Disciplined eating.

12 Aug

This post is sort of off topic for the blog, but it relates in larger context to the ongoing “unrealistic standards of beauty” meme that is constantly going around in Christian singles discussion, and the MSM in general.  Basically, I no longer have time to listen to girls who whine about their body type/not being able to lose weight but still chug Starbucks and constantly circle around the candy jar at work, or who cling to starvation diets in the hope that a miracle will occur.

Since May, I’ve been doing a DVD-based workout program.  Basically, I’d gotten tired of my longtime exercise go-to’s and was having a hard time motivating myself.  I knew that I needed something to revolutionize my exercising, and I figured that if this guy in the videos trained Victoria’s Secret models, then he was probably doing something right.

What I didn’t realize when I ordered the DVDs was that the kit comes with a small booklet called “Fat Burning Foods.”  This booklet contains simple recipes for 12 breakfasts, 12 lunches, and 12 dinners, along with a bunch of “savvy skinny” snack options and advice on the types of foods to order when you are at various types of restaurants.  Each breakfast is around 250 calories, each lunch around 350, and each dinner about 400, with an emphasis on protein and fiber.  I decided that if I was going to give BBL a go, I needed to follow the diet, too.

I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to succeed in sticking to the meal plan unless I put myself on a schedule, which made me realize that undisciplined eating was a big problem for me.  I didn’t have the problem of constantly going to McDonald’s or eating half a sheet cake at a time, but I did have a problem of reaching for convenient snacks because I didn’t keep much food in the house, the idea being that I didn’t want to keep temptation around, or waste food that I no longer had an interest in.  But the thing is, if your stomach is completely empty, you’re not going to reach for those raw baby carrots first, or start gnawing on celery.  That’s where the problems start.

My solution was to go full-on nerd and make myself a spreadsheet accounting for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, as well as two daily snacks between meals.  Then I would make a grocery list and buy everything for the week all at once.  This way I was locked into my meal plan – the investment had already been made, and I had no excuses that I didn’t have those particular foods available.  Additionally, I prepared everything in advance that could be prepared, in order to remove laziness as an excuse not to follow the plan.  If fruit could be cut up in advance, I cut it.  If I was going to be eating quinoa, I prepared that all at once.  When you are tired, even the tiniest amount of chopping or boiling seems like work, so I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t cheat because I felt too lazy tired.

That first spreadsheet worked.  What I found was that having an actual meal plan freed me to eat.  I no longer felt a food dilemma at every meal, wondering what I should have, or worrying that it was too fattening, or not wanting to eat because I snacked too much earlier, or rationalizing a meal out.  I no longer felt guilty about snacking because I had calculated snacks into my meal plan.  Since that first spreadsheet, I’ve made a spreadsheet every week.

The meal plan had other benefits, too.  First, it re-normalized my idea of correct portion size.  When you’re measuring most of your food with a measuring cup, and you see it on your plate, you start to get a feel for how much you should be eating at a time.  Second, it kept me from ever feeling like I overate AND it kept me from ever feeling ravenously hungry.  When your hunger level stays pretty even keel all day, the desire to dig into bad snacks greatly diminishes.  Third, it reset my taste buds.  I’ve only had butter a handful of times since starting the meal plan, and I can’t say I really miss it.  I almost never put salt on anything anymore.  And, maybe the biggest change, I don’t have much of an appetite for junk food anymore.  I don’t have cravings for cake or cookies the way I used to, or for chips, or desserts.  I still enjoy these foods, but, for example, if I eat one cookie, I don’t have the desire to eat a bunch more.  Doritos don’t hold the same appeal.  This was probably the most unexpected of all the results of changing the way I ate.  Usually when you think of following a diet, you think of denial and wanting all of the foods you’re not supposed to have anymore.  But I’ve found that eating right isn’t really denial, because your desires for the bad stuff subside.  Fourth, my digestive system is much happier now.  (TMI or not, it’s true.)  And fifth, my skin now has a glow that no amount of exfoliation could have ever given it.

I can’t say that what happened for me will happen for everyone if they just do what I did.  But I do think that a lot of people who are basically healthy and active but keep struggling with weight that just won’t disappear are probably dealing with eating discipline issues.  If this is you, I encourage you to examine your eating habits and see if undisciplined eating is holding you back.

14 Responses to “Disciplined eating.”

  1. Foster August 13, 2012 at 5:42 am #

    As Athol Kae said recently in a post on MMSL, although fitness is usually grouped as a significant part of building an Alpha frame, fitness is so important that it deserves its own category in attraction-building behavior that draws others into relationship on the subliminal level: Fitness for immediate spark and physical dominance, Alpha leadership behavior for a sense of social stability, and Beta for a sense that that stability and the “power” the woman sacrifices carries with it material and emotional blessings for the woman.

    That immediate spark is absolutely crucial, as the Hamster angles for what the Hamster wants. On a sacramental level, the body is the outward manifestation of the mind. The two are intimately linked as everyone knows but not everyone wants to admit. Physical fitness deserves its own category because Alpha and Beta behavior exist on an emotional/spiritual/personality level that should but do not necessarily correspond to the physical level.

