Day 295: Soft Reboot, New Rule

I’m not starting new rules, per se, but today I put the poster up:

Success Factors
Short success factors

…and hopefully, this will be a new tipping point for me.

Since January, I’ve stayed sober and managed to keep more or less regularly to exercise. I think my sleep has improved.

But I have lost, as of this morning, zero weight.

I literally weigh, this morning, what I weighed on February 23 of this year. 201.2 pounds. You can check it out for yourself. 

This is a kind of recent thing, as my wife being out of town and other stressors have kind of driven me to garbage food. But I still shouldn’t be driven to garbage food by stressors. That’s a problem in and of itself.

Am I upset? Meh. What’s the point? I’ve been upset before and it’s obviously not a change factor.

If you want to change things, do different things. So here’s the different thing for now: looking at and reading this list of things every morning:

Success Factors
Short success factors

That’s pretty much it. If I read that in the morning and stick to it, religiously, I know I can do this. It’s like science and math. It’ll happen. I haven’t done this, and I haven’t done what I wanted to do yet.

So am I getting a bit, I don’t know, strident with myself? Sure.

I’m not being a saint. I’m having cake with dinner. But I need to be faithful in weighing and logging. It’s literally been the determining factor in success or failure to date.

We’ve gone over this ground before — I’m a smart guy. I don’t know why I can’t internalize a simple process and piece of wisdom. And I must!

So: soft reboot today. My wife also wants to team up with me for the 5/2 fasting in November, so that will be another kick at that can as well, and probably more successful with both of us on board.

 

Day 283: Diet Refocus

Now that Bachelor Week and those sloppy ways are behind me, it’s time to get back on food focus. I’ve been not-bad about eating lately, but it’s 100% true that logging makes all the difference.

The problem is, I hate doing it.

Well, hate’s a strong word. But I really strongly dislike doing it. And I can’t quite figure out why.

It’s kind of gamified, which I like. It’s… fiddly, which I don’t enjoy. And I don’t like everything being partially known, so trying to do it in the morning and not knowing what’s planned for the evening bugs me.

And I’m not always honest with it if food opportunities present themselves during the day, which is annoying and makes me feel guilty.

But there’s no denying that it’s probably the single clearest key to success. So overcoming that obstacle needs to be a priority.

So I’m going to take 10 minutes right now to self-brainstorm ways around this. I’ll append those notes to the blog when I’m done.

10-minute brainstorm…

  • Dedicate time on Sundays to weekly meal planning (pre-grocery shop)
    • …why doesn’t that work when we tried it before?
    • calendar it as a constant? noon-2 on Sundays is ironclad “prep for week” time?
  • Look up “constants” (brown rice, beans, etc.) and make sure I have those on hand
  • Move from Lose It / Fitbit food tracking to paper?
  • Enforce morning checklist as well as evening checklist (but hard to manage time)
  • Have “default” meal for when no meal is planned (rice, beans, veg, sauce) and stick to that — maybe make and freeze in bulk?

Problems:

  • Lack of meal planning for week on Sundays
  • Shifting commitments during week make it hard to plan ahead
  • Inconsistent meal planning on both our parts
  • Software is really annoying to try to look stuff up with
  • Cheating means not logging, which leads me to more not logging (guilt – laziness)

Solutions:

  • Meal planning on Sundays
  • Harder stance on changing plans during the week
  • Meal planning on Sundays
  • Set aside time every morning to plan food for day
    • Make daily schedule (up at 5…)
  • Don’t cheat! Gamify/affirm/check in more firmly every day

 

 

Day 275: Flying Solo

Okay, cards on the table: I’m a married man.

By which I mean: I’m a married man.

By which I mean: at some point I changed, and now when my wife isn’t around, I’m a mess.

Up later than I should have been last night; fasting went pretty well, but some dumb snacking at the end of the day. I slept terribly without my wife, and now I’m kind of scrambling to get out the door because it was hard to get up after a rough night. I’m also filling in for her on the radio this morning, which means an earlier start as well.

