I have a confession to make: I get a little nervous when people tell me I inspire them with my weight loss, either because I have been at it for this long, because I’ve lost the weight that I have, or because I’ve made so many changes in my lifestyle. I started losing weight (officially) in January 2015; I’ve lost 155 lbs, and in addition to adding in a regular weekly exercise routine, I’ve changed to a Paleo lifestyle. It is kind of a lot of changes, but I made them slowly over time, which is one of the reasons I didn’t just give up right away. Believe me, if I had to do it all at once, I’d’ve run screaming down the street!
Some of my MFP fitness friends congratulate me on staying with my weight loss and not giving up, but here’s another confession: it’s pretty easy for me now. Some of you have probably heard me say that I’m too stupidly stubborn to give up or that changing back to my old habits would be harder or more work than continuing to stick with it. I’m really not joking. I’m one of those people who lives and dies by her routine. The old joke “if it’s Monday, it must be meatloaf” really applies to me. People can pretty much set their clocks and calendars by me: I do the same things the same way pretty much every time. It makes it easier for me (and my dog too). On one level, there’s not too much rescheduling there, but hey, I can be flexible when I have to be! This routine is not because I lack innovation- it’s because I know myself pretty well. If there is a secret to my weight loss, that’s it. I know how I will try to get out of everything I can and will use the smallest deviation from the norm to go off the rails, so in effect, by adding my healthy lifestyle changes to my routine in stages, I’ve sabotaged myself into not having any “outs.”
I buy pretty much the same kinds of groceries every week, which no longer includes some of the snacky processed foods I used to love, so all my eating choices are healthy. I do my shopping on the weekends and my meal planning so come Monday morning, all of my lunches and to-go breakfasts are set up so all I have to do is stick them in my lunch bag and go. When I get home, I know pretty much what I’m having for dinner because it’s already there; I just need to fix it. Before I go to bed that night, I set out what I’m going to wear the next day and if it’s a work out day, I pack my gym bag. (Damn, I’m boring!!) This sets me up for no excuses, such as “I’m running late- there’s no time to pack my gym bag/ make my lunch/ breakfast.” I have no excuse for not going to the gym or for hitting a drive-thru for breakfast or lunch. Even if I do forget my lunch, I keep nuts at the office, so I can have those instead of fast food. Forgetting my gym bag is a little more problematic: it usually means I have to pick it up at home before hitting the gym. (That gets me in trouble with the pup!) Having the groceries at home gives me no excuse for the drive-thru either (although these days drive-thru is usually salad and grilled chicken). It allows me to function on auto-pilot without going off the rails; because I made the changes in stages until they became my new defaults. The default dinner now is lean protein and salad/ vegetables. The default Saturday breakfast is eggs and bacon/ sausage (the emergency “I forgot the eggs/ bacon/ sausage” breakfast is kippers!) Workday breakfast is either cheesesticks, sausage or nuts. Granted, a lot of what I eat these days isn’t the norm, but I like it and it works for me and that’s pretty much what matters. I suppose I could be more ‘normal’ and have a breakfast sandwich, but I have never really been a fan of those and still don’t like them.
That is pretty much the secret to my success: I changed my behavior to incorporate healthy patterns and choices. In realspeak: I just stuck myself in a healthier rut. The best advice I can give anyone who wants to make healthier lifestyle changes is to know yourself first. If you know how you will behave in a given situation, you can set yourself up for the better choices/ actions you want to start including. Those of you who are married or have kids know this little trick: instead of asking “what do you want for dinner?,” you ask “do you want spaghetti or do you want hamburgers?” You just learn to do the same thing for yourself. One of the things I did to set myself up for a better choice is to stop going to a certain grocery store because they have a fabulous bakery and I was always tempted to get cake. By going to a store that didn’t have such great cake, I wasn’t tempted and didn’t come home with cake. Another change: if I felt I had to get takeout, instead of getting the burger, fries and jalapeno poppers, I get grilled chicken and veggies. Still takeout, but it’s healthier. If I feel the urge to snack at home, I have things that are healthier (nuts, kippers, fresh fruit, etc) and some of them require a little prep, so I’m less inclined to snack, but even if I do, it’s not chips or junk food. It takes a little work over a long period of time, but that’s another key ingredient: don’t be in a hurry. You want to make lifelong changes that really stick with you and become your new defaults. That’s how you make permanent changes and progress.
Going back to my old habits would be too much work for me. It would mean changing my routine and frankly, it’s kind of a headache. It would mean more running around, less time with the pets, less time doing the things I like doing, and what would be the ultimate result? Gaining weight, feeling tired and cruddy, clothes getting tighter and uncomfortable, more aches and pains and health issues. Been there- done with that! I wouldn’t say I’m stuck in a rut- I’d say I’m in the groove!