Planning for Sucess


 So it’s been a few days since I’ve posted to the blog, and I will apologize upfront.  The last week has been kinda hectic, and I have to say, even across this weekend I didn’t find as much time to “kick back and relax” as I’d expected.  Funny enough though, I didn’t seem to get as much done as I planned.  I mean, yes, I did get to go “out with the boys” for sushi on Friday night.  That was fun….  it ‘s been awhile since I had the chance to catch up with “the crew” all at once, and even LONGER since I’ve had sushi……  I mean, really, when you are counting calories it isn’t easy to eat out and keep track of what you are putting into your body, but we ARE social beings (whether you want to admit it or not) and spending time with friends and socializing does often revolve around food.

Other than an evening out, we managed to help a friend get one step closer to having a finished kitchen, and I did manage to change out my kitchen faucet.  The old one was leaking and after multiple repairs to it in the last year, well, it was just time for it to take a “permanent rest” I guess.  As I type this, I’m starting to realize that I DID actually accomplish a few things.  I guess the weekend did produce some results.  YAY!

Now, today it’s back to “the grind” though.  Seems I’m facing another full week of 12 hour shifts.  Of course, I’m still on this mission to get a little thinner, and I’m kind of on the threshold of another milestone.  This weekend’s weigh in leaves Todd with a whopping 40 lbs weight loss (F*#& Him)YAY Todd!!, and me at just over 180 (181.3 lbs to be exact) and I am practically desperate to get into the 170’s.  It does seem that I’ve been stuck in the low 180’s for far too long though, and this past week I nearly gave up a couple of times.  But I have persevered!!!  I have to admit, it would be sooooo easy to just give up, to walk away from the progress I’ve made and go back to the “way things used to be.”  I am sure that like me you have watched friends try and make progress, have some sucess, then maybe some failure, then maybe some success and maybe ultimately “just give up.”  Until now, I never even gave thought to TRYING to make changes simply because I was so sure I would fail, and honestly I have had enough experience with feeling like a failure in this lifetime, I didn’t want to add any more to that pile.  So, in many ways, the fact that I am on this journey at all kind of surprises me, but the fact that I am hell bent on succeeding does not.  It’s a true paradox I guess.

The question then, I guess, is just how have Todd and I managed to keep this train moving forward?  Despite occasional thoughts of “an extra glass of wine” or “just one day off won’t hurt” we have both been relatively successful over the last couple of months.  Only yesterday I jokingly texted my younger, slimmer (but not nearly as handsome) brother to bring me some jeans that would fit me (yes I have actually started to see a difference in my waistline and am currently 2 belt notched down from where I started).  The number of times that we have given in to the temptations though have been very few.  The only really terrible “compromise” was our vacation in February.  (But really, has ANYONE ever calorie counted while on an all inclusive resort???).

How have we managed to stay on track so far??  Well, we have used several simple strategies:

1.  Pick a support person. First and foremost, we are doing this TOGETHER.  I think the most important thing here is that we are in the same position, in the same boat.  When I say together, I mean TOGETHER.  We are keeping the same daily calorie allotment.  We eat all our meals together (with the exception of when we are at work), we prep and cook together.  If we go out to eat we do it together.  We snack together in the evening, and yes we DRINK together.  Unlike dieting calorie counting with a friend who lives across town, (or in another city), we have an advantage of being together for 99% of our “non-work” hours.  This is very beneficial.  Of course both being male, helps too (sorry to all you “hetero” ladies out there, but this is one advantage I can never share with you, because YOUR male counterparts, no matter how supportive, will EVER be able to reduce their intake to the numbers you will want to reduce to in keeping your goals on track……)  The togetherness aspect has become the most important tactic for us I think.  It seems that 99% of the time at least ONE of us is able to stay strong!!

2.  Be organized.  This one is very tough for me.  THANK GOD I have Todd to help with this.  My best suggestion would be FIND YOUR OWN TODD (mine is taken!).  This dieting calorie counting takes planning.  What am I going to take to work for lunches this week?  What are some low calorie options for snacks?  How am I going to cope with that “sweet” craving?  How can I manage to fit a full dinner AND a glass of wine in under 500 calories?  How much broccoli is on my plate (and how many calories is that again)?  Truth is, none of us want/are able to manage this stuff on the fly.  The only way Todd and I manage this is by taking a little time once or twice a week to pre-portion everything so that we know what we are dealing with.  When you can reach into the fridge and pull out a bag of broccoli that is exactly 100g, packing a lunch becomes easier.  When you have a vacuum sealed steak in the fridge that’s exactly 6 ounces dinner becomes a breeze!!  It’s such a simple thing really.  If I spend 30 minutes at the kitchen counter on a Sunday afternoon, it removes all the question and thinking I have to do all week for portion control.  It is truly a time SAVER!

