Dieting 101 – Being Flexibile is Key

Lose the Rules: You Must be Flexible

Why is it that when you decide to get in better shape or lose a few pounds, life suddenly throws you a curve? Fact is there are constantly invitations to over indulge so you must decide in advance how you want to handle them.

Make a Plan
Implement Your Plan
Review Your Plan and Adjust if Necessary
Rinse, Repeat

Have a Planning Session First

You’ve decided to get back in shape; now you must have a planning session with yourself about what might change, how you might go about following through, and most importantly whether you believe you can and will follow through (are you serious or are you kidding yourself?).

To get a good plan, write it out. Include when, where, what time of day. Imagine yourself following through and see whether there are any obstacles? Will you get up earlier or sleep in? Will your partner complain you’re never home? Will work interfere? Think it through. When you spot a potential obstacle you can find a way over, under or around it, or you can change your plan. Once you have a plan, implement it for one week, then at the end of the week, look back and decide whether you should alter your plan or follow through with it for another week. This way you are able to modify your plan as needed, but still have a plan.

Here’s a Sample Plan: Watch What Happened:

My plan is a regular workout schedule (four days a week at home or at the gym), drinking less alcohol (special occasions and weekends instead of every night), and tightening up “weekend eating” from the current Thursday evening through Sunday to only Saturday and Sunday.

Reflection: What would this accomplish? I’d be eating a bit less (reining in the indulgence from three days a week to two), and exercising consistently (consistency is key), and drinking less alcohol saves a lot of calories (plus alcohol can cause more poor decisions, especially if inebriated).

Make your plan, then follow through and track what happens.

Here’s how this plan worked in a typical first week:

Monday: All is well, worked out and ate as planned. Good day.

Tuesday: Worked out and ate as planned. Good day. So far this is easy.

Tuesday evening sister invites me over Thursday evening for home party, “I’ll have something there to eat,” she adds. I’m about to say, “That’s okay, I won’t want anything anyway,” but thought better of it. (Telling someone you don’t want what they’re serving because you’re trying to get healthy is a surefire way to be attacked with a full-frontal assault on why that is ridiculous and, “Just this once won’t hurt.” Who needs that? Stay quiet instead).

Wednesday: Ate fine and worked out according to plan. Very good, hump day and all. (Notice it has all been pretty easy up until now.

First obstacle: Wednesday evening another sister calls saying Friday night we’re celebrating family birthdays at a Thai restaurant. I’m to bring blackberry cheesecake, mom is bringing blackberry pie.

Taking stock of the rest of this week and it’s not pretty: Thursday evening workout won’t happen because I need to be baking and said I’d go to my sister’s (evening workouts are often waylaid); Friday evening eating is dicey due to birthday dinner at restaurant. To top it off Easter is Sunday so most of Saturday I’ll be shopping and baking. I already decided to make a cake and scalloped potatoes. This is turning out to be a lousy week for my new getting in shape plan.

But, all is not lost. This is a typical week in a typical life. You must be flexible if you expect to lose weight and keep it off. You’re always going to be confronted with the unexpected occasions, birthdays, parties, special events where they’ll have all the yummy goodies you just can’t resist. Keep reading to see what a successful dieter does next.

Thursday, ate well. Had dinner already so didn’t snack at sister’s Thursday event (she had chips and a vegi tray and I wasn’t hungry so easy to pass up). Too busy with baking to exercise (I anticipated this so I’m not upset). Evening workouts are so often missed I’m already working on a new plan to fit in earlier workouts.

Friday: Ate great, dinner was wonderful. Had a “splurge” glass of wine with dinner at the restaurant (tasted pretty darn good too, but didn’t leave me wanting another). Ate plenty but not over-stuffed; knowing we had desserts coming. Enjoyed a full piece of blackberry pie and some cheesecake and it was great. I’m fine and right on target.

Saturday: Ate well, did my exercise as planned. Shopped for groceries for Easter dinner and suddenly decided to make homemade peanut butter cup easter eggs; how’s that for a healthy eating plan? Now I’m a candy maker! I enjoy candy, so sue me.

Easter Sunday: Big family dinner, potluck style. Nothing is better than good homemade food, especially when you’re learning to eat better and make better choices. I ate what I wanted and felt great, satisfied, content. Did not overstuff, didn’t feel the need to. You can take a bit small amount, eat it slowly, taste it, check out the texture, and really make an effort to enjoy the buffet style dinner. There’s no need to stuff yourself. It’s not the last time I’ll ever eat. Easter eggs turned out great. I left plenty behind and took the rest to my office on Monday. I didn’t actually eat but one of the homemade candies; they were good, but I didn’t feel the need to eat more.

I love to bake for special events as I get to eat the goodies, but I ditch the leftovers. A piece or two of cake every so often is not a problem, but half a cake on the counter, or sweets and desserts every day for a week is a recipe for the beginning of poor eating habits.

Sunday evening (remember I had the big Easter dinner earlier) I started feeling somewhat hungry, but it was late, so I ate the leftover desserts I’d brought home for my dinner. This time it was “eat dessert first,” as grandpa used to say. You make a choice, sometimes you’ll overeat, and sometimes you won’t and it’s okay. The trick whether losing weight or maintaining weight loss is to change the equation from usually overeating and indulging and watching what I eat once in awhile, to eating well most of the time and indulging once in awhile.

Sunday Evening Reflection: Look Back at Week 1:

Lots of sweets, plenty to eat. I stuck to my overall plan for the week. I drank far less (from a couple glasses of wine a night down to just a couple for the entire week). I ate plenty of the good foods I wanted, but didn’t feel the need to stuff myself, nor did I ever feel deprived. I didn’t have the, “I better eat now because I’m starting a diet on Monday” mentality. Every meal stands alone, so if you overeat at lunch that doesn’t mean the rest of the day is blown (why pre-blow it?).

Overall I exercised and ate according to plan Monday through Thursday then lots of unexpected events started to occur that could have been big roadblocks but weren’t.