MYST 182 Prospective Statements Bring Power!

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.

Zig Ziglar

Photos via Pixabay by Alexas_Fotos

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Music composed and performed by Jason Shaw, courtesy of Audionautix.com

Voiceover courtesy of Matt Young. Matt is a professional voiceover artist. If you have any need of voice-over work, for your podcast, radio spot, or whatever, you can reach Matt by a variety of methods. He is on LinkedIn. On Twitter. And Google+. Follow his Facebook page to learn how to better use social media. Matt was also my guest on MYST 54. Give his story a listen!

All images are Creative Common Zero.

MYST 181: Talking to the Expert

There are tens of thousands of books on weight loss. Maybe hundreds of thousands. All of them are correct. And all are wrong.

See, here is the thing. Those books are written by experts. They know exactly what you need to do to have weight loss success. And every authors says “This is the best way!”

They are all correct. None of those authors are being deliberately misleading. But at the same time, they are not totally truthful.

Every book describes a way to successfully lose weight. That means all of them are potential successful methods that you can use.

All of them.

So, which one do you choose? You need to ask the expert. And in this case, the expert is YOU.

Which method of weight loss looks like something you want to try? Don’t pick a method that you know from day one that you cannot follow to completion. For me, the idea of P90X is simply not an option. Likewise, I have no interest in trying a Keto diet? Am I saying P90X and Keto won’t work? Of course not. I know they work. It’s just that I know I won’t be able to (or want to) follow them fully, and therefore it would be a waste of time.

It would be a waste of time for me. Maybe it would be perfect for you. I don’t know. (And neither do all those authors.)

Ultimately, the successful plan will be the one that you start, and never quit. And only you know which plan that will be.

Go ahead. Read all those books. Check out blogs. Watch Dr. Oz. But in the end, the final decision is yours. Find a plan that looks like you will enjoy it. Follow it. If it doesn’t work, try something else.

You are in control of your success. That can be empowering and at the same time it can be demotivating. If your choice brings success, you will be your own hero. If your choice does not work…well, then it’s back to the drawing board.

Start now. And as long as it works, never quit!

MYST 165 (http://makeyoursomedaytoday.com/losefast)

MYST 166 (http://makeyoursomedaytoday.com/OneStep)

Photos via Pixabay by Geralt

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Music composed and performed by Jason Shaw, courtesy of Audionautix.com

Voiceover courtesy of Matt Young. Matt is a professional voiceover artist. If you have any need of voice-over work, for your podcast, radio spot, or whatever, you can reach Matt by a variety of methods. He is on LinkedIn. On Twitter. And Google+. Follow his Facebook page to learn how to better use social media. Matt was also my guest on MYST 54. Give his story a listen!

All images are Creative Common Zero.

MYST 180: Forget Inspiration!

Lawn Care, Ego, and Habits

The Wisconsin seasons are beautiful and messy, wonderful and terrible. (If you didn’t know, Wisconsin has weather that can change rapidly.) But the weather can also be used in weight loss.

Winter snows bring Fitbit Adjustments, especially if you have a moderate-sized driveway and a sidewalk to clear. Spring brings yard cleanup and then summer mowing season starts. Your Fitbit will record many steps as you mow, fertilize and rake your lawn. When autumn arrives the falling leaves add to your “lawn care workout”. Or maybe you need to chop wood for the winter. It is a never-ending routine. And that’s okay (because I enjoy it.)

Lawn work is not always easy but it is relaxing, and it generates a fair amount of exercise. My Fitbit will easily record enough activity in an afternoon to earn a 400-600 calories Fitbit Adjustment. I enjoy seeing those adjustments. And my LoseIt friends frequently comment on my nice Fitbit Adjustments.

But I really don’t worry about these adjustments. I don’t eat those calories, and won’t until I finally reach my goal weight. So why do I bother wearing a Fitbit?

