From Life to Dieting –

A Transfer of Skills

  • image descriptionKori Propst, MS
  • image descriptionJune 1st, 2011
From Life to Dieting – A Transfer of Skills

June 23 was my one year anniversary. The move to Evansville, Indiana started on June 22, 2008 with a morning jog. My bike, which was typically stationed in the garage on its trainer, packed in the back of the mammoth Penske truck, was unusable that day. I had to improvise. Breakfast, also not my typical meal of 2 slices whole grain toast, one half with fat free cream cheese and tomatoes, the other with thinly sliced avocado sprinkled lightly with salt and pepper, 3 egg whites and some spinach asiago chicken sausage, was altered in an effort to use up the food in the frig that would spoil should it be left there during the 5 days I would be hitting the open road. I had packed my other meals in a cooler that we would have nestled between the large bucket seats in the Penske cabin. Plenty of water was ready also. For some reason road trips dehydrate me! I knew I'd be sitting for a long time as I navigated my way across Colorado, through Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and down into Indiana. My exercise routine would not be the same. My eating schedule would be different. Like the routes I ended up taking to reach Indiana, some detours due to construction, some made at the last minute due to fatigue or a need to fill the tank, I was forced to make some changes personally based on the circumstances. Scary, you might think! I have many clients now who have started the Diet Doc nutrition program, been very successful, and then lo and behold, they have to travel or something unanticipated is thrown their way. What do they do?! They can‟t eat the foods they‟ve become accustomed to preparing for themselves. Their environments will be foreign. The unknown, change, and transition is feared. Life gets in the way. They commonly express concern about how they are going to continue losing weight and seeing that number on the scale decrease with all this “stuff of life” they‟ve got piling up on their plates. And to their pleas for help I say, “Isn‟t eating the stuff of life too?” Yes, we must learn to fuel our bodies with appropriately nutritious foods in good amounts and in a manner that will give us the best, longest lasting energy, AND at the same time, do so as part of an integrated lifestyle practice.

What many of us don‟t think about is that we utilize the skills that are important in dieting success every day in other areas of our lives. Most of my clients have children. When the women were pregnant I know they planned to get to their doctor‟s appointments. They may have packed food with them or medicines because they had gestational diabetes or experienced morning sickness. When they traveled and were pregnant, it‟s my bet that they had to plan for extra bathroom breaks. When they had their children, planning became even more important. Stroller- check. Diaper bag- check. Was a new car purchased in anticipation of the child? A bigger house with a baby room? Laundry just shot through the roof with a new baby‟s reusable diapers to wash. Trash piled up more quickly. Trips to the grocery store could no longer be done in a half hour. Instead, combine carrying the little one and jugging the groceries at the same time and packing and unpacking the car, that trip just grew to an hour and a half endeavor! Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a traveling businessman, our lives depend on our abilities to plan. Think about the work that goes into planning a vacation. There is a lot to consider: destination, accommodations, price, affordability, attractions, restaurant options, night life, available activities. Now think about the process by which you have gone about deciding on these things. Just like with food, you reflect on your preferences. Do you like sunny and beach-like or the snowy forest? Based on your income, are you searching for something under a certain price range or are you prepared to spend an extravagant amount and spoil yourself? Because we each have different preferences, the Diet Doc program does not attempt to pigeon-hole its participants into certain menu plans. We recognize that each of you likes something different, and so we work within your personal preferences to help you incorporate those things into your diets in a healthy manner. Like a travel agent laying out your options for your next vacation, your Diet Doc consultant does the same, as your partner in health.

Not only do each of us have varying preferences, but we each rely on an interestingly different approach as well! Some of us may be more spontaneous while others can‟t “fly by the seat of their pants!” I for one like to think about and anticipate things. If I have to ask myself when I‟m going somewhere, „will I be cold?‟ I know I should take a jacket. Same thing when it comes to food. When I find myself questioning whether I‟m going to need a snack, I know that it‟s going to be in my best interest to pack one….just in case. Inevitably, I‟ve needed it. I plan my meals out the night before, others I work with eat as they go through their day and log as they eat. I‟ve seen both approaches work equally well. With my body and the likelihood that I will get low blood sugar easily, I eat every 2-3 hours. That means I‟m eating smaller meals and about seven times a day. I have plenty of clients who eat 3 or 4 times a day, the meals being more substantial, and they feel great. Energy is high, and they lose weight consistently. Again, each is a matter of lifestyle, personal preference, and individual need. Both take skill in their own right—the 4 meal a day person still has to plan what his meals are going to consist of if they‟re going to be balanced, just on a less frequent basis.

Let‟s list quickly what skills we use as we navigate life. I will list a few, but I‟m sure that you can think of many more as you go through what you experience on a daily basis. We will extrapolate to food-related endeavors so you can see that you have the abilities to diet and manage your weight with success.

