Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Keeping myself accountable (again)

When I first started blogging in 2011, I wanted to share the story of training for my first marathon. Blogging was a way to talk about running, and to keep myself accountable.

A lot has changed since then. While running still gets a spotlight here, I've expanded my horizon to talk a lot more about my life in general. I have enjoyed the metamorphosis!

Today, though, we're going to go back to the foundation on which this blog was built. This is because I need to make myself accountable again.
I'll be blunt. The scale has started creeping up on me.

This initially happened a few weeks ago. I was able to get things reasonably under control, so I didn't think too much about it afterwards. But it has happened again more recently - and this time it's more noticeable. It's time for me to be more intentional about addressing it.

Here are the biggest factors that have led me to this point:
  1. I no longer participate in the Weight Watchers program. My company used to sponsor employees' memberships. As a member, I used to get weighed-in weekly, attend weekly meetings, and track everything I ate. However, my company recently terminated the sponsorship program, after which I cancelled my membership. This also meant that I ceased all of the membership practices, most notably...
  2. I stopped food journaling. This has been very damaging since I no longer pay attention to what and how much I eat. It's by far the most negatively impactful change on my lifestyle, and it cascades into many other issues.
  3. I started forgetting that you can't outexercise a bad diet. I work out almost every day, which makes me feel like I need plenty of fueling. However, since I'm not tracking my food/activity ratio, I've become blind to "overfueling."
  4. My self control has been poor. I've been dining out a lot, going to many events where copious amounts of food are served, never turning down dessert, and enjoying the office candy jar frequently.
  5. I've let portion sizes get out of control. This is true when I'm dining out, of course. It's also true when I cook my own meals. At home, it's all too easy for me to go back for seconds or thirds. Also, I have this notion that since I prepared the food myself, it's healthier than what I'd get at a restaurant. However, this is counteracted if I'm eating larger quantities altogether.
Now, the "fun" part. Here is what I plan to do to get back on track:
  1. Start food journaling again. This is the most foundational change I can make. I've heard good things about MyFitnessPal.com, so I'm going to try using it. (If anyone has other suggestions for good online food trackers/apps, please let me know.) This should help me be more conscious of controlling portion sizes, etc.
  2. Focus on drinking more water. I haven't been as good about staying hydrated as I should, and I know I've been guilty of misinterpreting thirst for hunger.
  3. Make food planning a higher priority. Work on keeping healthy foods stocked and on hand at all times. Don't ever let myself get too hungry, which can lead to losing control. Do more cooking prep work when time permits on weekends. This should also help reduce how much I dine out unnecessarily.
  4. Make better choices. When going to events, try to seek out, say, the vegetable trays instead of going straight for the deep-fried appetizers.
  5. Reduce consumption of sweets. My goal is to limit desserts to once per week. I will do my best to avoid walking by the office candy jar altogether. 
Obviously everything is much easier said than done, and there will be bumps along the way. At the same time, I think it's really important to remember this:
All I can do is take it one day at a time - starting right now.

25 comments:

  1. I hear ya... accountability is an important factor in success for some of us! I'm on MFP so you can "friend" me! You can't see who ate what, but you see if they have been tracking, if they have been exercising. It helps me when I log my food to be truly accountable.

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    1. Lauren, that's great that you are on MFP, too! I will definitely friend you the next time I log on. Truly all of these things help with the accountability factor - and having the support of good friends like you makes a huge difference!!!

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  2. Like you, self control is the area where I have had problems in the past. I've found that having a goal is paramount to my losing weight and keeping it off (I don't really mention this at all but I'm down 40 lbs since I've started running). If I didn't constantly have a marathon or another PR attempt off in the distance, I would not be motivated to maintain my weight. Eating an extra cookie or two per day wouldn't mean anything because the resulting ~5 to 10 pound yearly gain would not affect me, except I just might need to loosen my belt a little. But because I want to be as lean and strong (and fast) as possible for my next race I have tons of motivation to not eat the extra cookie. As far as eating well, I find that eating two giant salads a day, eating plenty of fruit and consuming whole milk products really helps me to not over eat the "bad stuff" when I do, because I'm already full of the "good stuff". Good luck with your list, I know that those 5 items on your list are not easily done, but they are realistic and doable! :)

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    1. Pete, I'd love to hear more about your journey that resulted in you losing 40 pounds. That would be a very interesting blog post!

      You are absolutely right about having goals to keep motivation up. It's not a coincidence that I'm dealing with weight gain at the same time I've put running goals on the back burner while blaming the summer heat. Ultimately, that's not the right way to go about staying healthy. I need to find a different goal to set!

