If you haven’t read the first article: “Holiday Weight Gain: Avoidable or Just Give Up & Get Fat?” Here is a LINK. I suggest you read it now because it is Part One for this, which is Part Two.
This is a good point to decide if you really want to avoid the annual January dieting grind to get rid of the blubber that ‘somehow’ found its way to your waistline through the holidays.
If that doesn’t interest you, it’s OK. Recognize it and move on. This article is not for you.
First, let’s avoid the word “diet.” Diets don’t work and never have. Yes, you can probably lose the weight, but keeping it off is another story.
Altering your eating plan isn’t sexy – no matter how you cut it. It has about as much excitement as doing your taxes.
In the first article, I provided four steps that people who are successful with managing their weight.
- Eat when you are hungry.
- Don’t eat if you are not hungry.
- Look at exactly how much you are eating.
- Savor every mouthful.
Yes, there is more detail to these steps. It’s in the first article.
Visualizing where you want to go, how you want to perform in an athletic event or (for a cop) how you will handle a fight is a successful technique that’s been widely used.
You can use it here – and it’s not crazy. When I began this journey at 300 pounds, I had never been in a gym. The trainer helping me suggested I get a couple of bodybuilding magazines to speed my learning.
What do YOU want to look like?
He talked about visualizing where I wanted to ‘go.’ Short story: I found a couple of pictures of a competitive bodybuilder whom I wanted to emulate. They were small enough that I could put one on the door of the fridge and one on my car dashboard – two places where I make food decisions.
When it came time to make a food choice, I remember looking at the picture and asking myself, “Which do you want?” Many times, it kept me on track. This technique may work for you.
STREET COP’S FOOD FACTS
Over the course of life, we learn certain ‘truths’ about food. Nothing complex, but memorable. At a young age I learned that it was unpleasant to drink orange juice while eating chocolate candy. It is a bad idea. There is a very long list of these self-taught lessons which guide our eating habits.
My message: It is important to arrive at a point where YOU are managing food (and your weight) rather than the other way around.
That’s a new concept to many people. How many times have you heard someone lament the fact their waist size has grown and it is a mystery to them as to how it happened? Precisely.
Here are a few such truths which I have learned over the years.
- Don’t eat foods that are: round, that come out of a paper bag or that are handed to you through your car window.
- In their natural state, neither bread nor vegetables “glisten” – i.e. reflect light from above. If a waiter serves you veggies or bread and they shine it means they have been given a coat of butter (a/k/a grease) which you don’t want.
- Hunger pangs are satisfied by a combination of protein and fat. Carrot sticks won’t do the trick. Peanuts and peanut butter are OUTSTANDING options because they are 50% protein and 50% fat. (The GOOD fat, BTW.)
- You lose weight in your head before it comes off of your body. The mind is EVERYTHING in this game.
That’s all, for now.
WARNING: DANGER AHEAD
Keep it simple, stay relaxed and allow yourself to make human mistakes.
As adults, we have by now encountered those who must be ‘perfect’ at everything, else they have failed.
I recall a specific woman at Weight Watchers. When I met her, she probably needed to lose fifty pounds. It so happened we worked in the same office.
She knew all of the calorie counts. She knew how to best prepare an endless list of foods. She had it all memorized. And, after a year at Weight Watchers, she might have lost a few ounces.
There are some of those types in the gym, too. After a year of ‘working out,’ they still look like crap.
Don’t be a nerd about eating. Go with the flow, but stay aware of what you are shoveling in your mouth.
THE TACTICAL EDGE
Now, we will get down into the weeds with specific action items.
Tactic #1. Make a list of your very most favorite foods that you just gotta have. Yes, write them down. You don’t have to show the list to anyone else.
The list should contain at least 5 and no more than 10 items. This is the stuff that you cannot skip without feeling deprived or that you are on a diet. First on my list: Peanut M&M’s.
Success depends on you knowing (specifically) what you crave.
Tactic #2. As you start laying down the foundation of your eating plan: include a moderate serving of one of your favorite foods every-other-day.
The key here: MODERATE. Put it into a cup, a bowl, a plate or any place where you can measure it (visually) and know how much you are eating.
For me: I fill a five-ounce Dixie cup half full with peanut M&M’s and that’s my serving.
When you start getting antsy about food, realize that having some of your most favorite foods is never more than a day away. It reduces the sense that you are on a “diet” and that you can never again have the food you REALLY like.
Tactic #3. Don’t get too hungry.
We’ve all been there: It’s Thanksgiving. You’ve skipped breakfast and lunch in anticipation of the Big Meal. When the turkey dinner is served, you eat to the point that you are uncomfortable.
It is probably enough for two or three normal meals. That’s bad news. Very bad news, in fact. You will have just wasted all of the work you’ve put in for most of the last week. Yes, an entire week – shot it the ass.
Eat regularly. When you need food, have it. Getting too hungry will cause you to make stupid mistakes and you’ll eat the first thing you can find like Snickers at 7-11.
Tactic #4. Don’t skip meals. When the body expects food, but doesn’t get it within four hours, it goes into a shutdown mode.