So I need to pull it together and be a solo responsible bachelor, like, tout suite. Partly because I need to know that I’m a whole person! And partly so I won’t be ashamed of my damn self when she gets home.

No worries about sobriety; it’s mainly not doing dumb video game stuff that keeps me up late and staying on diet and exercise in the absence of my partner that I need to keep an eye on.

Day 233: Fasting

So I’ve been only been doing… okay… with food control, and I’ve recently been considering trying something different to switch things up.

Fasting diets were super trendy back around 2012 or so; I’ve poked around the idea, a year or so ago. I kind of like the aesthetics of it. Restrictions are interesting to me. I even tried it a year or so ago, with middling results.

I even followed up with a number of posters on MetaFilter who had chimed in as adherents to a fasting diet, five years after they’d posted. None had stuck to it long-term. Nobody had anything especially negative to say about it.

This seems to bear out the research, which shows that it’s hard to stick to. 

But I am, motiviationally, in a bit of a slump foodwise. It’s easy to sway me into breaking good habits. I’m a bit bored with it all. Fasting is a shake-up.

So I think I might set up a controlled failure experiment with the 5:2 thing. Fast on Mondays and Thursdays (Tuesday-Thursday this week), for… let’s call it a month. Long enough to have an impact, but not a lifelong commitment, and hopefully something that will kind of shock me out of complacency.

I think the idea might be to say “hey, this isn’t fun! Just controlling what I eat but eating normally is much better.” And re-excite myself about regular eating again.

That’s the idea, anyway.

My wife is getting into a 10-day booze-free healthy regime to round out the month, so it seems like The Spirit of New Things is alive in the house right now. I know it’s not a silver bullet (what is?), but it feels like a way to shake myself out of a complacency and get thinking about food differently for a while.

Day 205: Weekend food struggles

I worry that, over time, this will become a long litany of me not doing things. And saying “I should do these things.” And then not doing them. Repeat forever. After a few days of weekend food struggles, I’m back on logging.

Coming out of another weekend of not logging food, and kind of having a hard time accounting for why I’m not doing it. I can do it: I have the technology and the skills. I just get kind of distracted in the morning, bang this out, and then want to get to the next thing.

And then I use the not-logging as permission for not flagrantly bad, but not-great food habits.

I know I’m cycling good habits, but I should probably be a bit more diligent about choosing which good habits to cycle — prioritize food logging, maybe even above and beyond exercise.

Or maybe this is normal and natural. I need to keep coming back to “I should do this,” and not doing it, and doing it for a while, and just continue that cycle until it clicks. Like quitting smoking.

Anyway: weekend food struggles are a thing for me.

This is nothing new. And again, I’m afraid of becoming a broken record, two-hundred-odd days in. But the daily writing/talking is part of the accountability, and maybe that’s what will make this stick.

Not knowing what’s coming up is definitely the biggest issue. That, combined with the fiddliness of the logging. It’s neither fun nor convenient.

But here I am again after another long weekend, not having logged food and feeling not-great about it. I think I kind of just dip into denial for a few days here and there.

Shake it off (thanks, T-Swiffy), get up, try again. Rinse and repeat until I have… washed… my lifestyle? I don’t know what the follow-up to “rinse and repeat” is. Keep on doing it, is the point.

Day 164: Food Slippage

Okay! It’s been a week and a bit since the new food determination, and I’m already slipping. Food slippage is happening. Get it together, Me.

It’s a simple plan. Its genius is its simplicity. Plan all my food in the morning, pre-log all my food in the morning, and stick to that plan. What can go wrong?

Lots can go wrong. It’s a combination of weak will and chaos that seeps in around the edges. That, and doing well.

That’s a bit of a paradox, but I’m ahead of my goals, which means I start feeling confident. And then I’m, like, “ehh, I can have one donut, I’m doing great”. And then it’s all bargle bargle bargle and it all goes off the rails.