People have asked me how I keep my motivation. I don’t keep it. It keeps me. Motivation is my “why”. That never goes away. My “why” never leaves me. I want to be comfortable walking. I want to be able to ride a roller coaster. I want to buy clothes that are not in the “Big and Tall” department. I want to have my asthma and blood pressure and heartburn under control.

I have achieved some of those “wants”. But weight loss is different than most goals. Let’s say your goal is to climb Mount Everest. After you reach the summit and then descend back to your base camp, you are done. You accomplished your goal. No matter what you do, that experience cannot be taken away from you.

But weight loss is a goal that can be achieved and then lost. And losing it is stupidly easy. All it takes is to become lazy. In my case, I stopped measuring my food (“I know my portion sizes”) and to stop standing on the scale every day.

Would this derail your plans?

That’s all it took for me to give up that hard-won goal.

So, here is the real question: if a person’s motivation never goes away, why is failure so common?

Many people rely on other people to inspire them. I talk about that in MYST episode 91 where many people need cheerleaders to help them make progress. And there is nothing inherently bad with cheerleaders. It’s is exciting to have someone on the sidelines of your life, helping you maintain your focus and excitement.

The problem is what happens when the cheerleaders go home, and you are still on the field, fighting for that winning score?

Science fiction author Octavia Butler (1947-2006) wrote an essay about how to become a successful author, and her quote applies to weight loss as well as writing:

“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit is persistence in practice.”

Habit is persistence in practice.

That is how you find success after the cheerleaders in your life are gone. If you don’t have reliable habits built into your daily life, maintaining success after achieving it will be very difficult. And in fact, if you don’t use good habits, you will join the vast majority of weight-loss winners as they regain what they worked so hard to lose.

Right now, earning a daily Fitbit Adjustment is simply a matter of ego. I’ve worn a Fitbit since July 12, 2011. It is a daily habit. Developing good habits–such as measuring my food, logging everything I eat and wearing my Fitbit–is how I continue to move toward success.

A healthy ego helps to reinforce those habits. I want to keep my Fitbit numbers growing. As of this morning (May 14, 2018, at 0615):

  • Total steps: 18,533,661
  • Total Distance: 8,242.58 miles
  • Total flights of stairs: 30,423

And I don’t believe that “habits are formed in 21 days” or “28 days” or…well, you pick a number. None of them are correct. Habits are like my baby chickens. They grow quickly, but only if you pay attention and keep feeding them every day. Habits are created in one day. One day that is repeated over and over, in an unending cycle. That is how long it takes to create a habit. (Also, it really only takes one day to break a habit, too.)

So, here are some habits for you to begin growing:

  1. Do you plan your meals in advance, every day?
  2. Do you weigh all of your food and log everything you eat?
  3. Do you monitor your weight on a regular basis?
  4. Do you remind yourself why you are working this hard, every day?

Those are the habits that bring success.

What are your success habits?

Photos via Pixabay by StevePB

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Music composed and performed by Jason Shaw, courtesy of Audionautix.com

Voiceover courtesy of Matt Young. Matt is a professional voiceover artist. If you have any need of voice-over work, for your podcast, radio spot, or whatever, you can reach Matt by a variety of methods. He is on LinkedIn. On Twitter. And Google+. Follow his Facebook page to learn how to better use social media. Matt was also my guest on MYST 54. Give his story a listen!

All images are Creative Common Zero.

MYST 179: Chaos, Confusion and the Bathroom Scale

 

Bathroom scales. We love them. And we hate them. But mostly we hate them. I mean, think about it. When you see a weight drop, you think to yourself “Well, finally!” as if the scale had been cheating you recently but not showing a loss. When you see a weight gain—and we all see gains, unless you never step on your scale—you immediately think “You LIE!”

When was the last time you saw a number on the scale and thought “Yeah, the scale loves me”?

No, they don’t love us. Or hate us. They simply weigh us. They give us a number that is accurate—for that moment only. When you next eat, drink or use the bathroom, that number will change.

