Having finally accomplished running the 5K that got me into this whole journey, I have spent the last few days assessing where I am and where I'm going. Now, don't worry. I'm pretty set up goal-wise. I got a 10K to run in February for the short term and the Walt Disney World Marathon is looming ever-closer for the long term. However, there is one part of this journey I haven't tackled yet and I think it's time I deal with it.
It's time to deal with my nutrition and eating habits.
Before you all say anything, let me tell you, I was putting this off on purpose. After many past and failed attempts at losing weight, I have made every mistake and leaned many lessons about what works and what doesn't. One of those things, is all the times I have dove in to the whole process, heart and soul with every good intention in the world. I eat right, I exercise and I end up losing weight, only to gain it back and then some. The lesson I have learned from that is that whenever I have made that decision, the changes have been too extreme. I try to make changes over many things and it get very overwhelming. Invariably, after several months, I get tired of it all and return to my usual patterns.
On the exercise side of things, it had a lot to do with the fact I had not found an activity I really liked to do in the long term. I would start doing whatever it was at the time, really excited and then the novelty would wear off and I would lose interest. Ironically, all that time I tried all those different things, I avoided running like I would the Ebola Virus. I was convinced I hated running. Go figure.
That is why when I started this journey, the first rule I set for myself was to take it easy. To not try to do everything at once. Since I was setting some lofty goals for myself and given my past history with running, it was crucial for me to be patient. I do not want this to be another failed attempt at a healthier life. My family deserves more than that.
So I set off making a deal with myself: Go run. Worry about nothing else. Forget the diet and the calorie counting. Make sure that running can become not just a form of exercise but a true part of my life. Something I feel I HAVE to do. Need to do. Make certain it is not an impulse thing. Make a true habit. Forget the rest. Just run.
Well, here I am, 9 months later and I can truly say that running is a part of my life. I look forward to running and the prospect of future races makes me excited. I have caught the bug. Now, for the next step.
That's not to say, I have nothing to show for those 9 months. Aside from the three medals I have collected during that time, I did lose 15 pounds. All that running had to make a dent of some kind, diet be darned. Sadly, the cruise did have an effect. I gained 6 pounds back but still, it could have been worse. However it's time to get serious. I can't expect to run a marathon 100 pounds overweight so now comes the hard part.
Right off the bat, forget the crazy diets. I'm taking the same approach to this I took with running. Slow and steady wins the race. I have to make small, but permanent changes that I can stick to. Then, after making sure I have committed to those changes and make sure they are working, I can make more. Here is the first set of changes:
1) Soda has got to go! - I am a big drinker. Not alcohol mind you. When I sit down to eat I drink a lot of whatever is in front of me, usually soda. I can drink 3, 4 glasses. Maybe more. It is an immense waste of calories and it has to stop. I have no problem drinking water but I'm hooked on soda. The fact that combo meals conveniently include soda is obviously a factor which reminds me...
2) Stop the junk! - We eat out way too much. I'm not talking about sitting down at a restaurant. I mean, "let's not cook and go grab a burger from the drive-through window" eating out. Sodium consumption should be dramatically reduced just by doing this alone. With a family of 5 with small kids, this is very convenient so I'm not gonna say that we are never ordering out but we have to reduce it way down.
3) Taper my meals - What this means is that as I go through my day, every subsequent meal will have less calories than the previous one. Which means that breakfast will be the biggest meal of the day and then with each meal I will eat less calories. This will end with a snack after dinner no higher than 300 calories. That will make it 4 meals a day (including the snack). The snack is important because I can cheat big time at night.
4) Keep track of my food - I have failed horribly at this before but if I can keep track of my runs and workouts I can do this. Since it worked for my runs, I will be using the Internet as well for this. SparkPeople.com is a great place for those who want to lose weight. The members support each other a lot and it has a great food and calorie tracker with a phone app so you can do it whenever and wherever you are. Plus its all free.
And that's it. 4 small things to work into my normal habits. I think the soda thing is the biggest one but if I manage to reduce eating fast food, that will work itself out as well. Whether it works or not I will keep you all posted.