

 

  • I also have to be careful not to eat more than I need. It’s easy to do, because I don’t want to be hungry for more than 60 minutes before the following meal. I need to remind myself that this isn’t my last chance to eat. No need to panic!

 

  • I’ve been enjoying my meals more with this habit combined with the habit of eating 3-4 times per day. Hunger is the best seasoning, and all that.

 

 

 

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.

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.

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.

 

Scale Entitlement

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My self-awarded gold star

If I had to give myself a grade for my health-related choices yesterday, it would be about an A-. I moved around a lot because I had some cleaning to do around the house. I stayed away from sugar other than a little flavored creamer in my coffee at church. I had fresh veggies with lunch and controlled my portions. Instead of a sweet treat at night, I had a handful of pistachios. Go me!

Sure, I could have included a workout or avoided an extra couple of bites of lunch, but I felt really good about my day. Because of my nearly stellar performance (please read with a slightly sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek tone), I expected a lower number on the scale this morning.

Instead, a higher number stared back up at me. Wouldn’t it be nice if this never happened? When I have a good day, I feel like I’ve earned weight loss. If I don’t get it, I feel a bit slighted. Why doesn’t the scale acknowledge my hard work?

Unfortunately, my scale does not award gold stars. Sometimes, my efforts lead to a loss, but I’m going to be in trouble if I always look to the scale for my reinforcement.  I have to remind myself that it’s just one way to gauge progress. So, instead of giving the scale all the power, I gave myself a gold star. Take that.