But let’s assume the worst. Let’s assume the scale went up. What are you going to do? There are three options, based on the underlying cause.

What’s the first option? How about this: Do nothing. That’s right. Do nothing.

We all know—or we should, by now—about the saw-tooth weight loss patterns. Weight gains for no apparent cause, weight losses when we should have had a weight gain. We go into stalls when we eat under budget and have losses after a splurge.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before. Our bodies conspire with the scale to mess with our minds.

So our first default response to a scale increase should be to do nothing. Look at the scale. Sigh. Record the number and move on. There is no need to get off the scale and get on it again, hoping for a better weight. Or to stand on your left leg only in a wasted effort to get a smaller number. Your weight is your weight. Log it. Own it. Move on.

One point to make here. It’s easy to confuse “weight gain or loss” with “fat gain or loss”. The scale cannot easily differentiate between losing weight because you are reducing your stored fat or because you are dehydrated. I talk about why “Weight Loss is Wrong” in MYST 157.

If you want to wring your hands, and post “Oh, I’m a weight loss failure” on LoseIt, go ahead, but that won’t change anything. Sure, some people will respond with comments that have become meaningless platitudes to weight loss frustration, such as “You’re probably gaining muscle because muscle weighs more than fat” or “Don’t forget to take measurements because that’s how you really measure weight loss” or “You need to eat more/eat less/eat keto/purge/binge/cleanse/ or whatever Dr. Oz is pitching today”.

All of that advice is garbage. It’s all given with good intentions, but it is useless. Worse than that, the advice you receive distracts you from the steps you need to take to get back on track.

You need to get off the scale and go about your normal day. Eat. Log. Walk. And stop obsessing about the scale.

Here’s the second option: Maybe the scale is telling you more than you want to acknowledge. Random and intermittent gains are one thing, but have you been seeing steady and slow (or maybe fast) gains, almost every time you stand on the scale?

I’m sure we’ve all had periods when then scale just continues to climb. That is a signal that something is wrong.

Don’t obsess over the bathroom scale, but maybe start to obsess over the kitchen scale. Answer these questions:

  1. Are you weighing everything you eat?
  2. Are you logging everything you eat and drink?
  3. If you cook (at home or professionally) are you accounting for every Bite, Lick, Taste, and Sip (“the BLTS of weight loss”)?

If your answer is “No” to any of those questions, you probably found the cause. And once you know the cause, you also know the corrective action you need to take. That does not mean the corrective action will be easy or enjoyable, but knowing what you need to do is the first step in finding more success.

If you answered “yes” to all three questions, then answer these:

  1. Are you moving enough? If you spend your day at your desk, and your evenings binging on Netflix, that may be the problem (especially if the Netflix binge habit is new.)
  2. If you are still active, are you eating your exercise calories? If yes, stop.

Again, when you know the action that is causing your problem, you also immediately know how to correct it. So, now we are at the final option. I will assume that you are accurately weighing and logging your food and that you are appropriately active and not eating your exercise calories. What’s left?

Those were the easy-to-find answers. Now you need to dig much deeper. These questions are more difficult to answer, and to be totally honest, it may be even harder to correct.

  1. Are you under new levels of stress at home?
  2. Has your sleep pattern been disturbed? Did you recently change to a new work schedule?
  3. What’s happening on the job? New responsibilities? A possibility of job loss? Impending retirement?
  4. How is your health? Any recent changes? New medications?
  5. Any medical concerns, for your spouse, children or pets?
  6. How is the family life? Spousal problems? Issues with children?
  7. Has your alcohol consumption increased recently (for whatever reason?) You can listen to more about Alcohol and Weight Loss in MYST 123. (Alcohol)
  8. Have you recently moved to a new home?
  9. Had a death in the family?

