Tag Archives: The Power of Habit

BMI? OMG!

The morning started simply enough, with a gesture of friendship and goodwill when I agreed to be a friend’s teammate as she undertakes the President’s Challenge. And it ended in a horrifying epiphany when I needed to weigh myself: I have gained 13 pounds since October!

If that wasn’t enough, check this out: whereas I was borderline before, this weight gain has bumped me squarely into the “obese” category of the body mass index (BMI).

But HA, there are many documented problems with the BMI as an evaluative tool! Maybe you just gained a lot of muscle!

Let’s see here. First there was the Oregon winter keeping me cooped up inside, paired with four months of sitting on my bum writing my MPub project report, followed by a month of eschewing Pedalpalooza. All that time I’ve been trying to eat on the cheap which has resulted in a lot more fats and fewer vegetables. There was that delicious recipe for lemon ice cream I discovered just yesterday. Yeah—I don’t think that too much muscle is my problem…

Typically I monitor my weight by the measurement of my pants. When my pants get a little tight around the waist, I know it’s time to start monitoring my exercise and eating habits. But this weekend I wore a bike jersey that suddenly had a one-inch midriff in the front that I don’t recall it having before. Just yesterday I noticed my suit pants were a little tighter than the last time I wore them. A few days before, I chatted with my mom while intending to eat two or three spoonfuls of ice cream from a carton. Ten minutes later, I realized my mom was right—I should have gotten a bowl! Because I discovered I had eaten a lot more than I intended.

What’s the game plan, then?

In Missoula last summer, I started experimenting with an iPhone app and website called Lose It! The program really helped me keep tabs on my eating and exercise habits. When I moved back to Portland my life became more chaotic, and my regular use of the program quickly stopped. (Fun fact: my daily walks in Missoula were often a combined length of two and a half hours. Today’s walks in Outer SE Portland totaled an hour—barely. I have some theories about why walking is so much more unattractive in Portland, but the discrepancy is pretty telling, wouldn’t you say?)

There’s also the matter of my bike trip, which starts in 17 days. While I’ve done practice overnight trips this spring (Champoeg and Metzler), I have not yet done much hill training. According to our group leader there is at least one day with a significant climb. While I’ve primarily been focusing on my job search the last couple of months, in the next two weeks I clearly need to prioritize gearing up for this bike trip.

Over the past few days I’ve been reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, which has been influencing how I perceive everyday activities. In the book, Duhigg discusses the role that peer pressure plays in the formation of habits. I too have found that accountability to others is almost as great a motivator as a big scary red number (see above photo). In putting this blog post up on the internets I aim to do the following:
• Create public accountability of my goal. If nobody knows, I won’t have to answer to anybody, will I? Then what motivation do I have?
• Encourage people to share their stories. How do you keep your weight in check? Ensure you’re eating right and moving enough? Tell me!
•  Invite people to join me. Are you on Lose It? Let’s keep each other accountable by joining forces. Do you bike? Let’s go on a bike ride in the next several days! I’ve yet to see the Columbia River Gorge Historic Highway, Rocky Butte, Mount Scott, or many other places from my bike. Let’s get in cahoots.

Traditionally I have not been someone overly concerned about “the number” or starving myself over a societal image of beauty. However, I do like to feel good in my body, and thinking back, that feeling was loads higher last September than it has been more recently. It’s time to do a little positive self-adjustment!

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