Thursday, May 19, 2005

All that you can be

Is it enough, in this weight loss game, to do the best you can do? I guess that depends on what your best is, and what the situation is, and what kind of changes you’re willing to make to that situation.

For myself, the last week has been a revelation. Actually, numerically tracking my food intake every day has been enlightening to say the least. On the days on which I also exercise, I have no problem either hitting the target directly, or even coming under by anywhere from a handful to a few hundred calories. The days I don’t exercise? Well, that’s proven much more difficult. And it’s not just that I have fewer calories to eat on those days. There are two factors at play there.

One is that if I exercise, especially if I do so in the morning, I have already made a commitment to myself that day, as absurd and flaky as that sounds, and it seems kind of foolish to seel it down the river by eating cookies or excess cheese or whatever it is I want that day. The other is that, if things are nomal and good an droutine, I will have worked out. That’s it. If things are not: If I’m grappling with too much work, if I’m on the road, if I’m a little depressed, I will not work out. And all those things being equal, quite apart from exercising or not, I will have trouble with food. Either I can’t get what I need—healthy, low-calorie food—or I don’t want what I need. I want chips or chocolate or cheese instead. The unholy trinity.

Take this trip to Toronto, for example. I packed my workout stuff, but the hotel gym was packed to the rafters the first morning, and I decided to sleep in the second morning. Add to that the continental breakfast (croissant, cheese, fruit, espresso, yogurt) that left me hungry all morning and led to snacks during the meetings (half danish, half scone). Oh, and of course all-day meetings with a bad facilitator meant I sat on my ass for eight hours. Bored enough to be burning fewer calories than I normally would just sitting around.

Day two was a little better, but really? Not much. I adjusted, based on what I’d learned the day before, but still. When I don’t exercise, I feel sluggish, I feel like there’s something missing. This, to me, is a great, great thing. It suggests that making exercise a life-long habit will be relatively easy. Or, hey, at least much more likely. Which I will take in a pinch.

There were certainly points in those two days, and indeed the rest of the weekend, during which I thought, ok, this is the best I can do about this right now. And I can either freak out about not doing better, or I can look to the future and see how I can adjust there. I chose the latter. And sure, it might look like a cop-out at first blush. Except that the best I could do didn’t mean giving up and eating as much as whatever I wanted. Instead, it meant eating food that admittedly wasn’t my first choice, but eating it in a mindful way. And it meant looking up food on weight loss resources BEFORE going out for breakfast, so that I could order in an informed way. And the same at supper.

It’s not easy this stuff. It sure is not easy. But it is, at least, simple. Simple enough that even I can get the hang of it. I’m excited about this. Excited about going forward with these tools in hand. Excited about the rest of my life.


Anonymous FB said...

I think you got it exactly right! First, you wrote down what you ate, something many dieters fail to do. When I did it I was amazed at how much I actually ate, and I actually had a number in which to set my limits. I also try to do exercise in the morning, because like you, it sets me up well for the rest of the day. I find that if I do not exercise, I cheat on the diet, or binge entirely, thinking the whole day is lost. If you have found an activity you like ( I loathe the word exercise!) and enjoy doing, that is half the battle to setting up a long term commitment to real weight loss. Good luck and congratulations on your “revelations”!

1:50 PM  

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