About a year ago, I decided that age was catching up with me and it was time to lose some weight. I eat mostly non-acidic foods* and knew that standard diet fare would not work for me. And I avoid most processed foods, so packaged diet meals were out. On the exercise front, I love a good class at the Y but decided to try running again after giving it up about 10 years ago.
I learn a ton of stuff reading FastCompany‘s free daily on-line publication and found this gem:
- A control group was asked to exercise once in the next week. 29% of them exercised.
- Experiment group 1 was given the same task, along with detailed information about why exercise is important to health (i.e., “You’ll die if you don’t”.) 39% of them exercised.
- Experiment group 2 was asked to commit to exercising at a specific place, on a specific day at a specific time of their choosing. 91% of them exercised.
Say again? “91% of them exercised” by committing to exercise on a specific day and time. In other words, they wrote it on a calendar and/or in a planner. I love that, of course, and took this to heart – with a twist.
Instead of planning specific foods to eat and times to exercise, I decided to simply track three things each day in my planner:
- My weight
- What I ate that day (food and drinks with approximate calories, plus a running total of calories for the day)
- What I did that day for exercise
I tracked these three items for a few weeks, then started to cut back on total calories by a pretty good bit. My weight did not change a smidge! So I focused on exercising more, shifting from walking to walking at a faster clip. Then I started to jog a bit. And now I run about 2.5 miles at a pop, about 3x a week.
Your body likes being a certain weight and resists you. What helped me with tracking was to see this, to know I was making an effort in the right direction, and to be patient. After each five pounds I lost, I continued to run a regular loop, but ate more and watched to make sure my new weight was stable. Then after a couple of weeks of stability, I started cutting calories again.
My goal wasn’t to lose weight – it was to lose weight and not gain it back! I needed the changes I was making to be sustainable and was happy with my slow progress. A weird part about tracking food and exercise is that you see that changes don’t happen in direct proportion to what you eat and how much you exercise. Over the course of a week, a month, and a year, however, you see results because you tracked them.
I hope this is helpful! Sometimes the little details are just as pretty as the big picture 🙂
*I have a super acidic system and about 10 years ago, decided to cut acidic foods to help stave off the arthritis that runs in my family. Within three weeks of cutting acidic food, the aches in my hands vanished. After a few months, my hips and knees felt better, and now I am rarely achy.
Here’s the list of foods I cut from my diet:
What’s left? Vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts, and whole grains. I also eat a little fish, some yogurt, some eggs, and an occasional granola bar. I drink green tea, water, and a beer from time to time. FYI: I was eating all of this before I lost weight, and eat the same foods now.