Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fodder's not a fluke


A 10-year study of 3,000 Americans between the ages of 70 and 79 has found that those who ate a healthier diet – less fried food, more poultry and fish than other meat, more plants and lower-fat dairy – lived longer and they enjoyed better health for longer.

One of Fodder’s many revelations on this Calorie Neutral journey is that he’s not a high-level carnivore. He used to eat a lot of red meat because first my grandmother and then my mom served it, but left to his own devices he actually prefers lentils, chili with more beans than beef, and hummus.

Which is not to say he’s giving up his nice little filet steaks any time soon – he does enjoy them. And a burger with fried onions, and even Julia Child’s beef bourgignonne a couple of times a year.

The fact is, though, that as he adds more plant-based foods to his menus, he’s discovering how much he loves them, which means he eats them more often.

And as he confessed earlier, he’s got so much energy he’s had to give up resting after lunch. His doctor said his cholesterol level’s looking good. And best of all, he’s having more fun!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Singalong Tuesday 6


Hi there! How are you feeling?

For several days in a row, I found myself wanting to eat before bed. This was new (well, it's old behaviour, but new again since I started the program), so I took a look at my food and activity journal and eureka! The answer was right there.

I’ve been exercising often and I’d increased the intensity of each workout, so I was burning through my reserves and leaving nothing in the tank. Basically, I needed more food to fuel my regular life plus the enhanced exercise routine.

As soon as I added a bit more – an extra small apple or handful of veggies, maybe half a dozen more almonds or some cheese – to each meal and snack, I lost the urge for that evening extra.

Have you adjusted your eating and activity this week – either on purpose or because life just sat up and demanded it?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The undoing at Charles de Gaulle, Part One


Even though we were scheduled to fly south to Bordeaux that Monday morning, I postponed getting dressed. I had come on this trip with the full intention of enjoying all of France’s cultural treats and I didn’t regret that Tarte grand-mère on my birthday, or the wine with dinner or the croissants for breakfast.

Still, I would be a little sad if once again the pants were tight, as was only to be expected.

I shook the pants slightly as I held them out in front of me – for no good reason, really, because I never can judge the size of anything in relation to me until I actually put it on. Most of my brain seems to be prefrontal cortex, which is heavily involved in the act of self-criticism, so even as I reach for a size 8 with all the hope of a child digging through the pile of manure for a pony, the beast in my head is saying, “Are you kidding? Double the number, honey, and you might be in the ballpark.”

I don’t like that beast.

But as usual I listened to it and, being all the more reluctant to attempt to zip up the brown cords, I took one of my favourite actions instead: I procrastinated.

I folded the cords away and instead pulled on the grey pants that I’d brought because while they’re kind of dressy, they’re also soft and kind of stretchy and that makes them ideal for long plane rides.

Their forgiving fabric also makes them a closer fit amongst Frenchwomen in their black trousers, high heels and three-quarter-length wool coat accented with a scarf wrapped just so. That’s what I told myself, and it’s true. It’s just not the whole truth which is, of course, that I did not want to find out I’d gained back a bunch of weight and would have to make the decision again: to eat, drink and vacation or climb back onto the wine-free tart-less wagon.

I was barely a week into my fifty-first year and choices were just as hard as they’d always been. 
I drew the grey trousers over my hips and warily folded the waistband closed. Sucking my belly in, I tucked the buttons into their holes then tugged up the zipper tab. I released my hold, relaxed my belly…and the pants slid down an inch.

By the time we reached the airport, my cheeks hurt from grinning non-stop and I had to excuse myself and duck into a toilet stall, partly for the usual reasons – four glasses of water by noon, remember? – and also to do up my bra.

This was unexpected.

I knew theoretically that burning up more calories than I ate would result in fat fading from my whole body, of course. The alternative – a slim butt and those sausage upper arms, perhaps – was too gruesome to contemplate. It just hadn’t occurred to me that skimming off the back fat was going to be the undoing of my bra hooks.

And as we were about to find out, there was another kind of undoing in store for Fodder.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cookbooks?

Just when I start to really love food (I mean real food, not the chips and bridge mix I’ve adored forever) I discover that cookbooks aren’t my friend.

They have beautiful photos and well-thought-out recipes, I bring them home from the library (sorry, authors) and…they don’t appeal to me. Many many many meals revolve around things I’m no longer interested in. Potatoes. Pasta. Pies.

