Ever feel like your life has been one big diet? The cycle goes something like this: 1) eat too much over the winter holidays 2) vow to rapidly lose those 5-10 pounds at all costs, 3) buy the latest celebrity diet book or drop a bundle on Jenny Craig, 3) be super-duper “good” by counting calories and restricting whole food groups from your diet, 4) get tired of diet because its hard and binge on cupcakes, 5) head to your pantry and eat entire contents because youve already blown it, 6) gain all lost pounds back, and then some 7), repeat.
Its all so exhausting, isnt it?
The hard truth is that, while very alluring (dieting is a $30 billion industry!), diets dont work long term. Up to 95 percent of people who lose weight on diets gain it back. Wouldnt it be life changing to get off the diet roller coaster and retrain your mind and body to eat well — forever? Make these strategies part of your new nutrition outlook and you may do just that:
Fast Weight Loss Doesnt Work. Lean In.
Successful weight losers and maintainers have one common trait weve observed: they are “leaners.” They dont dive into a radical new diet or weight loss exercise plan. They take the slow and steady approach, changing a few things at a time until it all comes together to become who they are and how they eat. Try it: take 3-4 things in your pantry and swap them out for healthier choices. Leave a little food on your plate or put a little portion of your food back in the bowl every time you eat. Pick two nights a week to enjoy a glass of wine instead of every evening. Lean in it works.
Weight Loss Programs are More Effective When You Eat Real Food.
The fact that processed food isnt good for you shouldnt be surprising. But understanding the “why” can help motivate you. Processed foods inhibit your bodys natural fat burning hormones. When you have either an unbalanced meal or days of overeating, high-carb, high-fat foods, your blood sugar is out of whack and your digestive system is sluggish. Without even feeling it, you have stored fat, your hormones are out of balance and youre running on fumes. By feeding your body food that it was designed to digest and use, you are allowing your endocrine system to work as optimally as possible, which, in turn, will rev your metabolism. Bottom line? Eat as many single ingredient foods as possible, but when packaged goods are necessary, go for those with as few ingredients as possible.
Stop the Weekend Free-for-Alls
Its relatively easy to stay on track with sound nutrition during the week because our routines are dependable, we dont eat out as often and its painless to say no to martinis when you have a 6 a.m. wakeup call. But when the weekend rolls around, many take an “all bets are off” approach. We “deserve” a break from the vigilance of dieting all week and we want to reward ourselves. Yet boozy happy hours, dinners out, family parties and weekend getaways can wreak havoc on your waistline and overall health. Inconsistency is a major reason people “yo yo” with their weight, losing and gaining the same few pounds.
Weekend imbibing is particularly counter to weight loss efforts. Alcohol is toxic to the liver and will significantly stall or set you back on the road to Trim & Healthysville. Your body cant break down stored body fat when your liver is busy metabolizing the alcohol. Likewise, your body will not regenerate muscle (build) while alcohol is present and your metabolism will be suppressed for up to 48 hours post happy hour. All of those margaritas and Pinot Grigios also significantly affect your judgment when it comes to smart eating its shockingly easy to undo all of your hard work during the week with a night or two of big dinners or parties.
Heres a good rule to live by: follow the 90/10 rule of balancing mostly very healthy eating with the occasional not-so-ideal choice. Remember, there will always be a birthday party, a happy hour or special night out to navigate when it comes to your food/beverage intake. Allow yourself a few modest “cheats” each week so you dont feel deprived and ready to devour the entire cheese platter or bottle of wine over the weekend.
Personal Fitness and Good Nutrition: Eat Smaller, Eat Smarter
Even if youre eating healthy foods, you may be sabotaging your efforts by eating too many of them. Surprisingly, only about 10% of Americans correctly estimate the right portion requirements, according to a recent survey by the American Dietetic Association. Get rid of the massive plates, the bottomless cereal bowls, the huge wine goblets and start downsizing.
Your body was designed to eat smaller portions, more often, to keep your blood sugar stable and hormones and hunger at an optimal level. Blood sugar helps control metabolism, insulin and glucagon. When blood sugar is too high or too low, your body stores fat, burns up muscle and slows your metabolism. Conversely, when blood sugar is stabilized, your body releases fat, protects lean muscle, eliminates cravings and increases energy. Try it: eat within an hour of waking up to get your metabolism going; eat every 3-4 hours; aim for each meal to consist of about 50% lean protein; 25% carbs (mostly veggies and a smaller amount of fast carbs such as fruits and whole grains); and 25% healthy fat (think avocados, olive oil, nuts).
Putting it altogether.
Breaking bad can seem hard. Were talking ingrained and oftentimes lifelong habits, many of which are reinforced day after day by the commercial food and diet industries. The most important part of the process is getting to the starting line. Youve got to want to make changes for the right reasons mainly for you. Take a few of these tips and implement them for a month, then lean in further the next month and get a little more vigilant before you know it, youll have broken bad and discovered a new, happier and healthier you! Lisa Allen