I’m putting these two ideas together in one post, which are 1) triggers of things that can throw me off from what I should be doing and 2) reasons that my lifestyle changes have not been well executed in the past. For each, I’m also noting what I have done and am doing to keep these things at bay this time around.
Peanut butter - I’m aware that from a health perspective this is not an unhealthy food, but I have no upper limit, and if it is in view and available, I will just spoon it into my mouth all day. I mostly just no longer buy any for myself, and if my partner wants it, he has to keep it out of sight in the pantry. I’ve switched to almond, sunflower, and other mixed nut and seed butters, and I don’t go overboard with those as long as they are no sugar added.
Dip - I really like to dip, especially French Onion, but really anything with a dairy base, cheese dips, cream cheese dips, all of them. Part of the problem with dips is that they inherently come with a vessel for the dip, like a chip, and then I overeat those. My system to these is not to have them in my house, and when I am in a situation, like an event (although nothing recently!), where there are dips, I must use only vegetable vessels. I’ve gotten much better, although guacamole can still get the better of me!
Ice Cream - You know how people can easily eat a few spoonfuls of ice cream and put it back in the freezer? Yeah, no. If I have it, it’s gone, gone, gone. I generally don’t keep any in the house, and my partner has switched to low-carb versions, which I don’t love anyway. If I really want ice cream, I have to go somewhere local, and it has to be homemade. Fortunately, in CNY in winter, this is not a problem, no ice cream places are open anyway!
Wine - I’m not much of a drinker, but I enjoy an evening drink now and then. Usually, I drink whiskey, which is self-limiting because it is strong and sharp, but sometimes we opt for wine, and then I can go more overboard. I don’t mind splitting a dry, local bottle with my partner every few weeks, but I’ve learned that I can’t keep more than one bottle in the house. That’s pretty much my system, and it has been working.
Parties/Gatherings - I’m definitely a munch-while-standing-around-ch
atting type, and fortunately, we have not had any of these since March, but they will be back someday. A few of my strategies now include making sure I have clear low-carb options including meats and vegetables, always having a drink in my hand (and making sure that it is usually water!), and physically re-positioning myself away from food whenever possible. The last time this was a thing, I did great, so I’m sure I can keep it up.
School Stress - I teach community college, and halfway through every semester, everything gets crazy and stress always skyrockets, and I want to eat everything sweet and drink all the wine. Over the past few years, I have put together numerous strategies for watching my stress levels and getting my life sorted, and they work, I just need to remember to use them, and to focus on things like running and sleeping that help keep stress from getting too far. Also, my home office is up the stairs from my kitchen, so it is more work to snack than to just grade!
Reasons Things Didn’t Work in the Past
1. I had no true sense of what my future goals were.
Honestly, most of the time in the past, I was only ever really looking to lose weight and look better. I’d stick to something for a while, and then lose track as other aspects of my life changed and so did my priorities. However, about two years ago now, I decided that I didn’t specifically want to lose weight, but I did want to improve my overall wellness, including improving my running and limiting my inflammation. I read the book Primal Endurance, by Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns, and decided to actually implement the strategies including slowing my training pace and eating much closer to keto on a regular basis. The improvements in how I felt and how I ran were amazing. By the end of that year, I had PR’s a bunch of distances and also stopped taking most of my meds for PCOS. Now, I get it. I know what my long term goal is, and it is to feel good and run until I’m 80 (or older). It is so much easier to say no to things that make me feel good in the moment if I know they will derail this plan, and I’ve learned to say to people, “I may like [food item here], but it doesn’t like me” and just say no.
2. I let my environment control me instead of the other way around
It is really common for humans to avoid change, so much so that even when I think I should change, I often look around me and say, “that won’t work” or “I can’t fit that in”. Well, enough of that! I thought that I couldn’t be a runner, and also eat keto and use time-restricted eating windows, but it turns out I can. I thought that I couldn’t avoid eating foods that my partner likes, but I try to avoid (like wings), but I can. I thought that I couldn’t travel or go to events without getting completely off track, but I can. It is all about taking control of what’s around me, especially in my own house. I make sure that the food here is what I should be eating and that I have plenty of easily accessible alternatives for those times when my partner wants something I don’t, or I get a random craving that I need to beat. I make sure that I look at my schedule and prioritize my exercise and food habits. I make sure that when I’m out, I have my own options or a solid plan to use my non-eating window and water in my hand. When I hear myself saying “But, I can’t …” I stop, and I make it happen.
3. My ADHD got in the way.
For the first 38 years of my life, I had undiagnosed ADHD. I’m not sure how. I was always fidgeting, couldn’t follow directions, got in trouble in classes, etc. I was just too smart for anyone to put it all together. What this means in terms of a healthy lifestyle is a few things. 1) I really need novelty. I cannot just do the same things day in and day out, or I get bored, and then I just can’t do things anymore, and I let it all fall apart. 2) I am impulsive, I’ll jump into things without planning or preparation, and 3) I am extremely forgetful, especially short-term, daily things and it is super hard to form habits. The bonus to a diagnosis is that now I am aware of and can recognize these things more clearly, and I have some ideas of how to work with them, and not just try to work against them. My brain is unlikely to rewire, so trying harder has never worked, but now, I try differently. I anticipate my need to shake up my routines and do it often. I make lots and lots of lists and notes and alarms and put them everywhere. Most importantly, I forgive myself when I lose track or forget or grab something without thinking. One thing isn’t going to break my healthy lifestyle, I notice what I did, but jump back on my track and make a mental note to try something different in the future.
Alright, that was a long one, but I think tl;dr I know where I’m heading, I know where the pitfalls are, and I have a plan to get there.