If your “skinny jeans” fit, you can read on for fun (maybe you’re doing everything right, or maybe you’re young and blessed with great genetics). If you have a pair of pants in your closet that you’d love to get into, read on. I want you to fit into them- for life.
Most people’s goal is not just to lose weight- it’s to keep it off. The problem that most people face is not lack of knowledge (most have some clue as to what they should and should not eat), it’s the mindset they have, and relationship they have with food. Never again do I want you to have to say that this is the year you’re going to get back into shape, lose those 10 pounds you gained, etc. Lose the weight and keep it off by following two simple rules:
- Focus on food
- Don’t make food your focus
It sounds contradictory, but I will explain.
Focus on Food
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you will absolutely need to plan, prepare and record your meals. This means knowing what you’re going to have in advance, setting yourself up for success by preparing for your meals (for example, having the groceries in the house, packing your own lunch when at work), carefully portioning your appropriate serving size (this may mean you need to weigh or measure your food, at least at the beginning) and then recording what you ate in a food journal. Time consuming? Maybe. Worthwhile? Absolutely.
A great example of being successful when planning, preparing and recording is one of our long time clients. For the past eight months, she has consistently exercised 4-6 days per week. She lost some weight and inches, but the change was not as dramatic as she would have like. For the first time, last week, she committed to planning all her meals, preparing ahead of time (she even got up early to prepare a tasty chili for that night’s dinner) and she recorded all her meals. Her efforts paid off with a five-pound weight loss in just over a week.
I want you to pause for a second and pay attention to your thoughts. Are you thinking ‘this is way too much work!’ or ‘there’s no way I want to write down everything I eat’, or ‘I would but (enter excuse here)’. You have two choices: you can say ‘oh well’, accept that this is just the way it is and take action, or you can continue doing what you’re doing.
Focusing on food also means eating mindfully. Most of us like food, but few of us truly pay attention to the food that we eat. We rush through, or eat while distracted by the television. When our plate is done we want more because we never allowed ourselves the opportunity to enjoy what we ate.
Instead of rushing through your meals, eat mindfully. Slow down, focus on the tastes and textures of your mouthful. Take your time, chew your food, and enjoy with gusto!
Don’t make food your focus
While long-term success in achieving a healthy body weight requires you to plan your meals and practice mindful eating, it’s also important to think of food as fuel for the rest of your day. Eat to live rather than live to eat. My three-year-old son reminds me of this skill every day. Given the choice between sitting down and eating a meal and playing with his toys or going to the play park, he will always pick one of the latter options. He eats because he needs energy (and because I make him) and then moves onto the next activity.
While it’s encouraged to gather around the dinner table as a family, look forward to the time spent with family rather than just the dinner itself. When dinner is done (and you’ve eaten mindfully) you can move onto the next activity for the evening. If you don’t have activities planned, start planning them now so you’re not tempted to fill empty time with snacking! Eating is not a pastime, it’s not a comfort for when you feel sad or anxious, it’s not a reward; food is simply fuel to do things.
To keep off the weight, it’s important to change your relationship with food. While it’s necessarily to plan, prepare and record your meals, remember that the purpose of food to fuel your activities. Go and play!
Tanja Shaw is the owner of Ascend Fitness Coaching, a private training studio. Tanja and her team of expert fitness professionals works to inspire and educate Chilliwack residents to make positive and power changes in their lives through physical fitness and sound nutrition. For more fitness tips go to www.ascendfitnesscoaching.com.