In Seeing My Time when I teach about the brain and improving our executive functions, I am often encouraging folks to remember that positive behavior change happens little by little. Well, I was recently reminded of the negative side of those words, ‘little by little’.
I recently returned from a two-week trip to France. It was just lovely. My husband and I spent a week visiting my brother and exploring picturesque medieval villages of France. Then we spent a week in sunny Provence where we explored the old walled city of Avignon. One very special morning my husband gave me the gift of a walking / tasting gourmet tour that focused on the traditional foods of the region. It included wonderful and sometimes very unique food – chocolates, wines, pastry, cheese, olives, ice cream…(If you don’t know, I’m a bit of a foodie who loves to cook, and my favorite part of traveling is eating the best food I can find.)
The downside of the trip didn’t become apparent until I got home and stepped on the scale. Sigh… At home I eat a simple breakfast of yogurt and berries and a half of a Waasa cracker with homemade jam. Lunch is simple too, fitting on a small saucer.
Well, that’s not how I ate in France. At the start of our tasting tour, while we were sampling exquisite butter croissants, someone asked our adorable guide how she (and the French) stayed so thin. Her answer? “Well, we don’t eat croissants everyday. They are a special treat on the weekend.” Uh, oh… I had been eating them every morning…and had to sample the local artisan ice cream everyday. Self-control had gone out the window. After all, I might never get back to Avignon!
While I do not claim to be thin, I’ve been able to keep my weight in a comfortable range for a number of years. I’ve done this by combining exercise and stepping on the scale every morning and recording my weight as part of a journal entry. I have given myself a three-pound range to “play within.” There is a stated weight that is NO GO ZONE barrier. If I start to approach that, then I have to be much more conscious of my intake while my body readjusts back down to my “play zone”.
Without my support tool, I managed to go past my limit and enter my “no go zone” and this scares me. Why? Because we gain weight little by little. It sneaks up on us. I was just reading that the average size of a plate in America grew 23% between 1900 and 2012. In 1900 typical plates were 9.6 inches in diameter and by 2012 plates were 11.8 inches in diameter. Someone calculated that additional space on a plate could contribute to folks consuming about 50 extra calories more a day, which will mean a weight gain of five pounds each year. Year after year that really adds up. Scary.
In the past it seems like it was pretty easy to use exercise and mindfulness to drop those couple of pounds. It doesn’t seem so easy in this past year, and these past weeks. Perhaps my metabolism is slowing down with age. At any rate, my frustration of hanging around my top limit has been humbling, giving me more compassion for those who struggle with their weight.
I am trying to be patient. Little by little, I have faith that my body will return to where I want it to be.
I have ramped up my exercise a bit. I am keeping a food log to keep me conscious and using a salad plate for my dinner plate.
I am facing another family trip at the end of July with my husband, and my son and his wife. I am pondering how to manage my food intake surrounded by the culinary delights of Vancouver, BC. Suggestions anyone? Do I drag along my scale?
Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program®. She is an educator and author of three books on executive functions, as well as a trainer and speaker. Marydee has more than twenty-five years of experience working with students and adults with executive function challenges.
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