Perspective is everything. Reading The Fat Trap while I was bummed out made me more bummed out. Reading it again while I’ve got some post-exercise endorphins coursing through my brain and this chart in front of me makes me hopeful:
I looked again specifically at the list of habits that researchers observed in the people on the registry who’ve lost weight (at least 30 pounds, with an average of 70) and kept it off (for at least a year, with an average of 6 years).
Normally, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but normal for me, in recent years, has meant lazy and unhealthy and heavier than I want to be. So, looking at those registry habits and my own new habits, I think I’m going to take another shot at resolutions.
Registry members exercise about an hour or more each day — the average weight-loser puts in the equivalent of a four-mile daily walk, seven days a week. I’m exercising regularly, 5 to 6 days a week. If I were to really commit to walking the dogs every morning and every night, and hit the gym at least five days a week (with longer dog walks on the two days I don’t go to the gym), I can do this. I think this works out to be hitting my 10,000-step goal, too, so I know I can do this.
They get on a scale every day in order to keep their weight within a narrow range. I own a scale. I get on it almost every single day, first thing in the morning. About once a month, I forget or avoid it. I think this will become harder once I’ve reached a more stable weight, because now, losing 1.5 to 2.5 pounds a week, I’m fairly motivated to see progress.
They eat breakfast regularly. Hey, it’s always been my most important meal of the day. I can already put a check mark next to this! My biggest challenge on this point is making sure to eat enough protein within 30-40 minutes of waking up.
Most watch less than half as much television as the overall population. Surveys say that the average US TV-watcher racks up 4 to 5 hours a day. My max tends to be 4 on days that I get in bed at 7:30 or 8, and keep it on until 11 or so. I’m thinking of adding a Bosu ball or bringing the hula hoop back into the bedroom (our 1 TV is there) so that I can do some periodic light exercise to break up the viewing. I do wonder if TV is really the culprit here, or if it is simply the addition of sedentary time. Notice they don’t say anything about reading habits. I’d like to sub out some TV time for reading, but suspect it is a distinction without a difference.
They eat the same foods and in the same patterns consistently each day and don’t “cheat” on weekends or holidays. I’m sure I’ll have indulgences now and then, but I’ve seen how long it can take from an all-out binge kind of a cheat. My nutritionist gets on me to add more variety, but just like it is easier to get dressed for school when you have a uniform, it is easier to eat healthier when you have go-to, standard meals that don’t require extra thinking or shopping. And I think there should be a distinction between weekends (we’ve got 52 a year) and holidays (we’ve got far fewer). I’m comfortable planning a few indulgences at holidays, but feel like I better keep it in check on plain old weekends.
They also appear to eat less than most people, with estimates ranging from 50 to 300 fewer daily calories. Well, this one kind of sucks, but the science seems to back it up. I suspect that once I’m maintaining, I’ll be stuck in the 1,200 to 1,400 range. That will mean a lifetime of careful planning, measuring, and monitoring, but as someone else said recently (I can’t remember who – sorry!), if I were dealing with checking my blood sugar for diabetes, or taking medication for high blood pressure, I’d also have to face a lifetime of careful planning, measuring, and monitoring. I just need to put on the big girl pants, hit those exercise & 10,000-step goals, and accept that I can’t eat like I used to.
What’s the one healthier habit that gives you the most trouble, or that you’ve already mastered? We can do this, folks! I know we can!