Thursday, February 5, 2009

Health Kick: Part II - Healthy Eating

For me, healthy eating is all about discipline. If I get bored... I eat. Why not? Right? The problem is that having lots of free time leads to being bored more often, which in turn leads to more eating and more mass - which leads to less activity and... more eating. I don't know if everyone works this way, but this is how it is for me. During my previous health kicks the method I tried to incorporate has been the same and worked quite well: discipline leads to positive results. So, I'm tackling the eating problem in stages. I try to start Stage 1 before I "officially" start the program. So my clock started counting from the beginning of Stage 2 (that would have been January 13th).

Stage 1 - Pare down the crappy food in the cupboard - i.e. candy and desserts. I don't throw the stuff away, but I try to eat it more slowly and savor it, because I'm not replacing it when it's empty. Along with this rule - no bags of chips or even healthy snacks allowed outside the kitchen. This guarantees that I don't over-do the portion size while sitting on the couch watching TV (which I do A LOT).
Stage 2 - No soda. This one usually kills me because I don't like drinking diet sodas, so I have to kick soda entirely. It's empty sugar and increased water retention for the only benefit of being more tasty than water. The biggest problem for me is that I don't just have one soda. At a restaurant I'll usually end up drinking 3-5 in the course of one meal. Almost all places have free refills and it just tastes so damned good... Getting off of soda entirely has always been the key event for my previous attempts at weight loss - and it's just as much the psychology of discipline than anything else. If I can get rid of soda from my diet, than the rest of the changes seem less painful.
Stage 3 - more activity = less time to be bored. So, following the logic around the cycle - less time to be bored means less snacking.
Stage 4 - Eat less. One of my main staples when I'm cooking for myself is pasta. A one pound container of pasta typically was three meals... now it's five. The added benefits - I actually end up saving time by cooking less often and a pretty significant amount of money on food. Plus, If I have leftovers at home, I'm much less likely to go out for meals as well.
Stage 5 - Start mixing in healthier foods (this is where I am now). In effect, I move from eating my pre-health fad diet (only smaller quantities) into eating more fresh vegetables and fruits and leaner meats, while making sure to eat three actual meals in a day... no skipping breakfast because I'm too lazy to get moving in the morning.

Instead of just doing all of this at once, building in to it seems to help maintain the healthy eating style. I had, more or less, started Stage 1 at the beginning of the year. Stage 2 began about a little over three weeks ago and I started in to Stage 5 yesterday. Check out the scene in my kitchen last night - after prepping the veggies for the week. I was doing that while starting to cook my chicken fajitas... Looks pretty damned healthy doesn't it? The nice thing is that the positive results from the first three weeks are making this almost enjoyable. Weird.

Coming up... Health Kick: Part III - Fitness


Steven said...

Sounds like a good plan! I work pretty much the same way when I get bored. I even find that I do it at work some times. Your veggies look tasty. We like to keep a big container of cut veggies in the fridge too. We take them with our lunches raw, or throw a few in the steamer to have with our dinner: definitely a quick, simple, healthy addition to any meal. Cutting out pop is hard. Since I have been running, it has been easier to say "no" to pop though, because I don't want to get dehydrated. I'm looking forward to Part III, so I'll be back tomorrow.

kilax said...

Small stages is the way to do it! Anything too drastic, and you won't want to stick with it. Good work!

I like that after I've been eating healthy for some time, I crave a salad or fresh fruit, instead of something salty or sugary. :) I think you'll get there :)

Gina (Mannyed) said...

I think I'm going to start implementing some rules, too. I have so much junk food around from the Super Bowl and The Husband's birthday that I find myself ditching the fruits and veggies for the chips and dip. It's good to know that others are trying to eat healthier and get into better shape. Definetly more motivating to me.

Andrew Skaff said...

Steven - I figured that if I have the fresh cut veggies around and not the junk food, I would be much more likely to snack on something healthy than something crappy. So far, its working pretty well

Kilax - I don't know that I will ever "crave" salads, but I am willing to eat healthier as long as I'm seeing results. Well, more appropriately - feeling good about what I'm doing. Honestly, I feel better now than I probably ever have! Tackling the transition in stages is probably the only way I'd even have a shot at doing this. It's hard enough to start something different, let along stick to it for a longer term.

Gina - Just saying that you are even slightly motivated by what I've been doing is even more motivating for me! Thanks! I hope that things go well for you also!