Way back up the evolutionary chain, humans didn’t eat regularly. When food was scarce, the body reacted by slowing metabolism and storing everything eaten as fat for future use. Skipping meals will activate this self-preservation mechanism.
We all know guys who brag about how they have a cup of coffee for breakfast; lunch is limited to a Ritz cracker. At dinner, they eat a banquet of everything in sight. They remain as fat as a can of Crisco and cannot figure out why. Duh!
Perfection is eating every 2-3 hours. Now you know.
Tactic #5. If you arrive at a restaurant in a starving condition: ask the waitress for a SALAD when you are greeted. (I will explain later how to do this gracefully.)
You can do some really stupid stuff when you are starving hungry. While you wait for the salad remember these fun (?) things:
Glistening bread in the bread-basket has been coated in GREASE.
Nacho chips? EIGHT of them are 160 calories of pure grease. That’s a tablespoon of Crisco. Soooooo, since we like Nacho chips: break each chip into three pieces. Chew them slowly. Load them with salsa (it’s free).
When you look at that basket of chips in the middle of the table, mentally switch-out so you see them as a two-pound can of Crisco. Not so appealing now, are they?
Tactic #6. Blame your doctor. If someone challenges you about why you need a salad right away, or why you need to eat on a certain schedule, or why you choose to avoid certain foods, tell them: “doctor’s orders.”
Make something up.
- You’re on the verge of diabetes.
- You have gout.
- You metabolism needs a boost.
Blaming the doctor eliminates the need for you to justify your actions.
Tactic #7. At a buffet: Avoid drawing the attention of others. A buffet is a place to be discreet about your strategy and what you are doing.
Here’s what I’ve found that works: First trip through, I take a small / medium amount of only those foods I like. I DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING THAT I DON’T LIKE – NO MATTER WHOSE FEELINGS IT HURTS. (Remember: blame the doctor)
If I’ve decided on seconds, I return and take ONLY those items that I really loved.
Tactic #8. As for seconds, thirds, and more: wait 10 minutes between servings.
Eat what’s on your plate. Look at your watch and wait 10 minutes before taking the next helping. Only take more food if you are still hungry. Remember, Step #2 – Don’t eat when you are not hungry.
In most cases by the time ten minutes has passed, your brain will have received the message from your belly that your hunger has been satisfied. Then, you’re done and feeling satisfied. Good job!
Tactic #9. Administer your own grease.
When you eat at a restaurant, remember that there is a profit motive to fill you up on grease: it’s cheap and it makes you feel ‘full.’ That’s why they coat bread, vegetables and nearly everything with lots of butter. It’s cheap. You feel full and it didn’t cost a lot to get you there.
Order your salads with dressing on the side. If you entrée comes with a sauce that might contain butter or other goo, ask for it on the side. Then, you choose how much grease you are going to eat.
Don’t let someone else decide how much goop is going in your belly. That decision is yours alone.
Tactic #10. Booze: it’s like handling a stick of lit dynamite.
Here are a few numbers. Hard liquor, e.g. Scotch, Gin, Vodka, Rum, etc. contain 160 calories per ounce. If you add a fruit juice or soda pop mixer, the drink could contain a total of 300+ calories.
Regular beer has 160 calories per 12 oz. Lite beer has 100 calories per 12 oz. Lite beer gets you 3 beers for the price of 2 regular.
Wine: 100 calories per 4 oz.
CRITICAL: Booze relaxes your inhibitions. Stay on top of that. Drink Lite beer. Alternate Rum & Diet Coke with plain diet Coke. Drink wine that’s mixed with Club Soda over ice.
Make informed, intelligent decision on what you choose to drink.
Tactic #11. Always have food available that are OK to eat. This is probably the most important tactic.
- At home, make sure that there are snack choices in the house that you like and yet won’t make you look like the Michelin Man.
- At social gatherings, if you’re asked to bring something, make it something you can eat a lot of. If the host only provides dietary disasters, there is still something for you – because you brought it.
- At work – make sure you have something with you always. It might be a protein bar or peanuts in your duty bag. It could be a small cooler with some V8 juice or a sandwich.
Don’t get caught without the food that you need to stay on track. Cops can get caught at a scene when they least expect it, least want it and the situation can keep you there for an eternity. We have bodily needs (think of needing to pee like a race-horse). Folks understand that. Food and drink are no less important to your wellbeing.
There is nothing worse than gaining blubber around your waist from food that you:
- didn’t want
- didn’t like, or
- can’t remember.
When your eating plan goes ‘off the rails,’ DON’T declare yourself a failure. Everyone gets sidetracked, occasionally. Think for a moment how much you enjoyed the food and then put it behind you.
Every time your hand brings food to your mouth, it is a decision. Just because lunch didn’t go so well doesn’t stop dinner from being spectacular.
Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.
At every turn, Improvise, Adapt and Overcome. Make the best possible choice at each turn. That’s the best you can do.
Staying mindful will ensure that your January weight is the same – or maybe less than it is today. What a beautiful thought, eh?
Good eating and happy holidays to all!
“Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “
We couldn’t agree more.
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