If You’re Not On The List
March 20, 2015
I was ruthless this week. The “big shop” was organised with military precision. I decided to have a complete purge of the ‘fridge, freezer and cupboards. We haven’t been eating very much in the house and so everything that was past its “best before” was discarded. The half-pack of bread rolls and almost-but-not-quite-stale bread served as a good reason for a good walk as we fed the birds and fish in the river; the cheese from the Christmas selection pack was finally consigned to the food waste bin (not all cheese improves because it has mould on it); and the half-open box of cereal (which had been half-open since the first week of the year) and which was not (as it said on the pack) “crunchy” also failed to stay in the building.
Then we set about making a list. We revisited all our WLR favourites; checked back through the meals we most enjoy; made a list of the treats we enjoy that don’t slow down our weight-loss journey, and put them all on a list. I made it clear to LH as we set off that I was adopting “Burly Bouncer” mode and operating to a strict rule of “if you’re not on the list you’re not getting in”…. just in case a block of rum and raisin chocolate or a tub of Italian ice-cream might sneak its way into our trolley. LH agreed and also he also suggested that if we knew we didn’t need something in a specific aisle, we would avoid temptation by simply not going down it.
Stating our intentions really did serve us well…. there were a couple of “almost” but we had both set the rules; both agreed to them and each of us acted as the “supervisor” because, as Lovely Husband so rightly pointed out… I can’t save myself from a jam doughnut when I’m under pressure or feeling under the weather so he has to do it for me.
We did add a degree of flexibility to our list by simply stating “fruit” and “veggies” so that we could pick the items that were not only fresh but on offer too…. (in my head I had gone in with the intention of picking up strawberries; the reality was I came out with a pack of very delicious seedless black grapes; LH was heading towards bananas (and by that I do mean in terms of shopping – not in terms of his mental state!) but was stopped en route by some fabulous oranges and as I type there is a lovely citrus smell wafting round Hudson HQ.
Another generic item was “Lunches”. LH is quite limited in the facilities at his place of work and it is very remote (so no nipping to the local bakery for him) so he needs to have a lunch bag that requires no further attention once it is packed… but instead of him reaching for his usual selections we took the time to head to the deli counter. Again, there were a couple of reduced items that tempted his taste buds but which were entirely WLR-compliant; there was a half-fat cheese on offer; and the cooked meat counter had some very good deals on turkey and beef. Again, because we were concentrating on our “mission” and because we were actively making the right choices based on what we knew we needed and nothing else, there was some leeway but we didn’t lose focus and we stuck to the plan.
The result was a not-quite-full trolley of food we know we will enjoy; which will provide our bodies with exactly the fuel that is needed; and we can reach into the cupboard and take out anything safe in the knowledge that we are sabotaging our efforts.
As well as giving us back a sense of control we were also pleasantly surprised by the final total at the checkout which was much less than the previous week. This was partly because, having done a clear out, I knew exactly what we had back at HQ so didn’t buy anything that wasn’t necessary, but it was also down to the fact that we hadn’t put any “sneaky extras” in. I have to confess that had I been shopping on my own I may well have thought “just one… won’t hurt”… or “LH would love those…” but because I had been so firm with LH and because we were both acting as overseers the temptation “to cheat” wasn’t there.
I know that it isn’t possible to go shopping together every week (our schedules don’t allow it) but we have decided that we are going to make sure that we do a “cupboard check”; that we discard anything that “needs to go”; and that we will write out our list together in the coming weeks.
It sounds so simple and straightforward and when I was explaining it to a family member they said “oh we do that all the time”… but I wondered if they really did or they just think they do? If you had asked me or LH about our shopping habits I’m pretty sure we would have said that we were masters in the art of exercising control and restraint; that we knew exactly what we had “in stock” and that we were methodical and organised…. But having just come back from the supermarket having been completely in control, utterly restrained and frighteningly methodical and organised.. I can see a clear difference I have decided that “the Burly Bouncer” is here for the long term. My new discipline is absolutely going to be check what you need and put it on the list and my non-negotiable mantra is going be “in you’re not on the list.. you’re not getting in.
Have a wonderful weekend all you fabulous people!