I’m not even denying myself these things; I simply don’t want them any more. And that feels odd. At a  recent lunch out, it was no hardship to skip the basketful of warm curvy buns and the herbed rice on my plate and chow down on the salmon and the array of just-crisp carrots, zucchini, and red pepper.  I was full, too. Not that that stopped me from enjoying  the dark-chocolate mousse. 

Now there’s a recipe I could get behind.

The Saint bought a cookbook once, so I know he knows they exist, but it doesn’t occur to him to leaf through it for appealing ideas. He’s always been content to stick with a two-part repertoire. On his nights to cook, I could count on sitting down to either stir-fry over rice or pasta with a tomato-based sauce.

What, I wondered, was he going to do when those were no longer options? Mostly he relied on me to come up with the ideas. Nothing new there, although now he had an excuse.

“I don’t know what you can eat this week,” he tried.

I responded by slapping a frozen chicken breast onto the counter. “And there are lots of vegetables in the fridge,” I said.

He rose to the challenge splendidly.

When I went into the kitchen later, the chicken had been sliced into chunks and was simmering in a tomato sauce with Italian herbs. The Saint’s version of chicken cacciatore, I figured. It smelled divine and I decided I could simply leave the pasta in the pot.

Except the Saint was scooping chopped cabbage into boiling water instead.

I raised my eyebrows.

“We’ll serve the chicken and sauce over the cooked cabbage,” he explained.

Doubt must have been scrawled all over my face, but he calmly put the lid on the pot and said, “It’ll be just like cabbage rolls. You’ll see.”

Here’s the thing: we’ve never made cabbage rolls. We’ve never even eaten them much.
But I’ll tell you right now that, whatever part of Europe you’re fond of, the Saint’s bastardized Chicken Cacciatore Cabbage Unrolls are delicious.

Maybe he should write a cookbook.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Singalong Tuesday 5


Stories are all about change. The books and movies we enjoy the most are those that show people becoming stronger or happier or more connected with others.

And isn't that what we're after here at Calorie Neutral?

To become any of those things – or innumerable others that end in -er, like leaner or fitter – we must change something, somehow.

According to David Noer’s book Breaking Free, there are four basic character types when it comes to changeability in the workplace. I'm going to use the characters in the movie Kinky Boots (one of my faves) as examples.

At the beginning of the filmCharlie seems to be a classic Overwhelmed: when his world falls apart he is incapable of seeing any solutions, let alone implementing them.
“What can I do?” he hopelessly asks each factory worker as he lays them off, one after another.

Lauren is the only one who has an answer. 

Change your product, she snaps at him. Find a new market.
Lauren is a Learner. She’s innovative, thinks outside the shoebox, and has enough optimism to draw others along with her.


Lola is Entrenched in her life as a very successful drag queen; we can see she’s no longer happy in her rut but she isn’t even trying to climb out of it. When Charlie and Lauren present her with a chance to try something new, though, she is more than capable of shoehorning herself into the job.

These three characters show the basics of Noer’s model. How does that help us change our eating/dancing/shoe habits?

Check this out:

Overwhelmed people need projects in which their old skills are useful, and to work with optimists whose energy can carry them along. 

Entrenched people are more able to adapt, so they benefit from practicing new behaviors in safe situations, especially if they’re surrounded by creative optimists. 

Learners are already creative, optimistic and energetic; they need to protect themselves from burnout, from being drained by others. (Lauren, for example, didn’t change much in the course of Kinky Boots – she didn’t need to. The journey was Charlie’s and Lola’s – Lauren’s role was to be a catalyst and guide.)

Although Charlie’s fiancée Nicola also remains the same throughout the movie, she isn’t a Learner. She is what Noer calls a BSer: comfortable with change, but not truly capable of it. She was happy to move to a new city and a different job, but she didn’t grow as a person.
“I can’t change what I want,” she told Charlie bluntly.

By the end of the film Charlie has stepped from the old sneakers of the apparently Overwhelmed into the brogues of a Learner, and Lola has climbed from her singin’and dancin’ rut to creative heights – wearing four-inch heels.

For us Neutrinos, it might help us individually to know what our change style is, in order to develop strategies that will help us get what we want.

If you're Overwhelmed, what old, comfortable skills can you apply? Stick to your usual menu, but adapt the recipes slightly, perhaps?  Maintain your favourite exercise, but do it a few more times a week?

