Dieting would be a simpler thing if we could live in a hermit cave with only (skinny) spiders for company. But living in the real world means real world obstacles of office birthday parties, potluck dinners, fast food, fast friends, and traveling through hungry time zones.
In this post I will focus on three areas where you can diet smarter to lose weight faster: work, eating out, and travel.
My primary techniques for the first two situations are: out-of-reach, the one-minute-rule, and keep-moving. The travel takes some special adjustments, as I will explain later.
Dieting in the work world
The typical work environment is full of challenges to the soul. Although the temptations in your own office space can be minimized, other areas in the work environment are more difficult.
I suggest that you try following the one-minute rule in dealing with office temptations. For example:
- When stopping at the receptionist’s desk (with its candy bowl on the counter), carry a pencil in your dominant hand. It will give your fingers something to twirl and operates as an action-stop until you can (in your one minute) deliver the message and move out of finger-grab reach of the candy.
- Limit visits to the lunch room during peak snacking times: 10am coffee break and 3pm slumps, and have a working plan to keep moving.
- Use humor to get your point across: You might invest in a button that says “Don’t feed me. I’m dieting” and wear it to all anniversary, retirement, and birthday celebrations. Often a touch on the shoulder of the honoree and a simple ‘congratulations’ keeps you a part of the group, without you having to eat anything.
- It helps, sometimes, to follow the lead of the skinny folks (often part of the top management team) in the crowd. Watch how they stay on the outskirts of the crowd, sing happy birthday loudly, and then exit before the sugar-frosted cake is passed.
- Recognize your own special task-links, errand-links, and stop-links. For example: If you are accustomed to having a soda while you browse through your email, you may drink one without thinking. If you are accustomed to grabbing a pastry in the cafeteria, you will reach without thinking. Talk to yourself before you go on these errands. And walk fast. Forewarned is forearmed!
- Publicly announce that you have a medical condition. You do. It’s called more weight than you need. Folks in one office where I worked left anonymous Halloween candy hanging on the office doors, Christmas goodies in the mail slots, etc., until I sent out a blanket email to the ‘possibly’ guilty parties asking to be taken off the route. Nothing was said, but the sweet stuff stopped appearing in my corner of the world.
Eating out and the savvy dieter
You may find that you can stick to your diet more often when eating at a restaurant if you divide the experience into four danger zones and stay mentally alert during each one:
- The sensory overload of entrance and choice: Your sensory mind goes into overload with the smell and sight of other diner’s choices as you enter the restaurant. Be kind to yourself. If at all possible, order first, and then don’t change your mind as others in your party order. In one-minute the temptation will vanish as the wait person leaves with the menus.
- The bread basket. That is, until…they bring the bread basket. It arrives when you are hungry, and if you eat all of it, they bring more! Some things you might try: If you are eating alone, you can just ask them not to bring it. If you are dining with friends, put basket out of arm’s reach, and say no thanks! When someone offers it to you, pass it quickly. Believe me, those slices will disappear without your help.
- Eating the main meal. They will always bring too much food. If possible, consider asking for a take-away container to be brought when you are first served. Put half of everything on your plate in the container to start with. You’ll not miss it!
- Desert. Our sensations of taste are often satiated by the first one or two bites. Offer to buy someone else’s desert—their choice—in exchange for just one bite. Sometimes that is all you need.
Your diet needn’t fly away when you travel
Airline travel can be a dieting war zone with stress-filled lines, security checks, and irritated fellow travelers. Add in the dozen or so ‘convenience’ stores and fast food stops in the halls on the way to the plane, and this is prime country for diet disaster.
- Water helps. Airline travel is very dehydrating, leading to fatigue and diet crash. If you carry your own water bottle, you can get it through security if it is empty. Fill it back up on the other side of the control center and you are on your way!
- Crunchy stuff seems to aid with travel stressors. Plan to carry your own. Carrot chips, celery, even nuts and dried fruit are healthier than the selection of peanuts, pretzels, and high fat ‘snacks’ offered in flight.
- Bring something to keep your hands busy, too. Handcrafts such as crochet or knitting, reading a magazine, doing cross-word puzzles will help keep your fingers occupied and your mind off food.
- If driving, you have the option of bringing a cooler. There is nothing more refreshing than a cold drink of water when entering a hot car after an appointment. Or, kick off your shoes in the motel room with a bottle of one of the new flavored (non-calorie) waters for a change of pace.
- When you reserve your motel/hotel room, see if they have a room available with microwave/ refrigerator. Often your request can be accommodated at little or no extra charge. Bring fat-free popcorn for an evening snack. Fat-free creamer and your own coffee mug for the in-room coffee machine will make the next morning a little easier to face.
- At the hotel breakfast bar, skip the waffles and syrup, but load up on the oatmeal. Scrambled eggs or yogurt for the protein will help you face the continental breakfast pastries at the convention center with more resolve.
So there you have it. Keep moving, use the one-minute rule of thumb, and give yourself alternative choices.
Life will find you often stressed and tired—so go ahead and baby yourself in healthy ways!
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