Since I suffer from misophonia, this one gave me a laugh. The *thought* of it, however, makes me cringe!
I was listening to a show this week (Sirius XM) on which the doctors were discussing weight loss, weight loss surgeries, and a whole host of diets (for the latter part, they were largely fielding questions.) What I appreciated most was that they really focused on “healthy lifestyle choices” beyond and above anything else.
“Diet” is a four letter word. And a BAD one. Diets don’t work for the majority of people largely because they are composed of meals, or supplements, or restrictions that aren’t going to hold up long-term. So yes…people might lose weight in the shorter term…but then they become discouraged when they go off track and gain it all back. It doesn’t have to be that way!
Marketing sometimes has a way of presenting the false realities that such programs promise in highly appealing, shiny packages…but the fact of the matter is that our overarching approach is what will make the difference. If we can’t stay consistent over the longer term, it isn’t the “right fit.”
Before you lose hope…there IS a right fit for YOU…you just need to uncover it.
Also important to mention here is that not all of the “diets” or programs out there bad – if a specific plan works for YOU, there is nothing wrong with that! The point is that it just needs to be a routine you can manage consistently…whether you are on the plan, or you go off it.
Some of the better known out there – for example, Weight Watchers – are going above and beyond and teaching people HOW to eat. Bravo! With Weight Watchers you learn portion control…how to do it, why it is important, and how to apply it even if you drop the guidelines of the program itself. It also teaches accountability. That stuff is really valuable, and it’s where a lot of folks go awry. How can you blame them? Seen portions in America lately? How about the marketing pushing more food for less money? It’s like, “why not, then?!,” right? BAD NEWS.
I really believe that staying at a healthy weight can be reduced to a few key principles. In my mind, these are as close to “magic bullets” as you can get – now, they do take a little work and dedication, but they also result in the kind of “magic” that people are hoping for…and they deliver positive results consistently, and across the board, beating out any pill we can take.
Magic Bullet 1 – BEING HONEST and ACCOUNTABLE
The first of these is being honest and accountable. If we can’t be honest with ourselves, we are fighting a losing battle. It’s okay to say “I’m not where I want to be.” We don’t need to beat ourselves up, or bring ourselves down. But we do have to step back and recognize that we need a change, that it’s OKAY to need a change, and that change is achievable. It wouldn’t be on your mind if it didn’t matter to you, or you were feeling full of energy and the picture of health… The mirror is the hardest thing to face sometimes but when we do, we take full control of our life…meaning we can have what it is we are after.
Staying accountable means that we not only recognize and admit to ourselves that we have room to do better, but that we really manage our choices. I think it’s fair to say many of us are our own worst critics and almost don’t want to admit what’s really going on. We need to remember that no one is going to punish us for being honest with ourselves, or for having the cookies we didn’t really need. But ignoring it isn’t going to get us on track either.
Magic Bullet 2 – LEARNING TO SAY NO
There’s a lot of pressure to love food in our society! Many cultures are food-centric – mealtimes are the perfect gathering place for friends and family, right?! Restaurants, bars, home kitchens, on holidays or for events…it’s were (and when) we tend to get together. But we don’t have to follow the masses when we order for ourselves…and we don’t have to go hungry either! If you are out with a group and they order tons of tempting appetizers, for example, you can always order something more healthy for yourself. While maybe not as tantalizing as the less-healthy options, you will have something to munch on that you’ll feel good about later. You don’t owe anyone any explanations or justifications.
Along with this…when we are out and about on our own, we can also use “NO.” No, as they say, IS a complete sentence – and we need to stand our ground if we want change. It’s smart NOT to shop hungry, for one thing. It’s also important that we NOT buy thing things we know aren’t great for us – once they’re in our own kitchen, it’s easy to go downhill. When we don’t get it, we can’t be tempted by it. Period.
Magic Bullet #3 – IT ISN’T ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS…IT’S ABOUT FAT LOSS
The number on your scale isn’t always what you think it is… Because muscle and fat have different weight values, it’s possible to appear to be “overweight” on a scale and incredibly fit and healthy. Likewise, the number on the scale might read low, but the person (perhaps a slim frame) isn’t so healthy internally. When we think about Body Mass Index (BMI), however, we have a much clearer picture of where we need to be. These numbers, keep in mind, are guidelines…but they are more helpful as far as our overall health is concerned than the number on a scale (unless yours is fancy and calculates BMI!)
