Welcome back, how are those Golden Moments working for you? I knew you’d love them. Now that you’re getting into a more relaxed state, let’s talk food and choices.
I am often asked for the quickest way to lose large amounts of weight. I hear it from men and women, young and old, large and small; it seems many of us are searching for rapid weight loss. Of course, it can happen, and there’s no one single way to do it.
There are those who stand firm in the belief that slow and steady weight loss is the only way to lose weight and keep it off. Some believe the faster you lose it, the more motivated you are and the longer you’ll keep it off. Some believe surgery is the answer.
The reality of the issue is, we are all different and individuals. What one person’s body needs and thrives on is likely to be completely different to what another does. What we need to be doing here is listening to our bodies – if you find yourself always hungry at 8pm looking for a sugar hit, take a moment and reflect – are you really hungry or is this a habit? Are you looking for something emotionally and reaching for food instead? Are you thirsty (reflect how much water you’ve drunk throughout the day)? Important questions that can only be answered when you are truly listening to your body. When you are in desperate need of a bag of crisps/chips or French fries, perhaps your body needs salt. When you’re so desperate for sugar or sugary carbs you’re ready to run barefoot to the nearest Lulu, sit down, take some deep breaths and relax – these cravings can often mean you need to rest and your body is looking for a quick burst of energy to keep going. If you can, have an early night or take a twenty-minute nap. It will help.
So, there are a few things we need to be brutally honest about here…there are thousands of different diets on the market right now. Do you know why there are so many books on how to achieve the perfect body or successful weight loss? Because there is no one, definite answer that works for everyone, and, regardless of how much money it costs in supplements, products, books and subscriptions, we’d rather keep throwing money at the issue than actually ask ourselves some honest questions and get to know our bodies and what they need.
Sometimes the way we want to live doesn’t align with what our bodies need, or what our geographical location dictates, and we have the choice in these cases to adapt or abandon. Adapting means doing our best to live the way we choose making whatever compromises we may need to due to where we are or what we have access to. Abandoning means throwing our hands up in the air, stomping our feet a few times and declaring ‘nothing works’ while sulking and blaming our issues on someone/something else.
Yes yes, all makes sense but she’s not telling us what to do, you’re thinking…I hear you. The best advice I can give you in this moment is to think about your goals. For some people this is where vision boards come in useful, some make lists, others just keep it all in their head – whatever works for you is fine. What are your goals? Long term? Short term? I can honestly tell you, for most of us, short term goals are the most successful. That doesn’t mean aim to lose five pounds, reach the goal then go and live on cheeseburgers; it means achieve that goal, then set your next, then your next etc. For example, back in 2015 I took part in the London Marathon, I wasn’t a seasoned runner and had no long-distance experience, so I didn’t start my training by trying to run twenty miles; I started smaller and progressively worked through a plan comprising of short term goals and distances that eventually got me close to where I wanted to be. The same stands for health and weight reduction goals. I’m not going to give you a diet plan, in fact the best thing you can do for yourself right now is to change your use of the word diet. ‘No I can’t have any bread, I’m on a diet,’ ‘no dessert for me, I’m dieting,’ ‘woohoo the diet starts Monday, super-size me,’ ‘no thanks, I only eat carbs on Fridays.’ You can laugh but I have sat at tables with people who have literally said all of these things. I’m not judging, I’m asking you to think about your mind-set – is it working? Is avoiding carbs all week then gorging yourself on Fridays getting where you want to be? Did you start a successful ‘diet’ on Monday after a weekend filled with culinary crap, or did you eat salad for a few days then binge again on Wednesday? With these continuous rules, you are setting yourself up for failure, because they aren’t realistically achievable on a daily basis. Where we live, or the food options are not the problem – our attitudes are. Yes, I include myself in that. None of us are perfect and we all fall into these traps at some point.
What I recommend you stop doing…
‘I’ve tried EVERYTHING, nothing works for me.’ No, you haven’t, you just think you have. You’ve jumped onto the latest craze or fad diet, done a few weeks, been upset when you didn’t drop fifty pounds and declared it a huge failure. So many problems with this approach, but long story short, stop doing it!
‘I don’t eat carbs/fat/dairy (insert any random food group or macronutrient here).’ Unless you have an allergy, are some variety of vegetarian or have a genuine medical reason to not eat certain foods, there probably isn’t a great reason why you would cut entire food groups. Stop believing food is to blame for your lack of weight loss – it’s not the food, it’s your choices.
‘I just can’t stop eating.’ Yes, you can. You are right, you are craving something, but if a snack didn’t do the job, or a balanced meal, let’s be honest, food isn’t the answer – look deeper, what is it you are actually looking for or wanting.
STOP putting yourself on extremely restrictive eating plans that are impossible to follow – you are setting yourself up for failure every time you do that.