All of those can play havoc with weight loss. Sometimes stress causes people to stop eating—making their weight drop. More commonly, we seek solace through food. Sometimes a lot of food. Sometimes we force feed ourselves, and sometimes other people are the food pushers in this situation. It’s common. It’s natural. And it is dangerous because if we are eating due to stress, and we see a weight gain, we will feel even more stressed. This will lead to the classic and catastrophic weight-gain spiral.

I talk about Stress Eating in MYST 138. I also discuss the physiological effects of anxiety and how it makes weight loss much more challenging in Anxiety and Weight Loss MYST 102.

I don’t have answers to help you in this final situation. All of those emotional, physical and spiritual stressors will have their own mechanism for correct and is beyond the scope of this show. But if any of those apply to your situation, I will tell you that you are not alone. This happens to everyone. I hope that you have someone that you can confide in. Sometimes, just talking to someone will be enough to help begin the restoration of balance in your life.

So, what is the bottom line?

Assuming that your life stress today is generally at the same level as “normal” then when you see a scale increase, your first reaction should be to do nothing.

If the scale creep continues, you need to look at your eating/logging habits and make the necessary corrections. And if you are being attacked by external stressors, you need to find your support person and take refuge under their protective arms.

Photos via Pixabay by StillWorksImagery (bathroom scale) and ElseMargriet (food scale)

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Music composed and performed by Jason Shaw, courtesy of Audionautix.com

Voiceover courtesy of Matt Young. Matt is a professional voiceover artist. If you have any need of voice-over work, for your podcast, radio spot, or whatever, you can reach Matt by a variety of methods. He is on LinkedIn. On Twitter. And Google+. Follow his Facebook page to learn how to better use social media. Matt was also my guest on MYST 54. Give his story a listen!

All images are Creative Common Zero.

MYST 178: Thank You For Your Help

No, I’m not thanking you, my listeners, for your help. (But I do appreciate all my listeners and all the ideas that you have given to me.)

I’m talking about how to handle the people around you who want to tell you that everything you are doing on your weight loss journey is wrong.

It might be your neighbor. Your cubicle mate at work. Your spouse. Or it might be some random unknown and anonymous person in a weight loss internet group.

“You are doing it all wrong! Here is how you need to do it!” Then they proceed to tell you exactly what you need to eat, how you need to move, how much water you need, how much sleep and a myriad of other activities and decisions that are exactly not what you are currently doing.

Picture via Pixabay, by KirkandMimi

When someone challenges your process,  your decisions, your plan, you have two options. You can defend yourself with reason, rationale, and research. And they may be the right choice, in a few situations. But commonly–at least in my experience–many people become strident disciples of their chosen weight loss method and there is nothing that you can tell them to help them agree with your choice.

People who believe eating a keto diet seem to be very prone to that “my way is right, and everything else is wrong”. (I know that is just anecdotal and based on my experiences, but since they are my experiences, I am standing by my statement.) For those “true believers,” it is more than a simple weight loss plan, it is almost a religion. And in my experience, trying to convince someone that their religion is the wrong religion never ends well.

The other choice is simple (but far from easy). All you need to say is “Thank you for your help on my weight loss journey.” That’s it. Then walk away (metaphorically, if not literally.) A simple, “Thank you, I hear you, and I appreciate your assistance” ends the conversation. And because you will not get pulled down a rabbit-hole of discussion and argument, you win.

Is their advice the right advice for you? Maybe. Or maybe not.

Ask yourself this: “Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy?”

I’ve decided that I’d rather be happy than right, especially since I am generally unable to convince other people that I’m right. It’s wasted effort and emotion.

Even though the advice that you are given is unwanted, remember that in their mind, they are trying to help you. In most cases, their advice and guidance come from a positive spirit of helpfulness. They may not realize that their ideas run completely contrary to your own.

You don’t need to become defensive and try to rationalize your decision. Simply say, “Thanks for that idea. I am glad you are trying to help.”

And then ignore it.

