Full disclosure: This is my weakness. I have always struggled when I have to rely on my own self-control, especially when it comes to food. I have my perfect bubble of control at home keeping none of my “trigger foods” within reach. However, the second that I leave that bubble and food appears, I eat like I will never see food again. I have never been the kind of person that can eat a few bites then put it down, I always finish everything on my plate- even if I don’t like it. I still have not been able to find my stop button, it just doesn’t exist. That being said. I am working on it, and I have made progress.
Last week, I was put to the test. I had to go out of town for a work conference. This means, tiny hotel fridge, no kitchen and many meals that were completely out of my control. My comfy bubble of control was going to be popped. I was complaining to my husband, letting the negative self-talk creep back in. Saying things like, I can’t do this, I always fail in situations like this and on and on. Then he said something that snapped me out of it. He said, “You have accomplished so much, just think of this as a great opportunity to try and conquer this weakness.” He was right. SO far, I have done many things that I never thought I could, this is just another challenge.
So I decided to use this opportunity to document my challenges and hopefully have a success story at the end of the week. Also hopeful that documenting my week on here would help keep me accountable and drive me to succeed.
Instead of dwelling on the things that would be out of my control this week, I focused on what I did have control over.
I planned as much as I could. I knew there were a few things that I knew were coming so I made a plan. Lunch on the plane, breakfast and served meals were 3 things I knew I had to plan for. My flight was leaving around lunch time, so I knew airport food would be my first hurdle. Knowing this, I decided to pack a lunch that I could eat on the plane. I didn’t pack anything fancy; a ham and cheese wrap, a few cheese sticks and some fruit and veggies.
It was just enough to keep me from buying airport food. I was also able to say no to the airplane snacks because I was already munching on carrots. Next was breakfast, I planned to skip the continental breakfast each morning and eat in my room. This would give me a few more minutes to sleep in, and keep me away from the plethora of donuts and pastries that I knew would be served. I also stashed a few snacks in my purse to help me last through the day without being tempted by the snacks that were scattered around everywhere!
The final and most feared obstacle was served meals. There were several meals that were supplied by the conference. These were plated meals that I did not get to order, so food literally just appeared in front of my face. As I stated earlier, I eat what is put in front of me, it takes a lot of control not to start stuffing my face. I know my weaknesses; carbs and desserts. Having attended this conference last year, I knew that each table would have baskets of bread and a variety of delicious looking desserts at each meal.
In the past, I have tried only having one piece of bread and one small dessert or promising myself I would just eat a few bites. That never works. I know these are trigger foods for me. If I start eating, I cannot stop. If I don’t even taste it, I have much more control. Know that, I planned on avoiding those things entirely. It worked! The bread basket was left untouched at each meal. The only bite of dessert I had was the raspberry on top of my mousse.
Keep healthy options within reach
I know I do crazy, irrational things when I am hungry. I make poor decisions, so I knew I had to have healthy options close by in order to never let the hunger monster that lives within me escape. When I got to my hotel, I literally threw my suitcase in my room and immediately went down to talk with the concierge to find the closest grocery store. I grabbed some reusable grocery bags (I packed a few know I was going to go to a grocery store) and walked to the Safeway down the street. There I loaded up on healthy options.
That way the temptation to order pizza or Chinese food could be avoided. The vending machine also remained un-raided.
You could find a variety of snacks in my purse at any given moment during the week. When I went through security at the airport on the way home they asked me to take out any food that I had in my carry-on and put it into one of those little plastic bins. My purse was like one of those bottomless clown bags, you know the ones where the clown keeps pulling out the most ridiculous things like a lamp or a live chicken or something. The look on the TSA lady’s face was priceless when I pulled out my 3 lb bag of clementines. All my snacks made it through and I was set for the flight home.
Another thing that was totally within my control was my exercise. I visited the hotel gym every day and I sweated my butt off!
