I was overweight for most of my adult life. After years of habitual dieting, I worked myself into the obese category. Way to go, Cammy!
At some point, I parsed a clue and realized that the customs and habits of “dieting” really weren’t working so well for me, so I dumped them. See if any of these habits look familiar to you:
Habit #1 – Changing Everything at Once
I’ve blogged about this before but it’s worth repeating. If I woke up one morning to a to-do list that included painting the house, cleaning out all my closets (*shudder*), washing my car, balancing my checkbook, mowing the lawn, and repaving the driveway, I’d run for the hills. Why I ever thought I could one day wake up and completely overhaul when, what, and how much I ate, add in an hour of heavy exercise, and magically erase all stress from my life with a snap of my fingers, is beyond me. But that’s what I did. Over and over again. I overcomplicated the process in a big way, and I got bigger as a result.
New habit: Incremental changes. I think of it in terms of layering, or shifting. Smooth and steady progress, with a small jolt or two for kicks and giggles.
Habit #2 – Focusing on weight-based goals only.
Y’all know my thoughts on this! But let’s go for a refresher in case anyone new is dropping in. I’ll be brief(ish).
I can’t control my weight; it’s as simple as that. I can eat healthy, healthy, healthy and gain two pounds. I can sneak in a few treats and lose a pound. Throw in an extra workout, and stay the same. The scale makes no sense sometimes. My previous inability to understand that was frustrating, demoralizing, and ruinous.
New habit: Focus on action-based goals. Ah, these are the goals I have almost 100% control over! Staying within my calorie range or accomplishing my 6-times-a-week exercise schedule is up to me. It’s my choice whether I’ll have grilled chicken or fried, one ounce of chocolate or one bar, a 2-mile walk or 3, and so on. Weight loss or maintenance follows eventually, even though it does lag behind sometimes.
Habit #3 – Setting impossible standards
I swear, I am a reasonably intelligent person. Smart enough to know that a square peg and a round hole are a mismatch, anyway. Yet time and time again, I tried to force myself to eat foods I didn’t like (some I loathed), day in and day out. Anyone who was on one of the early Weight Watchers plans will remember the days when you had to eat liver once a week. *pause for gag reflex to subside*
As weeks of joyless meals passed, I would eventually have something “forbidden”, thus breaking my “perfect record.”
New habit: Eat foods I enjoy in healthy portions. By no longer trying to follow other people’s diets, I’ve eliminated the pursuit of perfection, a race I was never going to win no matter how hard I tried.
Habit #4 – Hoping for Success, Looking for Trouble
While there’s certainly merit in being aware of potential stumbling blocks, I spent more time worrying about the possibility of failing than I did enjoying my successes. What happened was that small blips were magnified far beyond their importance (with zero credit for even trying), and eventually all I saw were the failures.
New habit: Be on the lookout for successes, and celebrate the small victories every bit as loudly as the greater ones. When troubles arise (and they WILL), look for the reasons for the problem and temporarily move the bar lower, or try something new, but always keep the primary focus on what’s going right.
Habit #5 – Being So Serious About It All
I’m a person who likes to laugh. A lot. If I’m not finding the world around me to be entertaining enough, I’ll make up reasons to give myself a giggle. But “dieting” is Serious Business, with no room for fun and games, right? It’s not possible to–dare I say it?–enjoy the process of learning about myself, trying new things (even when the results are comical), and discovering what I’m capable (and incapable, sometimes) of accomplishing. Yeah, right: Total Bullshit, if you’ll excuse the expression. But that was pretty much my approach in years past. Fun and happiness could wait until I was “at goal”.
New Habit: If It’s Not Fun, Find a Way to Make it Fun!
After all, this a life-transforming endeavor, and there is joy in every single moment! Do a face plant while trying to do a stability ball push-up? Laugh ’til you pee! Getting bored with the same old, same old? Invent something fun, like Cake Day, to push you forward. (Yeah, that’s what it was, a motivational tool, NOT just a reason to eat cake.) My point is that life is so very good, and we deserve to enjoy it NOW, rightthisveryminute, not at some (potentially) far-off time in the future.
I have one new habit that I’d never tried with previous weight loss attempts:
New Habit #6:Find a group of warm, witty, and wise folks with whom to share the process. Whether it’s an in-person group like Weight Watchers, etc. or an online community like Sparkpeople, seek out a group of similarly-minded people focused on helping each other succeed. My choice: BLOGGERS ROCK!
As I’ve said before, I don’t truly consider my previous, unsuccessful attempts to be complete failures. They might not have worked, but they did serve the invaluable purpose of showing me what didn’t work. It was by linking all of those together and developing a new way of approaching the same issues that I dropped the 100 pounds.
Now, some of my new habits might not work for you, us being different people and all, but if you’re struggling, I encourage you to take a look at what habits or processes you’re repeating today that have proven not to work for you in the past. Can you think of a way that you could turn those habits into something with a greater chance of working? Wouldn’t it be worth trying? You might even get a giggle out of it.
For those of you who are on a strong path of finding your way, were there habits or methods you had to jettison to get here?
As always, thank you for reading. I hope you found something useful!