I remember when my children were young (they are 26 and 23 now) that sometimes, the key to family happiness is knowing when to pick your battles. The same attitude applies here, too.

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Music composed and performed by Jason Shaw, courtesy of Audionautix.com

Voiceover courtesy of Matt Young. Matt is a professional voiceover artist. If you have any need of voice-over work, for your podcast, radio spot, or whatever, you can reach Matt by a variety of methods. He is on LinkedIn. On Twitter. And Google+. Follow his Facebook page to learn how to better use social media. Matt was also my guest on MYST 54. Give his story a listen!

All images are Creative Common Zero.

MYST 177: All or Nothing

Hetty MB from LoseIt wrote to me and asked “How did you overcome the tendency we all have to be in all-or-nothing mode, resulting in your ‘never quit’ approach?’

Great question, Hetty. I think my answer will surprise you!

I didn’t overcome that tendency. I embraced it! I am all in for my success, my health and my happiness. I think that people who do not go all in, who are not “all or nothing” are getting ready to quit.

And quitting is an acceptable choice. Everyone has that option. But if you want to succeed, you need to go all or nothing. You need to decide that this goal is worth all the effort it will take.

Losing weight is only part of the journey, and in reality, it’s the short part (if you are willing to define short as “several years before you reach your goal weight.”) But even several years is short in comparison to the “rest of your life”. And that is why you must totally embrace the all or nothing mentality. Our weight loss journey never ends.

Go big or go home. It’s all or nothing. This is an “all in” journey that we are taking.

Picture via Pixabay, by PDPics

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Music composed and performed by Jason Shaw, courtesy of Audionautix.com

Voiceover courtesy of Matt Young. Matt is a professional voiceover artist. If you have any need of voice-over work, for your podcast, radio spot, or whatever, you can reach Matt by a variety of methods. He is on LinkedIn. On Twitter. And Google+. Follow his Facebook page to learn how to better use social media. Matt was also my guest on MYST 54. Give his story a listen!

All images are Creative Common Zero.

MYST 176: What’s Your DISC?

Which leadership and communication style is your strength? Are you a D? Or are you an S? Why does it matter in weight loss?

D= Director (dominating, opinionated, decision-maker, sometimes acts quickly without having all the data)

I = Influencer (cheerleader, social, is a great team-builder)

S = Steadfast (steady, prefers to have no changes, follows detailed directions)

C = Calculator (critical, precise, likes graphs, charts, and specific rules, tends to plan extensively)

Which if these skills are one of your strengths?

You can take a free DISC Test here.

Most people think “I know who I am, and how I communicate” but it’s also common that we don’t realize how other people see and hear us. Personally, I communicate directly, clearly and I don’t sugar-coat anything. I think that’s simple, plain and easy to understand.

But depending on who I’m dealing with, it can seem arrogant, bossy, and demanding.

The same message can have more than one feeling.

So, how does that affect weight loss? Depending on your style, you may or may not have more success with different diet plans.

D people (like me) and C people are able to self-power through weight loss. “C” people find graphs, charts and very detailed and specific diet plans to work best. “D” people set personal goals and use inner-focus to drive forward, but may frequently change plans if success is not found. D and C people are focused on the task of weight loss.

I and C people are social people. “I” people are the cheerleaders of weight loss and find the best success when helping others find success. “S” people work best in group settings, and find comfort in following established guidelines, especially if the guidelines (rules) do not change often. I and S people focus on the society of weight loss. 

I hope you take that exam I included in the link above. When you know your style, maybe it will influence your choice of weight loss methods. For example:

D: Be your own leader. Set goals and then focus completely on those goals. Become a coach to someone else, but not the cheerleader. This is best in a 1 on 1 setting. Hold your student accountable, but give him/her suggestions for improvement. (When D’s do this, they tend to follow their own advice.)

I: Lead a group, such as Weight Watchers or TOPS so that you can encourage and inspire a group, and use the group’s energy to motivate yourself. Or post inspirational messages on an online group.

