Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The naughty/nice list: taking a tally of my habits

I've been reflecting on the fact that I've been successfully in maintenance mode since late February, which has been a great. Yet I've also been trying to get my head wrapped around the feeling that my work is not yet done. I do not have any interest in losing any more weight (really!), yet I still feel there is more for me to do. Am I over-thinking/obsessing or am I being suitably prudent? [I do realize that I'm inviting a wave of snarky comments from friends and loved ones, so please do restrain yourselves.]

So here is how I make sense of all of this. The point is not where my weight is, and it never was. The point is where I am on my behaviors and habits. A healthy lifestyle is not a monolithic state, but rather the summation of numerous habit. In total, I've been able to incorporate (permanently I hope) a new host of healthy habits that have allowed me to lose my weight and keep it off. Yet, if I'm being honest, I still have habits which would certainly fall under the category of not so great from a health and nutrition perspective.

My goal therefore is to continue maintaining my new, better habits to the point where they truly become second nature (and some are) and to continue converting my less healthy habits into better ones. My goal is not to further change my calorie equation, but rather to have a lifestyle that makes my equation permanent. This is what will allow me to stay healthy and fit. The more it becomes second nature, the less I need to think about it. But I'm not there yet.

So what's on the plus side of my habit ledger?
  • Exercise (this is a big one): I've been exercising at least three to four days per week since 2000. Over the past year, I've been closer to 6/7 days per week including resistance training (four days per week) and cardio (4-5 days per week). It has gotten to the point where I get pretty fidgety if I don't get exercise in for the day. To say the least, this has been a pretty key part of keeping my weight off and my health strong.
  • Breakfast: as I've noted before, having breakfast every day and having a healthy one at that has become pretty automatic.
  • Lunch: See breakfast
  • Dinner: Not bad here either. I am pretty consistent in making better choices, particularly in restaurants. No fish is a bad fish. Unless it's rotten, then it's just gross.
Habits in progress but not yet automatic:
  • Clean plate club: if I order something healthy with reasonable portion sizes, finishing my food to the point of a spotless plate is not a problem. When I order something less benign, I am probably 50-50 on having the presence of mind to push some portion of it away.
  • Eating off my children's plates: ugh. This used to be a huge issue for me to the point where I would encourage them to order pancakes and food with lots of fries. Not such a nice dad thing to do. I'm now at the point where I don't Hoover their leftovers, but I try to just grab a fry (or four). Still, have my moments of weakness here.
  • Going for seconds: pretty much done with this one.
Problem areas:
  • Mindless grazing (particularly after dinner): this one just kills me. Wandering around the kitchen between the hours of 8 to 10 PM looking for things to eat. To be clear, I'm mentally hungry, not physically hungry. I trick myself into thinking I can do it with healthier food choices, but let's be clear: it's boredom eating.
  • Airplane eating: see post from a couple of months ago.
  • Temptation weakness induced by a glass of wine.
Trigger foods that continue to torment me:
  • Nuts. Any kind of nut will do. All nuts, all the time. Makes me nuts.
  • Cheese, crackers, crackers, cheese, and then more cheese.
  • Low fat ice cream. One is fine. Why do I always eat two?
Way too much information, right? Writing it down like this has become a helpful way of being more honest about the demons that are still camping out in my brain. Not that much different than sharing in a meeting, except I get to do all the talking. Which I like.


  1. I am always a fan of assessing "what is working" and "what is not" -- taking inventory is a great way to keep the healthy habits moving forward and understanding why the not-so-healthy habits keep appearing.

  2. There are two things that I am constantly telling my members, especially those that are in maintenance or Lifetime. The first is mine:
    "There is no save button at goal"... which related to the second thing which is from the amazing Leslie Beck "everything you need to do to lose weight is everything you need to do to keep it off".

    As human beings, we are always learning and evolving, which I think is amazing. Having lost the weight and having been able to keep it off successfully for about 6 months, you've obviously changed and made some new habits. Being able to recognize the things that you are still working as you maintain your weight is just as important. Not only does it keep things interesting, but it means that you are constantly improving!

  3. Amazing!

    I am working steadily at reaching my lifetime weight and to read this blog gives more motivation than ever. The CEO of WW is also a member! I always thought about how great it was to have leaders that have lost the weight, but this shows that WW from the top down is all about the program. In this day and age of "pump and dump the stock" CEO's, it's refreshing to see one with the interest of the company and its members at heart.

  4. ditto Bill!

    and isn't it wonderful when we can discern between what we are good at and what we are helps us to get where we are going

  5. Grazing b/w 8-10pm is a problem on mine at night too!

    Also, love low fat ice cream and want to be able to continue to eat it. But sometimes I completely overeat on it! Makes me not want to buy it! But I love it so much. I just need to learn to eat it in moderation!

  6. Being self-aware is the #1 key to success! Great job! Great lists.
    PS- I like my blog for the same reason- it's all me blabbing, all the time ;) It's exhibitionist therapy ;D

  7. New to your blog and I just wanted to say it is great!!! I am also a Weight Watcher member trying really hard to get my last 5lbs off! I look forward to reading your blog.