One of the most important things that I did to help me lose weight and keep it off is to develop structures in my life that supported me staying on track. By structure, I mean any regularly occurring action or way of organizing your life that supports your wanted outcomes. So for example, one of the structures that I use to avoid buying foods that aren’t in line with my eating plan is to use lists.
Sherry and I actually use an app called Wunderlist. We can both add items to a grocery list and it’s always available on our phones. I go to the fridge before I do the shopping, and I look for all of the regular items that we buy to see what we need to stock up on. I tell Sherry I’m going to do the shopping and make sure to update what she wants on the list. Here’s where the structure part comes in. I know where all of our regular items are in the store. I arrange the list so that I go through the store in order of where things are laid out, and I always finish with frozen foods (for obvious reasons). Here’s the most important part….I rarely deviate from that list! I don’t go looking in sections that don’t have what I need.
…I don’t do any “shopping”, I do a lot of “getting”
Here’s why. I add items to the list based mainly on what we normally eat, and am simply replacing what we are out of. I make the list at home during the normal process of things that need to get done….NOT WHEN I’M HUNGRY! I also don’t go and shop when I’m hungry, but rather I just see it as a chore that needs to be done. I go from one item directly to the next and avoid any “shopping” at all. Technically I don’t do any “shopping”, I do a lot of “getting”. Once every item has been checked off the list, I check out and take it all home. This is just one structure that I use.
It’s easy to let yourself off the hook if you always exercise alone.
Another example of a structure for me is teaching fitness classes. For the greater part of the past four years, I have taught one to three classes a week, occasionally more, not just for employment, but rather because it was a structure that supported my goal to work out at least five days a week. It’s easy to let yourself off the hook if you always exercise alone. It’s better if you are accountable to a workout buddy or a friend. When you teach a class, you are responsible to your company, your co-workers and each student who is there to get their own work done. The workout itself isn’t difficult, even if it’s a hard workout, when you have so many who are depending on you. I didn’t always want to teach on any given day, but I also never regretted finishing even a single workout once it was done. For me, it was the most effective support structure for keeping me on track. So what happens if you take all of those support structures that you’ve relied on and throw them out the window? You easily fall back into bad habits!! That’s what!
… support structures took a beating.
The past few weeks, as Sherry and I have planned for our move, we’ve changed our shopping so that we didn’t have a lot of frozen or refrigerated food to move. Our routine has been disrupted to the max with dinners and celebrations as we’ve taken on this new adventure. With the seeming mountain of little things that had to be managed over the last couple of weeks, those support structures took a beating. For a number of reasons, I gave up my running coach. I taught my last classes with nothing set up to replace them. I’ve told myself, “just eat what you want, it’s easier,” and “you’ll work it off later”. I am actually quite amazed at how quickly I have fallen back into really bad habits, and ignored good ones that I’ve had in place for years.
I haven’t been eating in a way that supports what I’m up to.
To be clear, I don’t say this out of any need for pity, but rather as a warning. I have been relatively successful at keeping my weight down for the past seven years. I’ve not been great that whole time, and I’ve had to recommit myself to what I really want many many times. For me it starts with getting back to being open and honest about what I’ve been up to. I haven’t been eating in a way that supports what I’m up to. I haven’t been getting the exercise that I need to do the things I want to keep doing. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but I don’t want to see it go any further. So I’m out to create some new support structures for myself.
I don’t have it all worked out, but in the coming days, I’d like to share what my plan is with all of you. So that you can hold me accountable. So I give anyone who reads this the permission to check with me in the next week or so and ask what’s going on with my plan. What structures am I putting in place to help me eat in a way that makes my body feel good, and gives me the fuel that I need to do those big things I want to do? What’s my overall exercise plan, and how am I going to maintain at least 5 days of exercise a week, and someday get to that giant goal of completing a 50 mile trail race?
…supporting others supports me…
Feel free to simply reach out to me and ask, what are you doing? And if anyone else finds themselves in a similar situation, I’m here and would love to work with you to help you develop the structures you need to meet your health and fitness needs! My supporting others supports me, and that is a structure that I hope to continue forever.