Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ten Changes For Success

Someone asked me, yesterday, how I approached my weight loss effort this time.  I thought that was an interesting question, and I'd be curious to know other peoples' answers.

How I approached this weight loss effort? 

I took an honest look back, at what derailed me previous times, and I work hard to keep those at bay.  I'm not at goal yet, so I know I have to be careful and diligent, lest I fall back into familiar traps and detours.

Here are just 10 of the things that killed my previous dieting attempts, and how I am avoiding them this time:

1. Boredom.  The longest diet I've been on (ever) lasted six months, and I was doing well.  I stopped, essentially, out of sheer boredom. 

This time around, I am introducing new foods every week, to keep things interesting.  Sometimes they are one-hit-wonders, but sometimes I incorporate them into my meal rotation.  The point is, I try something new - whether hit or miss - at least one time during the week.

2. Ignorance.  We enjoy eating out, but on previous diets, I'd do a LOT of assuming, to my detriment.  Restaurants don't prepare things as we do at home.  They make their items taste good by using lots of not-so-diet-friendly ingredients. 

This time around, I ask how a meal is prepared.  What you don't know (ignorance) CAN hurt you.  I ask for adjustments to make the item fit into my diet plan.  Most good restaurants are happy to accommodate such reasonable requests.  I always tip extra too, for their kind efforts.   Plus, they get my repeat business.  I also know, if I stall, the first place I look are the restaurant foods I consume.  Something may (easily) slip in there that I have not accounted for (or realized).  When I lose less per week, it is almost always a week I had an extra meal out somewhere ...

3. Lack of Balance.   In previous diets, just as in all diets really, an occasional meal would be higher in (calories or fat or carbs, etc.).  And this would lead to a repeat of another "slightly" higher meal.  A very subtle pattern would emerge, and suddenly I'd find myself stalled, or even gaining a bit, and wondering what happened.  I was still on a diet!

This time around, I've added balance.  If I end up eating a meal that is slightly more carbs or calories or fat than is ideal - the very next meals (plural) must counter-balance that.  Sometimes, I really hate that.  But, I hate not losing weight more - or giving back the progress I've worked so hard on.  So, I buckle down and balance the day as best as I can. 

4. Lack of Commitment.  I am an expert at committing to any diet for a week or two.  Beyond that ... um ... not so much so.  It was hard, frankly, to see the wall of weight I had to lose, and how LONG it would take.  After a few weeks, I'd usually start sliding back to my old ways.

This time around, I've committed to a minimum of 30 day increments, which is enough time to actually make something a habit.  Coincidence?  Nope.  Plus, to support my "willpower" (or lack thereof), I've set various goals at varying increments of time, to keep me propelling forward.  Saying I have 124 lbs left to lose is daunting.  Saying, "10 more" is much easier and within reach.  I do not look at the big number.  I stay focused on what is immediately in front of me.

5.  Priorities.  All my previous diets were something I fit into my life, and worked around everything else.

This time around, my health is front and center.  It has to be, because I no longer have youth on my side, protecting me despite myself.  So, life is something that now works around my diet.  I'm still active and participate in all sorts of things, but I've made my diet foremost.  Well, aside from God (church), Who always comes first.

6. Clean Plate Club.  Yes, I was a dedicated Clean Plate Club member.  It was practically the mantra of my parents, when we were growing up. 

This time around, I finally grew up.  Kids are picky eaters (I was the worst), and parents say what they must to get nutrients into their scrawny, growing children.  Dah.  I didn't even think about that.  I just thought how frugal my parents were (and what young parents aren't?) ... and thought "don't waste food."  I carried that right into adulthood.  Now?  As I said, I grew up.  I take home at least half of most restaurant meals.  I avoid buffets entirely.  I make smaller amounts of food at home, and limit my portions.  No seconds, except for vegetables.  And ... the biggest change of all ... when I'm full, I stop eating - EVEN if food remains on my plate!  I guess that means I have to return my CPC membership card, and I'm good with that.

7. Labels?  We don't read no stinkin' labels!  The box cover said it was better, right?  If it sounded healthy (light, low or free), I'd buy it.

This time around, I read labels.  And wow, even there you have to be careful.  The healthy-sounding stuff isn't always so healthy after all.  "Light," or "Lite" ... should read LIE.  Oh, it may be lighter than the "full on" version of whatever, but it is far from light.  Reading labels is essential.

8.  Tunnel Vision.  Previously, all my attention was on that all-important scale number.  And when the focus is so intense on that one aspect of dieting, everything else takes a back seat.

This time around, I became more educated.   SO many factors influence the scale, even hour-to-hour, that this is not even an accurate indicator of health.  I've put the scale into proper perspective.  The scale, like the blood pressure cuff, give a snapshot of general condition - nothing more.  And it can certainly help me make adjustments to improve things, but I am no longer a slave to the scale.  It serves ME now, I don't serve it.  I still love to see that number go down, but my feelings and moods aren't centered around what it says.  I weigh myself every week (more, when I am thisclose to a goal), but just to get an indication of where I am, so I know how I need to adjust things in the upcoming week.

