As most of you already know, I really struggled with my weight any body image for many years. I would say the thick of it started when I was around 12 or 13 years old and then continued to be a constant struggle until I was about 30’s (and just to put that into perspective, I am currently 41).
The funny thing is that my struggle with weight and body image is what lead me to do what I do today, so in many ways, I’m super grateful for the journey. Had I not wanted to lose weight, I would have never gone on to study fitness, integrative nutrition, weight loss, or food psychology.
So needless to say, healthy eating and sustainable weight loss are topics that are very near and dear to my heart and something that I understand from the inside out.
So today I am sharing 5 steps that helped me switch from a dieters mentality that constantly kept me in the loop of losing and gaining weight and jumping from one diet to the next to where I am today; a Mom of two who loves her body and her food and has maintained a 20 pound weight loss for over two years and through two pregnancies.
Diets are a guide line, not a rulebook
While diets can be extremely helpful and informative they don’t work without YOU! As a dieter, I always thought that I was the problem and the diet (whichever one I was on at the time) was the solution. So I would get very uptight and very strict and try very hard to follow the rules of the diet to a T.
But inevitably, I would eat something that either wasn’t on the diet or too much of something that was on the diet and then label myself a failure.
I would leave myself out of the equation and then when I couldn’t stick to the diet I automatically concluded that there was something wrong with me and never considered that maybe that diet didn’t work for me, or that I would need to tweak a few things to make it a better fit.
Remember, diets are just guidelines and you have to check in with yourself to tweak and adjust where needed.
FOCUS ON QUALITY, NOT CALORIES
I was very focused on calories and what I needed to eliminate or restrict from my diet, which always left me feeling deprived and frustrated (and in retrospect led to a lot of binge eating).
Once I learned to switch my focus from calories to quality I found myself looking at food in a whole new way. Instead of always focusing on what I needed to eliminate, I began looking for new, delicious, nutritious foods that I could incorporate. This was a complete shift of perspective and really made ‘healthy eating’ feel super fun and very delicious. This definitely got me trying new ingredients and cooking a lot more.
STOP EXERCISING TO LOSE WEIGHT
For the longest time, I exercised for one reason and one reason only; and that was to lose weight.
I didn’t pay much attention to whether or not I actually enjoyed the exercise, I usually just tried to do the exercise that was suppose to burn the most calories or help to lose weight the fastest. It usually just took a couple of weeks before I would decide it wasn’t really working so what was the point any way? So of course, I’d quit.
Until one day I decided, I was going to do exercise that I enjoyed and made me feel good simply because I enjoyed it made me feel good. No exchange, no trade off. I just committed that whether or not my body changed, I was going to move my body because it feels good.
You have to remember that anything you don’t enjoy will be very difficult to sustainable. The key to long term results is consistency, and you wont be consistent, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing.
Swap Willpower for Awareness
For me willpower always felt like I was working against myself. It was like I wanted to change my weight so badly… so desperately, that I never felt like I had the time to understand it, I just wanted to fix it.
So I would try and push and will my way to the finish line but that always felt SO hard and it never got me very far before I would eventually throw in the towel.
Eventually, I realized that the reason it felt as hard as it did, was because I wasn’t really paying attention. I wasn’t slowing down enough to notice what I needed when I needed it or how I needed it. I was always so busy pushing that I was never listening.
So, I began to practice more awareness. Simply paying attention to what was an wasn’t working for me. What I enjoyed and what I didn’t.
Admittedly, in order to do this, I really had to ACCEPT where I was and surrender the need to FIX myself. But that’s an entirely different conversation!
Know the Difference between Physical + Emotional Hunger
This ties into onto number four because in order to recognize the difference between the two, I had to be practicing awareness.
Once I was able to distinguish the difference between physical and emotional hunger, I then began to practice meeting my emotional needs without food.
And thats not to say that I never eat emotionally anymore, because I do. But now it doesn’t feel like its happening to me. If I choose to do it, its with awareness.