      I agree with you 100% on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables first and foremost, to help avoiding the processed junk. I'm a strong believer in eating foods that are as close to their natural state as possible! You bring up an interesting point about the whole milk, too, because I do also believe that the "real" stuff is often way more satisfying than the fat-free substitutes. I appreciate your support, Pete!

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  3. You always have the funniest cartoons! I like My Fitness Pal, it just makes me mad when it tells me I'm eating too many carbs, and I give it up for a while.. the app, never the carbs.

    It's hard to turn down delicious food when it's staring at you! I negotiate with myself, I tell myself to skip the brownie that day, I can have it after my long run, as part of my recovery. But Then I forget and end up not eating said brownie.

    I'm proud of you for taking action on what is bothering you!

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    1. Thanks Ana! I can already relate on the carbs, I've been using MFP for less than one day and it's already telling me I'm over my daily quota of carbs and sugar. Yikes! LOL on giving up the app for awhile versus the carbs, I can see myself doing the exact same thing. =)

      I think you and I think very similarly! I've done the same thing where I negotiated with myself. Only, I do it the other way around. I tell myself I can eat the brownie first, as long as I go running afterwards. Your order of application is much better. =)

      Thanks again!

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  4. I'll also recommend My Fitness Pal :-) I took a break from logging for a few weeks but I'm back at it about 70% of the time. I think it's actually more difficult in the summer because we're so much more likely to be out and about whereas in the winter it's easier to stay in and not get sucked into yummy restaurant and event food!

    Do you use a scale when you're tracking your food? I find that using that to weigh out portions can really help. Also, logging all my food that I know I'm eating first thing in the morning for the entire day helps, too. That way I know if I can have a little extra treat or not and still be close to my goals.

    If you need any recipe or meal ideas, let me know! I'm definitely down to helping people be accountable. As long as they're also cool with the occasional trip to try a new restaurant :-)

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    1. When I was part of Weight Watchers, we were told to set goals on how frequently we tracked our food. The usual goal was 4-5 days a week. My belief is that even a little bit of tracking is better than nothing. And yes - summertime is MUCH harder to track because we are much more spontaneous!

      I do have a food scale at home. When I first started with Weight Watchers, I used it to get familiar with what portion sizes looked like. Then I stopped using it (and my portion sizes have increased, LOL). Good call on pulling it back out of the cabinet. I also like the idea of tracking food in advance so we know where we stand. I always look at restaurant menus in advance, same principle. =)

      I appreciate your willingness to help keep me accountable, Erin! Yes, let's talk recipe/meal ideas the next time we get together. I am looking for healthy meals that don't take a ton of time to prepare! And I am always up for (and probably TOO willing to) try new restaurants, hehehe!

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  5. Great job for recognizing that you need to make a change. Portions (2nd and 3rd helpings at home) were a huge problem for me. Tracking it definitely the #1 thing that helps. I'm currently doing WW but have used MFP in the past and it is very similar (expect it doesn't use points). Good luck!!

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    1. Thanks, Amanda! When I do measure out my portions, it's terrifying to see how small they are in reality versus what I am actually consuming. How has WW been going for you recently? I know you've got a ton going on with your wedding planning - would love to hear the latest updates!!!

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  6. YES! As you know I'm in a similar position with trying to lose a few pounds. Keeping track of my food has been a huge help. I don't even bother trying to track calories or anything else but just writing it down helps me to make better choices, like you say. Should my afternoon snack be: almonds and string cheese? or a cookie? The cookie definitely wins sometimes! But less often than in recent months. I am trying to limit sweets too - I've been having yogurt or popsicles (or nothing- GASP!) for dessert.

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    1. COMPLETELY agree on how just writing the food down helps us to make better choices at the outset! I've long believed that food journaling isn't effective so much because we are counting calories, it's more about being conscious of what we are doing rather than mindlessly snacking, etc. It's amazing how much of a difference it makes just to have to note "cookie" in the journal, right? You make a good point about how the cookie might win sometimes, and that is okay! We don't want to completely deprive ourselves over the long haul, and it's just about keeping things healthier overall. Good for you on those days you skip dessert! I can certainly vouch that it takes a lot of willpower!!!

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  7. Food journaling does seem to be such a help. My husband goes in waves of journaling and losing weight, stopping, gaining weight, and going back to journaling again.

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    1. Ahhh, I can totally relate to your husband's waves! When I was in WW, there was a strong correlation between my weight patterns and how much I was or was not food journaling!

