How a Blank Calendar Can Help You Lose Weight

Dun Dun Dun! Introducing, one of the most powerful (and understated) weight loss tools in the known universe. A blank calendar for the month of November 2016.

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The Power of a Blank Calendar

You might have read my earlier post about the fresh start hypothesis.  If so, you know that a clean slate (for example, a new month or week) can either help or hurt your weight loss efforts, depending on your own circumstances.

The blank calendar is mighty.  Why?

  • It’s a great way to leverage the positive psychological benefits of “starting fresh.”
  • It forces you to break a large daunting goal into smaller, more immediate goals (which translates to a higher rate of sustained motivation and success).
  • The concrete action of writing your goals down might alone be enough to keep you sticking to them
  • It can serve as a visual reminder of the bigger picture, which helps when motivation starts to wane
  • It’s effectively free! (Provided you have access to a computer and printer).

How to Use a Blank Calendar for Weight Loss

Step One. Find a printable blank calendar (I googled “blank calendar 2016”) and print said calendar
Step Two. Choose an achievable weight loss goal for one month (for example, 8 pounds). Subtract this goal from your current weight, and write your new goal weight the last day of the month.
Step Four. Create weekly weight loss goals, and write each new weekly weight at the end of each week.
Step Five. Surrender to the blank calendar (optional).
Step Six. Tape the calendar somewhere visible.
Step Seven. At the end of each week, reevaluate your goals. If you lost more than your weekly goal, you can change your next weekly goal post to reflect your current weight. If you lost less than your weekly goal, you can do the same. The key is that you can keep adjusting your goals as you get closer to the end of the month. (For more details, see this post.)

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Your calendar might look something like this.

But How Do I Actually Lose Weight?

Obviously, the calendar itself is not a weight loss plan.  It’s just a tool to help you stay organized and to improve your stick-to-itness.

As far as losing the weight itself – there are plenty of different ways.  The right way will depend largely on your own circumstances and preferences, but removing processed foods and focusing on a plant based diet will likely go a long way.  In any event, you need to do what works for you.

Additional Uses of the Blank Calendar

In addition to using the blank calendar to plan your weight goals, you can also use the blank calendar to plan concrete actions on specific days to help you reach those goals.

These actions can be related to food intake or to exercise. Just remember to keep your actions achievable.

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Example of calendar with concrete behavioral actions

Also, keep in mind that missing one day doesn’t mean you should give up on the rest.  In fact, you will be better off if you plan for failure.

Rewards.  You can also use weekly or monthly rewards for making your goals (mani-pedi, anyone?).  Just remember not to be too hard on yourself if you miss a week.  Weight is weird, and it’s not the best measure of fat loss. On my own weight loss journey, I found that I lost weight 3 out of 4 weeks.

If you try this method, let me know how it works out for you.

If you have any thoughts on modifications, I’d love to hear those also.

Happy calendaring 🙂

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Dream Big, Plan Small

Sandwich with avocado and poached egg

Regardless of how you plan to get into shape, there is one psychological trick that I believe will be helpful to most.  You have to dream big, and you have to plan small. 

By dream big, I’m referring to your ultimate goal. Visualize it, taste it.  It can and will be yours, no matter how far away it seems right now.

You don’t have to write it down, you don’t have to meditate on it.  In fact, now it’s time to  (for the most part) throw it away. Because it doesn’t matter how big your dream is if you aren’t able to break it down into smaller parts.

By plan small, I don’t mean anything specific. But here is the general idea. Imagine that your “dream big” goal is to lose 50 pounds. Realistically, you think you can do that in 5-6 months. Assuming you’re starting in November, you should safely be able to hit that goal by May (losing 8 – 10 pounds a month).

Now – imagine yourself in the springtime, 50 pounds lighter and feeling so free. Wonderful! But in order to get there, realize that right now, 40 of those 50 pounds don’t matter. What matters is that you lost the first 10 pounds. The prospect of losing 10 pounds is much less daunting than the prospect of spending the next 5 months trying to lose a total of 50. So the last step is to forget the rest, and plan small.

Your “plan small” goal is now to lose 8 – 10 pounds in the month of November.  How are you going to do that? I don’t know. There are a million different ways. But here are a few tips that might be helpful:

It might be a good idea to plan even smaller. Forget 8-10 pounds this November, how about 2 pounds this week?  How about .3 pounds today?

