THIS: Third article in a series on Rebooting Your Way of Eating – Taking Charge and being Accountable
NEXT : Fourth article in a series on Rebooting Your Way of Eating – Food and Meal Planning
I reckon the first four days of a reboot are the easiest when resetting your eating habits, and at the same time, day 4 is the hardest! Why so? With any type of dietary change, the first handful of days is full of optimism and confidence, until that day 4, where the effect of change begins to bite. You may, for instance, experience carb cravings because your old eating regime had more carbs. Now your body is adjusting to less and is starting to let you know. Often this is only a psychological reaction and not an actual physical need. You are more than likely missing your normal foods, and you may think about them more now that they’re gone. I know I do! The positive side is that you know good things are happening and, yes its day 4 for me!
Remember though that this is a maintenance period and not a full-on-change-in-eating diet. The purpose is to “retune”, to eliminate some of the bad habits picked up over time, and should be carried out periodically to ensure your eating style is still on track and to check if it is still meeting your healthy eating goals.
At this early stage, even more important is the mindset adopted – you are what you think you are. In this regard, how you refer to certain things and how you term something can make a difference in whether you subconsciously view it in a positive or negative light. Take the word DIET for example. When I do use this word, I favour using it with its Latin (diaeta) root definition intact – with its meaning of a “way of living”. I feel this gives the D word a more positive spin, rather than viewing it in the negative context of “regulated or restrictive eating”. It’s all to do with your way of thinking.
Another word association to avoid is that of think of the times you eat as breakfast / lunch/ dinner. I will often eat bacon and eggs in the evening even though many would consider that a breakfast meal. If you think in terms of BLD then you will tend to also eat at the “correct” times. Have you ever noticed at the food court in the local mall that there are fewer crowds when it hits 2pm? That’s because it is not “traditional” lunch time – and there is generally no queue to worry about either! As far as meal times are concerned, I simply call them meal 1 and 2 – Oh, I also only eat twice a day with 1 or 2 snacks allowed for in the mix.
No one doubts the importance of motivation. Without it, you’d never have the drive to accomplish your goals. The truth, though, is that motivation is fleeting and at the 4 day juncture you may lose some and decide to cheat a little – DON’T!
This is a key period of your reboot. This is where you really become aware of your body and what reducing cravings is all about. There is naturally some effort required to stop the diet creep and reset. No gain without pain. We cannot commit to healthy dietary habits until we know what habits are actually healthy for us as individuals. Not everyone will agree with how each individual approaches their way of eating but your happiness with your approach is what counts. It isn’t about being first across a finish line. It’s about retuning behaviors that have slipped and about re-establishing your more positive way of eating.
However there is an undemanding way to take charge, and stay committed to your goals, even when your motivation is running low. It’s called Accountability. You probably have an idea of what accountability is but how does this apply to this reboot? Accountability is the acknowledgment of responsibility for your actions, with the obligation to report, explain, and be responsible for the resulting consequences. A bit of a mouth full but the key word here is “being responsible.” Essentially, accountability keeps you motivated, and honest with yourself, by having to report your success (or not) to someone else. Incidentally, this is a selling point used by many of the commercial diet systems out there. Think Weight Watchers and their support meetings.
However if you are like me and do not have somebody to report to, such as a “trainer” or confident, what to do? Personally I keep a diary – quite simple. By writing everything down, reflecting on this and reviewing at the end of each day, you are self reporting and being accountable to yourself. The only hard part is remembering to write things down at the time it happens, as if it is not written down, you do forget! It is also pointless in not being honest as the only person you are deceiving is yourself.
Before I start I write up a plan for the food I intend to eat over the next 2 weeks, not just the meals to be eaten, but the main constituents of the meals – a shopping list if you like. Only having the food you need on hand is key to good reboot management. If there are no temptations in the pantry there is less opportunity of getting off track. I also keep a dairy with notes alongside the time the actions took place. Here I note down everything I have consumed during the day, and later, assess the macros eaten to ensure I’m on track and if I need to recalibrate. I will include a copy of these sheets in the next article.
As well as keeping the basic food diary, I also note on the calendar how many days to go with a countdown-to-zero which is more effective than counting the days completed. Try it and see. It does make a difference.
I also make notes on the food containers in the fridge, noting the days for which they are to be used, avoiding the chance of adding that little extra to the wrong meal. I also keep count of how much water I drink by having a sticker on the jug with tally marks for the glasses I have drank. This may all sound a bit pedantic but the whole point is to make things easy for yourself so it becomes a natural part of your eating style.
Finally, I take photos. Yes the old Facebook look-at-my-meal photo. This is a “before cooking” shot of the ingredients I will use – cut up and ready to cook, followed by another of the finished meal. It’s good for assessing portion sizes and ingredients used that may have slipped your mind later.
Having a dairy also helps to motivate and build your confidence. Using your own personal preferences and making your own rules regarding details will help you focus on the job in hand. When struggling it’s good to review to see how well you have been doing and how much you have actually achieved, even over this short period. Recording may also help you identify trigger points and your foods Achilles’ heel, along with the times you enacted strict discipline and avoided temptation.
Right, there are now only 10 days left to go!
Below are some of the more common details noted in a dairy of this kind:
- Personal: goals, plans, weight before and after, personal measurements
- Diet: food choices, vitamin and supplement information, nutrient and calorie intake, macro sources
- Eating: portion sizes, hunger times, cravings, giving in to temptation, getting back on track
- Activity/Exercise Plan: what works and what doesn’t, gym exercise, activity’s undertaken
- General: sleep patterns, general feelings of wellness, toilet habit changes, any changes noticed.
More on the food details and meal planning next time