Not only did I do tons of cardio, I also utilized the weight room too. This might seem silly, but I conquered one of my gym fears while I was there too. The leg press machine they had at the hotel gym was completely different than the one at my gym at home- I could not figure it out. Normally, my social awkwardness and self-consciousness would cause me to run away and just avoid that machine. However, after staring at the diagram for a few minutes, I actually went and sought out someone that worked there and had them show me how to use the machine. I know this seems like no big deal, but that is a big deal for me. Just a few months ago, I wouldn’t even step foot in a gym, fearing judgement. This is just another small victory that helps me gauge how far I have come.The gym also kept me busy. Instead of sitting in my room and mindlessly eating while watching food network, I was actually doing something.
I really think the key to keeping me on track last week, was that I knew I would be blogging about it. Just knowing that someone would be reading about my success (or failure) was enough to keep me motivated. You don’t have to publish a blog post to stay accountable, but you can let someone know about your plans. Ask them to call or text you to check on your progress.
I am really lucky because I have an awesome support system. My husband is on weight watchers too so he understands a lot of my struggles. He is so supportive and we hold each other accountable. My Weight Watchers family is another source of accountability. I share a lot in my meeting- if I tell the people in my meeting my plans, they will ask me about it the next week. This gives me the accountability I need to be successful.
Forgive yourself and move on
Let’s face it, sometimes despite all your effort, you slip up (probably more than once). Once you lose control (because it will happen at some point), it is important to forgive yourself and move on. It sounds simple, but can be one of the hardest things to do!
Like many others, I have tried to lose weight countless times in the past, so I have made every mistake in the book. One of the things I always struggled with was when I made a mistake, I would spend hours or days beating myself up about it. Many times, one small slip would turn into a steep slide. The thought process was, well I already messed up, I’ll just eat what I want today and get back on the wagon tomorrow. Too many times, tomorrow turns into next week or next month or after the holidays etc. We all know how that ends. This time around on my journey, I have been working really had to not let one tiny mistake balloon into a much bigger problem.
Last year at this conference I had just started weight watchers again for the millionth time and I have all kind of plans to be successful. I did many of the things that I did this year, like going to a grocery store to get healthy foods and going to the gym every evening. I was doing great, until the last night at a networking reception. They were just serving appetizers so I foolishly though I could go and not have anything and get dinner afterwards.
The one thing I didn’t plan on was the make your own chili cheese fry station. Nothing is better than that ooey gooey cheese over perfectly golden fried potato deliciousness. I caved, I had a small plate of cheese fries. It really should not have been a big deal, but in my mind I was a failure. At this point I already though I failed, so why bother? I made a trip to the slider bar then the dessert station. Each trip through the line I hated myself more and more, but I couldn’t stop. By the time I got back to my hotel room I was wallowing in self-pity and disgust.
What do I do when I feel this way? I eat. So I ordered Chinese food and I’m not talking about chicken and steamed broccoli- I ordered enough for a family of 4. Well, surprise, surprise at my weigh in that Saturday I had gained 4 lbs. I let one small plate of cheese fries turn into a full blown crisis. This overshadowed all my hard work earlier in the week. Had I just forgiven myself for eating a few fries, I would have saved myself a lot of heartache. This year, I had a whole year of mistakes under my belt and I was able to stay in control all week.
I’m not saying this past week was easy, I worked really hard to keep myself on track, but I did it! I came home on Friday night and my weigh in was Saturday morning. -2.8 lbs. for the week!
Different things work for different people. I know someone that keeps M&M’s in her desk and eats 5 at a time to satisfy her chocolate craving. A bag can last over a week. That works for her, but would never work for me. I know because I have tried it and failed big time. A big part of this journey is failing over and over again. The key is to learn from your mistakes and never stop trying.
I want to know what works for you. What are some strategies that you use to take control? What is something that is hard for you to take control of on your journey? Maybe we can help give you some suggestions!
Interested in hearing more about my journey? Find more here!