Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Update: 30-Day Challenges

I have quit both challenges.

I feel I could have finished the first one, which was eating no sweets for 30 days. However, the benefits I was experiencing were small and I knew I wasn't going to go the rest of my life without sugar. I decided to quit after fifteen days.

The second challenge, to average 500 fewer calories per day for each week in a month, was much harder. Having overeaten early in the first week, I found it impossible to end the week with the required 3500 calorie deficit without feeling more misery than I was willing to accept. I was not willing to do what it would have taken to complete this challenge for even a single week.

I learned the same lesson I've learned many times before: rigid solutions don't work for me with regard to weight loss. I'm not willing to give up sugar forever and I'm not willing to be a slave to FitDay forever.

It seems many self-help books are written by and for people who exercise too much willpower. They are full of advice on how to relax and warnings about never eating too little (as if.) I've always been a person of sporadic willpower and ordering myself onto a strict regimen of anything has never worked. Solutions in the past have always allowed a lot of flexibility and so in the future, I will focus on flexible solutions as well.

Here is my more realistic plan. Most mornings, I will plan approximately what I will eat for that day, leaving a few hundred calories free for wiggle room. I'm going to plan for about 2600 calories, 2300 of which are spread across seven "meals" and 300 of which are allocated miscellaneous. I fully expect to go over the 2600 most days, which is why the plan is for 2600 instead of the 2800 I really need to be eating. I fully expect to have a lot of 3000-3500 calorie days and a couple 4000+ days, but I'm going to keep on truckin' and hopefully knock this excess weight down bit by bit. I will continue to record my meals and my weight in FitDay almost every day, since that's proven both effective and manageable.

The most important thing with weight loss is perseverance. I'm not giving up; I'm pushing on. If this plan doesn't work, I'll change to another. Flexibly.