S: Join that Weight Watcher or TOPS group. Or get active in an online group so that you can work with others who share your challenges. Find a method of weight loss that has concrete and objective rules, such as WW, Nutrisystem or any “named” diet.

C:  Set your goals, but in a series of intermediate goals. Create a graph or spreadsheet tracking your progress. Find a strict and clearly defined weight loss plan (Keto, Paleo, or Intermittent Fasting) so that you know exactly what to do each meal.

There is no one “right” type. We all have a dominant style with other styles also present, but to a lesser degree. Maybe you are a D/C or a C/S. (The only combos that do not happen are D/S and C/I). And we all are able to use D, I, S, or C when needed. It’s just that we all have communication types that are easiest.

When we know ourselves–and how other people see us–we can sometimes use our strengths to help ourselves and others.

Picture via Pixabay, by Geralt

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Music composed and performed by Jason Shaw, courtesy of Audionautix.com

Voiceover courtesy of Matt Young. Matt is a professional voiceover artist. If you have any need of voice-over work, for your podcast, radio spot, or whatever, you can reach Matt by a variety of methods. He is on LinkedIn. On Twitter. And Google+. Follow his Facebook page to learn how to better use social media. Matt was also my guest on MYST 54. Give his story a listen!

All images are Creative Common Zero.

MYST 175: Not Eating Enough

Dolly from LoseIt asks: “I am too often not hungry enough to eat above 1,000 calories a day and I know I should be eating at least 1,200, my budget is just over 1,400. I am not exercising per se, just usual daily stuff. What can I do to safely add those extra calories? I’m losing weight, but I want the loss to be a healthy one :-)”

That’s a great question, Dolly, and my simple answer is:

Eat Real Food!

What I mean is ignore the “low fat” and “fat-free” versions of food and eat the real version. Fat-free salad dressings are loaded with sugar, salt, and thickeners. Other foods that reduce their fat content also need to add salt, sugar and other ingredients to make them palatable. The one exception is skim milk and product made from skim (fat-free) milk. When milk is skimmed, the cream is removed and nothing is added back.

What else can you eat?

  • Instead of chicken breasts (easy to overcook and dry out) use chicken thighs. Cheaper. Tastier.
  • Whole eggs, not just egg whites. (And no “egg beaters.”)
  • Real half-and-half in your coffee, not “non-dairy creamer”.
  • Add avocados to your sandwiches and salads.
  • Eat fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel) instead of white fish.
  • Chocolate is your friend, especially dark chocolate.
  • Nuts and nut butter are delicious and healthy.
  • You can use butter on your toast or baked potato. You can even use real sour cream.
  • An absolutely delicious breakfast is a bowl of seasonal berries topped with half-and-half. But when I make this, I splurge and use heavy cream.

The key with all those higher calorie foods is you MUST use care. Measure/weigh the foods and log it all. Keep to your budget, but eat your full budget. These high fat foods will also help make you feel full for longer, and let you fill your budget with foods that you love.

And Dolly, in your particular case, you need to add about 400 calories per day. My go-to evening snack is an ounce of almond and an ounce of dark chocolate. That is about 350 calories of deliciousness. I’m sure that even though you feel you are full at 1000 calories, you can find the room for a snack that is a total of two ounces (by weight.)

Picture via Pixabay, by beatrize (Chocolate Nuts) and Jill111 (Blueberries in Cream)

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Music composed and performed by Jason Shaw, courtesy of Audionautix.com

Voiceover courtesy of Matt Young. Matt is a professional voiceover artist. If you have any need of voice-over work, for your podcast, radio spot, or whatever, you can reach Matt by a variety of methods. He is on LinkedIn. On Twitter. And Google+. Follow his Facebook page to learn how to better use social media. Matt was also my guest on MYST 54. Give his story a listen!

All images are Creative Common Zero.

