The fact that I have now lost a significant amount of weight, just not during the summer, means that all of my weight loss has happened during the times when I have been at work. (obvious, I know) Looking back on this, it is clear to me that the "freedom" of summer break is not necessarily an optimal time to lose weight. In fact, I have found that following my weekly routine as a teacher, in the right way, has been incredibly effective in helping me lose weight. So, how does routine help with weight loss?
1. No Boredom Eating
Don't get me wrong. I stay very busy during the summer. This past summer I was helping at the family business, blogging, weight loss coaching, spending extra time with the family, volunteering at church, etc. Even with all of this activity, I still had a lot of say in what I did at any given time. As busy as I was, I was still in charge of my own schedule.
This inevitably leads to boredom eating. When asking myself, "what am I going to do next?", one option is to eat. It's just one of those terrible habits left over from my former way of eating. Even if I wasn't hungry or "scheduled" to eat, eating became a leisure activity. For some, this may be ok, but for those that struggle with their weight, eating when you are not hungry is a very detrimental.
The good thing about going back to work is, as the routine sets in, boredom eating is almost entirely eliminated. From 7:30 to 4:15, I am actively engaged in some sort of work activity. Even if I do have a bit of "down time", I make sure that the only food I have with me at work is what I intended to eat that day. Since our vending machines at work are all "junk", I have long ago sworn them off. There is no chance of eating anything that I didn't already plan in advance.
2. Planning Meals
As a teacher, there is usually no time for going out to eat. And, fortunately for me (but not for the students), the lunch food from the cafeteria isn't that tempting. So basically, the best option for me is to prepare and bring my own food. Because of this, there is no chance of eating something that was not already planned in advance.
Now that I am back to my regular schedule, I know exactly how many breakfasts and lunches I will need to prepare for each week. Every sunday, I will go shopping, and pre cook or prepare meals for the upcoming week. If I do eat too much or go off plan, it would have to be pre-meditated. But, as you know, when you are really serious about an eating plan, "pre-meditated cheating" is usually rare.
3. Adding New Habits
When you finally do get into a rhythm, adding new habits becomes much easier. Last year, when I started bringing my lunch, it meant that I actually had 15 minutes of lunch break left over when I was done eating. Every day, I would fill this extra time with facebook or some other mindless activity. Yet, as my health momentum began to grow, I started to look for ways to increase my physical activity. Instead of mindlessly surfing social media for 15 minutes a day, I decided to go on a 15 minute walk. This may not seem like a huge change, but when you add a small habit like this every day, it can really make a difference.
When you get into a good routine, adding good habits is as simple as taking a useless daily activity and replacing it with something beneficial.
4. Work Clothes Don't Lie.
This is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I do think that this can sometimes keep me in check. Naturally, my clothes that I wear for teaching are more "tailored" than whatever I throw on to go to the local coffee shop during the summer. My swimsuit is highly adjustable and what I wear around the house is always loose and comfortable. My summer wardrobe is loose, casual, and not likely to alert me to any weight gain.
When school is in session, though, I cycle through the same set of fitted dress clothes. If I were to gain 10 lbs, I would have to go shopping. One important part of this is, as I have lost weight, I have always donated any clothes that are loose or baggy. There are no "backup" clothes in the back of the closet.
Obviously, my weekly weigh-ins would likely alert me to the same thing, but keeping clothes for work that are not baggy is an additional motivation to stay on plan.
How does this work for you? Do you find that freedom or routine is best for your eating habits? Leave a comment below! Thanks for reading!