If you're Entrenched, what motivates you to try something new?

Please share – I believe we can all learn from each other.



Saturday, March 19, 2011

Exercise, Parisienne style

After we’d been in Paris for six days, I had to do laundry even though it meant finding out just how much waist I had regained.

The equipment in the apartment was so state-of-the-art that it took me a good fifteen minutes to translate the various settings and figure out what the range of cryptic symbols meant. Eventually, however, I tossed in a load of trousers, turned two knobs and pushed a button, and retreated to the salon to drink wine and wait.

I ran out of wine before the washer ran out of cycles.

It was still chugging when I went to bed, grateful for multipurpose European machines and knowing that the dryer function would kick in long before morning.

But as Patsy Cline sang, I was wrong.

On Sunday morning my clothes lay in a damp clump in the washer/dryer, which had forgotten the second part of its mandate. And no wonder, really, since it took so frigging long to get to it.

I had a choice: I could wear my faded black cotton yoga pants – intended only for slouching in a comfortable chair after a day of sightseeing – or spend the day in our unimpressive apartment, peering up between 18th-century slate roofs for a glimpse of blue sky.

At home on Canada’s West Coast, nobody would even notice a woman on the street in sweats but in Paris people simply do not dress that way in public. Or anywhere, for all I know. I had certainly never seen anyone outfitted so…let’s say casually, shall we?

Since the apartment lacked a comfortable chair anyway, I pulled on the pants and ruthlessly tightened the drawstring. If a yoga class broke out in the Place des Vosges, I’d be prepared.
We strolled across the river and sipped coffee in a 17th-century arcade by a classic French park where there were plenty of people enjoying the crisp air but no sign of anyone attempting Tadasana.
Dad decided to sketch in the sun while the Saint and I stretched our legs.

The Promenade Plantée is an old elevated train line that has been converted to a garden extending southeast from the Opéra Bastille for about a kilometer and a half. At its far end, at the Jardin de Reuilly, another green-path begins at ground level and continues for couple more kilometers.
We thought it was ideal for a Sunday stroll, and so do many Parisians. In fact, many of them were doing more than strolling.

Kind of.

Decked out top to toe in suitably logoed and coordinated athletic gear, they looked me up and down as they approached at a slow jog. A slight frown of puzzlement (or so I like to think) crossed a few brows as they scanned from my brown polar fleece pullover past those cropped yoga pants flapping around my calves to my grey trail runners.

But I was enjoying my walk and too intrigued by their odd running style to waste my time wondering what they thought of me. They looked fit enough – not jocks, maybe, but not Monsieur et Madame Pantoufle, either.

Mr and Mrs Slipper (the French editions of couch potatoes) would not be out doing even this slo-mo version of jogging. It wasn’t power walking. For one thing, it wasn’t nearly vigorous enough and for another it was an entirely different gait.

When a trio of chatting men came up behind us and passed, I marveled to the Saint, “I bet we can keep up with them.”

We grinned at each other, increased our walking pace slightly and, sure enough, stayed fairly close to the group for several hundred metres before we were distracted by some birds in the shrubberies lining the path.

When we resumed our walk, I mused on this Parisian style of running.

“It’s kind of like a trot,” I said. “The French Trot.”

But something about the title wasn’t quite right and even though the inaccuracy was bugging me, I filed it away in the back of my mind because by then it was almost lunchtime and I have my priorities.

(Quiche Lorraine with salad, in case you’re curious. Fodder had a big bowl of soupe aux legumes with slices of baguette, and the Saint devoured beef bourgignon on a bed of little beef raviolis. There might also have been wine.)

And that night, the Saint figured out how to get the washer to dry.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The skinny on density

Starchy foods like bread, pasta, potatoes and rice have a place in a healthy diet. They provide relatively quick energy and, if they’re whole-grain and varied, they also bring to the table necessary nutrients like B vitamins along with that all-important fibre.

The thing is, the calorie/nutrition ratio in starches doesn’t always work in favour of weight loss because they’re calorie-dense. On the other hand, vegetables are nutrient-dense and calorie-light.

A plateful of veggies delivers more vitamins and minerals – and a fraction of the calories – of a plateful of pasta.

As I try to ditch the pounds, I keep my intake of starches to a minimum because I tend to go overboard if I have them around. That means I have to get the  nutrients and energy (aka calories) elsewhere.