One Small Caveat

Planning small is great, with one caveat.  The smaller you plan, the more you need to realize that fluctuations will happen while still losing fat. This is especially true for females as we go through our cycle.

If your goal is to lose two pounds a week, realize that you might do everything you can but still not lose those two pounds in any particular week. Assuming you are doing everything right, you might lose 1 pound one week, and 4 pounds in another.  This is the nature of attempting to measure fat by  using weight – it’s far from perfect. So you have to be sufficiently psychologically healthy that you will survive apparent disappointments (which really, are not disappointments at all).

My Method

When I first decided to lose weight, I printed out a blank calendar for a period of one month. I subtracted 10 pounds from my starting weight, and wrote in that new weight on the last day of the month. I knew I had 60+ pounds to lose, but unlike any of my previous efforts, I decided to just focus to the here and now.

In order to reach 10 pounds by the end of the month, I’d have to lose 2.5 pounds a week.  So I subtracted 2.5 pounds from my current weight, and wrote it in on the last day of the first week. I then subtracted 2.5 pounds from that weight, and wrote it in on the last day of the second week. I did this one more time, and voila – I now have 4 weeks and 4 goals.

I realize that 2.5 pounds is a lot of weight to lose consistently week after week, but because this was my first month – I figured I’d be losing a lot of water. I decided that even if I only lost 8 pounds by the end of the month, I’d consider it a huge success. In fact, any weight loss would put me in a better position than I’d been in at the beginning of the month.

In any event, I’d now start out on my first week, not thinking about the three weeks to come. My only goal this week is to lose 2.5 pounds.  When I reach the end of the first week, I’d write my new weight down.  If I lost exactly 2.5 pounds, I’d leave my goals as is. If I lost less, I’d adjust my goals to only 2 pounds per week. If I lost more, I would adjust my goals so that they reflect 2.5 pounds per week starting from my new weight (but still only until the end of the month).  Even if I gained weight, my new weekly goal is just to lose 2.5 from my new weight.

The effect is that no matter what, my goal is always “lose 2.5 pounds (or 2 pounds) this week.” The month is not important, and the goal re-sets each week.

Here is what I found. Three out of four times, I met or exceeded my weekly goal. Usually about once a month, I lost slightly less than my goal, and very rarely I gained.

Over time, this method worked for me.  My mind is overcrowded, and I’m sure yours is too. We want to fast forward to the future, but things just seem to work out better when we try our best to focus on the here and now.

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Falling into Fatness

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As a basic millennial of the female type, I am under enormous pressure to enjoy Fall.

Yes, I’m white. Female. Twenty-something.  I understand well what my obligations are.

Boots are cute, everything is orange, and all the pumpkins have features carved into them. I get it. And I don’t mean to distance myself from my cohort, but I just don’t enjoy Autumn.  (Except, of course, for all the dogs in costumes.)

Fall makes me cold, and when I’m cold I want to eat creamy delicious things called “food.” When the leaves drop off, my body begins to sense that Winter is coming. This bodes poorly for my upper arms.

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my only consolation

In Summer, hot long days bring me joy and food barely crosses my mind.  During Fall, I sometimes find myself wondering how the fella adjacent to me on the subway would taste drenched in Nutella.

Speaking of which, I had a rough weekend.

I ate a jar of Nutella – the whole jar. (In all fairness to me, it happened over a two day period. But also, I ate it with buttery crackers).

This is what happens in Fall. Bad bad things. Bad chocolatey things.

I don’t consider eating a jar of Nutella a setback, actually. And I’m not “Falling” into Fatness.

My former self would ruminate, and to be perfectly honest – my current self is doing some of that also. But my current self also has a sense of proportion: Nutella happens, life goes on.

Fall is an easy time to put on weight for me, as I suspect it is for many people. But the key, I think, is to allow yourself to let go a little and remind yourself that not every decision needs to be a great decision.  The important thing is that you regularly make good decisions.

There is no such thing as falling off the bandwagon. There is no such thing as “all or nothing.” To the extent these things exist, they are products of your own imagination. Products of my own imagination, and I’ve lived with them for years.

This weekend I ate an entire jar of Nutella. With crackers. But today, I’ll eat eggs and veggies. I love eggs and veggies, and I’ll enjoy the contrast.

