Healthy Habits Are Sticking!
Thursday, August 02, 2012
It's been over seven months now, and I can finally say I've actually developed several healthy habits! One of these habits is premeasuring my food, and another is preparing food in advance. Let me tell you how this works for me.
Since I'm working full time and in school, I'm "on the go" a lot...once I leave the house, I might be gone for 12-14 hours or more. I used to not really give any thought to meals or snacks, I'd pack a sandwich or something and figure "I'll just grab something while I'm out." Both at work and at school I'm surrounded by vending machines, so there's no shortage of high-calorie, high-fat, high-sugar, and low-nutrition foods beconing to me. I had to make a conscious choice to avoid these and that meant preparing my own meals and snacks and having them ready before time to dash out the door.
So now I make my own "100 calorie snack packs" (or however many calories that particular food has) by measuring out trail mix, nuts, Body by Vi protein powder, cereal, etc. into plastic bags or containers. I use self-adhesive "dots" to let me know how many calories are in a particular bag/container by writing the calories on the label and affixing it to the container. I even pre-measure almond milk and have it ready for travel in plastic bottles. I also cook my meals the day/night before, and put them in the fridge so I can just grab them and go when the time comes. This is saving me so much money and greatly decreasing my sodium intake!
Yes, it takes a little time and a lot of forethought, but it has finally become second nature to me. When I buy a big container of something (trail mix, crackers, etc.) I no longer even have to think about it, I just automatically grab the baggies and the scale and start dividing it into appropriate portions.
The other day I watched my husband reach into a box of cheese crackers and grab a handful. Then he did it again, and again. I thought "wow, he has NO IDEA how much he's eating or how many calories he just consumed! It could be 35 calories, or it could be 350! He has no way of knowing!" But with my premade little snack baggies, I know exactly how much I'm eating and what the calories are, so I can make informed choices.
Premeasuring the portions also helps me really learn what an appropriate serving size looks and feels like. In typical American fashion, I'm used to huge portions and "supersized" packages of food. Learning what an ounce or two or three of something looks like has been a real eye opener for me. And now I'm even used to sticking to those portion sizes, they're actually beginning to look normal to me!
None of these changes has come overnight. They say it takes 30 days before something truly becomes a habit...well, I'm here to say it takes a LOT LONGER THAN THAT for certain things to truly become ingrained in you. Perhaps it has just taken me longer because I'm stubborn ;-) Whatever the reason, I've been doing these things for over seven months, and only now are they truly ingrained.
My advice, especially to the newcomer to the portion control idea, is to premeasure whatever you can into baggies or containers. And for those of you who already measure your portions, I say "do it in advance, have them ready to go." It may seem like a pain in the neck, but you will be glad you did. It may feel time consuming to do a bunch of them at once, but in the long run it saves time (after all, you've already got the scale and the baggies right there...may as well fill up several while you're at it!).
Now that these habits are automatic for me, I'm able to devote more of my time and mental (and physical) energy to the other major things in my life...family, studying, sleeping, and exercising! And the weight is still coming off, which makes me feel better and further increases my energy level.
Good luck, everyone! Hang in there.