I’ve been busy trying to lose weight over the last month, and although progress has been made, it has been frustrating. Here are some things I’ve noticed which are impeding progress:
- family commitments. Visiting family members and doing errands for them requires extra driving and time. Also, as a sidenote, there are often uncontrolled opportunities for snacking.
- Talking to friends on the telephone. Just one or two unanticipated phone calls a week can cost me about 1 or 2 hours of precious free time. Last week, I had two cases where people called me during times I should be exercising. For one of them, I ended up having to cancel the exercise session because the person could not reschedule another time.
- Computer problems. Often, my schedule will be disrupted by technological emergencies which cause me to drop everything I’m doing and focus entirely on that. That causes housework, meal planning and exercise plans to be thwarted.
- Participating in social groups. I love going to groups. I usually hit one or two every week, but make no mistake. On those evenings, it is virtually impossible to exercise and/or do meal planning and preparation.
- Full time work. My current job isn’t bad, but at times it demands priority when a deadline is coming up. It makes it difficult to take time off or to “recuperate”. Also, if I work too hard at my job, when I come home I’m too tired to cook a meal or work out.
- Writing. I try to write on a daily basis. In reality, I’m lucky if I have three productive sessions of writing every week. Sometimes, I have to weigh the advantage of writing vs. the advantage of working out (and the extra energy it will give me). Almost always, when comparing the two alternatives, writing always wins out. Writing drains a lot of energy from me and often shifts my sleep patterns.
- Programming. I like programming, but I spend a 100th of the time I need to become proficient. Whenever I do have free time, I try to do it, but often it means deferring exercise.
- Shopping/Online Research. I could spend hours doing research and shopping online. Ultimately it is a time-saver, but it also consumes a lot of my free time. In the Paradox of Choice, I am someone who likes to have the maximum of information to make a decision. Yet it always manages to clutter up my evenings.
- The need to relax. I love watching movies and sometimes TV. I watch a lot less than I want to.
- Blogging (a minor factor).
- Lack of time for housework. Falling behind on chores means no time to prepare meals, no working space to exercise and are usually a symptom of lacking adequate time for rest.
Note that I don’t include reading; I’ve never found that reading is a big obstacle to anything at the moment. Here, you see, is the problem. To have a regular exercise regimen, you need a life schedule that won’t be disrupted. But I’d be the first to admit that I enjoy and even need almost every single activity mentioned on this list. If I didn’t go to social groups, I’d go crazy. If I didn’t fix my computer, I’d go crazy. If I didn’t talk on the telephone to people, I’d grow crazy. At some point, you need to say, what activity takes priority? Obviously, I could quit my job and stay in my apartment all day and lose weight and exercise regularly, and I’d probably lose weight. Reasons 1,4 and 5 require a lot of driving around, and driving will just increase the size of the gut. (In a large city like Houston, it also increases your stress level). 3,6,7 and 8 require staring at a monitor, and even though that’s not bad in itself, it is more sedentary than humans are suited for. Saying that losing weight you need to eat less is beside the point. How do you organize your lifestyle so that you have time to avoid these temptations and stay physically active? Weight loss involves self-control, but it also involves planning of meals–something I never seem to have time for. Should I make time for it? Very well…from which of the 11 activities should this time come?
Losing weight is not a challenge of self-discipline or good nutrition; it is a challenge of organization and time management.