This is supplemental material for the 03/26/14 Weights and Balances Newsletter article on Breaking Bad…Habits: Winging it! (not having goals!):
Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals
What are smart goals? S is for significant or specific to me. M is for meaningful/ measurable. A is for action/attainable. R is for rewarding and relevant to me. T is for time related/track-able. The mnemonic SMART works is a great tool for setting goals.
Tips for setting goals:
- Write them down. This seems to be obvious, but many do not write down their goals.
- Make a “to do” list to obtain your goals. These are the steps you must do to obtain your goal. Often people forget to do this! They would like to lose 25 lbs but do not write down things they have to do to achieve this goal!
- Each goal should be stated in a positive manner. For example; eat more fruits and vegetables instead of don’t eat chocolate for the rest of my life.
- Be realistic. Goals must be achievable and not unrealistic.
- Set goals that motivate you. (i.e., they are very important to you!) Think about why this is important to you, write it down!
- Make small achievable goals. For example, I want to eat at least one piece of fruit today. I want to walk an extra five minutes today. etc.
- Commit to your goals. Understand that accomplishing all goals are not done overnight. It takes time!
- Be precise. Such as, I want to lose 5 pounds this month instead of I want to lose some weight.
- Reward yourself when you accomplish a goal appropriately. For bigger and more significant goals the bigger the rewards!
- Be flexible. If you find something that changes how you view your goals and you need to change them a bit, do it!
- Set a time frame to achieve. This one can be your best friend if you are realistic or your worst nightmare if you are unrealistic. For example, I want to get in better shape this year vs. I want to lose 50 lbs by April of this year (it is already March!).
- Stick with it! Don’t give up! Give yourself reminders to stay on track! Your community, co-workers, friends and family can be great supports when you need it.
- Track your achievements. Check off your goals as you accomplish them.
- Make your goal public. This does not mean you have to post it on Facebook or have it printed in the evening paper. It might mean finding a person who is interested in your efforts and can help cheer you on as you strive to reach your goals.
Setting goals and writing down steps to achieve those goals is one of the best ways to keep focused on your weight loss journey.
Dear Blog Readers,
I thought it was time I gave you a personal progress update.
When I set out in January 2013 to become healthier by joining Weight Watchers Online, I knew what to do but didn’t know how long it would take me to reach those goals. Last week, I reached a major milestone in my weight loss journey. I have now lost over 100 lbs!!! Yay me! For the first time since I began, I can now look at the end goal any not only the five pounds at a time mini-goals. I know as of last Wednesday, I have 20 lbs to reach my goal BUT my focus is still on the next five pounds mini-goal to reach 105 lbs lost. My focus since last Wednesday has been to lose the next 3.8 lbs. That will probably take 2-3 weeks depending on my body’s reaction to several things over the next few weeks.
I will be starting to attend Weight Watcher’s meetings locally this week. That will be different for me and I am sure their scale will give me a different reading than my scale at home. So I am sure I will be “up” when I officially weigh in, but I know I am still headed in the right direction! Thank you for reading and sending your comments and words of encouragement!
Here is an updated progress photo. I am getting closer to my end goal!
Many people look at me and do not believe I have twenty more pounds more to lose, but if they could see my “doughy” middle they would agree, that from the “middle” alone, easy 20 lbs! I am trying to pamper my skin. I am hoping that time will heal some of the “self inflected” scars of being overweight will start to heal. I know I am not in my 20’s and I am seeing things I never saw happen to my body back then. If I would pass along any words of advice it would be to those in their 20’s and 30’s get rid of the weight now because your body loses its ability to “bounce back” that it might now have! Be smart get fit now! Don’t put it off! Bat wings, doughy middles and prune like skin are no fun to deal with!! It isn’t pretty to look at either but I would rather be a healthy weight and have those lumps, bumps, sags and wrinkles than to be overweight and unhealthy!
This is a continuation of the article from the March 19th Weights and Balances Newsletter.
Scientifically speaking, eating when bored is believed to be associated with the brain needing more “dopamine” (neuro-transmitter) to feel excited and stimulated. Scientist believes that eating releases this neurotransmitter. This is the same stimulus/response that will enable some to easily become addicted to drugs and alcohol. When we are eating when bored, it appears this is our “substance of choice” to try to wake up our dopamine transmitters in our brains. How many of us associate good feelings/good times with eating?
Why do we eat when we are not hungry?
- It’s a special occasion, find other ways to celebrate special occasions without focusing on food
- Avoid buffets and eating just because “it is there” Do not purchase foods which you have a difficult time eating a reasonable portion
- Don’t start eating just because everyone else is eating!
- Being tired can often lead to overeating; don’t eat at midnight; just go to bed!
- Eating because it is FREE or cheap
- Because you can’t say no
- Because you were raised to clean your plate
What can I do to instead of eating when I get bored?
