Dieting requires a lot of time and energy – shopping for food, planning meals, keeping a food journal, and exercising. Learn to make weight loss a priority.
It’s a fairly common joke about dieting – “I went on a diet for ten days and all I lost was ten days.” While the dieter may consider things such as joining a gym and selecting a diet as necessary steps toward weight loss, one of the most important aspects of a diet is time management.
Don’t raise your eyebrow in doubt. How many times have you joined a gym and then bemoaned that you never have time to go? And have you ever tried to begin a diet on Monday morning only to realize that you never took the time to go shopping for foods appropriate for your diet?
Analyzing Your Diet Day
What steps are necessary to lose weight? Meals need to be planned and food purchased (and even if you are following a meal plan you still need to know that you have the food on hand). Meals need to be prepared. Time needs to be devoted to eating slowly and consciously while mindfully noting the body’s hunger and satisfaction signals.
If maintaining a food journal, time needs to be available for that – although recording what one just ate takes just seconds, an individual must consciously give time and priority to that step. Time for exercise must be scheduled. Include “hidden” time snatchers like driving to and from the gym, time in the locker room, showering and so on.
Examine your diet and exercise plans and record the activities that you’ll need to fit into your current schedules.
Is it Easy to Schedule Workouts?
If you’re hoping that time will magically appear in your schedule, consider that you’re setting yourself up to lose (and that doesn’t refer to excess weight). Write out a schedule from morning to night, noting how you spend time. You may not realize everything you do during the day, so look at your day in 30-minute increments throughout an average day. You can say general things like “work” or “errands” or “chores.” Watch for those hidden time snatchers like driving, checking email throughout the day and the like.
Are there obvious things that you can give up in favor of dieting, such as going for a walk instead of watching the evening news? If nothing seems obvious, try the technique suggested by Judith Beck, PhD in her book The Beck Diet Solution (Oxmoor House, 2008) and create a priority chart to reduce your activity.
Prioritizing Diet and Exercise with Judith Beck
Divide the activities you identified on your schedule into three charts, “essential activities,” “highly desirable activities,” and “desirable” activities. Include diet and exercise as “essential activities.” If too many things end up in that first category, consider if you are living by unrealistic rules, such as “I must go to all of my children’s sports events in order to be a supportive father,” “To be a good mother, I must be available at all times to chauffeur my children,” “I must do paperwork at home so I’m seen as an efficient worker.”
Realize that things like a clean and organized house are “highly desirable” or “desirable” activities that may need to be bumped aside in order to make time for dieting. Beck suggests asking questions such as, “Do I truly have control over my schedule? Am I overburdened with responsibilities? Do I feel as if my life is just too complicated?” Ask if losing weight is more essential to your life than other activities.
Before jumping into a diet or exercise plan, consider how time management can make it more likely that you’ll engage in the activities necessary to lose excess weight. Determine which activities are essential in one’s day-to-day life in order to find the time you need.