Tell me if this sounds familiar?
“I just want to get to a point where I don’t have to think about it.”
The “it” in this case is eating for weight loss.
Gah! This is such a tough one. Whenever I hear this plea I want to give the wisher a reassuring mama bear hug. The truth is multifaceted but before we get to my answer let me tell you more about my own experience…
Not thinking about “it” is what got me here.
Before the weight loss began I had a set of routines, routines I didn’t have to think about. I didn’t think about the half bag of tortilla chips I would dunk into sour cream and salsa after work, but when I came home the purse went in the closet, the shoes were kicked under the bed, and I magically found myself nested on the couch with a cellophane bag to my left and a serving bowl of dip in my hand. Not thinking about “it” sure wasn’t doing me any favors.
In the beginning, we thought about everything!
When Mike and I began our weight loss journey we jumped in with both feet. We measured or weighed our portions every time we ate a meal or a snack. Each bite was accounted for. In my ebook Eat Merrily & Be Light, I introduced the idea of bringing measuring cups to holiday meals. We did. We brought our scale on vacation and measuring cups along with our side dish offerings at family dinners.
This may sound a bit extreme, but, consider this: For more than a year, Mike and I were immersed in learning how to eat portions appropriate for our bodies and, since our lives included holidays and vacations, so did our training.
Would you do it for a dollar?
Recently I asked Mike for his thoughts on “not having to think about it.” He sniffed and said, “that is like saying, ‘I want to be wealthy so I don’t have to think about money.'” Gosh I love that man!
Mike is so right! Don’t we dream about winning the lottery or suddenly inheriting a fortune from some previously unknown relative? We fantasize about how all that money would make life a breeze! The truth is sustaining that wealth requires management. But, holy hell! You’re not going to turn down a winning ticket because the wealth would be too much work! No way! You are going to take a deep breath and enjoy the adventure of living a brand new life beyond your wildest dreams! As you learn how to manage things the steps will become routine and the routine will become easier.
Money can’t buy happiness but is sure does buy options. In the same vein, weight loss does not guarantee a happily ever after either but, just like wealth, good health opens up a world of options. Our weight loss journey has been similar to learning how to manage wealth.
By repeating the steps they became habits.
In the beginning we were driven to learn all about our weight loss program. We counted every gram of reduced fat ice cream. We read all the nutrition labels, interviewed wait staff at our favorite restaurants, and relied on our food “budget” to guide our eating choices. Taking that time to be disciplined gave us a solid foundation for our new sustainable habits.
Over time, we learned how to feed our bodies, first for weight loss then, again, for weight maintenance. Now our work is paying dividends. We have a much richer quality of life and far more options for our future. It is absolutely a form of wealth, one that is available to everyone.
Now, making healthy food choices is as normal as brushing our teeth.
Have we reached a place where we don’t have to think about what we are going to eat and how it will impact our bodies? Nope. However! Because we did the work to build healthy eating habits, these thoughts are quick and fleeting moments that pepper, not consume, our days.
To make brushing your teeth, or how about flossing, a habit you had to actively remember to do it at the same time every day. Perhaps you have left yourself post-its on the mirror that read, “Floss!” After a while these reminders are no longer needed but you still have to cast some thought to the routine or you will wake up with skuzz mouth and realize your mistake. A few days of skuzz mouth and the post-it reminders will go back up until the habit has re-solidified.
The bottom line –
So, back to the question at hand. Will we reach a point that we no longer think about “it” – our food choices? Honestly, I hope not, but for the sake of those who are asking, I will tell you – “it” gets so much better!