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  8. I feel your pain - I'm no stranger to the cycle of weight creeping back up and needing to keep myself accountable again. I'm on MFP too - I've been using it for about 5 years, since I started working with my personal trainer back in the day. I go through phases where I'm really good about logging what I eat, but after doing it for such a long time, I find tha tI really only need to log when I feel off track with my eating. I've maintained my weight for a while and am staying active, which I'm fine with for the time being. If I were gaining, not working out, or wanted to try to lose weight, I'd be more diligent with logging. So all of that said, I'd totally recommend it if you want to keep an eye on how much you're eating and get those portions back under control.

    For me, watching how active I am has helped a lot more. I've kept the quote of not out-exercising a poor diet in mind for a few years - it's really powerful! With that in mind, I can usually eat according to how much I'm exercising.

    Food prep should help you a lot too! Every Sunday I make a breakfast casserole and pasta salad (both vegetarian, and both loaded with veggies) that Terry and I have when we work from home, and that helps a lot. Then more often than not, we just have salad or chicken/fish with veggies for dinner because it's quick and easy to make after work. Not sure how often you eat meat, but going mostly vegetarian has made a big difference in how we both feel and has definitely helped keep our weight in check. I'm happy to share recipes or chat more if you want :)

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    1. When I was on WW, I also went through phases where I was really good about tracking, but then got tired of doing it and would drop off here and there. It's especially tough when we're out at social functions and have to guess at how the food was prepared. It does get cumbersome trying to log every little thing! So likewise - I had maintained my weight for a few years but am now getting back to tracking since I'm feeling off track. =)

      Good suggestion on trying to be cognizant of activity. I've found it's scary just how little food it takes to refuel after working out, yes?

      That breakfast casserole and pasta salad both sound fabulous! I'm a big believer in dishes that are healthy, easy to prepare, and include lots of vegetables. Please do share the recipes! I've had wonderful success with trying any recipe you've ever shared. I trust your choices and I think we have very similar preferences when it comes to food. =)

      BTW - I was thinking about trying to do another one of Kim's fitness classes in the near future, if you are up for it? Let's look at the schedules to see what dates might work!

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    2. Yes! Come back up! I'll send you an email with recipes and dates later this morning :)

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  9. I am right there with you. I need to take points 1-5 and apply them to myself. I let food journaling slide as haven't been on the scale in who knows how long. For me lots of it has to do with relaxing in summer and almost nightly visits to the frozen custard stand. My diet is mostly great, but the portions are too damn much. What I have been doing is really listening to my body and if I'm not that hungry at dinner, I cut way back.

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    1. Frozen custard... yum. Summertime makes it tougher because custard stands aren't open during the wintertime! I'm just like you - my diet is generally very healthy, but the quantities I consume are too high. It is quite a challenge to learn to listen to our bodies! When folks say you eat with your eyes, I absolutely agree with that. Good for you for being able to pay attention and cut way back when your body gives you those signals!

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  10. I'm back on the MFP bandwagon and I love it! I've been really approaching it as "balance" and not depriving myself of anything but working within my limits which helps so much. I'm feeling really good about it and am on a 32 day streak!

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    1. A 32-day streak is fantastic! Congratulations on being so disciplined! I've learned a lot from you over the years about how proper planning makes a big difference. Yes, balance is key in being able to maintain a healthy lifestyle over the long term, as opposed to "dieting." Yay for MFP keeping us on track!

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  11. I have been contemplating the same post. I am losing my weight battle bad right now. I am still food logging faithfully, but it doesn't keep me from eating lol sadly...
    It is hard when you dine out. We do a good bit of it as well, and I just want to try all the good things!
    Cheers(with water) to you as reign it in. I am trying as well, I am trying to make little changes and take a deep breath. Celebrate the good choices :) You can do this!

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    1. Good for you for logging your food consistently! I look at it this way - think about how different it would be if you were NOT logging your food. It could be so much worse! Yes, dining out is a real challenge to the self control because the chefs do everything they can to make the food delicious and beautiful. It's hard to resist! Cheers to you as well as you make the little changes and breathe deeply. I think sometimes we forget how important it is to take deep breaths, yes? Celebration to you, as well, and you can also do this, my friend!!!

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  12. When I counsel patients about this, I always compare weight gain to going into debt. It's hard to get on top of either situation.

    I had no idea you struggled with your weight!

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    1. Great comparison between weight gain and going into debt! That makes perfect sense!

      Thanks Wendy, it's nice to hear that! Throughout most of my life, I was always a bit overweight. Nothing crazy, but I wanted to improve. Ironically, training for my first marathon ended up bringing me to my highest weight ever - but through WW I was able to get down to a weight I liked. I'm starting to creep up now so it's time to get things under control!

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