Getting back on track

getting back on track with good habits by setting priorities

Old habits die hard. New habits fade quickly.

Have you ever noticed that? You put a lot of energy toward building up a new good habit, and as soon as you turn your head, that new habit is gone – poof!

Well, I’ve been noticing that all the new habits I’m trying to build all at once are stretching my will power beyond its limits (did you know that we have a limited supply of will power? It’s true!). I’ve been trying to exercise more, eat better, take better care of my home, be more productive at work, tend this blog, be nicer to myself… And, in the past, I would have trundled along, just feeling like a failure; saying to myself, “why can’t I just DO these things? What’s the matter with me!?”

However, after going through the savoring experiment and learning how to look inward, I have been able to actually see what I’m doing to myself. I’m simply expecting too much. It’s no wonder I’ve been feeling like a tornado in the middle of a hurricane – I’ve been spreading myself far too thin.

Here’s how I’m getting back on track

I need to prioritize the areas that I want to focus on, so that I can apply the appropriate amount of effort and determination (i.e. will power) toward each one. So here is the order in which I have decided to give a shit about things.

  1. Prepare for the Spartan This damn race is happening on June 1 whether I’m ready for it or not, and I’ve already booked my flights, my hotel room and my place in the race, so I’m IN THE RACE. And pardon me when I say I’m fucking terrified, since I’m so far behind schedule on training. I am going to need all my will power to keep myself on track with a six-day-a-week training schedule.
  2. Eat healthier This goes hand-in-hand with my #1 priority, but it doesn’t come naturally to me, so it takes will power to choose broccoli over french fries as a side, or fruit over Goldfish crackers for a snack. I will never choose anything over bacon, so don’t even go there. In any case, I’m not going to beat myself up over my food choices.
  3. Do my daily chores I started my new routine last week, and my reminders have been working pretty well. But, when I haven’t been able to empty the dishwasher because I didn’t start it the night before, I’ve been chastising myself. That stops today. I’m doing the best I can with the energy I have to put towards this. I’m not going to stop the reminders, but I AM going to cut myself some slack when I choose not to do something because it’s a lower priority than #1 and #2.
  4. Be more productive at work Screw this and the horse it rode in on. Kidding. Sort of. I’m actually doing much better at this lately, after spending some time reviewing my priorities and partnering with my boss to determine what she believes is really important. As for doing better, well, we’ll worry about that if I live through the Spartan. For now, I’m just going to make sure that I’m getting my job done well.

So there you have it folks. The top four things I’m going to put all my energy into. If it ain’t on this list, I ain’t got time for it.

making time for top priorities

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Today is the day

Don't procrastinate - today is the day to do all the things you've always wanted to doWhy wait another day? What do you gain by waiting? A better question: what do you lose by waiting?

Today is the day that I’m going to the gym to replace my lost membership card. I’ve waited months to do this, hoping that I would find it. In the meantime, I’ve lost out on many opportunities to improve my health, my fitness, my strength… I’ve lost so many chances to prepare myself for the Spartan.

Today, I’m done waiting. Today, I choose to do something about it. Today, I will do just one thing to move toward being the strong, slender, healthy, fit woman who looks better at 40 than she did at 30.

What one thing can you do today that will move you towards something you’ve always wanted to do?

Image source: Mattie

How to pick your daily calorie target

myfitnesspal

myfitnesspal (Photo credit: jiten.a)

I’m in the process of losing 50 pounds. I’ve lost around 30 so far. I’ve been counting calories since June 2012, and it has made it really easy to lose weight (well, that and the support of some amazing friends!).

The calorie counting is super simple using MyFitnessPal (MFP), though there are a bunch of similar sites out there. The idea is that you figure out how many calories you need to eat each day to maintain your current weight, and then you eat around 500-700 calories less than that each day (this will theoretically give you a 1-2 pound loss per week, which is safe and sustainable).

The figuring of the caloric intake often confuses people, and if you use the recommendation from MFP, you could be eating as little as 1,200 calories a day. For most people, that’s too few. I used MFP’s suggestions until they dropped me to around 1,400, and then I started feeling hungry all the time, losing my hair, and generally feeling run down. I listened to what my body was telling me, and I looked into different methods of determining daily caloric needs.

The most popular alternative on MFP (alternative to MFP’s own method, that is), is to determine your TDEE and BMR, and eat approximately 20% below your TDEE, so long as it’s not below your BMR.