  1. Anticipating: This requires asking yourself what your day might hold- will you be out of the office or in the office with a day full of appointments? Will you need quick, easy, convenient foods to snack on at periodic intervals, will you be going out to eat, or can you pack a big salad that might take you 20 minutes to eat? When you have an appointment across town, you anticipate when you ask yourself what traffic might be like in the middle of the day and leave early so you won‟t be late. You do this all the time!
  2. Scheduling: Think about when you can eat based on what your day will look like; for example, when my day holds seven appointments, I‟m asking myself at what times I‟m going to fit in a meal. I don‟t want to let myself go too long because not only will I feel awful, but my clients won‟t get the best of me if my energy is in the toilet! Your life may not revolve around food and activity now, but it revolves around SOMETHING. What are your priorities currently? Identify what you do to make sure you get to them.
  3. Analysis: This might look like me analyzing what went wrong when my energy tanked mid-day, how I combined my meals with protein and carbs, and assessing the type of carbs and planning to eat more slow burning carbohydrates to sustain me longer until my next meal.
  4. Planning: knowing that I‟m going to be traveling and spending a lot of time on airplanes, I will take a water bottle with me that I can fill up at the drinking fountains in the airports. I am saving money by not buying the very expensive water, and I am not letting myself get dehydrated because I know that I might mistake dehydration for hunger, it will affect my energy, and I will not feel as well.
  5. Identification of the what-ifs: It‟s important to take the time to assess what MIGHT happen in any given situation if you want to be the best planner possible. If you‟re traveling, what if you cannot stop for food? What if the restaurants you have to eat at cannot accommodate healthier type eating? What if the hotel at which you‟re staying does not have an exercise room? What if your flight gets delayed? By anticipating that things can and will not go as planned, you can avoid having to make difficult and often avoidable decisions.
  6. Developing a Plan B: Once you‟ve identified the “what-if‟s” you can put a plan of action into place. If you can‟t stop for food, you can make a list of items that you can take with you that are quick, easy, convenient, and don‟t require refrigeration. If you don‟t have access to a gym, you can bring resistance bands with you and put together your own little circuit training workout that can be done in the comfort of your hotel room! You always have options- it may just take some creative thinking to identify them!
  7. Staying present focused: Many of us live in the future, constantly searching, wondering what‟s ahead, and never quite being satisfied with what‟s right in front of us. With weight loss we can hop on the scale every day and be very disappointed when we don‟t see a drop. We can define ourselves by the illuminated number and allow the scale to determine how we‟ll feel for the rest of the day. What power that piece of electronic equipment has! With a focus on the present we can relish in the positive aspects of our new clean eating lifestyle, the increase in activity, and perhaps avoid such a focus on the external aspects of the areas we‟re changing. By staying present, and in-the-moment, we give ourselves an opportunity to find pleasure and satisfaction in the intrinsic rewards that come from adopting new habits that improve our wellness. In other areas of your life, do you wish your child would just hurry up and get to the age of 18, or are you like most parents who despite hardships in raising children, want to spend as much time as you can right where you are with your loved ones and not rush the days with them away?
  8. Accessing and utilizing support: Imagine or go back to when you were pregnant, anticipating the birth of your child. Scared? Apprehensive about what‟s to come, the skills you will need to acquire in order to be the best parent you can be? It‟s likely that you accessed support in many different ways, for example, going to doctor‟s appointments and getting advice on prenatal vitamins, nutrition for pregnancy and healthy weight gain, etc. You probably talked to other expectant mothers to get support from people going through similar emotions. And it‟s likely you spoke with mothers who had been through it already. In the work environment we call on our colleagues to help us with certain tasks, to meet deadlines, and to bounce ideas off of. In weight loss and health related endeavors, developing and accessing a support system is just as important. For accountability and for motivation, among other things, having a system in place can not only inspire us to stay consistent but give us new ideas and areas to explore!
  9. Multitasking: This weekend I was visiting a friend, counseling people online, training and dieting for a competition, answering work emails….all at the same time. Okay, it wasn‟t quite that intense! On a typical day though, at one time, I am doing multiple activities. When I get up in the morning to ride my bike, I‟m answering client emails on my blackberry at the same time. I get my workout in and I get work done simultaneously. When people tell me that they do not have time for fitness, I have to ask them, “or is it that you do not make the time?” We have time, and we choose how to spend it. When I am making dinner in the evening, I‟m oftentimes baking five pounds of chicken at the same time so I have it ready and waiting in the refrigerator for the week. After my cardio, when I‟m waiting to eat I will prepare my meals for the following day, throw the food in containers, and voila, I do not have to worry about it in the evening when I‟m tired and just want to relax. When you are taking your kids to school, I bet you also run some errands. Multitasking. When you are waiting for your car‟s oil to be changed, it‟s likely you are making phone calls or you‟ve brought your lap top to complete some work on. Multitasking. Your fit and healthy lifestyle does not have to be any different!

Kori Propst holds a BS in Exercise Physiology, an MS in Counseling, and is pursuing her PhD in Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine. She is a WNBF Pro in bodybuilding, figure, and fit body. As the Wellness Director for the Diet Doc she created the Mental Edge Program to aid individuals in developing individualized strategies for optimal performance in their lives and for competing. She can be contacted at