A BMI that is too low will bring a host of issues with it, as will one that is too high. You can find a very basic calculator here, more about BMI and the mathematic formula here…and more information overall here and here. Or…you can head in for a check up and get a no-bullshit answer from your doctor.
This goes back to being honest with ourselves and really understanding the health concerns we might be unkindly imposing on ourselves. A lot of people called into the radio talk with questions about losing weight and the doctors we as much with me on this – it’s more about the fat loss, and getting to a healthy weight for our frame…which will then eliminate quite a few heath risks, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, among many…many others.
Magic Bullet #4 – EXERCISE
There’s no pill that can give us the kind of benefits we get from exercise. There just ISN’T. And, as the saying goes, there is no chance we can out exercise a bad diet. Tough reality check but…it doesn’t work that way, and it never will.
Exercise isn’t an easy one for everybody but… We were all children once upon a time and I’m willing to bet we all played lots of games and ran around. Best part? We probably LOVED it.
When did it become work??!
It doesn’t HAVE to be work. That doesn’t mean you aren’t going to be exerting yourself – you need to push a little bit! – but you don’t have to be miserable. Treadmills, for example, are torture for me. Instead, I might jog outside…or go for a hike where I’m walking, but doing so on uneven (but beautiful!) terrain. Volunteer work is another way to keep moving without having to do something I can’t stand (like cardio! 😉 ) I get it in by default in that case – win-win!
Adding in music that you know will get you going is a great option, as is finding a friend to pair up with. Think about activities you DO like doing and be creative – if you want to start by hula-hooping, do it! Getting moving is sometimes the hardest part…but once we do, it doesn’t feel as terrible as we made it out to be!
Nutrition is probably 80% of the overall picture…but exercise will keep our body healthy too, whether that’s keeping metabolism up, our muscles strong (and with it often our bones), as well as keep the heart and blood pumping the way they need to.
Magic Bullet #5 – CONSISTENCY, MAINTENANCE…and NOT GETTING DERAILED
Consistency is absolutely vital to success (across the board, frankly.) Maintaining is WORLDS easier than having to play catch up, and it is a lot less stressful to boot. If we can make healthy choices for ourselves and stick to them most of the time, the few blips and foibles aren’t going to have much of an impact.
Along those lines, we need to be sure that we don’t make a mountain out of the minimal impact a slip may have…because that’s a surefire way to derail. When we start to beat ourselves up for enjoying a special night out, or having a treat once in a while, we might go into “well, I’m not doing well, so to hell with this whole ‘healthier me’ thing…” Don’t fall victim to that downward-spiraling trap – it isn’t necessary. If you choose a less healthy option, just let it go. Enjoy that you could have it…and move on with your better decisions.
Wallowing in misery begets more of the same…and it’s going to be a lot harder later to get back on track. Hold yourself to sticking to the plan most of the time, and you will be okay. One or two bad meals aren’t going to add ten pounds. Keep doing it, though, and you’ll have a lot more work to do down the road to get your health back… The easier road is to stay consistent as much as you can.
Magic Bullet #6 – MAKING GOOD CHOICES
Society needs to get away from fad diets and stringent plans – if you have health issues and something of that nature is required, that’s okay. But for the average population, they’re not a great idea, and generally a recipe for failure…the last thing we want / need.
No one can say exactly what, when, or how cavemen ate their meals – we are speculating based on what science has discovered. Some cultures seem to have less illness than America does, so we might take cues from them…but there are many other factors at play including environmental and inherent…so even then there’s room for speculation. Then there are the “anecdotal”s where a method worked for a few, but we don’t know why or how, or whether the same positive results will apply to a broader population…
Instead of trying to be stringent or extreme, or abandon one thing for in total embrace of another…how about using common sense? What REALLY matters when it comes to foods…?
Processing vs. Natural – the less processed, the better. Processed often means a departure from natural states, such as we get with additives like dyes and chemicals, sugars, unhealthy fats. These human-derived products (meaning we weren’t designed to process them) are unhealthy for the body.
