As I write this, I’m halfway to my goal weight, something I honestly wasn’t sure I’d accomplish. But I’ve really replaced some old habits with new ones that are healthier. I’m certainly not perfect, but I’m hoping that I’ll mostly stick with these habits long term. Data has been a big part of that, at least for me. I’ve tracked every calorie in and every calorie out. Just knowing that grapes have very few calories compared to chips is huge. I mean, you could guess that. You know that intuitively, but to really see that every time I eat a handful of grapes, it’s less than half the calories as the same handful of chips. And, according to an article I read a while back (whose link is lost to the black hole that is the Internet), it’s likely my body actually burns calories to process those grapes while it doesn’t have to burn as much for the chips, netting fewer calories overall. Here are just a few things I’ve done that I’ve found helpful:
- Eat the healthiest thing on the plate first. Salad, vegetables, etc. then you’re less hungry for the things that pack more calories or fat.
- When going for seconds, get the healthy stuff. Again, get veggies or salad not potatoes or fries or meat.
- For dessert, eat fruit. It’s sweet and tasty, better than chocolate cake.
- You can have a beer or glass of wine or cocktail and still lose weight. Consider it a treat.
- Count everything as you go. You don’t want to get to dinner and find out you’ve gone over your allotted amount of calories. If you have a big lunch, there’s still time to work off those calories before dinner.
- Move. Every day. Just get up and do something. Walk, go up and down your stairs. Garden, wash the car, chase the dog.
- Wear what you have. You don’t need fancy clothes to exercise in. You can walk in your street clothes even.
- If it’s less than a mile, walk. If it’s less than two miles, walk or ride a bike.
- Weigh yourself (or measure your waist or whatever you are concerned about). I weigh every day even though it’s very up and down. Some people prefer once a week. I just like the data I get.
- If you’re hungry, eat, but eat healthy. Never go hungry. It’s not going to stick if you’re starving all the time. When you’re hungry, you’re more likely indulge in those chips or the cake. I keep fruit, granola bars, carrots, cheese, etc. around for snacks.
None of these things take that much time. Some days I walk longer than others. Some days I make more elaborate meals than others. When I’m pressed for time, I make something easy and I only walk for 1/2 hour.
On the debt front, things are moving more slowly because I just started and, unlike weight, I can’t track my debt reduction day by day. It’s a month by month thing. But I can track my money. The main way we got into the debt we’re in is overspending. Knowing how much we have in our bank account means we are less likely to overspend. I was never good at tracking money. I think there was one year where I actually wrote everything down. But everything’s online now and we don’t really write checks, so it’s easy to keep track of.
I check our account every day and figure out about how much we need to spend before the next paycheck: what bills are due, what food we need, and what other items we need (clothes, home items, etc.). Food and bills are non-negotiable, though I can trim the grocery budget usually. It might mean we stay in versus going out. And seeing what we have, I can better decide if we can buy school clothes or get some books we want or go out to dinner. In other words, I can plan! Right now, things are a bit tight as I try to put a little extra toward debt and savings. My hope is in a few months, it will feel less tight as the debt dwindles a bit. It’s going to be a long haul, but weirdly, having had success on the weight front makes me feel like I can succeed on the debt front, as long as I keep track of things.