When You See a Fork in the Road – Take It (Unless It’s Going the Wrong Way)

Just the other day I made a comment to a Facebook friend about her calorie intake.  I was concerned because it was so low.  I’d been around the block a few times on the “I won’t eat hardly anything” route and wanted to check in with her to make sure she wasn’t taking a fork in the road (so to speak) that would be certain to backfire.

It turned out she was just having a busy/difficult day – which we all do.  Stuff happens.  My friend’s post got me to thinking about how “not having time to eat” can actually serve as a tool for weight GAIN.

I’ve had jobs where I simply, truly, no lie did not have time to eat a meal from the time I left my house in the morning until I returned in the evening (I often had evening functions to attend.)

You would think that having a job where you didn’t have time to eat would mean losing a lot of weight .  Uh, uh – that job put 15 pounds on me.  For a few reasons:

  • It was the perfect set up to scarf down massive quantities of “fast” food on the way home in the privacy of my vehicle – you just know I wasn’t eating a McDonald’s salad driving down the road.
  • I have a tendency to experience hypoglycemic reactions (feel faint, slur my words) when I don’t eat – I started popping candy on the reception desk like a junkie looking for a fix.  I’d also literally inhale foods that went down fast – like those soft donuts they keep putting out at all those endless meetings – I often didn’t have time to eat the apple or the sandwich because I was making the presentation.
  • The position was very fast-paced and out of this world stressful – and stress is not our friend when it comes to weight loss.

I still managed to exercise on most days because I stuck to my guns and set myself a minimum instead of a maximum.  I will post on that in detail on another date but, the short story is I made a deal with myself a long time ago that my minimum was 20 minutes of whatever kind of cardio I could manage (walk, step ups, march in place – whatever) versus my optimal 60 minutes cardio/strength training.

My 20 minutes is like brushing my teeth – if I don’t do it I feel totally “ucky”.  I highly recommend setting a minimum as it goes a long way to maintaining the habit of exercising.  Being able to stick with it under the circumstances of said job is my proof that this is true.  It I’d gone “all or nothing” by trying to stick to the 60 minutes I would have hardly ever found that chunk of time and reverted back to couch (or in this case driver’s seat) potato.

While exercise is likely what kept me at a healthy weight during this time (even with the additional 15 my BMI was 26)  it was obvious that I needed to re-evaluate what my meaningful why for sustaining a healthy weight was as well as adjust my Fitegic Plan for making that happen – or I could be headed for trouble (Translation:  if the 15 turned into 30 I’d be at an unhealthy weight.)

Finding my meaningful why wasn’t difficult.  Considering I’d gained the weight due to my job situation it didn’t actually surprise me too much that my meaningful why turned out to be related to my career.  My job required me to be “in front of people” most of the time.  I was also in situations where I needed very successful, powerful people to perceive me as both knowledgeable and competent.

While certainly a prejudicial perspective, the fact is that people perceive over-weight and obese people as incompetent and “out of control”.  Sustaining a healthy weight would help me achieve my goals and objectives at work.  I loved my job and it was meaningful to me to meet those goals and objectives.

OK – so I’ve got a meaningful why.  Having one certainly didn’t change the circumstances of my job.  However, what at first looked like a mountain in my way turned out to be just a bump in the road once I put a plan in place.

As it was not unusual for me literally not have time to chew,  I made sure I had nutrient packed liquid drinks available.  I am not a fan of vegetable juice, but choking them down got easier because I associated it with feeling better.  Much better than the crash and burn after popping a couple mini Snicker bars.  I also kept on hand nutrition bars – REAL nutrition bars, not candy disguised as a nutrition bar, on hand at all times.  “At all times” meant at my desk, in my purse, and in my car.  It also meant that they were regular purchases during my weekly grocery shopping stints.

Lastly, I wrote it down.  ALL of it down.  I hadn’t stopped keeping my food diary, but hadn’t been honest about the candy – or the giant croissant I gobbled up as quickly as could after the board meeting to eat in the hall on my way to the committee meeting.  As much as would have loved it to be true, not writing it down didn’t somehow mean I didn’t eat it.

Those simple steps, re-evaluating my meaningful why and re-designing a plan that worked for my current circumstances are what kept me from getting back up to a BMI that translated into “over-weight close to obese”.

Many of you will want to know if making these changes meant that I lost all the 15 pounds.  No – I probably lost 5 or so.  But that isn’t the point.  The point is that not only will our meaningful whys change as our situations and circumstances change – so will our goals and objectives because goals and objectives.

COULD I have lost the whole 15?  Sure, but it simply wasn’t meaningful enough for me to get up at least an hour earlier than I had to when I was working 12-15 hour days as a rule.

But I did not feel like a failure as my over-arching long-range goal is to sustain a healthy weight (which, even with the additional 15 I was at) – and this met my meaningful why of people perceiving me a competent.  You don’t have to have the figure of a super model for people to view you as competent.

Eventually I did lose those 15 pounds and a couple more – of course my situation, circumstances and meaningful why(s) had changed over time and I’d adjusted my Fitegic Plan accordingly.

Hopefully I’ve made my point – which is, of course, that creating, managing, and periodically adjusting you own Fitegic Plan is the key to attaining and sustaining a healthy weight.

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