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Predictability Works

By Debbie Koenig

My son went back to school last Thursday, and I couldn’t be happier. Yes, I’m glad to have some peace and quiet. Yes, I’m delighted that I can plan my day without having to account for an 11-year-old’s desires. But mostly, I’m thrilled to return to my boring old routine.

My alarm is set for 7 a.m., weekdays, again. I drink my first cup of coffee while my husband and son get ready to leave at 7:45, and once they’re out the door I eat breakfast with my second cup. I fritter away the next hour checking Facebook and Twitter, and reading newspapers online. Somewhere in there I get dressed, and three days a week I meet a friend to walk laps in the park. At 9:00 I formally sit down to work. I try to divide each hour into 45 minutes of focus, followed by a 15-minute break. Typically, one of our two cats crawls in and out of my lap, while the other dozes in his favorite spot on my bed. After several cycles like this I take a lunch break, then resume work until my son comes home — at which point my time is no longer completely my own.

I don’t miss the haphazard schedules of summer vacation, and the sense of disruption it brings. That unsettled feeling often leads me to eat more than I intend to, because I’m up and wandering around more often. When I’m thrown off my rhythm, I turn to food. To make matters worse, my regular exercise date with my friend takes a two-month hiatus — her schedule’s thrown off by summer vacation, too. Every summer I’m reminded: Dull predictability helps me keep myself on track.

I’m not alone in that. In my weekly meetings back when I was losing 100 pounds, fellow members frequently mentioned how much better they felt when they knew what to expect each day. For some, that meant eating the same thing for lunch all week. Others were more like me, reliant on scheduling. For more than 20 years, that teeny bit of rigidity has helped me keep the weight off.

Predictability works. Thank heavens it’s back.

Follow Debbie on Connect @debbieskoenig

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