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Last week I spent six days largely confined to a hospital room. No, not mine, I’m fine thank you. My 9-year old daughter’s. She had pneumonia (better now, thanks again) and was stuck in bed on oxygen and IV antibiotics.
To say that my usually full schedule was thrown for a loop is an understatement. Not only did I miss a week’s worth of workouts (in retrospect, I’m referring to it as a ‘planned rest week’), but I also desperately missed my refrigerator and kitchen cupboards.
I’ve been in hospitals enough this past year to be completely familiar with the cafeteria’s offerings. Heavy on the starchy carbs, fats and processed sugars with very few ‘clean’ meals available. The irony of a place of healing serving such unhealthy food never ceases to amaze me. (Immediately after childbirth, new moms are continually hounded by the nursing staff as to whether they’ve had a bowel movement; certainly a lot harder when the only fruit you’re served comes wrapped in jello and veggies are canned and overcooked. But I digress.)
So I did what I usually do when I’m out of the house for the day. I pack my cooler in the morning. Lots of fresh veggies, cut and washed. Two servings of low sugar fruit. Cooked chicken breasts and hard-boiled eggs. Some unsalted nuts and a bit of brown rice or sweet potato to fill me up. And water, of course. Plenty of water. (And my sister brought me a ME-approved protein bar which I absolutely loved; thanks sis!)
I ate my planned meals and snacks when I was hungry, as opposed to when the clock said I should. I drank lots of water (why are hospitals always so dry?) and minimal coffee (if it’s not Italian espresso, it’s not worth sipping ). Most nights I went to bed a wee bit hungry (can’t remember when the last time that happened was).
At the end of the week, I came home and hopped on the scales. Down 3 pounds in 6 days.
Pretty sure that it’s neither water weight (light colored pee, you know) nor muscle (no measurable change in strength according to Sunday and Monday’s workouts). Plus, my belly is flat(ter).
What happened? I know exactly what I did differently.
Without continuous access to my refrigerator and pantry, I ate only the foods I packed for myself in the morning. In the morning. When I have complete control of my faculties and am determined that ‘today’ is going to be the cleanest day yet.
There was no opportunity to grab another handful of nuts or a (home made) protein bar or a piece of bread. Those little extras are never consumed mindfully; sometimes I catch myself eating without even realizing that I’ve opened the refrigerator or cupboard door. Without ever having felt hungry in the first place. Without thinking about how those additional calories would impact my fitness and nutrition goals.
This week, back at home in my kitchen, I’m taking extra care. I’ve returned to planning my nutrition a day in advance. Packing up single servings of leftovers to eat for lunch the following day. Thinking hard about whether or not I’m hungry when I venture into the kitchen for a snack.
Thankful to a hospital stay for the reminder to eat mindfully again.
Have you ever found yourself eating something and been unable to remember the act of preparing it or removing it from the fridge or the cupboard?
What time of day do you find it most difficult to be mindful of your nutrition?
Do you have any strategies that you use to reduce mindless eating? I’d love to hear them!