- Keeping a food journal – write down what you are feeling before you eat, are you really hungry or thirsty, keep dates and times when you feel “driven” to eat too, rate your feeling of hunger from one to ten!
- Breathing exercises
- Read a good book
- Watching a favorite movie
- Listening to a favorite band
- Treating yourself to a new something
- Refrain from seeking pleasure all the time
- Become familiar with what triggers you to eat (patterns) and set up a plan ahead of time on how to deal with it in more productive way!
- Take a walk!
- Take a bubble bath
- Call a friend
- Solve a crossword puzzle
- Play cards or a board game
- Write a card to someone who is sick or shut in
- Find something to do with your hands; needlework, manicure, typing, writing, playing an instrument
- Clean your room!
- Do the laundry
- Plan your next vacation
- Organize your closet/drawers/garage
- Chew a piece of gum
- Write a blog
- Volunteer in your community/church
- Learn relaxation exercises
- Participate in individual and/or group counseling
I think the point is do ANYTHING productive but eat when you are bored!
I have begun to try ask myself the following when I find myself driven to eat when I am not really hungry.
- I ask myself, why do I want to eat now?
- Am I really hungry?
- Am I really thirsty?
- Am I felling bored?
- Am I felling angry?
- Am I feeling upset?
- Am I feeling lonely?
- Am I feeling tired?
- What do I want to eat right now?
- Do I want something specific?
- Do I want something salty?
- Do I want something Sweet
- I have found myself also asking after starting to eat something I really wanted, how much am I enjoying this?
- Slow down, take your time
- Rate your enjoyment from 1-10
- How full am I?
- Chew thoroughly
- Eat slowly
- Rate your fullness from 1-10
- Why did I eat all that?
- Make notes and notice patterns and triggers (work, arguments, etc.)
- Get to the bottom of why you did it (anxiety, stress, boredom, etc.)
- Be honest with yourself!
- Don’t beat yourself up; move on!
It is hard to face that you have some bad habits; but eating out of boredom is that. Time to overcome! Time to make more positive changes! This is the first in a series on breaking bad habits when trying to lose weight.
At one time or another we have all over eaten. But there are other levels for overeating that can cause long-term health issues. Dr. Daniel Amen is a world-renown neuropsychiatrist who has devoted his career to researching over-eaters and why we do it to ourselves. The basis for over-eating can be a symptom of a much larger problem that we are not resolving in a productive manner. To determine what is the cause of our over-eating we have to look deep within ourselves and be prepared to face what might not be some not so pretty things about ourselves. Some are very self-aware and can do this soul-searching on their own but many of us need the guidance of someone who is trained to deal with these issues.
Are there effective strategies for overcoming overeating?
Here is a short list of some strategies which through his research Dr. Amen has discovered to work for over-eaters.
- Balance blood sugar levels – low blood sugar levels are often associated with food cravings (This made sense to me with so many times knowing that diabetics “crave” sugar/carbs- There have been several eating plans based on the Glycemic Index and this has proven to help many lose and maintain weight loss. )
- Decrease the use of artificial sweeteners– most sweeteners are 600 times sweeter than sugar and can cause you to crave more food and more sugar (I have wondered about the long-term effects of these sweeteners on our brains and the constant “tricking” that goes on, do we crave more and more to keep “tricking” our brain to thinking it is getting the “sweet” sensation which is counter-productive of reducing what we take inside?)
- Manage Stress– chronic stress can cause obesity, addiction, anxiety, disorders and cancer (I know personally that is easier to over-eat when stressed since you want to trigger the “positive” feelings associated with the food in trying to overcome the uncomfortable feelings associated with stress and anxiety.)
- Outsmart Your Environmental “Triggers”– the mall, the airport, the movie theater, family gatherings; eat before you go or bring healthy snacks with you to consume. (I think this is such an awesome strategy! I have found it to be effective for me. Taking dishes to potlucks, etc. that you know are healthy choices help alleviate the anxiety of the unknown food you might encounter too!)
- Discover Hidden Food Allergies– allergies can trigger cravings; reduced blood flow to the brain and cause brain inflammation or inflammations inside the body. (I have a lactose intolerance/sensitivity and have noticed that when I eat dairy based foods that it causes the bloating/inflammation that can be accompanied by other not so pleasant sensations.)
- Practice Willpower – say no to the things which are not healthy for you; it gets easier! (This is the simplest but the hardest to do. I call this “won’t” power; I won’t eat this or that! It does get easier in time!)
- Movement in your Daily Routine-This helps to overcome genetic predispositions to obesity; reduces cravings; and reduces stress. (This is so true! The more I can walk/workout the less stress I feel and my body released those positive endorphins that keep me smiling.)
- Catch your Zz’s!– less sleep equals more cravings! (If you are tired, it is easy to overeat as your judgment is not at its peak/clearest thinking! Not getting enough rest can inhibit or even stop weight loss.)
