1. Forced dieting: Cut intake, will you or nil you. The cafeteria plan was 13 meals a week. Breakfast and dinner, Monday through Saturday, and lunch on Sunday. Mostly, I tried to force feed myself enough breakfast to get me through to dinner, with occasional snacks and fast food for lunch if I got too desperately hungry during the day. Not a sustainable eating schedule. In addition, the cafeteria cooking was terrible--even though I was horribly hungry by dinner time, there were times that I really couldn't face eating very much of what they were serving. I've never been a breakfast person, and four months of making myself eat breakfast when I didn't want to didn't help that. It wasn't exactly the polar opposite of how I would feed myself, but . . Conclusion: Real changes in eating habits have to take into account what and how you could/will feed yourself, left to your own devices. (xkcd 418).
2. Exercise I, Time available: All that walking took a lot of time. I had the time to spend then . . . I had a light class load that semester, and I had just me to worry about. My schedule now is busier and more constricted with three little kids. Conclusion: I run late. Shouldn't be, but it is. Real change has to take into account not just what things ought to be, but what they are. I have a car available to me, and I'm going to take it. I can't afford the extra hours out of my day it would take walk everywhere, even it . . .
3. Exercise II, Cargo: Three kids, fully loaded diaper bag. A load of groceries and the dozen hard cover picture books you picked up at story hour. Couldn't pack it in a backpack. Don't want to.
4. Exercise III, Heartrate and Effective workout: As noted, I was too broke to take the bus. It was a mile one way from the dorms to where my classes were and I was always running late. With a fully loaded backpack. So a lot of the time, I wasn't just walking those miles I put in during the week, I was jog-trotting them, trying to get to class on time. This provided actual exercise. Elevated heart rate. All that. It's basically impossible to walk at a rate that can provide actual exercise with two or more children in tow. They simply can't keep up a pace that makes it worth it for an adult. Conclusion: The "If I just walked places instead of driving I would get my exercise" line doesn't work for mothers of small children, except for a few hyper-organized ones with double and triple strollers and baby backpacks and grade-schoolers biking while the moms speed-walk.
4. Exercise IV, Convenience: It was a five mile roundtrip trek downtown to church, Sunday mornings. This being Scotland, a lot of those were in the rain. On an empty stomach--remember, only lunch on Sundays. I highly dislike being out in inclement weather. Under the circumstances, I'm surprised that I actually made it to services most Sundays.
All in all it was a set of lifestyle changes which were exterior, not interior. Not worthless for all that though. They showed that though these were not changes that I would have chosen for myself I was perfectly capable of handling them. That wasn't something I'd known. I also had a great time on a lot of those long walks by myself (when it was sunny). They were time to think, pray and reflect. Time to dream and notice. I loved exploring on foot, poking my nose into forgotten corners, dawdling my way through whatever it occured to me to look into.