MYST 174: You Want to Try Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting (IF)
Spoiler: I am not against the practice, but it still comes down to CICO.

Eat 100 calories an hour for 16 hours, or 200 calories an hour for 4 hours, or 800 calories an hour for 2 hours, and you will lose the same amount of weight. However, each individual person may find greater satisfaction–and more importantly, satiety–in one of those patterns when compared to the others. And for that person, one eating pattern is better than the others.

But it’s still CICO.

Long-term fasting? Unless it is religious-based, or medically required and monitored, I can’t support it.

Picture via Pixabay, by CongerDesign

How does IF help?

It sets a rigid rule for the person to follow. When a person has many options (How often should I eat? What should I eat? How many calories? How much exercise? What form of exercise?) sometimes the default is to choose “none of the above” and that leads to weight loss failure.

Defining the time to eat as only between 10 am and 6 pm, that one decision helps create focus and eliminates many other options.

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Music composed and performed by Jason Shaw, courtesy of Audionautix.com

Voiceover courtesy of Matt Young. Matt is a professional voiceover artist. If you have any need of voice-over work, for your podcast, radio spot, or whatever, you can reach Matt by a variety of methods. He is on LinkedIn. On Twitter. And Google+. Follow his Facebook page to learn how to better use social media. Matt was also my guest on MYST 54. Give his story a listen!

All images are Creative Common Zero.

MYST 173: How to Break Your Slump

Last week, I talked about evaluating your actions and the results they generated, and comparing them to your goals. If you were getting good results, keep on doing it! But if your results were not helping you move toward your goal, you need to make changes. Tomorrow is always another day to make good choices.

So let me tell you a little of my progress. This is an episode of total honesty and transparency.

For the past year, I was in a slump. I won’t call it a plateau, because that is a little different. A plateau is when you do everything right, and yet for months, you make no progress.

I wasn’t in a plateau. I was able to make progress–when I did everything right. My problem was that I was tired of doing everything right. I was not in a diet slump, but a mental slump. Not depression. More like boredom. I’ve been counting calories with LoseIt since May 2011, and have been tracking my weight since July 2008. That’s nearly 10 years of eating the right way. And I just became tired of it.

So for the past year, I’ve been as low as 217, and as high as 227. I’ve been just bouncing between around those ten pounds. When I did everything right, I was at the bottom end. All the rest of the time, I was at the upper end.

I looked at what I had been doing, and realized my errors. I needed a “new tomorrow” plan. I needed to go back to the basics. This wasn’t a case of eliminating foods, or increasing activity. I didn’t need keto or intermittent fasting. The good days were caused by accurate logging, the bad days were caused by indifferent logging. I never stopped logging, but I will admit that my accuracy was lacking.

Photo via Pixabay, by Noah8001

I was bored. Yes. Constant calorie counting is fun at first, and eventually it is just boring. So, here is the challenge: how do I get back to doing what works when I mentally am tired of doing what works?

Yeah. That is a challenge!

Here is a little more about me. I’m an “all or nothing” guy. I either have a laser focus or a wandering gaze that accomplishes nothing. When I was able to use my laser on calorie counting, I reached my goal weight.

My question was how can I refocus my laser, and yet not really change what I eat (because I really don’t want to give up my favorite foods.)

The episodes on cholesterol (MYST 169 and MYST 170) triggered some thinking. My cholesterol numbers are good. Not great, but good. But all that research on the benefits of specific foods stirred some interest. It created a feeling of curiosity. And you can’t be bored and curious about one topic at the same time.

I’ve always planned my meals for the week, and I generally use Sunday as my prep day. I like to cook as much as possible on Sunday, which eliminates work in the evening after returning home, and helps prevent the easy “pick something up” attitude.

