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How long have you struggled to accomplish the goal you’ve chosen to focus on? What have your plans looked like in the past? Have you been excited or totally drained while you were executing your plans? What would it look like if you took steps that made you feel like you were building momentum instead of hardly chipping away at your goal? How could you change the way you LOOK at your goal so it felt more manageable? Could you focus on what you are going to eat and what you are going to do for exercise today instead of for the next month? Could you focus on how you are going to lose your next five pounds instead of losing 100? Could you focus on one drawer in your office as opposed to the whole entire office? Could you focus on one page of your book as opposed to a chapter? What are some ways you could let go of those feelings of struggle today?

I think I began my first diet when I was around 14 or 15, back in the days when I was young enough for SparkTeen. I didn’t know much about calorie counting back then. I ate things like raisins because I was told they had iron. I reasoned that I should only eat 1 slice of toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter instead of two (peanut butter on toast was a common “diet” breakfast when I was 11 and 12 though my focus wasn’t exactly weight loss at that time),  or half a sandwich instead of a whole one. I really had no clue what I was doing. I didn’t know the importance of not eating too little. Needless to say, those days were short-lived.

My cluelessness did, however, continue with my first attempt at Weight Watchers on the first day of my junior year of high school. Once again, I really had no clue what I was doing. I had a Points Slider, and I knew my daily target, but that’s about it. I’m sure I ate a dozen bags of freeze dried apples on day 1. After all, they did come out to 0 points. I had no idea that in Weight Watchers, 2 0 point items can add up to 2 points.

Sometimes, knowledge is power, but other times, it’s detrimental to my efforts. Understanding the basics of counting Points or macro-nutrient goals definitely has helped lead me to some minor (and major) success on the scale in the past, but it has also led to overwhelm. Sites like MyFitnessPal can get pretty technical about these numbers, and it’s difficult to figure out how many calories I really should eat. Should I go with their recommendations? How many exercise calories should I eat back? Do I go with the increasingly popular TDEE- 20% method (eating a 20% reduction of the calories I burn each day)? Of course, that method has it’s pros and cons. The pro is that I can definitely eat more, but there’s also the con of the margin of error in these calculations. Plus, it’s hard to really understand that I can eat so much and lose weight without going too out of control. I’ve had plenty of time to think about diet approaches. I’ve done Weight Watchers on my own, online, and in meetings. I’ve done South Beach. I’ve gone Paleo. I’ve tried filling my plate half-full with veggies. I’ve tried eating only whole foods. I’ve counted calories on Sparkpeople, MyFitnessPal, FitDay, Livestrong, and more. I’ve done workout programs with Coach Nicole, Jillian Michaels, and Leslie Sansone. I even drank Slim Fast shakes when I was younger (but more because I liked them than anything else).

And with those countless attempts at dieting, I’ve tried various approaches. I’ve tried focusing on small and large goals. One round, I’ll focus on 5 pound goals, and the next, I’ll focus on the overall picture. Both have had equal success. I’ve tried non-scale goals broken up in 4 week chunks with success and failure.

Right now, I am trying another round of setting 4 week focus goals. For this first 4 weeks, my only goal is to worry about my diet because of this DietBet. I figure spending 4 weeks just on diet without changing my workout routine might be a good idea.

Next month, I’m going to do a 28 Day Leslie Sansone challenge from the new DVD kit I bought at Walmart. I’m not sure what I’m doing after that. Perhaps, I’ll do another Leslie challenge. Since the following 28 days coincides with Thanksgiving, I might give Ripped in 30 or 30 Day Shred a try. I’m not entirely sure at this moment.

I’m also giving a slightly different approach to weight loss goals. Weight Watchers has always gotten me focused on 5 pound, 5%, and 10% goals. However, my DietBet goal is to lose 4% in 4 weeks, so I thought I’d stick with that. Every 4 weeks, I’ll find my new “starting” weight and reset my little MyFitnessPal ticker to reflect my new 4% goal. Right now, my goal is to lose an average of 1.9 pounds a week for these 4 weeks, but if I hit my 4% goal exactly, my next goal is to lose 1.85 pounds per week.

Now, some months, I’ll blow my goal out of the water, and that’s fine. Other months, I might fall short, but no matter what, my new goal number is reset at that 4 week point.

I am still second-guessing my diet approach. I do like my cheat day/meal because it allows me to keep control over the course of the remainder of the week (I can deal with temptation and cravings by reminding myself that I can wait until Monday), but I also worry that I’m not eating enough the rest of the week. Then, of course, I might need to be more strict about counting calories in fruits and veggies as I get smaller. Perhaps, in the future, the TDEE method might be a better approach.

But for now, I’m going to go with what is working. I’m fairly confident I will get through the holidays without too much issue. I have a few special events coming up. Monday (fortunately, my cheat day), Alex and I are taking a little daytrip into Pennsylvania. Near the end of October, we are planning a trip into NYC, but I’ll also be more active there. We are also talking about possibly going apple and pumpkin picking and doing a corn maze during that same week as our NYC trip.

Then, of course, we have Thanksgiving dinner in November, and Christmas and New Years in December. Christmas involves a Christmas Eve buffet lunch before shopping, Christmas Eve Chinese food, and Christmas dinner. New Years Eve involves our annual “party.”

Hopefully, moving my cheat days for those occasions will help. I also plan on being more active at the corn maze and in NYC, and I’m going to put a bit more emphasis on my workouts during the holidays. I know that if I stay on track the rest of the time, I’ll pull out just fine, and maybe, next year, I’ll be able to tackle the holidays and stay in my calorie ranges on those days. This year, I only need to make sure I don’t take the entire month of December off.

I did that a little more than three years ago right when Points Plus came out, and I gained about 18 pounds in one month.

I can’t let that happen again.