With so many people cheering me on from the sidelines, it will be embarrassing not to succeed in some reasonable time on this modest diet of mine. So I plod on bringing to bear all the knowledge I have garnered over the years to achieve this gigantic task.
Step 2 of my behavior mod program (or programme, if you’re English) is to a set reasonable final goal. It needs to be realistic, achievable, and to some extent measurable. (E.g., I’m never going to achieve a figure like Marilyn Munroe’s, and if I did, I would probably miss it, and go spiralling downward into an anorexic revolt against weighing more than 100 ounces.) My final goal is to lose 7 pounds of fat not muscle, so that at the end of the process I do not look like some sickly old frail lady, but fit and energetic. The older I get, the more important this muscle versus fat thing becomes.
The next thing is to decide on the means to get from where I am to where I want to arrive. These means have to be realistic and achievable as well. I can tell you from repeated experience that it’s a waste of effort to decide to cut my calorie count down to 800 per day, and so travel toward nirvana at the rate of a pound a day. Given my current metabolism and activity level, what is realistic for me is to cut my calorie count to about 1500 a day, increase my exercise to 30 minutes a day for six days a week, and so expect to lose about 1/2 a pound a week. If you think that is impossibly slow, I do too. But it’s a lot faster than the 9 months it took me to lose three pounds last year when I aimed for 1200 calories a day and couldn’t stick to it.
The step after that is to structure the day to maintain motivation and reduce slippage. This usually takes a lot of revision as one discovers what works and what doesn’t, but I’ve been at this for a long time, so the one I’m beginning with now was baked a little earlier. I’m sure it will continue to need tweaking, but here is my current regimen of motivators:
1. a 1-minute break when I’m getting dressed in the morning during which I review the menu for the day as well as when in the day I’m planning on doing my 30 minute exercise routine.
2. a 1/2 minute break at midday before I eat to remind myself of my plan for lunch, and not to give in to the “I’ll just finish those leftovers” or “I’m starving” routine.
3. a 1/2 minute break in mid-afternoon to remind myself that getting carried away with the enthusiasm of whatever I am doing is not a good enough excuse for skipping or skimping on my exercise routine, which generally I want to have finished before 5:30.
4. a minute break following exercise to make sure my blood pressure is at a reasonable level, and to remind myself why I don’t want to revert to my usual evening “what the hell” approach to food. I’m satisfied if I limit my evening meal to a single small serving of everything. Don’t tell me that’s easy. I sometimes think I have the will power of a noodle.
A couple of other things I know from experience that are useful to remember:
I seem to think that being hungry is an experience to be avoided at all costs. I know this is crazy, but I have managed to convince my more gullible self that it is cruel and unusual punishment that I should have to feel hungry at all when I’m on a diet, and I have been known to use it as justification to abandon all restraint. “I’m tired” is another gloss on the same approach.
So when I am seriously hungry, I need a fall back position to replace my usual chocolate solution. Coffee or even hot water usually works for me. And often, interestingly enough, so does a short bout of exercise. Sometimes as little as jogging in place for no more than a minute.
And I can often get hold of a compulsion to eat simply by walking out of the kitchen and back in again. It’s amazing how difficult this simply stratagem is. And how effective it is.
Enough for today. I’m up against the buffers on my exercise time.
PS: The mini-break routine is continuing to be surprisingly effective. Six days in succession without a major defeat is almost a record.