Sugars – a category in their own right – are a massive problem. Eliminating sugars, or the bulk of them (especially the processed kinds, vs. a whole, fresh fruit, for example) will lead to weight loss pretty quick, as well as a likely change in energy, mood, even sleep. The more we can stick with “whole,” non-sugary foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, eggs, nuts, lean meats, poultry and fish, the better our bodies will behave. Your car responds to the fuel you put into it, right?
Balance – we don’t have to eliminate certain categories completely when we eat a diet of “whole foods” unless we don’t respond well to it. For example, I don’t eat a lot of carbohydrates – my body has decided they no longer work well for it. When I do eat them, I have variety of symptoms that make me feel sick and uncomfortable…so I know they aren’t the right choice for me. It’s about learning what works for our own bodies (maybe some trial and error) and going from there…
Portions – This is a big one. I love big portions because I love eating food…but my body doesn’t really need as much per sitting as my eyes or stomach are suggesting! Sometimes it helps to have a lot of small means more frequently and to start the day with a good breakfast (if you can stomach it – depending on the time, I sometimes need food right away (if it’s between 3 and 6am!) or I need to wait (if it’s after 6am.) Everyone is different but starting the day with fuel is important so you aren’t ravenous and out of control later…
Here’s a link to my own tips and tricks for staying full – 10 Tips To Feel Full – Yes, Really! (Because Hangry Is Horrible!) because not feeling hungry makes a difference!
. . .
When we abide by these common-sense principles, we will see changes in our health, our physique, very likely our moods, as well as our energy levels, and definitely our overall health and well-being – it’s impossible not to.
Getting to a healthy weight and maintaining it is more about a consistent and overall approach, using common sense about the foods our body really needs to function optimally.
We don’t have to miss out on the fun (or good food!) in life, we just have to remember that moderation (e.g.: smart portions) is key…and maintenance is a hell of a lot easier than restarting all the time.
You have what it takes!!!
I KNEW IT!
I frequently get questions about which exercises to use to “spot reduce” certain areas, and the answer is always the same – it’s more about the food we eat than the exercises.
Spot reducing does not work, It can’t hurt to focus on an area, but without a comprehensive approach, efforts are often in vain, leaving disappointment in the wake of (some) concerted efforts.
Clean eating has a bad rap, though, among the masses – it isn’t about depriving at all which, in my mind, is 100% doomed to fail. It’s about the overall consistency (treats are allowed here and there!) and choosing healthier, whole foods as the primary sources of nutrition. When we are *generally* fueling our bodies with healthier options, having a goodie once is a while is NOT a big deal.
I don’t know this Instagram page – @vshred4women – but this image cropped up this week in one of the App’s ads (hence my post.) Much that sponsored material makes me crazy, I did agree with what was being presented. I always say that our nutrition accounts for 80 to 90% of the results we see and feel.
This particular image shows meal prepping at it’s finest. Not everyone feels like they have time to do this, and that’s okay – you don’t necessarily need to. I tend to cook several pounds of chicken at once myself because I find that’s easiest for me. If I’m also making veggies, or I think in a day or two I’ll be preparing a different meal, I may chop up those extra veggies ahead of time since I’m already at it! Do what works best for you because that’s what will keep you on track.
Getting back to eating clean though…it’s all about setting yourself up for success. I shared a few of my personal tips in this post – 10 Tips To Feel Full – Yes, Really! (Because Hangry Is Horrible!) – a few weeks ago, and they really can help.
Not buying foods I know will derail me is one of my key tactics, and filling up on foods that will keep me feeling full longer is another…but again, it’s about works best for you.
I think the misconception about healthy nutrition is that one mistake is the end of the world – many times people will eat poorly for a day or two, even a week (vacation, anyone?!) and then go into “weeeell, I’m failing as it is, may as well give up!” and they continue with poor choices. It is NEVER, EVER too late to have a fresh start, so toss that negative notion to the waist side. PLEASE!
Each day is a new opportunity to try again. If there is a strategy that you know works / has worked for you, re-employ it! If there isn’t, take baby steps and make a point to notice your progress – a tiny step forward is still in the right direction!
It’s also important to remember that little changes can make a huge difference. Some examples:
There are so many possibilities, you just have to look!