The plan is brilliant in its simplicity. Stick to the plan. 

Maybe that’s what I need tattooed on my forehead. That, or “food slippage is gonna getcha.”

Avoiding food slippage is a morning check-in problem.

The good(ish) news is that I can draw a direct line from pre-logging food to good and bad days. Even on days that I haven’t stuck to the pre-log 100%, it’s still better days than the no-pre-log days. It’s just a matter of keeping that up and… did I mention the plan? Brilliance? Simplicity? I thought I had.

It’s also working. I can see the effects. This isn’t a crash diet, it isn’t some weird trendy crap, it’s a good, solid, nutritionally sound, intelligent approach. It’s a sound idea. I just need to stick to it.

So this is the rhythm that worked for a while:

  • Write the podcast blog
  • Record the podcast
  • Log food
  • Post the podcast

The interruption is helpful, because it forces me to log before I can post, and since posting is something that has to happen, it makes logging something that has to happen.

I just need to be firmer about the logging. Log it all. If I don’t know what’s going to happen — like tonight, I’m going to a conference dinner but I’m not sure what the entree is going to be — I’m going to invent an entree and try to approximate it in terms of quantity/calorie count when I roll up.

It’s a good plan. I just need to stick to it.

Day 152: Confidence Surge

One day at a time, baby. I knocked it out of the park yesterday with food, and now I’ve got a confidence surge. I can do this: one day at a time.

One Day At  A Time is the sobriety mantra, and it works for that. It worked for me. As I was describing to my friend Andrew on our run this morning, I don’t think I’m an alcoholic. My off switch is fine, my dimmer switch is wonky. So I don’t lay claim to the kind of strength in struggle that alcoholics show. But borrowing that page from their playbook worked for me.

So can it work for food? Why can’t it? This might be the elegant solution I’ve been looking for. So here it is:

I map out my food in the morning. All of it. The whole day’s worth. If I don’t know what we’re having for dinner, I plan to have a cup of brown rice, a cup of legumes, and a cup of steamed veggies.

And then I don’t deviate from the plan.

A confidence surge is great, but what about the long haul?

Sustaining these things is where it gets tough. But I think the “revert to rice and beans” plan really is the solve. Because it was always the gaps that messed me up. Not knowing what I’d eat in the morning led to eating whatever during the day, then not logging, then… well, the lack of progress speaks for itself.

So now, I have a solution to that. Make it up. Decide what I’m going to eat that day, at 7 a.m., and stick to that come hell or high water.

This is where it’s good to have a supportive spouse. She also wants to get on board the better meal planning train, but we both find ourselves distracted and at loose ends. So on days that there’s no evening meal plan, I’m now going to go ahead and manufacture one to make sure it’s all logged in the morning.

And then I stick to it.

This plays to my on/off switch and not my dimmer switch. Let’s go.

Day 151: Food Reboot

Kind of a backwards day today. I went back to bed after waking up with the cat this morning. My wife’s alarm didn’t go off. And we were pretty tired after a big day yesterday. We’re building a Swedish-style daybed from plain lumber, which is exhilarating but turns out to be pretty exhausting to. Anyway: today, Day 151, is the food reboot. As discussed yesterday.

It’s time to stop dicking around with food. Food is now Job One. Well, sobriety is now Job One. Food is Co-Job-One. Food, and sobriety, share Job One status. I love them both equally.

Daily Weight is a thing. Every day now. I’ve slacked off on it for Reasons, but it really has to be a daily thing. So that’s back.

Food planning is also now A Thing. Again, to be done in the morning and stuck to in the day.

A goal is now A Thing. 175 lbs. by 2018. That’s 25 pounds and well within a healthy weight for me. December 31 is 213 days away.  That’s 0.12 pounds a day. That does not seem that bad.

So I’m going to work from daily weight and an established goal line set at .012 pounds a day rather than the weekly tabulation. Because maybe I do need to freak out a little. For now.

