Here is an example of a fail that I caught and to which my husband and I created a solution: We have been hiking after work quite a bit as of late because we are preparing for our epic 130-mile hike around the Ring of Kerry in Ireland in late June. We generally put on our heavy hiking boots and do a lot of climbing hills and walking in the sand* to add to the level of difficulty. We generally hike for about two to three hours after work (on the weekends, its more like 5-7 hours). There have been several occasions where, upon finishing the hike on the drive home, we are both famished and neither of us feels like waiting to cook a good, healthy, low-calorie dinner. So, we have stopped at the Mexican food place down the street from our house. Yum. "We'll just stop this time, never again" is always the mantra. Yeah, we've done this enough times that I would call it a habit now. We don't do it every time, but we did it twice in one week a couple of weeks ago, and that is way too much. After devouring our hideously caloric and fattening (albeit delicious) burritos, we had to step back and take a look at the situation. Not only are those things high calorie and fattening, they are greasy and choc-full of really unhealthy stuff...and my cholesterol is beautiful at the moment. I do not want to mess with that success. So, here is the strategy we have devised and it seems to be working:
- We always have healthy, low-calorie food on hand for our lunches. We decided to simply have a bit more of that on hand for days when we are famished from hiking and need a quick meal. And we can always steam up some veggies fairly quickly. The quick food that has worked best for us is Thai chicken lettuce wraps. I make the filling and the sauce ahead of time, and we keep some of that on hand. It isn't the lowest-calorie food you could eat b/c it has quite a bit of peanuts / peanut butter in it (homemade peanut butter), but it also does not take a lot to fill us up - because of the peanuts and protein - and they hit the spot after an after-work hike. We can eat them cold, they are delicious, and they are very satisfying. Much more than any burritos we could eat.
- We always have a lot of fruit on hand. Now, we make sure that we have a piece of fruit before our hike (bananas seem to work best) and, of course, we drink lots of water.
We do these two things and (a) we are not quite so famished when we are done with our hike and (b)we don't over-eat or eat highly caloric / fattening / salty fast food. Nipped that bad habit in the bud.
Like I said, I haven't gained any weight, but I would have if I'd kept this behavior up. Once a week had already become twice. Twice a week would have become three times, and then four and then other restaurants, and on and on...
I have to say that this is probably the most difficult part of weight loss and maintenance. I am NOT on a diet. There is nothing temporary about what I am doing. I have to live the rest of my life in a healthy way. No going back to old, bad habits because that would result in my gaining back the weight I worked so hard to lose. But I like it. I am so much more active, I have so much more fun, I feel like I'm really getting the most out of my life. That said, life will throw curve balls, and there are days when it is really difficult to do what I know I need to do to stay healthy. There are days I don't. I'm not perfect. This happens. I just brush myself off, figure out how to deal with it, and keep going. No need to excoriate myself, everyone who has ever done this has these days. The trick is not to let it derail you. Keep going. And if you see yourself slipping into a bad habit, old or new, nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand.
*We hike at Torrey Pines State Park, I would highly recommend it for anyone in San Diego - you can make the hikes as long or short as you like and vary the difficulty depending upon the trail. And it is absolutely beautiful, particularly at this time of year when all the wildflowers are blooming and at sunset, which is generally when we are there - Just Gorgeous. Added bonus.