New Habit: The Diet


As I mentioned in a post last week, I’m accumulating a small habit each week. I more-or-less successfully pulled off doing devotion at the beginning and reflecting at the end of each day, and this week’s habit is to go on a diet.

That’s actually not a small habit, but it’s technically to get back on a diet.

Just before Biggie took his month-long vacation away from home, I started on the slow-carb diet outlined and popularized by Tim Ferriss. I lost some weight, bought new pants, got more energy. The sudden disruption in life knocked off my commitment to it, however, and now I’m re-committing to it.

There’s a couple features of that particular diet that appealed to me and cemented some insight into building habits overall:

  • It made meals automatic. You basically eat the same thing for most of the week: some combination of beans, protein, and veggies. Removing any mental energy around deciding what to eat helped with my willpower. Once I made a single decision to live with a boring regimen, I was okay with it.
  • It had some quick initial gains. I lost weight immediately. I also felt my energy and blood sugar even out fairly quickly. That began a momentum to stick with it.
  • It answered absence with abundance. Going cold turkey with sugar and fried foods was going to be hard — but I knew that whenever I felt pangs or cravings, I could just eat, just as long as I was eating the basic boring regimen I committed to. It was handy to have a ready answer to temptations.
  • It had a periodic reward. Every Saturday was a cheat day in which I not only got to, but was encouraged to, gluttonously indulge in all the foods I was normally forbidden from. Every time I had a very specific craving, I could park it temporarily into a running list of things I was going to sate myself with on Saturday. Interestingly, those Saturdays started out as necessary weekly finish-lines and eventually became kind of a chore. My body learned that it did not feel great when it got fed like that.
  • My biggest allies–and enemies–were my loved ones. They were generally very encouraging, noting the many positive changes, and I thrived on their support. However, they were also subtly undermining in a number of ways. My mother-in-law, in particular, often bought or cooked a mess of food that I couldn’t readily just channel to the kids–and I loathe wasting food. I could have also benefited from some dedicated refrigerator space, but I often felt the fridge crowded me out. Being the sole family member on the diet was isolating. I’m sure if I dwelled on this more, I could think of a number of other things, but I’m-a-cut myself off there.

I can’t really strongly advocate for the slow-carb diet regarding its nutritional superiority, but in terms of adoptability and habit-building, it’s kind of genius.

What about the kids this week? I’m not putting them on a diet. Not really.

But I am adopting the Santillos’ policy regarding food with their kids: recycling meals.

I provide meals. Written proposals are welcome. The kids may choose to eat as much of the meal as they would like. Any leftovers, though, will get packed up and used again for the subsequent meal. Until it is finished.

Again, I am constantly in danger of getting undermined here, but it’s kind of working, and I’m stressing out less around meal preparation.


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