Fueling our bodies with the right foods also aids our training efforts, and the results of all that hard work. Without the proper combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat, we won’t function optimally, and we may not see the results we would otherwise if we did nutritionally support the exercise we are doing (for example, lifting weights and skimping on protein means you aren’t going to see the muscle mass you would if you had the appropriate protein intake.)
That ridiculous saying that abs are made in the kitchen? It is more true than it isn’t. Our culture is a food-centric one, so saying “clean eating” is sometimes meant with scoffs and dismissal, if not considered a bad word / phrase. But it isn’t some horrible, unachievable state of being that should scare or intimidate anyone. Unless you are working on preparing for the Olympia competition, there’s probably room to tweak (and even then!)
Don’t have to be monumental…
You don’t have to go cold turkey (unless you know that is an ideal method for you)…
You don’t have to follow some stringent fad diet!
And you don’t have to say goodbye to all the things you enjoy.
Recognizing that you can see the results you want with some adjustments to your nutritional intake is actually very freeing – it’s something you have total control over, and can customize as it works for you. The key? Being honest and realistic with yourself – YOU are who matters the most, and there is no reason you can’t enjoy life, enjoy delicious food, and also have the results you are looking for.
Every so often I’m asked what I do, or how I stick to my guns, in order to reach the goals I’ve set for myself. Some of my friends have said I stick to my routine like my life depends on it. While it’s *generally* true that I color in the lines, it doesn’t mean it’s a piece of cake all the time. Cake? Where?! Is it chocolate!? (See what I mean…?)
Some days it’s a challenge to keep myself on track, but I do have a few tried-and-true tricks to help me stay on the bandwagon when I want nothing more than to hurl myself off it!
Now it may be I’m already that crazy personality type that pushes myself extra hard…in everything…(and boy, is that exhausting!) It could be that I like routine. Or maybe it’s because I’ve seen other people succeed, and I want to get there too. Either way, these tricks do come in handy, and are worth a shot if you are having some difficulty motivating. . . They have helped me enormously, and continue to.
What is willpower, though, anyway? Willpower is typically used to refer to that miraculous, supernal compass that allows us to abstain from whatever it is that ISN’T so good for us… Or, as the dictionary puts it:
For me, that would be eating whatever I want, not getting up and exercising most days, and not following through with the things that will help me grow as a person, or in a field I’m interested in. I’ve admitted to myself full-on how much easier that life would be…but when I think about the implications of walking that path, I’ve rerouted very quickly…
So there’s tip #1 right there…
This trick works for me the majority of the time. I don’t really consider it as guilting myself into things, it’s more that I focus on the implications of NOT doing the action I’m struggling with, OR staying where I am…which is not where I want to be. I know that if I decide to abandon my dietary habits, I skip my physical activities, give up on something I really want to learn (which I almost did recently!)…I’m going to suffer on a number of levels. I’ll feel more exhausted, depressed about how I feel / look / not achieving, my skin will probably freak out, the doctors (I’m sure) will be on my case, and I’ll very likely be in a shitty mood all around. Bad for everyone!
Then there’s tip #2…which is similar to the first, but it puts things in a positive light (which, frankly, is where I personally prefer to be.)
When I focus on my goals, I get the most bang for my buck – more so than #1 because, again, I’m making this positive. I focus on what I want most – whether to maintain my current condition, learn more about a subject I’m new to, achieve the next rank in my Martial Art… Whatever the goal is, I focus on HOW I WILL FEEL once I HAVE IT. That’s how the magic begins. How to keep it going? Picture it as if you ALREADY HAVE IT. Once you get there, you’re golden. There are mornings that getting up and spinning is the last thing I want to do. But I focus on the feeling of “that felt great – I did it, and I worked hard, and now I’m ready for the day!” Focusing on the feeling I’ll have in accomplishing that goal makes all the difference.
Progress snapshots can take a lot of forms – it really depends on what the goal is. If it’s with regard to my Martial Arts, I’ll make sure to take periodic photos of my attendance card to see just how far I’ve come, and how close my next test is. If it’s with regard to physical condition, photos go a LONG way. Photos help us to keep track of how we are doing in the most real sense – I’ve caught myself being off track from pictures plenty of times! It’s not easy to see ourselves as we really are sometimes – photos keep us honest.
