Welcome to part 3 of this series, if you missed either of the introductory posts, please take the time to read them (Part 1 and Part 2). This post will be the first where I talk about my progress so far, but first I want to add some clarity about a concept I mentioned previously. In Part 1 I mentioned a not so novel concept called willpower. Most people have some concept of what willpower really means, but perhaps the best concept of willpower I have seen is in The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. In the book (which I highly recommend), willpower is compared to a battery. It is consumed over time, in that you do not have a limitless supply of willpower that you can exert whenever you want, it will decay with time. But it can also be recharged. When you sleep, or go longer periods of time without having to exert willpower, some of the battery power recovers. Your willpower battery is also drained by a number of factors beyond tests of will, such as:
- Implementing new behaviours
- Filtering distractions
- Trying to impress others
- Taking tests
- Coping with fear
- Do things you don’t enjoy
Ultimately whenever you are doing difficult things, or “taxing” tasks, even if you don’t feel that you are mentally battling through it and exerting your will, it is draining that willpower battery. So if you have a tough day, with boring meetings, or trying to please your boss, or taking tests and doing assignments for school or uni, you are draining your willpower. If you need that willpower to help you avoid excessive snacking, or to help you make the healthier choice of food, then all these other variables can make it that much harder. What works for me is to have a general plan for what and when I eat. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t exact, but if it is pretty close, it reduces the strain on my willpower, and prevents me from having to make hard decisions on the spot about food. That is one solution, but whatever you choose to do, make sure that you are giving yourself down time, free from hard choices and undesirable tasks, to recharge your willpower battery. This is a meal plan. A good place to start with this, is to keep a food diary. Record everything you eat, even the small snacks. If you have this record you can go back and work out the energy content of your meals. This can help inform your meal plan. But we will talk about that in Part 4.
Ok, on to my progress. When I began thinking about writing this series, I was 84.6kg. For the first 2 weeks, I have made no hugely drastic dietary restrictions. My primary aim has been to not eat when I am bored or procrastinating, and to better manage portion control. When I say better manage portion control, I probably still eat more than the serving sizes displayed on food packaging, but it is about making small improvements on what you currently do. That way you are heading in the right direction, but not demanding something of yourself that is unreasonable. It is step 1. I also have been able to get approximately three 45min sessions per week of high intensity exercise, which is a small step up on what was completed over the festive season.
Small, manageable steps towards a larger objective. That is how sustainable change is made.
As far as numbers go: week 1, I went from 84.6kg to 83.4kg. Week 2, I went from 83.4kg to 82.9kg. While this is all steps in the right direction, that is obviously a bit of a difference, 1.2kg in week 1, and 0.5kg in week 2. Fluctuation in the rate you lose weight will always be there. But there may also be changes in muscle mass that mask some of the fat loss too. And drinking more water can make your body water content fluctuate too (especially for women, sorry ladies).
Ultimately I feel good, it hasn’t been too taxing mentally to make the changes. Sometimes, particularly when I am tired, or I have had long day of work, I battle with my step 1 goal of not eating when I am bored or procrastinating. A dietician I used to work with used to recommend clients we worked with to stop for a second before getting any snacks, and just ask yourself “do I really NEED this?” The small amount of time you need to stop and ask that question is enough for your mind to register this as a chance to assert your willpower and say no, or pick a healthier, or lower energy option.
So I leave you with that for now. Treat your willpower like a battery. You need time to recharge your willpower battery, so give yourself some downtime, get adequate sleep, and try to record and plan your eating habits to avoid on-the-spot decisions about food. Make small steps towards your larger goal that reduce the impact of the change. Stay strong. Be positive, and the change will come.
If you want to learn more, are interested in exercise that is right for you, or are looking for a solution to an injury or chronic disease management, please contact Body Link Health Clinic on 0400 225 116, or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org