3.  Know yourself.  (this is related to #2 as well).  I know I am a VISUAL person.  I know that once the fridge door is closed I will have immediately forgotten everything that is inside of it.  Todd has spent a long time wondering how it is that I can go grocery shopping, ABSOLUTELY have to have something, take it home place it in the fridge and then NEVER EAT IT and instead watch it spoil, only to be thrown out in a week or two.  Truth is, it went to the back of the fridge and I forgot it was there!  So in organizing ourselves for this goal, Todd and I purchased clear fridge containers.  They let me portion all of our veggies and other foods, keep them organized together AND still keep them visible.  I can always tell if I have any broccoli or cauliflower in the fridge.  We also portion things like our yogurt and berries into appropriately sized mason jars, always at the ready, for packing lunches on those evenings when you’ve worked all day and “just don’t have the energy” to deal with things.  Doing as much ahead of time and in bulk as you can sets you up for more success (at least if you are like me and KNOW that you will have periods when you just won’t want or be able to do these things.)

4.   Have the tools you need.  Here is where everyone may have differences of opinion.  I know people who can have success with nothing more than a tiny little dog eared calorie reference book to look up their calorie counts.   I also know people for whom no number of tools will be helpful.  I am one of those people who needs motivation from several sources to survive this journey.  As you may have read in previous posts, Todd and I are using a smart phone App.  We each have a Fitbit.  There is a WiFi enabled bathroom scale in our home (yes our housekeeper STILL uses it every time she visits, and I am sure that she has no idea we now know her weight….  but that’s another story completely).  To me, these things are just tools that remind me of what I’m trying to achieve, and they motivate me to keep trying and moving forward.  But I’m referring to more than this list of “non-essential” goodies that we have bought.  Our kitchen has a scale that allows me to portion up our foods, and in truth we bought a second scale as well, so we can both work with out interrupting each others space (which actually becomes VERY handy when the batteries die in one like happened last night!).  Also, storage containers, a refillable water container and a decent lunch bag became very important to us.  A vacuum food sealer has been very effective in helping us reduce food waste.  On top of all of this, We keep this blog.  This to me is also a tool.  It keeps me accountable.  Sharing where I am on this journey gives me yet another reason to stay on track.  So thank you for that!

5.   Don’t deny yourself ANYTHING!    This was one of the first rules I struck with Todd when I agreed reluctantly to join him on this challenge.  I know for a fact that if I make something “off limits” I will not rest until I’ve broken that rule.  So.  I.  Can .  Have.  ANYTHING.  I.  Want.  Really, I can.  I just have to make it fit into the calorie plan for the day.  It’s a simple rule, and it’s very motivating.  If I want a Mars bar OMG OMG OMG I LOVE THOSE….. (I literally used to eat those for BREAKFAST… just ask the staff at my dental office  they will verify the fact!) I can have one.  So by allowing these things I’ve removed the “challenge” of it.  Then when I decide that I want one, and I look it up and find that it’s a 200 calorie item, it seems that more often than not I simply think of something else that gives me more bang for my calories and I usually “naturally” select something else.  In reality, I have not had one Mars bar since starting this calorie counting, and it’s been a couple of months now.  (Of course, IF I keep typing the words MARS BAR much more I’m sure the subliminal messaging will trip me up before the end of the day, so I will stop right now!)

6.  Find a way to manage your SWEET cravings.  Todd recently started feeding me Werther’s candies.  Yes, I know we are calorie counting.  No, he isn’t trying to sabotage my success.  He just realizes that if we don’t allow ourselves to manage our sugar cravings we will fail.  Having ONE candy to experience that little hit of sweet for a few minutes (at 20 calories) is FAR better than falling of the wagon and having a coke AND a MARS BAR (god I just typed it again!!!).  This method might not work for you.  It might make things worse (like a single drink for an alcoholic), but for us, It’s a great way to keep us going.   And so far it’s been successful.

7.  Record EVERYTHING.  If you just commit to this ONE thing it will make a world of difference… EVERYTHING needs to be accounted for.  Those 3 french fries you “stole” from a co-workers lunch.  That half a glass of “healthy” juice you drank.  Even the one little timbit you ate “just because a patient brought them to the nursing station”, I mean you can’t be rude right?  These all get recorded.  I’ve always joked with my friends about how we have calorie tweezers at our house, and that all of Todd’s cooking was “calorie free.”    In retrospect I guess I owe some people an apology, since I have been very much an enabler to those who I should have been supporting.   The simple act of counting the calories in everything you eat makes you accountable.  It also starts to help you see patterns in what you eat, and where your weakness are.  Without this information it is going to be very difficult to formulate a plan that supports your strengths and limits your weaknesses. The moment you allow yourself to say “well, it doesn’t really count” or ” it was just one nibble” it’s just a really slippery slope to “I’m not getting anywhere, I might as well just quit!”

Well.  That’s just a little bit of where things are with me today.  While I have enjoyed the time spent sharing my thought s with you, I do have to accomplish a few more things before this day is over, so I shall bid you adieu and good luck on your own challenges this week!!!

Thanks for reading (and hopefully sharing!)

Duane.

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