Now that I’m done with race training for a little over two months, I’m going to focus on cleaning up my eating habits before I start marathon training in August. I have one trip out of town for work, which I am NOT going to treat like vacation – healthy eating is on the menu! – and one vacation, which will include some indulgences. That means 9 of the 11 weeks between now and the start of my next training cycle on 8/1 will be filled with healthy foods, tracking everything and being honest with myself about what I’m doing. I’ve let a lot of things slide, like extra bites of pie and pizza and handfuls of M&Ms, and it’s time for that to stop.
In my fantastic Lovely Ladies Losing It support group on Facebook, someone asked the other day how you find a way to stick to it when you’re trying to eat healthier. Let’s not kid ourselves – it’s hard. Temptation is everywhere and I myself have been giving in to it far too often. I found myself thinking about the things that helped me when I lost weight the first time around, because I was a focused MACHINE and rarely derailed.
- Take it one choice at a time. Thinking about losing 100+ pounds was overwhelming. I looked at it one 5 pound star (the Weight Watchers sticker you’d get at weigh in) at a time and on the really tough days, one decision at a time. My favorite advice is still to make the next good choice rather than looking at the enormity of the process in front of you. Focus on one choice at a time and it will eventually add up to big change.
- Keep your list of reasons to lose updated and readily at hand, so you can remind yourself why you’re doing this. I need to undertake this again. My blood pressure was a huge motivator the first time around. Now that’s under control, so I need to find a new “why” to help me when the going gets tough. I kept my list on my phone so I could look at it when faced with unexpected pastry at work or other temptations. I also really like Mary’s advice to remind yourself about how much better you feel when you’re treating yourself well. Remembering how far you’ve come in terms of habits and how you feel can help when you don’t feel like you’ve made progress on the scale.
- Set up your environment for success. Remove temptations from the house entirely or at least hide them. It’s easier to resist something once in the grocery store than to bring it home and have to resist it every night. Enlist help from the rest of your household if you need to. Your health is important to everyone who loves you. It’s okay to ask that they hide the cookies or keep them outside the house.
- Be honest with yourself. Whatever you need to keep yourself truthful and accountable, make it happen. The weigh in at Weight Watchers was hugely helpful for me before. This time around, I’m thinking measurements and weigh ins every weekend with accountability from my LLL girls. It’s easy to get in the habit of ignoring the things we’re doing that aren’t healthy and hiding the consequences, or at least it is for me.
- Keep healthy things on hand for when you’ve just got to eat. I’m not always going to be able to distract myself when I’m tempted to binge. Keeping fruit or veggies that I like on hand was hugely helpful for the first time around. If you’ve just got to eat (and I’ve been there), at least make it something healthy so you don’t regret it as much after.
Controlling my environment, in terms of keeping the unhealthy things out and the healthy things in, helps me to avoid making too many decisions about what I’m eating. The fewer decisions I make, the less likely I am to make a bad decision and the less likely I am to set myself up for the kind of failure that starts that vicious cycle of binge eating.
How do you stick with it when you’re trying to eat better? I’m a big fan of sticker charts and have used them for establishing exercise habits, but never eating habits. Maybe I need to give myself a sticker for every day I track and stay within my calories? Once I get that down, a sticker for days I drink water rather than diet soda?