For me, that mostly means lots of vitamin-rich, fibre-rich, complex-carbohydrate vegetables and fruit. They’re loaded with nutrients and less loaded with calories than bread. Also, they release their energy to me at a nice steady rate.

What that boils down to is that with more veg and less rice, I get better nutrition, lots of energy, and I feel full. I’m not depriving my body of anything. Quite the contrary. I’m getting more nutrients now than when I used to eat more pasta and fewer peppers.

However, as I progress toward my goal weight, I need to remember that I can introduce grains and starches to get more variety – and therefore more nutrition – into my diet. (I keep in mind that brown rice offers more of the good stuff than white rice, just as whole-grain bread and pasta does.)

Three or four times a week now, I have a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal (1/4 cup steel-cut oats cooked in almost a cup of water). When I’m exercising a lot, I also have a couple of slices of whole-grain multi-grain bread and sometimes a muffin from my favourite bakery (multigrain and not too sweet).

My guru, Vicki Waters, really likes sprouted breads and whole-grain crackers. Fodder is especially fond of rye flatbread, which he now enjoys several times a week with hummus.

And when I need some solid, transportable, mixed-source calories to carry me through a meeting or a workout, I pack along a three-inch square of my latest invention:

3 small apples, sauced OR about 1 cup of pre-made applesauce
1/2 cup natural, nothin' but peanuts, peanut butter
1 cup steel-cut oats soaked in 2 cups of hot water, then cooked until the liquid is absorbed (about 2 cups cooked oats)
10 dates, chopped (about ½ cup)
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 ½ squares of bittersweet baking chocolate, roughly shaved (about ½ cup)

Mix all ingredients together and pour into greased 9x12” pan.
Bake at 375° for about 15 minutes.
When it’s cool, I cut into three-inch squares and freeze two to a package.

I don’t know what to call them besides delicious.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Singalong Tuesday 4


Hello – it's good to see you!
How are things in your world?
Did you meet your goals this week?

A couple of people (including the Saint) have asked recently if I’m still losing weight. I look thinner, they said.
I weighed myself a couple of times just to make sure but nope, Grandma’s old scale sings the same tune. However, my pants are looser (again!) and I’m on a new hole in the old belt.
Because I’ve been increasing the weights during my resistance workout (12-pound dumbbells for the bicep curls! Yay me!) I think what’s happening is that I’ve lost some fat and gained enough muscle to keep the kilograms even.

I bring this up because it’s something to keep in mind if your weight isn’t budging as much as you’d like.

So tell us what’s new. Are you still dancing? Walking?
Aside from any poundage changes, do you feel different?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Fall


For more than a year, Fodder and the Saint and I had been planning to take a holiday in France, so we’d known going into the weight-loss program that we would miss the last two weeks of meetings. At the same time, we were determined not to miss out on two of our favourite vacation sports.

Oh sure, we bought our opera tickets way ahead of time and we’d go to a gallery or two but seriously, what’s a visit to Paris without the three-euro bottles of wine from the corner grocery store or taste-testing croissants from every arrondissement?

So at every possible opportunity, Fodder and I assured each other that no matter what happened consumption-wise in France, we could and would simply climb back on the program when we got home. We were still saying the words to each other as we got on the plane. And as we got off the plane.
The Saint’s halo got a little shinier from listening to us and not saying, “Methinks they doth protest too much.”

Or maybe he wasn’t even listening.

Anyway.

The day we arrived in France, the country was in the throes of labour unrest.

Instead of a straightforward train ride from the airport to the centre of Paris, we had to get off the train – twice – and wander around various stations looking for some kind of vehicle to take us to the next stage. The French might hold sacred their retirement age (and lunch breaks, but that’s another story) but they cut the handicapped, elderly and tired tourists no slack. Elevators are rare, escalators almost as hard to come by.

The real reason French women don’t get fat, I decided as I grimly hauled my suitcase up yet another flight, is the enormous connecting Metro stations with all their frigging stairs. 

Eventually, though, we did reach the centre of town and promptly marched into a nice café for lunch. I had one of the infinite variety of salades composées that are on menus everywhere, which in this case was lettuce with sliced hard-boiled egg, ham and chicken. French salad dressings are much lighter than North American offerings so I didn’t worry about that part. Also, I might have had a glass of wine.