- Natural Supplements – Supplements can help to take the edge off cravings. (I am not familiar with many of the supplements he suggests, so I cannot really comment on this.)
This is general information which I hope to explore further in the future. Knowledge is power and if we can recognize certain issues we have with overeating within ourselves then we can begin to use effective strategies to overcome our overeating.
I have begun a series on “Breaking Bad—Habits” and the first installment is found in the March 5, 2014 issue of Weights and Balances on Portion Control. If you can think of a bad habit that is associated with being overweight, please feel free to leave a comment for me with your idea below.
Below is supplemental information to help you win the battle of portion control:
More Tips to keep your portion sizes under control:
- Buy single serving containers of “trigger” foods.
- Replace your candy dish with a bowl of fruit.
- Keep healthier foods at eye level in your pantry and fridge.
- Keep trigger foods on a high shelf, back of the freezer; make them inconvenient to get and out of sight!
- Eat slower. Savor the flavors!
- Use smaller plates, such as a salad plate.
- No “seconds” only allow yourself to take one trip!
- Never eat from a box or bag, weigh/measure out what you are going to eat; put the box/bag away.
- Fill your plate one time and put away serving dishes.
- Ask for a “to go” container at the restaurant when they bring your plate. Box up 1/2. To take home for later!
Test yourself on Portion Control/Sizes!
- Take this 15 question quiz:
- If you do not have a set of measuring cups/spoons/scale in front of you, can you accurately guess your portion sizes? Here is a printable wallet sized guide to take with you:
- A full page guide for portion sizes:
Visual Pictures of Portion Sizes
The first five pounds came off so fast, so easy! Then reality sets in and we have a small loss or no loss at all. Right behind reality often comes its twin, discouragement.
I read this statement on “The Doctor’s” website about feeling discouraged,” Every moment presents a new opportunity for change. The past moment no longer exists; forward motion is the only path I can take.” I like this statement, we have to learn on our journey at each feeling of discouragement helps us to make a change/adjustment that we need to make to keep going! If you never face any discouragement, then you will not know how to handle it when it comes along. And it will come!
There are some strategies you can incorporate to help you not become discouraged.
- Take the long-term view – do not expect to “wake up” skinny one day, you didn’t gain it overnight and you are not going to lose it overnight.
- Get a diet buddy— Find a friend to encourage you and support you as you are both on your journey is a win-win for both people. Remember one small thing, it is not a competition, you are only competing with yourself NOT your friend! Share your struggles, recipes, frustrations, etc. with your diet pal. Programs such as Weight Watchers have weekly meetings for encouragement. There are online support groups as well. I found a couple of fabulous groups on Facebook which focus Weight Watchers and have found wonderful support and encouragement there.
- Allow yourself some treats – failure and discouragement will come quickly if you do not allow yourself a treat now and again. I have found a few things I like as “treats” and try to allow myself to have them within reason.
- Be realistic – Two pounds a week maximum is considered healthy weight loss anything over that and you risk many health complications. Know that you will not lose the same each and every week. It could be more or less; just keep moving forward so the scale can keep moving downward. If you are not a contestant on the “Biggest Looser” chances are you are not going to lose 14 lbs a week! Just for the record, even they do NOT lose that much in one week! The show is edited and contrary to what we see on TV, there are often 3 weeks or so between their weigh-ins!
- Small Steps – Set some small short-term goals. In my journey, I set 5 lb. goals and focused ONLY on the five pounds in front of me. Otherwise, I would have been very discouraged, overwhelmed and not kept going! The more you weigh, the more you can lose each week. If you are not extremely overweight, you can expect your weight loss to be more like half a pound a week than the two pounds a week spectrum!
- Avoid Comparisons – lose weight for your health not to emulate a celebrity, or friend. Just because Angelina Jolie weighs 110 lbs. (not saying she does, just an example!) does not mean that you should! Talk with your primary care physician to determine what is right for you and your body type.
- Do not weigh daily while trying to lose! Checking your progress is great but daily weighing can lead to frustration, discouragement and a great deal of anger! Weighing yourself once a week is recommended to check on progress. Don’t stress over not reaching your weekly goal one week. Sometimes our bodies just have minds of their own, especially us women’s bodies!
- Variety – Try to incorporate one new food, spice or recipe each week so that you are not eating the same things over and over again! Food boredom can lead to discouragement and a feeling of deprivation.
- Avoid negative weight loss messages –Talk to yourself only in positive uplifting terms! Avoid words such as; lazy, weak-willed, pathetic, messy, and sloppy, a cow, helpless, trashy, etc. If you do not treat you nice, why would you expect others to treat you nicely? Give yourself a pat on the back with each success you have! Keep a positive attitude!
One of my personal goals is to keep a healthy lifestyle and to learn as much as I can from this process so I am not prone to have to repeat it on this large of a scale!