“Lose weight”. It is the most popular New Year’s resolution. Six years ago I made dieting my resolution. Why?
Obesity. I stepped on the scale and I couldn’t shrug it off any longer. CDC guidelines said I was obese, with a BMI over 30%.
No more jokes, even though my repertoire would make a standup comic envious:
“I’m in shape. Round is a shape.”
“My six pack turned into a keg.”
“I’m not overweight. I’m under height.”
“I’m a nutritional over-achiever.”
I needed a strategy – an easy one. And I needed to maintain it. I developed 10 rules that worked for me, all beginning with “Just say no to…”
1) Salt. My habit was automatically picking up the salt shaker. It was easy to break so I started with this.
2) Soda. I was addicted to Dr. Pepper – even for a breakfast drink. I switched to unsweetened ice tea, which took about two weeks to become palatable. After that, it was smooth sailing.
3) Cheese. It’s a big source of fat and it flavors much of our food.
4) Dessert. That’s a gimme.
5) Eating after 7pm. If you eat that late there is little activity after to burn those calories.
6) Snacks between meals. I treated myself to a Snickers bar every afternoon. I eliminated those empty calories. This took about a week to feel familiar, but it worked.
7) Escalators and elevators. This was a small way of working in some exercise. “Every little bit helps” is the saying. I’m not going to run a marathon soon, but two or three flights of stairs no longer leave me winded.
8) Big plates. You can actually trick yourself into thinking you’re eating more by putting it on a smaller plate.
9) Eating like a king at dinner. The “old timers” I knew who successfully managed their weight told me “Eat like a king at breakfast, a prince at lunch and a pauper at dinner.” My habit was the reverse, eating my biggest meal at the end of the day. I reversed it.
10) Making diet decisions. I always choose the least healthy choice if I think about what I’m going to eat. I began eating the same thing every morning, setting it out the night before. Taking away that first diet decision of the day meant I didn’t choose Pop Tarts and Dr. Pepper on the run.
That’s what worked for me. I phased these rules in during the first three months of the year. One year later I was 50 pounds lighter.
What works for you? What rules have you used that are sustainable?