An important step in the process of changing your eating habits is to take inventory of your current lifestyle. You need to give yourself and your life a real honest look so that you can be realistic about what needs to change. It may be beneficial to have a friend help you, or to hire a professional like a personal trainer.
There are three main areas of your life that need examining: your physical state, your home and work environment, and your social support.
Your current physical state is a reflection of the way you are treating your body, and can be a big motivator for change. Taking inventory of where you are at now also gives you something to hold future results up to as a measurement of progress. A physical inventory should include as many of the following as possible:
- visit a doctor for a physical and have blood work performed (baseline blood chemistry assessment)
- take a body fat reading using skin calipers – this measuring kit with bodyfat calipers will help get you started.
- take measurements (neck, shoulder, chest, upper arm, waist, hip, thigh, calf) using a tape measure
- record your resting and working heart rate (beats/minute)
- take photos of yourself in a swimsuit or tight clothes against a plain wall, facing front, side, and back
- take your weight on a scale (this is optional, as scales can be inaccurate and frustrating for many. If you are someone who obsesses over the number, you might want to skip this)
I don’t know anyone who looks forward to performing any of these “before” measurements, but I promise you will be so glad you did down the line when you can compare and see how far you’ve come!
Home and Work Environment
Are your home and work environments set up for success, or are they hindering you? Check your kitchen pantry and refrigerator. Is it full of processed junk foods, sodas, or other items that are making it easy for you to eat when you’re stressed out or have had a hard day?
Maybe you even have hidden stashes of junk food in drawers where others won’t find them. Does your spouse bring home fried chicken for dinner on a regular basis? When you get to work, is there a box of donuts waiting in your break room? Is there a snack jar on someone’s desk, maybe yours, that calls out to you throughout the day? Do you travel for work and are forced to eat out on a regular basis, and end up choosing unhealthy foods? Do you find yourself snacking on whatever is in the mini bar of your hotel room? Identify your hot spots at work and home, and write them down. You cannot solve a problem until you have identified it.
Does any of this sound familiar?
- “Why aren’t you eating [insert community junk food here]? One time won’t hurt.”
- “It’s been a long day, I just want to relax and not worry about what we’re eating.”
- “Since you’ve been working out you don’t hang out with us as much.”
- “Don’t get too thin!”
- “Stop worrying so much, it’s just food.”
Do the people in your home and office have healthy habits? Do you have a partner who would work out with you or try to adopt healthy eating too? Do your co-workers or spouse regularly bring around snacks and junk food? Do the people you eat with at restaurants order healthy meals? Do you belong to a gym? Do your friends and family think you’re nuts for wanting to change your lifestyle, or do they seem interested too? Do the people you live or work with try to pull you away from your scheduled exercise time? Answer these questions and you will have a general idea of whether you can expect support, or an additional hurdle to overcome.
For this week: Follow the instructions of the article as best you can, and write down your findings. Try to predict any obstacles that these may present for you so that in future steps, you can better prepare strategies for working around them.
For next week: We will be setting our long-term and short-term goals, and creating a plan based around them that will help get us there.
This article is part of a blog series titled The Steps to Developing Healthy Eating Habits. Be sure to check out the rest of the series.