Since we’ve so recently visited the topic of splurging…
I’m rapidly approaching my one-year anniversary on this Me Makeover, and I’m surprised at how far I’ve come since this time last year. My hope was to have lost about half the amount of weight I’ve lost to date. I never dreamed I’d be approaching the 85-pound mark within a year!
It’s not that I’m an underachiever (although I probably am, to some degree). It’s that I had already decided going into the change that I wasn’t going to diet. I wasn’t going to slash all my favorite foods out of my life. Instead I was going to figure out some way to manage them properly. Other people did it; I knew that I could, too! And thus was born the new-to-me concept of the SMART splurge.
I borrowed the SMART idea from the problem-solving area of my professional life. When we propose a solution to a problem area, it must pass the SMART test:
S – Is the proposal specific?
M – Is it measurable?
A – Is it achievable?
R – Is it reasonable?
T – Is it trackable?
You can see where this is going, can’t you? In order to “work in” some of my favorite foods, I had to develop a SMART splurging plan.
First I had to get specific:
– If I am following an otherwise healthy eating and exercise pattern, I will allow myself one meal per week that contains beef and/or white starch, but it must fit within my calorie budget for the day.
– If I am following an otherwise healthy eating and exercise pattern, I will allow myself one meal per month that does NOT have to fit within my calorie count.
Next, I had to figure out a way to measure the splurge. For my allowable weekly splurge, a beef serving is defined as a small steak or hamburger patty, or a serving size of meat sauce. A “white starch” product is a small hamburger bun, white pasta, one slice of pizza, or a reasonably-sized baked potato.
For the monthly splurge meal, I decided to measure by a different definition, namely that the splurge started when I sat down at the table and ended when I stood up. None of this pizza here, an ice cream cone an hour later, and potato chips an hour after that. Monthly splurge = one meal, not one night of grazing for hours.
After I’d established the parameters, I had to consider if the concept was achievable. Was it possible for me to detour from my routine for one entree or one meal, and then return to that healthy routine immediately. For so many years, I’d been conditioned to believe that one eliminated all unhealthy foods from the diet, lost weight, and then could eat what one wanted and live happily ever after. I could do the first part and a little bit of the second, before jumping ahead to the third part. That wasn’t exactly working for me (hadn’t worked for anyone I ever knew), and I realized that what healthy people did, in various ways, was to mix enough of the third part (a specific, measured amount of “forbidden foods”) into the first two parts of the cycle. Yes, I decided, I could very possibly live a very happy and healthier life that way!
Then I asked myself if these splurges were reasonable. When I looked at the calories and other nutritional values of the foods I thought would be prime splurge candidates, I knew that I could have them (in SMART amounts) and still be healthy.
And finally, I needed a way to track the splurges accurately and honestly. That’s where Sparkpeople‘s food tracker came into play. I could use it to record food values consumed, as well as record the fact that the splurge had occurred. No chance of any “Oops, I forgot I already had a burrito this week. Oh well.” (I can “oh well” myself into trouble in an unhealthy heartbeat, I’m sure.) While I no longer record my daily intake in Sparkpeople on a regular basis, I do record any splurges. Just to remind myself that they occurred.
By now you’re thinking that I waaaay over-thought this concept of splurging. You may be right. But I knew the only way I could successfully change my eating habits for the long term was to develop a way to manage them intelligently. And for me that meant I needed a plan. A SMART plan. So I built one for myself, and it worked.
Here’s the really funny thing, a result I never expected. I thought the splurges might cause problems with guilt or shame over “breaking my diet”, but with each SMART splurge, what I’ve gained has been CONTROL. I’m more strongly committed to a healthier lifestyle than ever, and I’m not sure I would’ve been without the possibility of tasting my Memaw’s fried chicken at least once a year.
Some folks moving to a healthy lifestyle don’t feel they’re able to splurge. I understand that and respect their evaluations of their own behaviors. And for others who do build splurges into their lives, my way might not work. I share it here only because it worked for me, and it might be an option for anyone out there who is feeling deprived and on the edge of falling into old patterns.
Happy midweek to all!