Afterward, we walked a kilometer along the Seine to our apartment, dropped off our luggage, and went back out for supplies. At the grocery shop three blocks away, we loaded up with fromage frais (a smooth white cheese with a consistency and flavour much like plain yogurt), oranges and apples for the next day’s breakfast; lettuce, emmenthal and brie cheeses, and a bottle of wine for dinner. A block further along, we found a bakery that offered (you guessed!) croissants and a loaf of multigrain bread.

By then we were almost cross-eyed with fatigue, so when we got back to the apartment we composed a big green salad with cheese, added bread and a  glass of wine on the side, devoured our first Paris dinner, and promptly fell asleep.

The next morning, we had fruit and fromage frais, coffee and a croissant and then took to the streets. Our landlord had decided he no longer wanted our rent in American dollars but now preferred euros, so we had to exchange all the US cash we’d brought. He assured us that there was a bank on the corner, so we set off.

We found the bank which, hélas, did not exchange currencies. Nor did the next bank. At the third one, a kind man handed me a printed slip of paper with the address of a bureau de change and, with our handy little map book to direct us, we headed off again.

Luckily we are all happy to walk – especially in Paris. The buildings are attractive, there are little parks and squares here and there, we were forever catching intriguing glimpses down an old streets or a vista along one of the grander avenues. Block after block, we were happy to walk….

The first day of our vacation set the stage for our week in Paris, although we added a few modifications.

My birthday landed two days after we did and we celebrated with a Tarte grand-mère for dessert, which opened the gate for some kind of treat every evening.

I didn’t eat five times a day; I found it awkward to pack all those snacks and was reluctant to interrupt perfectly good sightseeing to sit and chow down every couple of hours. We did choose healthy foods for picnics, restaurant lunches and dinners at home, but still – quiche for lunch, cheese at dinner, some dark chocolate or a tart afterward…these are not traditional weight-loss foods.

As well, I wasn’t doing any gym time with weights or on a fast-track cardio machine. My exercise consisted solely of strolling around Paris. And sure we walked every day, but we were slow. Or perhaps stately is a better word.

Conventional wisdom says that in order to lose weight without changing one’s diet, one must increase one’s exercise – frequency, intensity, and/or duration.

The frequency of exercise (daily) stayed the same as it was at home on the program, while the intensity dropped dramatically. Not a good thing in a weight-loss plan.

Even so, as we sauntered along the Champ de Mars or through Rodin’s garden, I started to hitch up my pants.

Clearly, they were stretching from being worn day after day. I’d been eating pie for God’s sake. But still…. You know.

Hope springs eternal.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

UnDiet


Registered Dietitian Desiree Nielsen blogs about loving food and creating a healthier life. Sound familiar, Neutrinos?

This year she’s created an UnDiet – find one new trick every week of 2011, starting here: http://eatdrinkbehappy.blogspot.com/2011/01/undietweek-one.html

They’re so helpful and best of all – they’re easy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Singalong Tuesday 3


Hello! How has your week been?

I count every week a success if I learn something, and this week I found this gem in Eric Maisel’s The Art of the Book Proposal: thinking takes energy. There’s a reason we’re physically tired at the end of a day of creativity, whether we’ve been managing a team of disparate colleagues, writing a novel, or coming up with new ways to keep a couple of toddlers productively busy.

“It may startle you to learn,” Maisel writes, “that a chess grandmaster expends as many calories during the course of a hard-fought tournament chess game as does a runner in a marathon.”

As a matter of routine I don’t think at grandmaster level (nor do I run marathons) so I can’t fool myself that I needed that slice of carrot cake I downed at teatime last week. I wanted it though, and it was delicious and I am not going to beat myself up about it.

I’m also not going to eat it every day. It was a treat, which is a concept some of us (that would be me) lost sight of. When I eat that stuff every day, it stops being a pleasure, a luxury, and instead becomes something I take for granted.

To be honest, I don’t appreciate, savour, enjoy anything when I have it all the time. The first cup of tea is the best of the day – all the others are habit. A piece of cake is wonderful once a week; when I get the sugar hit daily (oh, who am I kidding – multiple times a day) it has less power, gives me less pleasure.

Did you have a treat this week? Did it please you?

Maybe your treat wasn’t even food? How revolutionary!

Tell us about it.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Them's the breaks – nutrition breaks, I mean


I headed into the fourth week of the program a little stressed. I was going to a conference in a neighbouring state and the border crossing meant I’d have to leave my peeler and paring knife behind. Knowing that “nutrition breaks” at workshops and conferences were simply euphemisms for morning muffins and afternoon cookies, I had to do something.

