I have been thinking a lot about diet and exercise lately. Please don’t act surprised – there are probably those out there who believe I think about little else. And that’s okay. Because it’s one of a few priorities in the think tank these days. It’s also one of the priorities where I wish I were feeling more productive and successful.
Exercise is an ongoing thing, a push-pull force that has me in its thrall. Right this moment exercise seems so much simpler and less complicated than overall diet strategy. I enjoy the foods I like enough to eat, and unfortunately that seems to be a pretty narrow and less desirable slice of the big wide spectrum of all that is available. So I tend to repeat meals over and over and over again. If those meals or foods contained therein do not fall on the healthier side of the equation (whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean protein sources) then I am making the same unhealthy choices again and again.
For M it’s been a summer of protein and fat, as in lots and lots of meat, some vegetables, very spare amounts of sugar, dairy, and carbohydrates. Add to this a lot of running and you have a much thinner, happier M.
I will not eat that way. Not “I cannot” – this is strictly a “will not” situation and choice. Part of it is that I am not so disciplined or extreme, but also because I cannot run 10+ miles per day most days of the week. To be completely transparent, I will not run any miles any day of the week.
But whatever I have been doing does not feel as if it is working either. I can be good and disciplined for a few days or weeks, then slowly slip-slide my way back to carbs and sugar. For me to be consistent and stick with it requires two things: planning and routine. Which means I plan what I am going to consume for a set period, and then eat the same thing for that entire period. Same breakfast, same lunch, same dinner – every single day. It’s boring, I know. But it’s the only thing that keeps me on the straighter and narrower pathway of healthy eating.
Yet I am failing far more often than succeeding.
I have spent some time perking on this issue, while plodding my way through the work days and exercise sessions and rowing away to nowhere. I have pinpointed at least one of my triggers (work stress) and another downfall (lack of planning and therefore inaction on advance food preparation). Mostly I can be good and successful through the week, because I have to plan my work days and new routines are slowly falling into place to ensure I get up, do whatever I do, and get work accomplished. Working mostly from home there has been a learning curve on managing my schedule and getting things off my list. The annoying alarms in my phone and computer are my friends; they make me pay attention to the schedule.
I am really enjoying the flexibility of my various jobs and mostly remote work schedule. I do have to go into my primary job on Thursdays, the law firm a few hours a couple of times per week right now, but it’s working pretty well. The term “heavy scheduling” is starting to have meaning for me, with the alarms and reminders I have had to utilize to stay on track and also manage my hours for invoicing. I tell myself that if I can do this for work I can surely do it for meal planning, yet it continually get de-prioritized. Like the exercise, I have to change my mindset about its importance to me and make it happen, because this particular discipline – eating well – does not come naturally to me.
My biggest bomb in my eating well plan continues to be the weekend, and I have to do something to get more regulated about it. The past couple of weeks I’ve experimented with scheduling yoga practice and regular meals, and it certainly helps. The problem is that since M does not really eat during the days, I either need to bring food for me or carve out time to eat something while we are out. Since I am avoiding fast food, my usual default is a simple sandwich somewhere.
In my spare time I have been reading “Lean Habits” recommended by J. It’s heavy on the science, and my spare time has been somewhat limited. Plus I have not made reading the priority I should. Anyway, I have just started it and hopefully it will lead me to some new conclusions. I have also been reading about diets. US News and World Report had an article about the best diets, so that’s where I started. The most sensible one was the DASH diet, tailored for those with high blood pressure and seeking to bring it down with diet and exercise. Nothing new to see here; it is a simple, common sense approach to eating healthy. My primary takeaway was to eat more vegetables, cut back on the salt.
I do not suffer from high blood pressure, but I do suffer from a deficiency of vegetable consumption. This week, this month, I will try to change that. No, I will not be eating a salad with breakfast (although I have), but I will include one or some other vegetable from the limited range I eat with lunches. Dinners will revert back to salad and vegetable. Piece of fruit with breakfast and after dinner. Most everything else I am doing right I will retain, and I will have to continue to work at not giving in to stress-eating sugar cravings.
Today I have my appointment with the endocrinologist. Love him to pieces, but dread these quarterly appointments. I just know my labs are not as good or show as much progress as I desire and should be the catalyst that makes me set goals and outline the steps to meet those goals.
Make it so, Janelle. Just. Do. It.
Ugh. Breaking habits seems so impossible right now. But I can do it; I really HAVE to do it.