  2. Kuraje August 13, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    From a background of P90X, P90X+, P90X^2, Strength Training, Martial Arts, a father for a doctor and a friend that run fitness companies, I’d absolutely recommend the following:


    By far, I’ve had the best results with the lifestyle changes both advocate.

  3. ricosuaveguapo August 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    From experience I know that you can work out ’til the cows come home, but if you can’t control what you’re putting in your mouth, the exercise is just wasted effort.

  4. Lucie August 13, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    So glad this is working so well for you. Being somewhat obsessive-compulsive and legalistic as well as one of those people who just thinks if they can Follow A Structured Plan, They Will Achieve Results – I have been the spreadsheet route, in a similar form. And I have been on a lot of programs. And I will continue to try. Everyone is different, but all the “discipline” in the world simply won’t last for most people without figuring out what’s going on at your deepest emotional level and how it affects your behavior with food. I’m also figuring out that community really IS quite important with this process, something I did not fully accept. I wish you continued success.

  5. an observer August 13, 2012 at 8:01 pm #


    + 1

  6. herbie31 August 14, 2012 at 7:42 am #

    A good diet is important(though I could use a little polishing up here). But unless a reasonably rigorous exercise routine is incorporated, the results will probably continue to be disappointing. Going through the motions on some cardio machine won’t cut it either when that’s the extent of one’s exercise.

  7. greeneyedjan August 14, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    Go paleo, you wont have to worry about calories- or anything else.


  8. Aunt Haley August 14, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    Being somewhat obsessive-compulsive and legalistic as well as one of those people who just thinks if they can Follow A Structured Plan, They Will Achieve Results

    My food spreadsheets aren’t about being obsessive-compulsive or legalistic. They’re about setting myself up for success by removing barriers to it. There is no absolute one-plan-fits-all. You have to figure out what is standing in the way of success, and then getting rid of those things.

    But unless a reasonably rigorous exercise routine is incorporated, the results will probably continue to be disappointing. Going through the motions on some cardio machine won’t cut it either when that’s the extent of one’s exercise.

    Yeah, it has to be a combination of diet, cardio, and strength training. Most of the time, people who claim to “work out all the time but can’t lose weight” are failing on at least one of those three.

    Paleo eaters are some of the most evangelistic dieters, but I just can’t eat that way. I didn’t enjoy it when I tried it, and it felt like a chore.

  9. imnobody August 18, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    Good advice, here. Thank you Haley.

  10. furiousferret August 18, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    Women should weight lift. The hottest leanest women I know are not on the treadmill at the gym but instead are lifting weights. Also they are not of the tiny 5 pound variety but the Real McCoy benchpress and squats.

    I second the low carb and paleo, the best way to eat.

  11. Strong Man August 21, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    One of the key reasons an overweight woman is unnatractive is that it reflects a lack of self-discipline. It’s an outward demonstration of a lack of character. Just like a single guy who can’t keep a job.

    Kudos on your efforts! I like finding very active things to do that I actually enjoy and can do regularly and easily. And, I like enjoying good, healthy food like fruit–and eating slowly.

    I know a guy who lost about 90 lbs in a couple of years just by chewing his food morecarefully and enjoying each bite.

  12. ornamentalwomanhood August 22, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    I had one “overweight” friend who finally found a doctor who diagnosed her with a thyroid condition. She was married before she found out. The good solid Christian guy who married her is married to a TOTAL fox now.

    Being overweight is usually an indicator of some poor lifestyle choices. I agree with that.

    But not always. The exceptions are not the rule but they do exist.

  13. Keb September 4, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    There are a number of websites now that are designed to help people develop plans similar to yours. I’ve been overweight–no, morbidly obese, to be frank–my entire life despite a fairly healthy lifestyle (I never even liked soda, for example, and tend to pass all those checklists of unhealthy behaviors with flying colors), and I’m pretty sure that medical conditions manifesting in early childhood are at least in part at fault. But when I started using caloriecount (free) this summer, I did start losing some weight (in combination with some medication my doctor put me on).

    I’m not expecting any kind of miracle, and even if I did get down to a healthy BMI in a couple of years, I’d still be a large woman (there is nothing about me that is petite), but it is interesting how finding a method of keeping track of things has helped to make a difference. I’m also convinced that limiting corn and milk in my diet (done to accommodate family allergies) has had an impact, so take that for what it’s worth.

    I disagree that a person’s body shape is always a reflection of the mind. I know too many people who are intelligent, generous, highly disciplined (as evidenced by their bank accounts, careers, sexual choices, etc), and yet struggle with weight, and too many people who won the gene pool and have amazing physical characteristics but make really poor choices (even when it comes to their diets). Our bodies are not all identical and do not all respond identically to our environments. And while our attraction centers might not care about anything except appearance, the rest matters when it comes to relationships.

  14. jack September 8, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    I’ve heard long walks on the beach with a doting beta male are a fabulous workout program…

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