You know how sometimes people write crazy titles just to get your attention, and then it turns out the content is either completely unrelated or is only marginally related to the point that you lose all faith in that person?
This is not one of those posts.
This is a two month follow up from the start of My Daily Pizza project. Admittedly calling it my daily pizza is a slight exaggeration. I’ve actually only been eating pizza three or four times each week. And for full disclosure: there was one week where I had no pizza. I know, shame on me. But it was only one week! I shared some of the details about how I managed to eat pizza that often without increasing my waistline in the above linked post as well as some observations about how it was going two weeks in.
So that’s the pizza part. I also mention beer in the title. Say it with me in your best Homer voice…mmm…beer…
Indeed, I have enjoyed beer over the past two months. Real beer; not low carb or light beer. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but they’re not to my taste.
And the beer consumption wasn’t just once a week. I was consistently drinking beer or wine three or four times per week. That probably sounds like a lot, and no doubt some of you are getting your judgement faces on. That’s okay, I can take it. But before you finish putting your robes on, let me explain how I came to my drinking beer four days per week plan, along with the few other habit changes I’ve made, and then you can decide whether this makes sense.
Strangely, the idea for adopting a beer and pizza diet came from following my Get Healthier 8 Week Challenge. The 8 week Get Healthier challenge is cool because it gets you thinking about and trying a variety of habit changes. The reality is we all have different goals, desires, expectations, and bodies. We also have big differences in how easy or hard certain habit changes are for us. It only makes sense that the optimal lifestyle plan for each of us is unique. How you can adapt habits so you’ll be able to adopt them for the long term is a recurring topic throughout the Get Healthier ebook.
Using the process in the book, I identified the following as being habits I wanted to improve:
- Reduce alcohol consumption as I had reached a point of having a glass of wine or two most days.
- I didn’t always stop eating when I was full, and I
sometimesoften snacked for reasons like “I’m bored“.
- I want to get more sleep, but I did not succeed at the 7 hours goal during the program.
Armed with the knowledge of what I wanted to tackle and what was hard for me, I came up with a plan for me, to meet my goals. I created a tracking sheet listing those goals and put them on my fridge so I could give myself credit when I met my goals, and equally important, so I could see where I was struggling. My goal was 85% compliance.
Creating this personalized goal setting and tracking sheet approach was tremendously helpful to me as it formed a voice in the back of my head reminding me when I was about to break one of my rules. It also helped me to arrive at the right set of habit changes for me.
The first attempt at creating my plan wasn’t a success and I wasn’t able to meet the 85% compliance target I set for myself in that first month. Thankfully I understood this would be a process, so I didn’t get discouraged or think that I had failed. Instead, I looked at what I was able to accomplish (less than planned, more than nothing), and used that to adapt my plan to give me a better chance of success next month. Here’s that tweaked plan:
- Sleep 6.75 hours per night.
- Alcohol at most 4 times per week.
- When reaching for food ask myself “Am I actually hungry?”, and if not, walk away.
- When going to get seconds or something to finish off a meal, wait 15 minutes. If at that point, I still am hungry, I have it.
One month into My Plan version 2.0, and I have met or exceeded the target (Self-high-five).
The result is that I lost five pounds during that two month process.
Interestingly, it was my desire to eat more pizza that led to my new plan that allowed me to lose weight. Bet not many people have claimed that before!
As a means to bring more pizza into my life, I figured out how to balance the rest of my lifestyle habits to make room for pizza. As it turns out, I also figured out how to keep the calories down in the pizza itself (without sacrificing deliciousness). And the result was losing five pounds. Cool!
You’ll notice that there is no mention of limiting chocolate, ice cream, chips, or dessert. That’s because I love pizza and beer much more. When I have beer and pizza in my life, I rarely reach for other indulgences. Since it’s so rare, I chose to not put any limits on it. And that worked – I still rarely eat those things, and when I do, it’s okay.
What’s particularly cool is not just that the foundation of my diet is beer and pizza, but that I’ve found a balance of lifestyle habits that has long term potential and allows me to be happy and healthy.
The aforementioned four habits seem to be the changes I needed to make to my lifestyle to reach the balance of happy and healthy, but my guess is yours will be different. Hopefully this process has triggered some of you to think differently about what habit changes make sense for you that can improve your health over the long-term.
So many people jump straight into “I want to lose weight so I’m going to cut out all junk food, sugar, bread, alcohol and never eat out”. Without a doubt if you do that, you will lose weight. Unfortunately most people who try that fall of the bandwagon fairly quickly, at which point they regain the weight. Sometimes when the weight comes back it brings friends.
Next time you start thinking about cutting out everything “naughty” from your diet, consider instead picking a few small changes to make. It’s true that the initial results from small changes will be smaller, but over time, small changes grow up to become big changes.
Does this post make you think that maybe there’s a plan out there that’s a perfect fit for you? Grab a copy of my Get Healthier 8 Week Challenge ebook. It will take you through the 8 habits I found were most often helpful for my clients at Custom Strength, and then help you take that process and make it fit for you.
Elsbeth Vaino is an engineer turned personal trainer who enjoys health, food, and exercise.
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