Sunday, September 17, 2017

Building Good Habits: BMI = 32

The good news is that building good habits is far easier than breaking bad habits. The bad news is that, in most instances, one must break a bad habit or two before developing a good habit. Before I could make a habit of eating a healthy breakfast I had to get out of the habit of sleeping late.

I already had to get up early because of my cast, back-brace, and frequent early-morning medical appointments. Further, I didn’t sleep well because of my obesity. Still, though, I had to try. I had eliminated a lot of sugar from my diet and the granola bars that I used to reduce the time of my morning routine were starting to taste more like cookies than breakfast. I knew that I needed to eat hot-cereal, fruit, some dairy, and a bit of lean protein.

It took a little effort to limit my late-night movie hours so I could get up earlier but not nearly as much effort as it had taken to stop snacking, binge-eating, and overeating. After about a week the habit started to develop and I experienced an uptick in energy and even further reduced urges to snack. Every ready-to-eat cereal I’ve encountered has some added sugar and none of them fill me up like hot-cereal in the morning. These days when I pass the cereal aisle in the grocery store, most of what I see looks like candy.

Lunch was a little more difficult. I work in a restaurant so there are always stray fries or meat trimmings to snack on. To that end, making a habit of preparing a healthy meal helped me avoid falling back into the habit of snacking. I’m not going to say I never nip a stray fry at work, but focussing on the thought that I’ll be eating a full, balanced meal really helps to curb those urges. There are plenty of healthy choices on hand in our kitchen.

Getting enough veggies in me was a real challenge. That’s where my digital steamer came in very handy. For the first time in years I actually come home from a full shift of cooking and still have the desire to cook myself a healthy meal. I usually have at least five different veggies in my dinner.

I believe the most valuable step I took in building better eating habits was eliminating added-sugars. The energy uptick, and increased alertness I experienced made healthy-eating my new addiction. My home is cleaner than it has been in years, I’m writing more than ever, and getting up on time to cook a balanced breakfast is easier than ever. I used to pick up an alcoholised beverage after work, usually fruit flavoured, but for the past couple of months this has been my beverage of choice after work.

I didn’t bother much with groceries when my diet was unhealthy. I didn’t want to keep toaster-oven pizzas or anything like that on hand because I knew I would binge on them. I didn’t want to buy a bunch of healthy stuff because I knew I would just end up throwing it out when it went bad. Now I buy piles of veggies, plenty of fruit, and a little roasted meat and almost never end up throwing out spoiled food. My latest grocery haul looks like a buffet to me now.

I now put my groceries away at home the way I organize my fridge at work. I unpackage everything and organize it all into containers that I can grab quickly when cooking. Breakfast fruits stack together, afternoon snack veggies get grouped for my days off, and dinner veggies and meat get stacked on another shelf to speed meal preparation.

Breaking my old eating habits was a struggle. Picking up good eating habits took a little discipline but mostly just a lot of planning ahead – like choosing to get that countertop steam cooker, or organizing my groceries like I do at work. Other good habits have just started to form on their own though; I’m writing more, reading more, taking photos, and I’ve even begun practicing violin again.

My BMI used to be 43. When I started writing this blog it was 33. At the time of this writing it is 32 but I’m well on my way to 31. I don’t know if I’ll actually cut my BMI in half but I do know that all the effort has been worth it. I’m not on a diet, I’ve just changed my dietary habits and hope I can feel this good for many more years to come.

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