I’ve been thinking about the last year a lot recently, to make sure I really understand where things went off the rails so I can fix it. Bear with me while I break it down and do some problem-solving. A lot of things went right though, so I’m definitely going to list those first:
- Established a solid exercise routine, managing to workout 5-6 days a week.
- Established a solid weekday eating routine, which kept me within my maintenance calories.
- Tracked my efforts regularly using MyFitnessPal.
So…that’s a lot that went right! But notice in point number two, where I say I had a solid weekday eating routine. The unspoken part of that is where things went wrong.
It starts Thursday evenings. A group of friends meets for dinner every Thursday to eat delicious food made by one of our friends who is an excellent cook. Thursday dinners are special, but they’ve become a problem for me. After spending most of the week tracking my calories, staying on target, exercising, and generally doing all the right things, my brain wants to cut loose and just eat without thinking, and I do. And then, on the way home after dinner I realize I’ve shot a giant hole in my routine and I feel horrible about it.
Friday during the day I try to get back on track (…mostly)! But Friday evening is often a time to get together with friends and enjoy the weekend, which I would then do by enjoying eating in a restaurant, for example, with friends and not paying strict attention to my intake. Because Friday!
Saturday is a completely different thing every weekend, and the weekday routine I’ve established doesn’t work because I’m not in my weekday location doing my weekday things, so my food options are often limited/different/exciting compared to my weekday food plan. And since I was good most of the week…I’ve been indulging.
Sunday, much like Saturday, can be anything. But by then I’ve pretty much given up tracking my intake and I just want to eat like a normal person and start again Monday.
And that’s been how my week has looked over the last year or so. A large part of it can definitely be attributed to being bored and exhausted with the constant vigilance I’ve had to apply since I started this journey in 2003. I won’t deny it, it’s tiresome to always be vigilant, to always have to run a background routine to analyze my food choices and pick the least damaging one when everyone around me just eats whatever they want. But like I said last week, it’s that or give it all up and accept the downsides of gaining it all back – the sore knees, uncomfortable airplane seats, derision of strangers, disappointment with myself, clothes that don’t fit… It sucks either way. So since I’ve decided to buckle down and fix it instead…
The place where I need to add extra problem-solving, planning, and vigilance is the weekend. And the weekend, over the last year plus, has lasted about 3 and a half days. That’s half the week. It doesn’t matter how vigilant I am for half the week, if the other half is a food free-for-all.
The biggest part of what I’m trying to do with my current push is re-set the behaviors I need to be successful, and my main focus needs to be on weekends. I aim to re-learn the discipline I previously had and that involves making the following commitments:
- Planning each meal
- Avoiding foods that don’t support my goals
- Avoiding situations where I can’t control my food environment (at least in the beginning while I’m re-establishing habits)
- Tracking my intake
These are the habits I’m going to be focused on these first few weeks. The weekends will be harder for a while, but this is work I need to do, and work I’ve done before. It sucks having to learn the same lessons over and over again, but that’s the reality of long-term weight management.
The good thing is, I know exactly what the problem is and exactly how to solve it!