Food reboot is essential, and it’s entirely doable.

Here’s the thing, and I’ve said this before: I am a smart guy. I understand how this stuff works. I’m not sure why I keep letting it get out from under me. But I now have The Science behind me: sobriety doesn’t lead to weight loss if food isn’t under control. Exercise doesn’t lead to weight loss if food is under control.

I’ve got to get food under control! Food reboot is the thing I must do.

So like I said, it’s Backwards Day today; I’m recording the podcast before exercise and coffee. I know I’ve sworn to stay off electronics before exercise. But today I’m all jazzed up and kind of angry at my weight so I think I’ll persevere.

 

Day 150: Goals, failures at the 150-day mark

150 days in, and time to take stock briefly. Goals, failures. There are some wins, and some not-wins.

  • Sobriety: definite win. I am crushing this. There’s occasional urges, and infrequent social pressure. But nothing too serious. People still ask me when I’m going to start drinking again, which is a fair question, because I’ve been positioning myself as “not drinking for now.” But I don’t feel any real need to drink any more. This would have seemed like an impossibly long road on January 1. One day at a time really does work.
  • Exercise: moderate win. I’m doing pretty well at getting out there; I’ve had a few injuries that I’ve gotten through. But I’m phoning it in more than I’d like; motivation is a factor a lot of time time.
  • Food: not great. Not TERRIBLE, but food is still my go-to vice, above and beyond anything. Food is still something I sneak and don’t tell people about. Food planning takes time and I’m not good about it. That’s kind of the key to the whole disaster — I don’t plan.
  • Sleep: pretty good? I’ve been spotty on the checklist lately.

It’s interesting hitting this milestone in the middle of Staycation Week, because that’s kind of throwing things off a little too.  The new podcast, too, is taking time — more time than I thought it would — and that, as well, is messing things up a little.

On the whole, I feel good. But it might be time to start actually doing some goal-setting… like “target weight” type goal setting. I’ve been resisting it so far. Scientifically, though, I now have proof that just staying sober and regular exercise isn’t enough to help the weight without some regimented goals and food monitoring.

Goals, failures, and food monitoring…

It comes back to food problems a lot, doesn’t it? I guess that’s the goal for the next 150 days. And those days start today. Okay, food, it’s on. Let’s do this thing. Or, y’know, not do this thing, if the thing is eating too much.

 

 

Day 105: Weight Gain

When I set up the daily weight thing, I told myself that only the weekly average was important. Day to day weight gain was not important. That was to not freak myself out on the daily.

Well, the weekly average is now going up.

So I’m freaking out.

I mean, it’s not horrific increases, but the fact that I’m gaining weight means I really do need to follow my own advice and get serious about food logging and tracking. I’m still slacking on it, or I’d probably be making more progress.

So the big question is whether I’m using sobriety as an excuse. 

Weight gain is not great

Don’t get me wrong: sober and chubby is better than drunk and chubby. And drunk and skinny, frankly. Drinking was also a factor behind weight gain, or at least keeping me from losing weight.

So let’s review: perfect on sobriety. Good on exercise. Okay on sleep. Lousy on food and weight.

CLEARLY the food logging thing is the winning formula. But I’m still not doing it. So the question, again, is why?

  • Not knowing what I’m going to be eating
  • Not logging  food after the fact because I’m too distracted/lazy
  • Not logging snacks because I’m ashamed
  • Not being motivated to do it

…and as I type this out, that last one is the key.

My motivation to lose weight is clearly less than my motivation to eat.

Which is weird, but then again, I’m a stress eater. My first reaction on seeing my weekly average today was “this weight gain is terrible. I want a cookie.” A totally unbidden thought. There is a literal short circuit in my brain that has “I feel bad” sparking a direct “eat something” response.

So I need to figure out how to decouple that wire. And how to make motivation to lose weight trump motivation to eat. Maybe I need to theme this out: have a week on emotional eating. See where that takes me.