Now that we’ve got that settled, good luck with your weight loss!

Just kidding! I’ll actually explain those acronyms… TDEE is your Total Daily Energy Expenditure, and BMR is your Basal Metabolic Rate.

Your BMR is how many calories you would burn daily if you were basically in a coma. It’s how many calories you burn in a day without moving. Your body needs at least this amount of calories each day, or you risk damaging your vital organs. My BMR is 1,371.

Your TDEE takes into account your average daily activity level (if you sit at a desk all day, and don’t get any other exercise, you’re sedentary; if you sit at a desk all day, but run 3-5 miles several times a week, then you’re moderately active, and there are a few other levels you could fall into, as well). This number is how many calories you burn in an average day, taking into account both how you spend your day (work/school/home), as well as your typical exercise exertion. I work a desk job and either run 2-3 times per week (lightly active with a TDEE of 1,882), or don’t run at all (sedentary with a TDEE of 1,643).

In order to figure out your TDEE and BMR, you’ll need to know your body fat percentage. To figure this out, my MFP friend Dan suggests that you grab a measuring tape, and visit http://www.fat2fitradio.com/tools/. Use the military body fat percentage calculator. Then, use the site’s BMR calculator, and make note of the Katch-McArdle BMR figure. After you’ve noted that, scroll down and find your level of activity, and note the figure next to that. That number is your TDEE.

Now that you have your TDEE, take 20% off it. As long as it’s higher than your BMR, you can use that as your new calorie goal for losing between 1-2 pounds a week. If 20% lower than your TDEE is lower than your BMR, try 10% instead.

Once you have this figure, you can start logging everything you put in your mouth, and try not to eat more than your goal calories. If you do eat more than your goal calories, exercise so that you burn enough calories to bring you back to within goal.

It’s that simple. Truly. Nothing could be easier. And yet, it’s so hard to stay the course, because it takes time. Weeks and weeks and months and months, depending upon how much you have to lose.

How much do you want to lose? How much have you lost already?

Eating to lose weight

I could talk for days and days about what I have done to lose 30 pounds, and what I plan to do to lose another 20 pounds over the next 5 months. Really, days and days. Grab a chair. You’re going to want to get comfortable for this.

Kidding, of course. I will write for days and days about this, but I’ll parse it out for your benefit. Lucky you!

Today, I’m going to talk about what I’ve been eating over the past few months. Bacon. Pizza. Loaded baked potato soup. The other night I had something I like to call Krys’ Epic Mac & Cheese. We regularly enjoy Chipotle and Portillo’s (if you aren’t familiar with Portillo’s, you should be). Basically, what I’m saying is that nothing is off limits. Nothing at all.

I eat bread, meat, vegetables, starches, fruits, sugar, and anything else our species considers “food”. I drink beer, wine, mixed beverages, diet soda, iced tea, water, coffee, pretty much anything that I want.

 

The key? For me? (And, folks – that is the real key – this is what works FOR ME. Not what works for my cousin or neighbor, or for you. Although our bodies work in much the same way, we all have our own way of looking at the world, and what works for me may not work for you.) The key for me is portion control and planning.

I could eat a pound of bacon. Shouldn’t. But could. I could easily eat a whole pound of bacon, but in order to lose weight, I choose instead to only eat two or three pieces.

I could happily consume half a large pizza. Gleefully, even. But, instead, I eat a slice or two. Sometimes three, depending upon the pizza.

Venti peppermint mocha? Don’t mind if I do, but please make it “skinny” by using skim milk, sugar and fat free syrups. That’ll save me more than 300 calories over the original.

Heading to Portillo’s for lunch? Enjoy the usual (beef-n-cheddar croissant, small cheese fries, diet coke), and plan for a light dinner.

Chipotle in your future? Nosh on a burrito bowl, and skip the 200 calorie tortilla. Load up on protein rich meat and beans, and you’ll be full for a long, long time.

I never, ever feel like I’m missing out on something. Mostly because I never, ever miss out on anything. I eat what I want to, when I want to, in quantities that make sense.

It feels wonderful to lose weight while enjoying the same foods that made me fat to begin with. Really and truly. I am finally learning what portion control and moderation feel like. The best part of all of it is that this is absolutely a sustainable lifestyle for me. I could keep this up indefinitely, because I don’t feel constrained at all.

This is just how I live now.