Shauna’s HAM Plan Wrap-Up

When Julia and I set out on our Happy And Mindful Plan a month ago, my primary aim was to avoid my trademark December lardification. I can stack it on so very quickly if left unattended! It worked a treat in that respect – I’m up one kilo up from my 1 December weight. That’s a great improvement from previous years and can be taken care of quickly.

But the number on the scale ended up being the very least of the benefits of this HAMmy month. Here’s what I learned…

1. I like structure and planning
A few simple, personalised “rules” are very freeing to me. The key word there is personalised – that way rather than being rules it’s just The Way I Do Things. So the HAM Plan ended up being a blueprint for basic and sustainable self-care; like a skeleton that holds everything up, so I can get on with the good stuff.

2. Simplicity rocks
The HAM Plan rules helped me move away from over-thinking into action. Also, the simplicity of three meals a day was unexpectedly helpful. When I ate what I really felt like for the meals I was satisfied and genuinely did not feel hunger between them. I realised how often I snack and generally overeat purely out of habit – especially distraction when trying to avoid unpleasant feelings.

3. Keeping food and exercise simple frees up space for other stuff
By taking a couple of hours per week to plan meals, do some prep; get out there and move my butt instead of dithering about it… I didn’t need to think about food and exercise quite so much. My mind was clearer and I found more time for fun things – to read, to learn to knit very badly; to write to my Granny.

Nerd Tangent: I also reorganised my wee office which I’d wanted to do for years. I’d just shoved the desk under the window when we moved in but my sister suggested turning it around. 90 degrees later I feel like a kickass working lady. Look out world…

My office
Next stop: curtains! And something to fill that big empty space on the wall. And sort that messy pinboard and In tray. Three years is a little too long for that Just Moved In look!

4. My body knows what to do… I just need to listen
I’ve read so many mindful eating books over the last few years and they all say if you listen to your body it will tell you what it needs. The HAM Plan showed me that it’s true – but you have to give it time and practice for the messages to come through. At first it’s a sugar-foggy jungle up there, then suddenly the whispers begin. I feel like a walkI don’t want any more of this cake. Let’s make some soup!

Weird. Like Julia said on Monday, I don’t think I gave it long enough before. You can see from the patchiness of my daily food lists that I still have more practicing to do, but December was a good step forward.

5. I need to keep my eyes on my own work
Julia usually finished her HAM posts before me, so each day when I’d log on to write mine I’d cringe at my comparatively enormous list of food. Is it any wonder she’s a slinky athlete and I’m so very overweight? But then I remembered, we’re two different people in different situations, bodies, metabolisms and life stages. There’s absolutely no point comparing myself to anyone but me. That doesn’t mean I can’t be inspired by and learn from her experiences though.

6. I could never be a food blogger!
You know the ones that photograph every meal like a mini Truman Show. For one, my plates are too boring and I don’t own any vintage napkins or stripey drinking straws. Seriously now, I felt very self-conscious rabbiting on every day. Food choices are such personal thing – who hasn’t peered at someone else’s trolley in the supermarket and made an assumption or two? It was a cool experiment to put ourselves out there and be honest despite the fears, but I’m glad talking about what I eat isn’t my full time job. How boring would that be for the world!?

7. I don’t need to make crazy ass resolutions
January 1 is just a new day with a new series of choices like any other. I’m going to carry on HAM-ing. It’s a good Plan!

Thank you kindly for reading and a very Happy New Year to you all! Here’s to a fabulous year of life and running ahead.

  1. Samone
    Love it, Shauny! One thing I've learnt of late is "chewing is not 'thinking music'". As in: while I am standing at the pantry contemplating what I need to remove to prepare dinner, I do not need to dive my hand in to secure a (chewy) gob full of almonds/craisins/breakfast cereal while I 'think about' and 'consider' dinner.
  2. J_B
    Completely agree. If I plan ahead - even a bit - it frees me up to do life the rest of the time. I know that if I exercise first thing, it's out of the way, and I won't have to drag myself bitterly to the gym after work, when I'm knackered and hungry. If I eat regularly, I'm less likely to find myself on the other side of a chocolate binge, sitting in a pile of quality street wrappers. (That still happens...sometimes...) PS. I also felt like a beast after reading Julia's very modest food diary - I'm not sure I could stand up, let alone work out on similar amounts of food. Julia - how do you do it?!
    • Julia
      Hello J_B - you have to remember I am a 52 yr old woman in menopause. Yes, your metabolism really does come to a screeching halt as you get older! I concentrate on quality and just have to really watch what I eat if I want to stay the same size. I was amazed not to have gained any weight on the HAM plan with all the sweets I ate, but I think my appetite just naturally balanced itself out. I do want to underline that I was never every hungry. (don't like being hungry). But the paying attention to body signals and not snacking really helped. I'm also didn't exercise much during the month of december. When I increase my physical activity I also increase my food, but in a very sane healthy way. thanks for reading! Julia
  3. Debbi
    Great wrap-up. The three meals/day REALLY works for me. I did not grow up snacking between meals, and it served me well. Besides, to me a snack = a treat, not an apple or a smidgen of cheese. Very good insights here, much to think about.
  4. ChezJulie
    I have been looking forward to reading your thoughts on HAM. I was rather impressed and amazed that you and Julia did not snack. Snacking is such a part of my life that it is hard for me to imagine not doing it. (And of course that is part of the reason my weight is a problem). I wouldn't compare yourself to Julia. I too wondered how she fuels herself for all that exercise eating so little. And I don't think you should feel self-conscious. As a reader, it was helpful to me to see that you and Julia were sticking to your plan Every Day, even during the holidays.
  5. alison
    Thank you both for sharing your HA plan experiences - I really enjoyed reading it and found it quite inspiring. I found that a similar simplicity worked for me for my holiday resolutions: read every day, write every day, exercise every day. And yes, I noticed the difference between Julia's and Shauna's food volumes too - I was amazed that Julia wasn't swooning weakly on her couch like some sort of consumptive 19th Century heroine :).
  6. Phil
    I've loved these posts ladies! Mostly because I'm a bit nosy and love seeing what people eat :) I enjoy documenting what I eat sometimes but I couldn't do it three times a day every day like some bloggers do, as you say. I hope you guys do something like this again soon and thanks for the inspiration to stay on track xx
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