No, that’s not quite right.

I wanted to do something.

Hm – could it be that the behaviour-modification thing was taking hold?

At any rate, customs officers in agricultural Washington State would look askance at – and possibly confiscate – a bagful of broccoli and a tub of plain yogurt. Canned or bottled juice and dried fruit, while easy to transport, were a no-go on the program. I sent a plaintive email to Vicki.

“What do I do?”

“Thing is,” she explained, “we are trying to get away from quick fixes and real food is always better for you.”

Yabbut…hotels aren’t known for providing their guests with easy access to unprocessed produce.
Vicki helped me figure out how to make it through the weekend. In a pinch, she conceded, low-sodium vegetable juice is okay, so I found small cans that fit in my purse. The border guard didn’t care about the bag of almonds I’d stashed in my backpack, so I munched a dozen of those while I sipped V8 during coffee breaks.

I caved on the cheesecake at one dinner, and my roommates and I shared half a bottle of red wine to toast our successful appointments with agents, but otherwise I just chugged along with my program. I even managed one workout in the hotel gym.

And on weighing-in day I was down a couple more pounds, creeping toward 150 – one cup of yogurt and a set of ab crunches at a time.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A new recipe!


Baked beans have always been one of my favourite foods. As a kid, I’d open a tin for my after-school snack, my mom made them regularly for dinner, and they’ve been a staple in my recipe repertoire forever.
Then on a family trip to France ten years ago, we discovered cassoulet and I promptly appropriated it for myself. My adaptation has no sugar (unlike North American baked beans), less meat and fat than the French include, and a vegan variation is, frankly, just as delicious.

Rachel’s cassoulet
2 cups  uncooked white navy beans
3 spicy gluten-free turkey sausages
2 chicken thighs or breasts
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
1 cup tomato sauce

Pour about six cups of boiling water over the beans (they should be well covered and then some) in a big Dutch oven, bean pot, or lidded casserole dish (big enough to let the beans swell as they absorb the water). Let sit about an hour. This reduces the cooking time for the beans.
Add the herbes to the soaked beans and simmer together for about an hour, until the beans are cooked.
Chop the meat into bite-size (or bigger) pieces and brown it – or  not. In the interests of saving a few minutes and having fewer dishes to wash, I sometimes (okay, usually) skip this step.
Toss the meat and tomato sauce into the pot, stir it around, and slide the whole works, covered, into the oven at about 200° for an hour and a half.
Check the liquid occasionally and add water if necessary.
This will serve, oh, six or eight people and freezes well.

As with everything I cook, the ingredients are, um, variable. Cassoulet is perfect for adapting to suit yourself. Add ham or duck or leave out the meat altogether. Add more herbs or different ones. Use a bit of tomato paste or real tomatoes instead of sauce…you get the idea.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Singalong Tuesday 2


How are things going in your world? Did you meet your goal for the week, whatever it was? Do you need to stick to the same plan and give it time to settle in, or readjust your sights?

I think it’s important to remember that the goals you set are yours – you can revise them any time.
In Scientific American Mind (Dec/08), Nikolas Westerhoff explains that “openness to change” is considered one of the five major personality traits and that it tends to decrease with age, particularly after 30.

“New experiences may bring innovation and awakening,” Westerhoff writes, “but also chaos and insecurity.”

This suggests that, rather than giving up on learning new tricks, we can take some steps to make it easier on ourselves.

For example, reduce the “chaos and insecurity” factor.

Roughly planning my new-style meals ahead of time has taken away the anxiety of figuring out what to eat five times a day. I’m finding it really helpful to chop vegetables for several days all at once – stashed in bowls in the fridge, they’re ready to be tossed into the steamer, salad bowl or skillet for an almost-instant meal or snack. Last night I even baked a bunch of chicken breasts so I can store them in the freezer and just slice them up for a quick stir-fry or curry or, well, almost anything.

Westerhoff also warns against expecting too much from a change.

“…Set more reasonable goals,” he suggests, “and recognize that achieving even modest change will be difficult.”

In other words, don’t be hard on yourself.

As Dale Carnegie said, “The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.”

What’s your plan for the coming seven days? Writing it down makes it a concrete goal and sharing it will likely make you feel more accountable – both of those will increase your success rate.

Feel free to share here at Calorie Neutral. We’re rooting for you!