A chapter from my book ‘My Big Fat Fat’ (2018)
A humorous and touching account for those losing or coping with excess weight. With her laugh-out-loud humor, Samantha Dee covers all subjects from beauticians to socks in this easy to read A to Z guide on weight loss, maintenance, and ways to nourish your self-esteem.
P is for… Preparation
If you’ve dieted for most of your life, then the chances are you’ve probably said, at some point, ‘That’s it! I’m starting tomorrow!’
If you have, and you did, then I would bet that you failed shortly afterwards.
Even if you joined a slimming class as a brand-new member, the class expects you to start as soon as you get home, and I could guarantee that that was the night you finished of the rest of the cheesecake that was in the fridge.
That sure ain’t preparation.
If you are truly entering upon a life-changing journey, the very key to success is preparation. This gives you much more of a chance to succeed.
In my personal opinion, the following preparation plan will absolutely guarantee you a high chance of success. Here’s a plan I would highly recommend you complete, before changing your eating habits.
You should allow yourself five days to complete this preparation. This list is roughly in order:
1. Visit your doctor
Tell them you are planning to lose weight and ask them for any advice specific to your health. They will probably weigh you, so that will give you a little extra ‘reinforced-accountability’. They might even recommend you to a nutritionist, if you are deficient in a certain nutrient or allergic to certain foods. We don’t know everything about ourselves, and the doctor might even tell you something you didn’t know.
2. Tell. Everyone.
Secondly, tell everyone you know that you are re-programming your nutritional intake, detoxing, changing your eating habits—tell them anything other than ‘I’m going on a diet‘.
If you’re going ‘on’ something, that indicates that there’s some kind of ‘end-date’. This is a permanent change that you are committing to, not just something you’re doing to get to some kind of goal.
Most importantly, this gives you nowhere to ‘hide’. If you haven’t told your best friend, the chances are you’ll use him/her as an enabler. You can pop ‘round there for lattes and donuts without any problems. They will be your little ‘fat cave’.
Gosh, I just realised what I did there.
3. Research and Plan Groceries
Research the eating plan that you’re going to be embarking upon. If you’re joining a slimming ‘club’ then visit their website, sign up, and look at the recipes.
Write a list of everything you’re going to need for at least the first week. Most online grocery stores have a feature where you can paste in a list and name it, so do that.
Make sure that if you order groceries online, you’re not going to be wandering off down the virtual cake aisle looking for low-fat something-or-other. For the time being, this is not part of your life anymore.
Learn your list, and stick to it.
Whilst on the site, remove from favourites everything that might tempt you or that you’ve bought before if it isn’t part of your plan, and make sure that nothing gets offered to you at checkout that isn’t on your list.
4. Choose meals for YOU
Once you’ve decided upon the plan you’re going to follow, examine it carefully for anything that might put you off-course. If you despise cabbage soup, and the plan has you eating that in one of the dinner courses on a Friday night, for instance, you’re going to start dreading it. Once you start dreading it, you’re going to try to avoid it. Once you avoid it, you’re leaving yourself open to replacing it with something that’s not on your plan.
One book I recently bought (see Blood Sugar Diet*) had breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks all planned out for me, for eight weeks. Aside from being a bit presumptuous (and godly expensive), I had no appetite for a lot of the stuff, so instead I picked what appealed to me.
Examine your list for variety and alternatives. If for some reason you can’t get cucumber from the store that week, what will you do?
Also, make sure the meals and recipes are ones you’ve either done before, or are within your capabilities. Pick the meals you imagine yourself most confident at preparing.
If you find you’re only confident with a small number of the meals, then consider whether you can cope with the same meals for a week. Consider whether it’s the right plan for you, and if not, start your prep again.
5. Plan for Events
Recount a typical week in your head. Check your calendar: Do you have something you do regularly? Lunch with the ladies? Friday night cocktails? Take-out Tuesdays?
Consider this, and decide now what you’re going to do. Plan for it, and then tell everyone who’s involved. If you visit a particular restaurant every week with your girlies, decide now what you’re going to choose. Examine it, count it, plan it, and tell everyone.
6. Calculate your BMR, monthly
Calculate your Base Metabolic Rate, whichever plan you’ve chosen – even one that doesn’t need you to count (see gimmicks*). The BMR tells you how many calories your body needs per day. (see Base Metabolic Rate*)
You should plan to do this every month, as it WILL change. Put a recurring reminder in your calendars, tell Cortana, Alexa, or whoever else runs your ‘i-Life’.
I’ve got a nifty little widget that works in MS Excel. Otherwise, there are a ton of calculators on the internet.
7. Calculate your BMI monthly
Calculate your Body Mass Index. This will tell you how much extra fat you are carrying, and therefore how much YOU need to lose.
8. Prepare and Practice your App/Diary
Sit down for an hour and make sure your diary—whatever that might be, is ready to go. If this means practising using it, adding meals, adding recipes, then do that. You could be using it for well over a year, so you have to be comfortable with it.
If during this session you decide that it isn’t for you, you’ve got time to change it.
9. Record Groceries in App
Record everything that comes through your door in terms of food. I order groceries online, and scan the barcode as I’m unpacking the stuff and putting it away. (This would work just as well if you scanned the barcode every time you dropped something in your shopping cart while at the store.)
This means that everything that you could potentially eat or drink is in your app, ready for you to ‘tickbox’ it in your food diary.
There are other barcode reader apps, but the one at MyFitnessPal is by far the best; their reader is not so ‘buggy’ as others.
10. Clear the fridge – Do not have a ‘Night Before the Diet’ meal.
I’ve done this before and immediately regretted it. That last bit of cheesecake, the lasagne from yesterday, the choc ice that you forgot was in the freezer. Get rid of it, if you haven’t already.
I remember the day before starting ‘Lighter Life’, I had a great big bowl of tuna-mayo pasta. Aside from being extraordinarily unhealthy, it does nothing to reinforce your psychological resolve to change.
Try meditating instead, or spend a couple of hours making space in your wardrobe. Drink some chamomile tea, and have an early night. Read or add to the list you’ve made about all the things you’re looking forward to.