I don’t think weight maintenance should be such a tricky thing. It’s hard as long as you make it hard, and for me, it’s harder in the colder months.

My simple tricks are these:

  1. don’t freak out;
  2. don’t keep tempting caloric things in the house;
  3. don’t avoid the scale (catch problems while they’re small)
  4. exercise if you want (long walks are nice)

I’m also going to try a bit harder to find joy in the colder months. Starting with cute new Fall boots, and MAYBE (just maybe) a new fitness regimen 🙂

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What’s On Your Menu?

 

 

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Cauliflower & Sweet Potato Soup w/ scallions and bacon

Majority of the time, Sunday’s are dedicated to food shopping, meal prepping and getting ready for the week. Yesterday was no exception.

What usually happens is, I go through the store circulars, store coupons and manufacturer coupons and plan our meals based on the deals of the week. I’m on a budget! “Look babe! Turkey is 99 cents per pound. Are you good with turkey this week?” “Yea, anything is good,” says my husband.

Yesterday was not one of those days…

$178.00 later: 2 lbs ground turkey, chicken breast, fresh salmon, shrimp, fruits, cauliflower, sweet potato, mozzarella cheese, eggs, almonds, strawberries, apples etc…. And my small list became this ginormous list and I was overwhelmed by the cost but the food was already scanned and bagged and the next thing I know, I am home prepping 1,000 things I had not planned on.

I stumbled upon Peas & Crayons Slow Cooker Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Soup recipe and had to give it a try. If any parents are reading this and have trouble getting your kids to eat their veggies, this is a good one. The sweet potato overpowers the cauliflower taste.

This recipe also gave me an excuse to purchase an immersion blender  and I am in love. It is way better than a handheld mixer that you use for baking… I dread using those things because most of the food ends up on the walls.

Yields: 16 cups (8oz) and freezes well!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Sweet Potato (Approx 2 large potatoes)- peeled and cubed
  • 2 pounds fresh head of cauliflower- roughly chopped
  • Original recipe calls for 1 quart veggie broth, I used chicken broth for extra flavor
  • 1 large onion-diced
  • 5 cloves garlic peeled. I minced my garlic
  • 4 stalks scallion- chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme- I did not have this so I used oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (more if you really like a kick)
  • 1/4 tsp salt or to taste- My hubby said it was enough salt. I had to add more to my soup
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2oz. cream cheese

Directions:

  • Put everything into your crock pot except for milk and cream cheese. Set on high for 4-5 hours or until veggies are fork tender (took mine 4 hours)
  • Once tender, turn slow cooker off, add milk and cream cheese and blend using an immersion blender.
  • I topped our soups off with crumbled bacon, scallions and shredded cheese.

Stay tuned for a Caprese meatball recipe. So good!

XOXO,

Rachel

 

 

Cheat Clean Pizza

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This pizza is awesome and so is my Pusheen cat eating pizza shirt

You are so lucky that I am not greedy when it comes to sharing food or I would have never provided this gem of a product to you. It’s called Real Good Pizza and it’s delivered straight to your door.

Christmas came early this year and all of Santa’s Little Helpers are putting together these little, beautiful, tasty pizzas to drop at your front door. Just because you’ve eaten bad here and there doesn’t mean you’ll get a lump of coal this year. Santa actually wants to help you reach your goal while enjoying guilt free, gluten free, grain free pizza.

Whoever created this is like the Steve Jobs of pizza or wait, the Mozart of pizza, ok last one, the Picasso of Pizza (ba dum tss!)

These 5” pizzas are packed with 25g of protein and only 4g net carbs. This is a low carbers dream! Three styles available for purchase: Pepperoni, Supreme, and Three Cheese 

Shipping is free and usually arrives within 2-3 business days and if you use code Rachel , you will get an additional 10% off your order.

Prep is easy as well- either microwave or oven and it has such a fresh taste. I served it along side a salad and was totally satisfied. My Husband is a huge evening snacker but he was so happy with this dinner that he didn’t reach for a snack last night. This is the definition of #cheatclean

One more thought before I go-

Pizza is life!

XOXO,

Rachel

Crock pot comfort soup

I love stews, soups, and meat and potatoes… Guess that’s the Russian in me, huh?

It’s almost October and while the days are still warm the nights are getting cooler. I love fall weather, fall outfits, decorations, tea and coffee… Call me a Basic Bitch but I don’t care!