Life is a challenging journey any way you slice it. There will be ups and downs, and days you don’t damn well feel like “making a gratitude list!” That’s okay. What’s important is that you are gentle with yourself in understanding we all get a little sidetracked from time to time. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling fully. Then dust yourself off, remind yourself how far you’ve come / that you have made it through successfully before (and I guarantee that you have!), and get to it! Wallowing in our shortcomings is incredibly dangerous, and a surefire way to keep the negative cycle going. Chin up – you can do it!
Don’t forget to share your progress with those you trust and love – I assure you that they will want to share in your joy, encourage your continued journey, and would be willing to help you in any way they can. That’s what loved ones are there for! You aren’t alone, and you don’t have to go it alone. If you are having a tougher day, it’s okay to ask a loved one for help, to vent, or to ask for a proper kick in the ass – like being brutally honest! – when you need it.
I’m as guilty of the next person of putting myself down, and putting road blocks in my own way with negative thoughts or language. It’s vital that we work on using positive language, such as “I can!”…and using it all the time. When we are stuck in a rut, or feeling miserable about past failures, that’s when using positive language (and / or replacing negative language) is the most important. We must remember that there is always a new opportunity waiting – there is no better time than the present to get back on track, and we can do that at any moment. Forget four letter words like “can’t” as they serve only to derail. Make sure your language is positive, and you are on your way!
Willpower can be hard to come by all the time…but it is NOT an impossibly-achieved, elusive superpower. The more we work at it, the more we will have.
So. . .
TIP #1 – Internalizing / Visualizing / Owning the Implications
TIP #2 – Internalizing / Visualizing / Owning…and FEELING…the Goals
TIP #3 – Progress Snapshots
TIP #4 – Be Gentle With Yourself
TIP #5 – Share the Joy…AND the Challenges!
TIP #6 – Change Your Inner Dialogue
You’ve GOT THIS!
There’s something about peanut butter. The jars of the chocolate powdered PB2, Peanut Wonder and Nutzo didn’t stand a chance once they made it to my kitchen cabinets. It was so ridiculous (as in, I was taking in way too many calories and fat to maintain what I had, and completely mindlessly) that I had to seriously – with massively-concerted effort – reevaluate.
If I didn’t restrain myself, I would eat a jar a day easy.
It came down to not buying it to begin with because I could NOT be trusted. I wouldn’t purchase a single jar until I:
I may not be actually be able to eat ice cream, so the catchy commercial tune falls flat on me. But peanuts and I get along rather nicely.
Maybe too nicely.
Maybe it’s better if you just hand yours over. . .
Feeling hungry – or getting to the point of “hangry” – is terrible for everyone. There ARE ways – yes, really! – to maximize fullness and avoid the pitfalls of poor-choice snacking. It does take some commitment, but it isn’t so difficult that it can’t be achieved (with minimal, if any, pain, I promise.)
I struggle with snacking too – I’ve always liked eating a lot of food, so I’ve learned some tricks to keep me on track, without the starving feeling of a “diet” (I don’t actually believe in the “D word” to begin with.) The point is to set yourself up for success, not disaster. Binges? been there.
#1. . . H2O
Water is essential for SO many reasons, and I guarantee that most of us aren’t getting as much as we need. When you feel thirsty, it’s usually too late. Incidentally, in effort to get the hydration it needs, sometimes you’re sent a “hungry signal” when in fact it’s the body and brain’s way of saying “need fluid asap!”
How to make it work: Always drink water before you eat. You WILL get a stronger feeling of fullness. In some cases, too much water at once might make you feel sick…so go easy and give your body a chance to adjust. Sip your water first and you’ll likely notice you don’t need to eat that whole, huge portion.
#2. . . SLOW DOWN!
Eating too quickly is a surefire way to A.) eat more than you need and, B.) leave you feeling overly full. Stomach aches are NEVER good! Slowing the pace can make a huge difference – you will feel that “fullness” when it’s time to stop. The body has been designed to work like a highly-tuned machine – it knows before the brain does sometimes. Trust it.
How to make it work: Take a bite and put your utensil down. Sound basic? It is. But try its because it helps. Eat a little, put your fork down, and give yourself a chance to chew and enjoy the food.
