Two months ago, I decided to make a change. I was tired of the way I felt, and I wanted to take back control of my health. It’s been over eight weeks now, and I thought I should check in with my quinoa diet update.
So far, I have lost twelve pounds. I have also lost at least two inches around my waist.
I have changed several of my routine meals to healthier versions, I stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables so I am better able to meet my nutrition goals, and I have replaced many empty calories with more supercharged choices. I ride a stationary bicycle six days a week, and I pump my dumbbells three days a week. It’s been two months and some of these changes are beginning to feel like habits.
The Power of Habit
I finished reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (affiliate link) by Charless Duhigg last week. This book is a great exploration of the brain science behind our habits and routines and the behavioral strategies we can apply when we want to change our patterns. I feel I must give Duhigg some of the credit for my success with this diet. I have been applying his sound advice since I read his NY Times article in February.
One thing Duhigg wrote about that stuck with me is that certain habits seem to have more influence than others on our lives. For example, when people record their meals in a food tracker once a week, they are more likely to adopt other fitness-oriented changes of their own accord. Of all the different first steps one might take when changing to a more fit and healthy lifestyle, tracking meals appears to be one habit more likely to take root and expand into other related habits.
Derailing the Habit Train
I have been thinking about how sometimes we need help derailing ourselves from our current track. Sometimes we hold on to, or quickly revert back to, old habits because new ones don’t look different enough to stand out and mark our lives as permanently altered. We want to make lifestyle changes that fit seamlessly into our lives, and yet, if the new track looks too much like the old, or crosses too much of the same territory, we find it hard to stay on the new track.
I think we seek out radical diets because we know we cannot simply limit portions of our current foods and expect that will have a huge impact on our waistlines. The portion track lies too close to our old habits, and we’re bound to slip back to our old portion sizes.
For me, getting serious about my dietary choices has always meant finding a way to derail myself. I need to change the status quo enough that it clearly looks different. This may work in the short term, but Duhigg suggests that tracking meals and committing to fitness goals are habits that will ensure this derailment takes root.
My Quinoa Diet
At the heart of my current commitment, I have a quinoa bowl always on hand in the refrigerator where I can grab a scoop whenever I want.
So, when I get hungry and I might be tempted to reach for a quick sugar fix from the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street, I always have a healthier alternative that fits with my new track.
I stir cooked quinoa into my yogurt, I place it beneath my fried eggs, I use it as the base of my salads.
A couple weeks into this new eating regimen, I added fitness to my new habits. I made a rule about having to do some cardio minutes before I have my daily coffee, which is a very good rule for me. (I kinda blew it last week, but fortunately, I have another rule that allows me to hit reset whenever I lose my way. I’m back on track, and the coffee rule keeps me accountable.)
I started out doing my cardio on an old stair stepper. A week later, I added an upper body dumbbell routine three days a week. When I wore out the stair stepper, I pulled a stationary bicycle out of storage. I call it The Beast, and it stands between me and my first coffee and meal of the day.
Stranded on a Plateau
After losing the first ten pounds, I found myself stranded on a plateau for weeks. The problem with adding fitness minutes to a calorie restriction plan is that you can end up trading fat for muscle without a net loss of weight. This is still good but hard to get excited about, especially if you are not tracking your waistline.
For nearly four weeks I remained true to my goals:
- I exercised at least six days a week.
- I recorded my meals.
- I measured my portions.
- I chose quinoa, fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins.
But the scale just laughed at me and would not budge.
Fortunately, after a few weeks of no weight loss, I measured my waist.
Two weeks after that, when I did my weigh-in, I measured my waist again and found I had lost an inch.
It is hard to stay committed when you aren’t seeing any change, but I hung in there and the inches told the story. Funny thing is, two days after I noticed I lost that inch, I found I had finally lost another pound. It’s like letting go of my fear that I wasn’t making progress allowed me to let go of another pound at last.
The following week, I found I had lost another inch and another pound. Woot! Woot!
The Sugar Experiment
Although I am pleased I keep moving steadily in the right direction, I am not progressing toward my goals as quickly as I had hoped. I have decided to add another derailment to this regimen to see if I can nudge the scale down a little faster.
I am going to try eliminating added sugar in my diet for the next thirty days. I call this my Sugar Experiment. I will let you know how it goes.
I have a recipe I plan to share with you. I made a lovely Kale Kiwi Kohlrabi Quinoa Salad yesterday. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures because my camera is away at college for a couple of weeks, but I will write up the recipe this week.
What about you?
Do you have any habits you are changing that you would like to share? Do you have any tips I can use to keep myself on track?
Please feel free to comment below.
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