Change in Circumstances

My client, Sharon, recently ended a job and has a few weeks off until her next job starts. Sharon has worked in an office setting for the last twenty years, so suddenly being home a lot more during the day has been a big change for her. Unsurprisingly, she has had some trouble with her eating. Whenever dieters have a change in circumstances, it’s always important to take a step back, evaluate the potential challenges, and come up with a plan. Sharon found that some of her new eating challenges were:

  • snacking too much during the day;
  • eating too much for lunch; and
  • drinking alcohol during the week.

Sharon and I first assessed her eating schedule. When she worked in the office, Sharon would eat three meals and one snack during the day. I asked Sharon if she wanted to change this at all, noting that if she added in more snacks, it would mean her meals would have to get smaller. Sharon said that prepping saladshe was mostly snacking out of boredom, not hunger, so there was no need to add in extra snacks. Number one Sharon’s new eating plan was:

No extra snacking during the day. Stick to my schedule of breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, dessert. 

I next reminded Sharon that when she worked in the office, planning her lunch in advance was obviously important, because if she didn’t plan it and bring it with her, her only last-minute options were fast food, which she knew didn’t agree with her. Now that she’s home more, Sharon fell into the trap of thinking that planning in advance was no longer so important. I pointed out to Sharon that it was just as important as ever. In the office she needed to plan because if she didn’t, her options were too limited; now that she’s at home she needs to plan in advance because she has too many tempting options and she’s likely to overeat if she makes spontaneous food decisions. With this in mind, Sharon decided that she could allow herself a little flexibility with food choices, but not too much.  Number two on Sharon’s new eating plan was:

Plan in advance one or two options for lunch and snack every day. I can pick between two things, but I can’t pick between everything in the kitchen. That just doesn’t work.

Sharon also noted that she had started drinking wine or a beer some nights during the week, because every day felt like the weekend to her. Drinking during the week is a habit that Sharon broke about a year ago when we first started working together. She recognized that this was not a pattern she wanted to fall back in to, if for no other reason than that she’d have to cut it out in a few weeks when she started work again, anyway. Number three on her plan was:

No alcohol during the week. Period.

Sharon and I also discussed that these next few weeks could be a great time to really focus on losing weight. Not every time period is ideal for weight loss. During December, Sharon’s goal was just to maintain. When she was going through the stress of her husband’s illness, her goal was to maintain. When she’s on vacation, her goal is to maintain. But right now? Now is perfect for weight loss! Sharon noted that if she really regained control, she’d feel even better about herself and more self-confident when she started her new job in a few weeks, two major items which have been on her Advantages List since the beginning.

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