You can always tell when it’s January because the the gym population swells by 50%. By March, the New Year’s Resolutionists have packed their LuLu Lemon bags, not to return until the following January. My advice – don’t put “exercise more” and “eat better” on a New Year’s resolutions list; just start doing it. And don’t call it a diet. The word diet sets us up for failure – it implies deprivation and has a short-term connotation. Simply list a few rules about how you want to approach food choices, follow them rigidly for a month and they’ll become habit. The language we use when we think about change, is as important as the change itself.
The best advice I can give on healthy eating for 2012 is this:
1. Stop eating diet food
Meaning “sugar-free” and “fat-free” food. The problem with it, is not only do we have to compromise on taste (deprivation) but when we eat it, we think “this is diet food” and subconsciously eat more of it. If you eat plain yogurt with a touch of honey or fresh fruit, you’re not thinking “this doesn’t really count”, which is what we are thinking when we eat artificially sweetened yogurt, “25 calorie” caramel rice cakes and sugar-free ice cream. There is no free lunch, but fat-free, sugar-free foods trick us into thinking there is.
2. Don’t count calories
Consuming fewer calories is critical if you’re trying to lose weight, but what happens when you get caught up in the counting, is you get away from the nutritional value of food and further away from your body’s needs. (A small piece of salmon and a cupcake have the same number of calories.) Instead plan out three healthy meals per day, plus “allowable” snacks. Make very clear rules of what’s allowed and not allowed, but don’t “not allow” foods simply because they are high in calories (I am a huge advocate of nuts even when trying to drop a few pounds). Having clear boundaries is actually far more liberating and easier to follow than allowing small but consistent rule breaking.
3. Spend more time with food
Think you can’t love food and lose weight? Losing weight is not about loving food less, it’s about loving you more. If you’re over-weight, it’s easy to feel like food has control over you, so get control over it. See food as your ally. The more time and love and connection you have with your food, the more nutritious the foods you choose will be and the more mindful you will be when eating. Take pleasure in buying fresh ingredients. Get acquainted with your pots and clear out space in your freezer so you can make big batches of homemade food to have on hand.
4. Eat before you eat
It sounds counter intuitive, but when you start getting really hungry before lunch or dinner for example, have a tiny snack (six almonds, some baby carrots) and by the time you eat the meal 20 minutes later, you’ll be far less likely to indulge.
5. Don’t even try battling temptation
When you’re rested or you’ve had an amazing workout you can resist temptation, but when you’re over-worked, under-slept it’s so easy to take comfort in ice cream. So don’t chance it. Don’t even invite temptation in, meaning don’t buy a single thing that requires discipline in its presence. And if you do cross paths with a particularly aggressive cupcake, take a bite and toss the rest. Better still, toss it down the garbage disposal so there is no chance of retrieving it.
6. Go to bed hungry
I know we’re told it’s the number of calories and not when they’re eaten, that affects our weight, but I don’t believe it. Even if science won’t prove it, eating a big meal at 9pm and going to bed full will keep your weight exactly where it is. Going to bed a little hungry means your body can burn off fat (not food) while you sleep. I can only speak personally on this one, but I’ve found it makes a huge difference.
7. Get off the scale
Weighing yourself frequently gets demoralizing. Hop on the scale once a week at most. Better still, forget the scale and base your health on how your clothes fit and the energy you have.
8. Don’t eat when stressed
Just don’t. It always ends in regret.
9. Be forgiving
So you had a brownie. Tomorrow you won’t have a brownie. If this were so easy, losing weight would not be the number one new year’s resolution. The feeling of failure, which usually leads to simply giving up, is far more destructive than a 200-calorie brownie.
10. Your best advice here….please share!
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