I want to state very clearly, right from the start, that these are what work for me. They may, or may not, be right for you. In nearly 36 years of trying to live a healthier life, these “rituals” have become routine for me. (This post is mostly about habits related to food and eating.)
I weigh myself every morning. This was a habit I adopted way back in 1981, when I first made the wager with my friend. Every morning, first thing, before eating or drinking anything, I step on the scales, and record the number. For me, keeping an eye on this number provides me with an indicator of how I’m doing. It is not the only thing I consider. And I’m looking at a weight range, rather than one specific number. For example, I presently weigh between 162 and 166 pounds each morning, and mostly between 164 and 165. Early in my weight-loss journey, this thinking about a range, rather than a number, helped to prevent an unhealthy obsession about whether or not the number was always going down. As long as the overall trend of the range was downward, I was perfectly content (and it’s much more natural for the body to experience this) with a 3-5 lb. fluctuation within the range on a day to day basis. Numerous factors can contribute to the daily fluctuation, such as level of activity the day before, current state of hydration, how late in the day one ate the evening before, bedtime, rising time, etc. (If you’re not aware already, my practice does not align with the recommendations of most “experts” in the field, who suggest weighing oneself only once a week or so.)
I record everything I eat, but I do not count calories. I’ve found that simply making a record of everything that I eat throughout the day keeps me mindful of what, and when, I’ve eaten. I use the notes app on my iPhone, which automatically syncs with my iPad and MacBook. Each day has its own note, and in addition to the food I eat, the note includes the time I get up in the morning, my morning body weight, and details of any exercise I do that day. While I hardly ever go back and look at notes from previous days, I have the information, should I want to go back and examine trends and connections between food, body weight, exercise, etc.
I eat a variety, yet a fairly limited range of foods. By now, I know what’s good for me, what I like, and the foods that meet both of those criteria. That’s why I say that the range of foods is fairly limited. Examine your food list, your treats list, and plan accordingly. Grocery shopping goes hand in hand with this, as you’re doomed to stumble if you don’t have the necessary foods on hand.
I always eat breakfast. My morning begins with a couple of walnut kernels, some medication I take, and a cup of tea with honey. One to two hours later, I’ll eat a more substantial meal. This meal is usually rich in carbohydrates, in the form of old fashioned oats, 100% whole wheat flour, and/or oat bran, and often includes up to a tablespoon of sugar (sometimes white, sometimes brown), and coconut oil or heavy whipping cream. I’ll sometimes make pancakes, and with those come an egg, buttermilk, and maple syrup. I’ve recently added 2 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed (I use a cheap coffee grinder for this) to breakfast. Occasionally I’ll have a more traditional breakfast of eggs, bacon, and whole wheat toast. It all depends upon my planned level of activity for the day, and sometimes also takes into account any special occasion meals planned for the day. Lately, my “go to” breakfast has been a bowl of spicy porridge made with oats, oat bran, and ground flaxseed (recipe available upon request).
I try to always have food available. Packing food for work requires some planning, and a little extra time, but it’s worth it in the long run. I never have to worry about getting hungry. Getting hungry puts you at risk for making “not-so-nutritious” choices, or, even worse, becoming ravenous, which usually results in eating too quickly and over eating, even if the food choices are nutritionally sound.
I rarely eat out. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy eating out, but I’ve gotten to the place where if I eat out, it’s almost always a special occasion, or I’m going to go somewhere that I can get something that I can’t make on my own at home. An exception to this might occur if I find myself in unexpected circumstances, without food that I’ve brought myself. In those cases, I’ve learned where to go and what to get. Nutritious options are always available but you need to educate yourself.
I rarely drink alcohol, and never drink soda pop. Water, tea, and coffee are my beverages. Once in a great while I’ll have a glass of wine, or maybe even a shot of good brandy, but these occasions are quite rare; 2-3 times per year, usually. During the Christmas holiday season, we make a homemade “cooked” eggnog, that I’ll drink as a special treat. Another uncommon treat is hot chocolate. These drinks go into the same list for me as “treats” which are discussed here.
I exercise regularly, but we’ll save details about that for another post.
I sleep 6-7.5 hours each night.
Finally, in keeping with the “three factors of healthy living,” I take advantage of regular health checkups provided by my employer, visit my doctor regularly (usually 1-2 times per year, or as needed, and take prescribed medications.
These habits of mine may or may not seem right for you. That’s fine! But it’s my hope that, even if they are not, they will provide you with food for thought, and help you to get started figuring out what WILL work for you.