Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dieting...and Loving It?

I just (finally) had a kick-ass week in the health department. I am dieting, exercising, and loving life. I know a lot of my Constant Readers are struggling with weight-loss as well, so I will elaborate:

My method is simple in theory - decrease the calories in, and increase the calories out. However, I cannot tell a lie. The maintenance of the balance is very time consuming, and it takes a lot of commitment to overcome obstacles.

The first step is to pay attention to your own habits, good and bad. You enhance the good habits, and you think of feasible ways to kick your bad habits. My bad habits were (among others):
- lack of exercise throughout my day
- making lame excuses for not working out after work
- incessant snacking while cooking dinner
- portion control
- a penchant for all foods free at the office - even if I had just eaten

My solutions were:
- commit myself to a 30 minute walk during lunch at least four times a week
- plan out my week by determining which classes I will attend, based on the ones that work for my schedule and are fun, then committing myself to sticking to it
- having a stash of cut celery sticks and carrots in the fridge to eat while things cook, AND doing light cleaning while food is cooking. This has been a challenge, so I have been tweaking my food intake later in the day and adding a snack with complex carbs and protein around 4 pm before I leave work (such as yogurt, cottage cheese, tabbouleh, vanilla flavored almonds, etc). This has been helping to control the overwhelming urge to go for the cabinets and eat everything in site while my celery sticks rot in the fridge.
- noting the intended number of servings in all things I prepare, and making sure I refrigerate the leftovers before dishing out our meals. I ration my lunches too - I pack enough for the week on Monday, so if I eat too much early on, I won't have a meal later in the week.
- waiting until 1pm for lunch, so that I can indulge in the occasional free food treat without as much guilt. Completely depriving myself of these little snackies is not an option, so I do my best to at least regulate the amount going in. Luckily the "economic downturn" has affected the frequency of freebies. Mr. Bush, my waistline thanks you.

In general, these things work. But "healthy eating" becomes a "diet" when one does not allow flexibility. So when a co-worker says, "Hey, do you want to join us for Happy Hour on Friday?" I can usually eliminate a planned food so I can drink a beer or two. I have also considered just getting water at the bar, but this silly notion tends to fly away at the site of a freshly poured micro brew. I fall frequently, but I think on the whole, I do pretty well. You can't beat yourself up. You can only assess the problem and do something to change it.

So, what was the winning combination this week? I highly doubt this will work for everyone, because we all have our challenges - different poor habits, or schedules that don't allow so many opportunities for snacks. But, for what it is worth:
8:30am Breakfast - a whole grain (like oatmeal or the recently discovered bulgur)
12:30pm Lunch - Soup
2:00pm Snack #1 - Fruit
4:00pm Snack #2 - Protein (like yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts)
7:00pm Dinner - Varied menu from my "Healthy Cooking" magazine, usually around 400 calories. I try to have at least one fish meal, and maybe one meatless meal from my new "Vegetarian's Bible" cookbook. I will let you know how it is, but the one meal I have had so far was deeee-licious.

I also walked 4 days, and went to "Body Step", "Body Flow", "Body Attack", and "Step It Up". I really love these classes, though I missed my favorite one - "Brick Boxing" - because we had tickets to a concert on Thursday.

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