#3. . . Fruits and Veggies
Portions M A T T E R. These nature-made goodies are easily found, not expensive, and are one of the best ways to add bulk to your meals (not to yourself!), while also adding a dose of H2o goodness and nutrients. Veggies in particular are my go-to for making meals a lot BIGGER than they really are without adding a ton of calories (e.g. . .or to my waistline, which can happen when I’m not careful. Thanks, meso-endo body type!)
How to make it work: Add an extra serving of steamed vegetables as a side for your meal, or add them to it (for example, soup or pasta) to make a larger, and more filling portion. Fresh fruits are also great (and a better choice than their deliciously dried counterparts) to add to things like yogurt, cereal, or even frozen yogurt for a treat.
#4. . . Distract yourself and stay mindful
Are you *really* hungry? Or just bored? I have a habit of wanting to eat when I’m not busy (working on the computer, watching something on tv etc.) Bad news, because then I look for more food to snack on…
How to make it work: It’s okay to snack here and there but if you are not mindful of what you are doing, you’ll probably go overboard (it’s easy – portions aren’t really that big!) If you absolutely *must* snack while doing something else, portion it out and remind yourself to (#2) slow down. If you are simply eating because you are bored, find another way to distract yourself to get that “I’m not hungry but I want to eat” out of your mind.
#6. . . Pre-Portion
Having some options at the ready is always a great idea, especially when they are portioned out already. You dont’ need to buy crappy snack packs, you can make your own (hummus with veggies, popcorn in portioned bags, fruit salad etc.)
How to make it work: Have some pre-portioned items in your pantry or fridge for when you need them. Stay mindful and remember they are portioned for a reason. If you savor what you are having, you don’t need to eat three portions of it. Often we do that because it’s an oral fixation – the act of just munching – vs our body really needs the sustenance. I’m super guilty of this one.
#7. . . Don’t BUY it!
This is a go-to for me also. Sometimes I know I really want something…but if I buy it, I’m not going to be able to control the amount I have. So…I don’t buy it. It isn’t worth it to me to then be kicking myself in the butt – if I don’t have it at home, I can’t eat it. I CAN, however, buy other options.
How to make it work: Don’t get sh*t you know you can’t handle! I’m serious! You know your weaknesses. Do buy things you can have instead that you won’t beat yourself up over. You deserve to feel great ALL around.
#8. . . Get moving!
Exercise is a nice distraction technique (see #4.) It’s great for you, but it also gets your metabolism moving along as well.
How to make it work: Maybe you don’t have a gym membership, or you are having a tough time motivating…try doing a few little things during commercials when you are watching your favorite show, or in between stirs while you’re cooking dinner (e.g. pushups, jumping jacks, setups etc.) Baby steps are OKAY. In fact, they are MORE than okay. It might help get your mind off the need to munch, and give your furnace a boost while you’re at it.
#9. . . Chopsticks
Yep. Chopsticks are not as easy to eat with and they force you to follow rule #2 whether you want to or not. Sneaky, yes. Genius, also yes.
How to make it work: Pick up a pair and start pinching! If you have trouble, there are modified ones that are joint at the top (not as good, but still slower than a fork or spoon.)
#10. . . (Worse comes to worse, and ps, I’m NOT a dentist!) Have some peppermint, or try a piece of gum
I am NOT recommending chewing gum as much as I do (it is sugar-free, but I’m sure it’s not the best habit.) There are plenty of healthy ways to avoid overeating but sometimes a quick piece of gum can keep me from eating something I don’t really want or need. A dose of peppermint tea, or a mint can also help. Again, not trying to suggest this is should be a default – I’m slapping my own hands given that I love my Bubblemint. But…if all else fails, it can help in a pinch.
How to make it work: Have some peppermint tea, suck on a mint, or even have a piece of sugar-free gum. As a last resort, this can actually help. Some folks recommend smelling fragrant oils – you can try that too, though the physical act of chewing, or having the taste on your tongue, might have a stronger result.
Once again, not a doc, and not a dietician..but these are a few tricks that might help when the munchies hit. As someone who LOVES volume (e.g. LOTS of food) I can say honestly that these tricks CAN work.