As you get older, do you feel like you are having an out-of-body experience when it comes to weight gain? Me too! It seems I get caught off guard about every 5-7 years, when suddenly I have 25 to 30 extra pounds hanging out on my body. How in the heck did it get there?
I just went through this in my early 50’s and now as I head into my 60’s, I am having the same experience. Does it ever get easier? Is there ever a clear answer on what to do to avoid weight gain as the calendar ticks away? Not sure you (nor I) will like the answer. For some of us (that includes me), maintaining a desirable weight is a challenging journey. I am unsure as to whether it will ever be easy or be less of a challenge. But I am confident that we can make the scale go the other direction. It just requires a little more focus and awareness than what we may have been willing to give in the past.
Lately, I have been focusing on what is derailing my weight loss efforts. And then using that awareness, I created strategies that help me eat nutritionally no matter what. Here are the strategies I am working on.
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Creating structures and systems that making eating nutritionally a “no-brainer.”
I know that the more “impromptu” decision making I take out of the process, the better. This means planning my meals and prepping the ingredients ahead of time and then sticking with my plan.
So I don’t get overwhelmed, I plan meals 2-3 days at a time. For me, this breaks down the workload of cooking and prepping food into manageable pieces. Plus, it keeps less food in the house that I would be tempted to eat. Even if the food is healthy; too much of a good thing can keep that scale going up! Some people plan out their whole week and then spend one day prepping the ingredients. That is a successful strategy too. Find what works for your schedule and for you. Then get really good at that.
Plan around your energy – when your tank is on low, eliminate as much decision making as possible.
Think through your week and find those times when you are regularly tired or low on energy. Make eating nutritionally as easy as possible during those times. Evenings are a particular challenge for many people. At the end of the day, their resolve is worn out or gone all together. It is very easy to give into temptations and eat whatever is easiest to put together (which most often is not the most nutritional food).
I have been logging what I eat over the past two weeks and have discovered that evenings are a huge nutritional issue for me. I knew they were, but there is no escaping the data in my food journal. I am tired and hungry when I get home, and I want to make the easy food choices. That doesn’t usually end well for my body.
I am beginning to plan my evening meals around the fact that my energy levels (and nutritional resolve) are at their weakest in the evening. My solution? I am making sure that my evening meals are ready to go when I get home. I cook these meals ahead of time and keep prep time in the evening to the absolute minimum (which also virtually eliminates my “appetizer/happy” hour). Because I am eating healthier at dinner, my post dinner snacking has gone away. Not because I have exerted great self control; I simply don’t crave snacks in the evenings. Victory claimed!
Beware of unstructured days.
The way your day is structured is most likely reflected in how you are eating. Lack of structure typically leads to poor food choices. My day is Sunday.
My Sundays are a day where I purposefully plan an “unstructured” day. While this is a great strategy for mental rejuvenation, it has back fired nutritionally. My eating on Sundays has really gotten off schedule and, therefore, off track. I sleep in so I eat breakfast at a different time than I normally do. Then late morning, I decide to spend some time at my favorite coffee shop with some caffeine and a pastry. This ruins the lunch hour. When the evening comes around, my energy is low because I haven’t eaten well. Even if I try to cook and eat a healthy dinner, my body and brain (starved of proper nutrients) are “treated” to a nutritional meltdown. It’s not pretty!
This is a new bit of awareness for me, so my strategies are in their infancy. But my goal is to balance a “carefree” day with structure around proper nutrition. As much as I can, I am going to stick to my regular meal routine on Sundays and allow myself a treat after a proper meal, not instead of it. Our bodies really do need consistent and routine nutrition in order to be at their best.
We may think we have lost control of our weight, but I am pretty sure it is something else that we have lost control of.
That makes me wonder if it is indeed our weight that we have lost control of. Rather, might we have lost control of the center of our lives – what makes us tick, what makes us feel the happiest, what keeps us engaged, what keeps us feeling satisfied and powerful.
The number one reason I hear as to why someone cannot get the weight off is that they don’t have time to take care of themselves. That makes me wonder if it is indeed our weight that we have lost control of. Rather, might we have lost control of the center of our lives – what makes us tick, what makes us feel the happiest, what keeps us engaged, what keeps us feeling satisfied and powerful.
I find it is all too easy to lose control of the pace of my life. Being able to have rhythm and pace in my schedule are absolute requirements for me to be at my best. They are pretty much at the core of my internal operating system. It doesn’t mean that I can’t handle disruptions; I can ride almost any wave that comes my way. But it has to be my ride in order for me to stay centered. It is way too easy for me to jump onto someone else’s wave and try to ride it. If you have read a number of my blogs, you may recognize this as a recurring theme. When I start to march to someone else’s drum beat (sticking with the fun cliches), I give up my center. When that happens, my nutritional house comes crashing down.
So if you feel like you have lost control of your weight, take some time to look beyond that feeling. See if there isn’t something else that you have lost control of that is wearing you down, moving you off center, and disrupting your nutritional house.