‘I want to give up smoking but I don’t want to gain weight.’ Ok I understand this is a very genuine fear, and, whilst I’m not getting into the science of it here and now, smoking does often help us control our weight, but please think about what you’re saying – do the health risks associated with smoking really outweigh the potential five or ten pounds you’ll possibly gain when you give up? Plan ahead, be ready for the increased appetite and it doesn’t have to be an either or situation.
The list can go on and on, but I only have so many words.
What to try instead…
Repeat after me, ‘FOOD IS NOT MY ENEMY.’ Eating is a good thing, doing it regularly is even better – what you eat is the key. Instead of looking at what you should be cutting out of your daily diet, look at what you’d like to be adding in. Assess your vegetable intake, fruit too, are you meeting your daily vitamin and mineral intake? If not, what can you add into your diet to do that? When you start adding in, you will gradually start giving your body the food it needs, and find yourself naturally cutting out the food that isn’t helping you meet your nutritional and health goals. That’s a great place to start.
Don’t deny yourself treats. If you want dessert, eat dessert. If you want cake, have cake, but have a slice, not the whole thing (yes cheesecake lovers, I’m talking to you), and please, for all of our sakes, stop talking about how bad it is for you, what a naughty choice it is but you deserve a treat because it’s your cheat day. If you want to eat it, eat it; the choice is yours and you don’t need to justify it to anyone but yourself. What you put in your mouth is your business, you live with the effects, stop explaining your choices to people; hold yourself accountable, not someone else.
I am aware this may read like I’m skipping over some very real obstacles you’re facing, genuine problems you’re having and big feelings you have right now. Don’t get defensive or upset. I’ve been in that spot too. I spent so many years of my life yoyo dieting and jumping onto fads and crazes that my metabolism just wasn’t working the way it was supposed to. I had medical issues that added to my challenge (and still do), and I was still desperately hoping that a medicine or miracle product would give me the answer. It didn’t happen that way. My body, just like yours, needs fuel. It needs nutrition – good quality nutrition, not processed rubbish. That doesn’t mean I never eat a burger, I do. There are food groups I monitor more closely than others due to my body’s reaction, but this has come from a long period of listening to my body and paying attention to what it needs, rather than what I want to scoff in a stressful moment.
So how about this week, try a new approach: you are not making any drastic cuts, no losing of entire food groups and no declaring carbs to be the enemy (you know you’ve thought it at least once). You are going to eat a balanced, healthy diet (diet means way of eating, not crash course of 200 calorie days that will kill you). Your focus will be on lean proteins, vegetables, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and whole grains. As a guide, your protein portion shouldn’t be bigger than the palm of your hand (no not including the length of your fingers), the largest portion on your plate should be vegetables (green and leafy preferably), small portion of healthy fats and a small portion of complex carbs. Your approach to life is 80:20. This means sticking with healthy choices and options on the menu for eighty percent of the time, and giving yourself twenty percent grace for other choices. You’re going to drink at least two litres of unsweetened water every day (if you get bored try adding lemon slices, mint or my personal favourite is a cucumber and mint combo) and try and limit your snacks to one in the morning, one in the afternoon and keep them around 100 calories (yes it’s possible).
Don’t stress over the number of calories you’re consuming initially, just keep an eye on those snacks and portion your meals as I’ve mentioned above. Get yourself into the mind-set of choosing wisely for your body. Give yourself a taste of how good healthy meals can be (you’ll be surprised). I want you to be honest with yourself and reflect every day on how you feel: more energy? Less bloated? Less hungry at night? Craving less/more of anything?
Friends, I know how difficult it is to deal with the feelings that come with having a body that doesn’t look or feel the way you want it to; it’s hard. When you feel like you really have tried everything and nothing has worked; I get it, I really do, but let’s be honest with ourselves, the quick fixes haven’t worked yet have they? So how about, instead of punishing our bodies for what they’re not, think about what they’re getting right and doing for you. Let me give you an example: my arms may not be as toned as I’d like them to be, but my children don’t care about that when I hug them; my legs are not wobble free and I don’t have a thigh gap, but they carry me where I want to go and work when I want to chase my children around the house; I may not rock a bikini the way Cindy Crawford does but I do have a bikini body – I just have to put one on and go to a beach/pool. Having lived through some scary health crises in our house we take no moment for granted. Every day when I wake up, I am grateful to be here, alive and ready for the day. I have put my body through hell, and no matter what I feed it, how much sleep I allow it, how little I rest or how much I exercise, my body works hard for me – it deserves some appreciation. What are you doing for yourself in gratitude? Don’t overlook that, it’s important. Yes, have goals and aim for improvement and progress, but also be grateful for what you have and what your body is capable of.
Health Coach & Nutritional Therapist
Contact for an Appointment: firstname.lastname@example.org