Now I do more than plan for the week. I use a meal script. I created a chart that lists all the healthiest foods (fortunately, I love all these foods). It is on an Excel spreadsheet and I have the foods broken into four categories: at least 5x/week, at least 3x/wk, at least 1x/week, and other. For example, I want 1/4 c of oatmeal, 1/4 cup berries, 1 cup spinach, 1/2 cup legumes and 1/2 an avocado in at least five meals a week. (There are many more in that category, but this is a sample.) I also want dark chocolate and almonds or walnuts three times a week and red wine twice a week and at least one piece of fruit daily.

Knowing what I want to eat, now I plan out my meal script. I make one of two oatmeal dishes every Monday – Friday. In each bowl, I add either blueberries or bananas to the oatmeal. Some days I top it with one tablespoon of almond butter, or crushed walnuts

I also make 2 eggs everyday, and top them with tomato paste, avocado, and jalapeno.

For lunch, I pack salads. The base is always 2 cups spinach. Then I add 1/2 cup black beans. Then I add a fruit (apple or pear, sometimes pineapple and blueberries). Maybe I’ll include tomatoes, or red cabbage, or radicchio, or radishes. I’ll finish with 1/4 of an avocado.

Photo via Pixabay, by PublicDomainPictures

So how does this help me break the slump? While those foods are very healthy foods, it is more about the intentional food design. The planning. The purpose. The careful thought that goes into each meal, and hitting my weekly targets.

It changes my focus from counting calories (the same as the past 10 years) to instead create the right food combinations. And I want to see what it does to my blood lipids. While they are currently good, I want to see if I can make them excellent.

I’m also focusing on four other food values:

  1. Potassium (more than 4,700mg)
  2. Sodium (less than 1500mg)
  3. Dietary fiber (more then 40g)
  4. Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio (better than 1 to 6)

Now, one thing to note: I’m still counting calories. I still eat my full budget. But calories are not the focus, they are more of a side effect of designing my food blueprint. See, when you eat the foods that I’m eating, the calories are slow to add up. Think about that salad I made. The only calorie-dense foods are the avocado and the dressing I use (and since I usually use 1 tablespoon, even that isn’t an issue.)

By my evening meal, I usually have 30-45% of my calories left. I make a meal that follows my food blueprint, choosing options and quantities based on how many calories remain uneaten. Sometimes I enjoy a five-ounce glass of red wine with dinner. I use the dark chocolate and almonds to fill out my daily calorie budget.

Here is the recipe analyzer that I use to help me regain my focus on eating well and making good choices. This will take entire meals and give you the macro- and micro-nutrient breakdown, as far as down to the amount of each amino acid in the food.

By the way, I said my lipids are good, but not excellent. More total disclosure:

  • Total cholesterol = 170 (good is less than 200)
  • HDL (good) = 66 (good is more than 40)
  • LDL (bad) = 98 (good is less than 100)
  • Triglycerides = 76 (good is less than 150)

My goals by my next lab work (sometime in spring) is total cholesterol down to 150, LDL down to 70, triglycerides down to 50, and HDL up to 70. I’ll let you know when I get my next lipid panel.

So, if you are in a slump, find a new target (while keeping total calorie intake under control) and maybe that will light a fire under you.

I’m actually having fun making these meals, eating good food and—this is the pay-off—watching the scale show progress on a regular basis. I’m down 3.8 pounds in the past two weeks.

Here it is, mid-winter, when I most want to hibernate, and I’ve rekindled my enthusiasm. All because I learned from my yesterday.

If you want to try this, here is a link that will send you my food blueprint.

Picture via Pixabay, by

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Music composed and performed by Jason Shaw, courtesy of Audionautix.com

Voiceover courtesy of Matt Young. Matt is a professional voiceover artist. If you have any need of voice-over work, for your podcast, radio spot, or whatever, you can reach Matt by a variety of methods. He is on LinkedIn. On Twitter. And Google+. Follow his Facebook page to learn how to better use social media. Matt was also my guest on MYST 54. Give his story a listen!

All images are Creative Common Zero.