As I mentioned in my recent post on self harm, I have been quite aware lately that I am not always making the healthiest choices for myself, and in particularly I have been thinking a lot about my weight.
Since I first developed symptoms of CFS I have been on a steady path of gaining weight. This is due to two factors:
1. I can no longer exercise in the way I was used to. I had actually been building up my running distance when I first became unwell, and mentally I’ve struggled to accept that I need to adapt how I exercise since then.
2. I worry that if I deny myself food I won’t have the fuel I need to create the limited energy that I have each day. Sugary food is an instant fuel and in a very short term way gives me a boost. It’s easy to fall into a trap of relying on those quick fixes!
Ok since I’m being honest, also a third:
3. I feel crap enough a lot of the time without adding feeling hungry (and grumpy)
When you aren’t feeling your best it is easy to become self indulgent to comfort yourself, and since 2015 I have been doing a lot of that. I’ve had a few periods of healthy eating, because I have studied all the reasons that I should be eating better, but I haven’t been keeping anything up longer than a few months.
I’ve decided though that I have reached a point where I need to get tough with myself. I have reached a weight where I feel physically uncomfortable at times, and so now is the time to put my chubby foot down and practice what I preach to others.
So I’m going to follow some advice I got from a podcast I mentioned in a previous post (It’s not just you):
Make it easier to succeed than fail
What I mean by this is that when trying to get into a new habit do a bit of prep work to enable success. For eating better there is a fairly obvious first step – get rid of all the crap you shouldn’t be eating! A lot of negative eating can come from boredom, or things being there when you are hungry (which is why it’s always best to do the food shop after a meal!), so make it harder to get your fix and a lot of the time you’ll find you can’t be bothered to go out of your way to get it.
This step can also mean getting in the right sorts of food. I am a very fussy vegetarian, so a lot of high protein or low carb meals involve foods I am not a fan of.
But you don’t have to suddenly be perfect, just don’t be so bad!
So I have decided to focus on portion sizing of meals rather than cutting out the carb elements. I know that if I don’t respond well to forcing myself to eat veggie-packed, brown rice, tofu meals.
Learn from past mistakes!
My cupboard is full of half eaten packets of healthier options from previous failed attempts to eat better. So this time I’m not going to try going from 0 to 100 straight away. I’m just going to start with:
- Emptying the house of snacks
- Deleting my fast food ordering apps
- Making meals a little smaller
Taking smaller steps and just focusing on taking them one at a time makes the task less daunting.
Ok so we have a rough plan, let’s check in with my 5 tips to starting a new habit from the Habits post:
1. Time of day
Ok, so when am I most vulnerable to temptation? After dinner is definitely a snacky time for me so I will need to be prepared to distract myself. Keeping busy prevents boredom eating!
2. Involve others
I have already started this step actually, at the moment I am having dinner with my in laws and sister in law on weekdays. My sister in law is a bastion of self control and helped me to start sketching out in my head how to approach my weight loss. She is also going to keep asking me if I have been good. Being held accountable by someone else is a great way to help add to your will power (especially if like me you don’t have any!).
“I am going to lose weight” a good positive start, but even better to use something present tense “I am eating less”. Stating it as a fact, as a fait accompli, to believe it to be true and so to act as though it is.
4. Write it down
By posting this to you all I am sort of adding 2 and 4 together. I have stated my weight loss manifesto and so it must be stuck to!
However I am going to double up on number 4 a bit. In Your Way To Health, the health journal I co-created, we have a section on the daily page for logging food and water:
I am going to use this tool so that I can try and spot anything that is helping or hindering my progress (e.g. maybe a smaller breakfast will make me splurge on lunch, or maybe it will set me up on the right foot for the day!)
5. Managing setbacks
I promise, here are the start, not to beat myself up if I have bad days. As long as I am eating less crap some of the time I will be doing a lot better than I am now, and that is all I am asking of myself. To do a little better. Because once I am doing that I can start to do a little more, and a little more, until I am one day miles from where I am now.