Last month I spent $900 on food, including both groceries and takeaway. That’s $30 a day for just one person. Way too much! Part of the problem is that I have no real constraints on my spending; no mortgage or major debts, no dependents to support and no partner to explain myself to. I can go out to dinner any night I like and get takeaway on the way home if I don’t feel like cooking. A month ago my department (ICT) was moved off the main part of the Uni campus, which means I no longer have meeting rooms I can use for my meetings near where my clients work. So I have been meeting in coffee shops several times a day and each time ordering a tea and a cake/biscuit/chocolate. And of course none of this food is healthy so the recent weight gain is easily explained.
Last time I lost weight I did it through Weight Watchers which worked really well at the time because I really needed to learn what healthy food was and some portion control. I have tried doing that again but now my lifestyle has changed dramatically and the problem is behavioural rather than knowledge based. So I’m following some excellent (research based) advice from Dr BJ Fogg of Stanford Uni’s Persuasive Tech Lab. He recently released a great little mobile book “Design for Lasting Change” (which you should really read) that gives a clear and simple explanation of how to make a lasting change to behaviour. You should read it yourself, it is designed for a mobile touch screens, is only 28 pages long and very well written.
Following BJ’s advice I have picked a few small baby steps I can make and I have determined on how to change my environment. I’ll leave the baby steps for another post because the environmental change is the thing that I am focussing on at the moment: I have tried to completely remove my ability to spend money. (I’m dealing with motivation and triggers via the baby steps I’ll explain next post). In fact I am hoping to go a whole month without setting foot in a shop, cafe, restaurant or retail establishment. If I do end up in a cafe for a meeting I will not spend any money as I won’t have any to spend.
Here’s how I think I can live through October without buying any food from cafes, supermarkets or Hot Jam Donut trucks.
- I have ordered Lite n Easy, which is delivered weekly and includes all the food I need except milk, already prepared.
- I’ve setup all my regular bills to be paid via BPay or Direct Debit.
- I’ve given my credit card to my daughter to mind and taken my debit card out of my wallet and put it away at home.
- I have enough milk for a week and will either order more next week online for home delivery or ask my daughter to drop some around.
- I’ve put a Keep Cup and some tea bags in my work bag and will be taking my own tea to coffee shop meetings. This has the added benefit of getting tea that is made properly! With boiling water!! Ahem, where was I?
- I have two friends who owe me takeaway dinners and I’ve worded them up about their emergency responsibilities in October should I be desperate enough to think about buying takeaway.
Best of all I have a two level reward planned for October 31: if I make it through the month without buying any unhealthy food I will buy myself the kayak I’ve been wanting for ages. But if I make it through the month without buying anything unhealthy and also without going into a shop, restaurant or cafe at all, then I will buy the new bike I really, really like. Realistically I don’t expect to get the bike as the cafe’s are the easy choice for meetings at work but I am very determined that I am going to get that kayak! You will note that I have not mentioned weight loss here. Probably I will lose weight but that will be a side product of behaving in a way that supports healthy eating