Welcome back to my mini series–where about twice a month I share a healthy approach to weight loss, fitness, and a balanced life.
Something usually happens when a chronic dieter gives up dieting in exchange for a healthy approach to weight loss. I know it happened to me, and I’ve heard the same from many others.
It’s a big shift in mentality.
In my dieting days I thought of food in terms of: “Today I will eat every item allowed on this meal plan,” and then I set out to make sure I ate every single thing that was allowed that day, because after all, they guaranteed that I could and I would still lose weight.
In my post-dieting days it has become: “I am allowed to eat anything I want, and therefore maybe I’ll just pass that thing up, and wait until a little later…after all, I can eat it any ole time I want–Nothing is forbidden.” Soon, I was having some fun experiencing a little hunger, and made eating less, almost a game. I have enjoyed making healthier choices, and I have learned to wait for my body’s actual signals to tell me I needed food and what it was craving.
If you’ve experienced this shift in thinking, then you know it is a most wonderful thing.
I have shared a little in the past about how twelve years ago I gave up dieting and a whole lot of negative mind-sets related to food and my body. I am working on an ebook about that process (be patient with me! :)) and I believe with all of my heart that if this is an area you struggle in, you too CAN find freedom along with your ideal weight.
But I want to be clear that I didn’t go through all of this and then wake up one day magically at an ideal body weight.
I didn’t throw caution to the wind and just happen to get lucky.
(Haha, don’t we wish it worked like that!?)
You see, though I quit following diet plans, counting calories, and checking my scale ALLOFTHETIME, I am still aware of my body, my workouts and and what I eat every day. Heck, I live in the land of skimpy bikinis, I cannot escape the daily reminders that it matters to me what I look like and how I feel in my own skin.
Yet there is a fine balance between not allowing food or my body to be an idol, AND practicing self control, taking care of myself, and following some general guidelines to keep fit and lean.
As I have changed my relationship with food and my body, I have learned to enjoy things like eating healthier foods, smaller portions, and waiting to really feel hungry, for the sake of the better good: Enjoying a lean and fit body.
I’ll never forget a sign my mom hung in our kitchen for some years. It said: “Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.” Haha, kind of funny, but kind of true.
I’m not talking about an eating disorder mentality, or starving myself, but I am talking about an adult mindset of “I do not NEED to grab a handful of those chips just because they are there.” OR, better yet, “I will feel much better about grabbing a crisp apple out of the fridge, than I will feel if I eat five handfuls of those chips (Because let’s be honest, who ever had ONE handful of chips?)
I have learned to make better choices. And when I do choose the chips, I have learned to shrug it off and get on with life.
Most of all, I have learned to practice some LIFE HACKS which help me eat LESS, without feeling “restricted.” And I have talked to a number of other “lean and fit” folks who say they do the same things.
So here are three simple, doable, LIFE HACKS OF THE FIT AND LEAN!
1. Be ok with being a little hungry.
When you first feel hungry, try waiting. Drink a tall glass of water. Unload the dishwasher (or fold a load of laundry, or do one more task at work.) Often, (I mean most-of-the-time-often) we mistake hunger for thirst, boredom, or we just eat out of habit. If you try all of those things, and you are truly hungry, then try a healthy, light snack. “Think, and drink, (water) before you eat.”
I used to wake up starving, but somewhere along the way (baby/toddler years?) I got too busy to eat and started drinking coffee and waiting an hour or two to eat. Now I don’t even have an appetite for a few hours when I first wake up. I’m not saying that this is healthier (breakfast is super important,) but I am saying it has helped me feel a little more in control of my eating each day.
If you feel hungry at bedtime, just go to bed! Rarely does a little hunger keep you awake, so don’t blow it by making a bad food choice ten minutes before you hit the hay!
The point is: You might be surprised at how your body will change and adjust if you give it time. Don’t be afraid to feel hunger and live with it for a few minutes!
2. Challenge yourself to change one habit.
Some of things we hold dear to are downright funny when you really stop to think about it. You might say “But I always have ice cream before bed,” so…what if you didn’t? Would you die? I have one friend who “always had to have “ popcorn at the movies…The nasty buttery (delicious!) kind. She thought it was like religion to eat popcorn at the movies. She finally traded this in for salted edamame that she’d smuggle in her purse from home, and loved the new alternative.
I personally used to be a night-time snacker. I think the mentality was that I could always start fresh in the morning, so I would grab what I could before the day ended. (totally illogical, but true story.) When I got serious about making changes, I began a new habit of drinking a cup of tea after dinner each night. That was my signal to be done. It was hard for a few days or maybe a few weeks, but I stuck to it and now I hardly think of food after dinner. If I’m truly hungry, I will find a piece of fruit or some yogurt to eat, but it isn’t out of an unhealthy compulsion like it used to be. One friend of mine brushes her teeth as soon as she finishes dinner and that is all it takes to turn off her hunger signals.
Remember: It usually takes 30 days to create a new habit!
What is a habit you could realistically change?
3. Cut portions in half.
One trick a lot of healthy people have is to start with a small portion. Chew your food, drink water, and enjoy every bite. When you are done, set the fork down and wait a couple minutes. If you are still genuinely hungry, then go get another small portion. Remember, if you’re not on a diet then there is no restriction, so you are not as drawn to pile up your plate. Listen to your body, and you will learn to tell when you really need more, and when you don’t.
The solution to portions when you eat out is a simple one: As soon as your food comes, ask for a take-out box! Dish half of your meal into the box, knowing that you will get to enjoy it for lunch tomorrow. If you are still really hungry after you eat, you can even go home and finish the rest at home! Just knowing you can, usually makes it less desirable!
There are plenty more LIFE HACKS when it comes to eating less, so I am counting on YOU to share in comments something that you have learned in this area! Please do share, or if you have a specific area of challenge you want to throw out: Please do! Keep making positive changes in your lifestyle and you will absolutely see results in the long term!