I have been working on weight loss plans with my groups this week. We are taking a very thoughtful look at what makes any plan successful for an individual. One thing remains the same: everyone who wants to lose must take in fewer calories than they burn. The rest of the plan – how an individual accomplishes that task – is worth considering carefully.
I started thinking about my own plan (not for weight loss, but for maintaining my current weight). We all have a plan, even if we aren’t aware of it . . . even if it is “eat whatever I want, whenever and however I choose” – not a very effective plan for health or weight loss, by the way! Our actions are good indicators of what our plan is.
My plan does not involve any counting, measuring, or restricted foods. Nevertheless, when I really look at what I do, I notice patterns that are there not merely by chance. In case you are interested, and in case you might like to “steal” one of my ideas, I offer my “plan” here.
1. Eat breakfast – unless the house is burning down, or unless I happen to sleep past 7 am (never happens anymore). Have something that requires very little thought or effort, but tastes good and is filling. I tend to be seasonal in my choices: usually a big bowl of oatmeal and fruit with milk in the winter, and Greek yogurt with fruit in the summer. If I’m extra hungry, I add an egg or two.
2. Eat leftovers for lunch (usually from the night before). Put whatever it is in a bowl, filling it about half full, and fill the rest with vegetables. The vegetables help me fill up without all the calories of a full bowl of something like lasagna or steak and rice. I’m always trying to sneak extra vegetables in wherever I can – not only as a weight control technique, but also to help stay healthy. Then I usually eat something else – usually fruit, or hummus on bread or crackers.
3. I always eat when I’m hungry – yes, even after 7 pm if I feel a need. (Again, unless something truly prevents me). This means I usually have an afternoon snack. My snack is what a lot of people might consider a small meal: something like a sandwich, or some yogurt with fruit, or a bowl of cereal.
4. Dinner is almost always a little meat (or fish), a starch (rice, potato, pasta, or some other kind of grain), a vegetable AND a salad. It almost always includes a small (tiny, actually) glass of wine and a little something sweet after. I like to eat, and this is my most relaxing meal. It is also my largest meal, although I am not stuffed at the end. By the way, eating is not just about WHAT we eat, but also about HOW we eat. My dinnertime routine is deliberately relaxing – candles, music, and relaxing conversation. Please don’t hate me if you are a young mother with small children or someone who works long hours. This pleasant routine was not as easy (actually felt impossible!) when my kids were small.
That’s it! That is my basic plan. When my life is not “ordinary” – what is that anyway?! – I notice that I also modify my plan without much thought. It has become second nature, after years of experimentation and practice. Well worth the effort!