My Personal Clean Slate

clean blackboardHave you ever heard the proverb “Begin as you mean to go on”? It means that beginnings count. How you start is how you’ll continue. New beginnings are a way to start over. Gretchen Rubin (there she is again!) calls it “the strategy of the clean slate” in her book on habits. (The link is to a video she did on the subject.)

So, although I didn’t plan it that way, I started out in our new life here at Lowell & Jan’s with a clean slate about food: I just wasn’t going to eat any sweets.

No desserts. No ice cream. No (gulp) root beer floats, which were on offer last night. Jan loves to bake, and she loves to feed people. (No baking was involved in the root beer floats, though.) For Jim and Gideon, the twin blast-furnaces, it’s great. And her homemade desserts add a nice touch to all sorts of gatherings. But for me, pre-diabetic and abstainer that I am, it’s just not workable to say, “Oh wow—root beer floats! A special occasion! I’ll indulge just this once.” Then I never know where to draw the line. It’s easier all around if I’m just known as the one who doesn’t eat sweets.

I will say that I’ve managed to lose about five pounds on this new regimen, with about three to go. There are some Lee’s jeans sitting in the drawer that I can a-l-m-o-s-t fit into, one size smaller than my current ones. It’s not that big of a deal, of course, to be able to wear a smaller size, but it’s a nice goal with a built-in reward, as I really like the jeans. That’s another strategy about habits, albeit a trickier one: make the reward be something that furthers and fosters the goal, not something that undermines it. So don’t reward yourself for losing weight by indulging in chocolate cake; reward yourself by buying a piece of clothing you really like in your new smaller size. Then you have a self-reinforcing reward, because you’ll want to be able to keep wearing the new item. (It’s also helpful to get rid of all your bigger clothes once you’ve reached the new size; that’s what I do, anyway. And you should read or re-read the Mr. Money Mustache post “You Can’t Cure Obesity with Bigger Pants.” It’s about a lot more than obesity, just so you know.)

We leave on vacation a week from today, so that makes a good finish line for my weight-loss goal. (Or close to it, anyway, since two pounds is about the most one should try to lose in a week.) I’ll be spending a lot of time sitting in a car for the first week as we make our way to Christiansburg VA to drop off Gideon’s stuff at his new apartment and then on to Charleston SC, where the shrimp and grits will be calling my name. Oh yes! You can thoroughly enjoy eating but just not eat a lot. It’s like Mireille Giuliano (the French Woman) says: “The first three bites are what taste the best.” Or something like that. (I don’t care what people say—I like her!)

Do you have a change coming up in your life that you could treat as a clean slate?

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