The crock pot gets used here and there throughout the warmer months but it really takes real estate on the kitchen table during the colder months. I am a huge fan of soup. I could eat it breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s filling, easy to make, low cal/low carb and comforting. I made a huge batch Sunday night and having it for lunch every day this week.

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I got a little over zealous with the black pepper yesterday

1.5cup per serving

Ingredients:

  • 2 large onions-diced
  • 2 large celery stalks-diced
  • 2 large carrots-diced *In our house, the more carrots the better. Especially because our dog loves boiled carrots. Most of the time, I empty a small bag of baby carrots in the soup and scoop a bunch out for Mr.Marty Party Pants
  • 4 slices cooked bacon diced (do not get rid of bacon drippings)…If you prefer sausage, I bet some crumbled sausage would be good
  • 1 TSP Salt and pepper (or more to taste)
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • 4 cups chicken broth (I used College Inn)
  • 1 LB boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into itty bitty pieces
  • 2 Cups fresh spinach
  • *Red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

  • Cook bacon
  • While bacon is cooking, chop up onions, carrots and celery
  • Chop up chicken and season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning
  • Remove bacon from pan and cook chicken in drippings (add oil or butter if needed) until chicken is browned
  • Remove chicken and saute veggies for about 5-10 min then add one cup of the chicken broth and cook for another 5 minutes, scraping the pan to loosen browned bits
  • Add chicken, veggies, bacon and remaining broth to crock pot and cook on high for 3 hours
  • After 3 hours, add spinach and stir till wilted

The end!

XOXO,

Rachel

Cryo Therapy-Dog Therapy

Hi All,

Happy Tuesday aka 27 more hours of the work week left to go.  #Wompwompwomp

I’ve become somewhat of a gym fanatic over the past 2 years. I got two tickets to the gun show right here for ya. Due to my “hardcore” training, I’ve developed wrist pain, hip pain, and tendinitis in my right foot. The worst part of my weekend was when the Doc said “no more squats, zumba, stair-master” (the list goes on-basically anything that can irritate my foot). The best thing I heard all weekend was when the Doc said, “no burpees.” I texted my trainer immediately to let her know the severity of the situation and under no circumstance can we do burpees anymore.

In an effort to fix myself, I gave cryo therapy a shot and of course my Husband joined me because he is my biggest cheerleader. I understand that cryo is not a quick fix nor is it the end all be all but I’ve heard good things so #yolo. They place you in a big tank for 3 min and your skin reaches about -1F. I have a pretty high pain threshold but a very low tolerance for cold weather and to me, 75-80 is cold. I was a bit nervous hearing how cold it gets in that chamber but they assured me that it’s just the skin that gets cold and it really isn’t THAT bad.

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Bbbbrrrrr….

It was a strange sensation. I was so cold on the outside and shaking involuntarily but my insides were totally normal. Sometimes it’s so cold you feel it in your bones, you know? This wasn’t the case with cryo. I felt totally normal on the inside but so so-very cold on the outside. After the three minutes, you warm up in front of a bunch of heat lamps and it’s all good in da hood. My body felt as if I just got the best massage ever. I felt so relaxed and had zero tension in my neck and back.

I woke up the next day with ZERO pain in my ankle. I thought I was cured! So, to celebrate I did an intense hour of zumba (this instructor is no joke) and spent the rest of the weekend feeling like an idiot because my ankle was throbbing. Does cryo help- I think yes. Will I do it again- most definitely.

Feeling a bit down for a few weeks now. Nothing too serious but still making me feel bleh. Sometimes all you need is some dog therapy.

My dog is the best. Marty- part Chihuahua part Jack Russell total maniac total lush. I always wondered who loved me more; my dad, my mom or my husband but that’s such a silly question, it’s obviously Marty. Who else will share a pie of pizza and pint of ice cream with you and not pass judgement and since you’re lactose intolerant you’re experiencing your own Chernobyl-like consequences but that loyal dog will sit there quietly as if nothing is happening. That my friends is the ultimate #judgementfreezone. If you don’t have a dog, you should get one. They will melt the coldest of hearts and fill your every day mundane life with love, laughter, and kisses. As always, adopt don’t shop! I hope everyone experiences a Marty in their lives ❤

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Look- it’s my Marty

Stay tuned for a low carb comfort soup recipe…..

xoxo,

Rachel