9. Laziness.  I can plan a fabulous vacation down to the smallest detail, but plan a week of meals?  It just wasn't my cup of tea.  So, I didn't bother.  I may love food, but I'm lazy about it.  (One of the reasons I frequented fast food places.)  This, of course, led to last minute less-than-healthy meal choices, or off-plan snacking, or worse ... cravings!  Cravings?  Yep.  I'd start to think about what I could eat, not what I should eat.  You know where that thinking leads ...

This time around, I know better.  I'm still not a big meal planner, but I am an excellent plan-deviation-avoider.  I keep carrots and celery in the refrigerator at all times.  If I'm caught "unprepared," I know I can always munch on a healthy on-plan veggie.  No more opening the refrigerator looking for "something" (anything).  I also keep other on-plan, appropriate foods that are convenient to grab or whip up.  So, on those days when my laziness is bumped up a notch, I can still have easy foods and remain perfectly on plan.  I keep NOTHING in the house which is off plan.  If it is in my refrigerator or pantry, I can eat it.

The most important change, though, is this last one, # 10:

10.  Self-Talk.  I am the biggest cheerleader for most things, but my self-talk on previous diet attemtps wasn't particularly uplifting or inspiring.  It went something like this:   I can't have this.  I can't eat that.  I have to give up xyz.  I'm hungry.  And, the most important ... when is the next meal, and what will I have?  I was completely absorbed by food.  If I wasn't eating, I was thinking about eating.  Obession is a good way to put it.  And my self-talk not only centered around FOOD, but around the sacrifices and deprivation aspects of the diet.

This time around, I'll have none of that.  Who wants to live that way?  The cup is half-full, not half-empty!  It isn't about what I cannot have, but about how I can make my choices healthier.  I look at all the options available to me.  This took work initially, but eventually, this way of thinking became habit. 

I focus now on how I feel, how my clothes fit, how my energy level has increased.  I look at my diet a bit more detached.  If I focus on it at all, I come at it from a fuel viewpoint.  (Did I get enough viatmins and fiber today?  Am I staying properly hydrated?  How is my protein level?)  I still want stuff that tastes good to me, but it now has to have another purpose as well - fueling the body, helping it to become better. 

This is so key to how this diet attempt differs from all previous ones, that I am convinced keeping my mind focused properly will be the reason this will be my last weight loss journey.  I've practiced this so much, it has now become second nature to me.  I (literally) no longer think in terms of what I must give up on the diet.  Does that mean I don't miss certain things?  No, but it does mean I put it all in proper perspective - finally. 

There are other aspects that have killed previous diet attempts, and which I have corrected, but these are most of the big ones.  I wonder what other people have improved upon, from their previous diet attempts, to help make this one their best and last needed effort.

DDDY10 Update:

Calories today:  1,625  (over by 30 calories ... OOPS!  Shouldn't have had that last apple.)

Water today:  9+

Day 106 ... and looking forward to the SDDDY Challenge (Son of Double Dog Dare You), just five days away!


  1. Number 10, by far my fave is 10. The rest are serious success factors too, but I believe from self talk; positive self talk, you can move yourself towards any goal you set yourself out for.

  2. You seem to have all the needed elements inline to make your success a reality! Good Job!
    Last night I looked in my recipe box for my turkey wasn't there :( Hopefully tonight, I will have time to look through my cookbooks, I must have stuck the recipe card in one of the books :)

  3. Great post, Ann! I too have canceled my CPC membership! I love reading your inspiring and motivating posts. Keep up the good work!--Carol

  4. Awesome. That was truely awesome!! Love the thought put into that and the honesty. I can totally relate to those. Might have to steal this idea to do some exploring of this on my own.


  5. Great Post, Ann! Like always! :)
    I will actually go back and read that again, slowly, to see if there are things I need to incorperate in my journey, and there will be - maybe 10 things!;)
    Hugs, Casey

  6. Wow, those are great points you made about what can kill a life-style change and I can relate totally!! You have learned so much and I appreciate you sharing. :)

    I like the idea about not focussing on what you can't have. It isn't about that, it's about all the wonderful healthy good choices we do have! I have a friend that keeps asking me "so you can't have this... you don't eat that.. I could never go with out this..." I get so tired of her comments because I don't see it as such a loss. I mean, look at me! I'm 100 pounds lighter and I don't miss all that FAT! No, I don't miss the fact that I am not eating this or that right now... I am eating so much good stuff and I am satisfied and feeling great!

    Awesome post again, m'dear!! Way to go girl!


  7. Great TOP TEN, Ann. Thanks for sharing and giving us something to think about.


    PS How did the walk go? You didn't melt, did you?

  8. Excellent, excellent post. I'm printing it off and putting it with my journal!!


  9. Great list! 10 is my favorite, too. I also love that your health is priority ONE. :) This time around, I realized that I am in control of my life and my weight loss. If I don't lose, it's because I didn't make the right decisions and do the required work. Good things require hard work, and I enjoy putting forth the effort!

  10. You are one of my faves - actually....
    you are the epitome of what it takes to do this
    weight-loss thing. Who ever you are, Ann -
    Keep going for it! You shine!

  11. No melting, Sheilah!

    Thank you, Everyone, for your kind thoughts and commentary. Let's hear some of YOUR strategies for dealing with the pitfalls that have plagued you in times past ...

    Onward and downward!!