You are the magic bullet in this weight loss project. Not a pill, potion, shake, or a diet. No “Fat free” no “gluten free” (unless you actually have celiac disease), no high protein, no carb-free no fads, just real advice to a healthier and happier you.
There are many reasons our country has monumental percentages of overweight and obese population. Many have sought the reason or reasons why, and much blame has showered down on food and food processors and manufacturers, fast food, gluten, carbohydrates and fat. What many have failed to recognize is this: food in and of itself is not to blame, it is our relationship to food, our collective psychology, the way we view our bodies and our emotional imbalances.
Whether our codependent relationship began in the War Era with rationing and scarcity or later, with overabundance and ubiquity has really yet to be researched, but one can surmise after a great deal of inquisition that our country as a whole battles with entitlement when it comes to food.
While other countries’ and continents’ poor are literally starving to death, our poor are overweight and obese. Our collective appetite doesn’t stop with food; our enormous appetite for money and things is expanding still, and the belt needs an extension.
OK, So How Can I Lose Weight?
What does it all mean for the individual who needs to lose weight? It means you’ve got to rethink your approach to weight loss and your relationship with food. Here are the first few tips to get you on track as we begin a journey to a healthier people.
1. Slow Down
Focus on a careful and slow program for losing weight. Going to fast is hard on your body and unsustainable. One pound per week is a good goal, but even if you focus on half a pound per week, you set yourself up for more success and positivity. If you need to lose 10 pounds, give yourself 10 weeks at a minimum to do so.
2. Stop Eating Before You Are Full
This advice may sound silly, but people rarely stop eating before they are full. Usually you can hear “I’m stuffed!” as you leave the restaurant. That person has gone over the line. Each time that line is crossed several things happen: 1. you stretch your stomach, 2. you stress your organs, 3. you gain weight, 4. you deplete your naturally occurring enzymes. While the occasional self-stuffing may be ok, if you begin to stop eating before you are full, those self-stuffing sessions will become more uncomfortable, and you naturally begin to eat less. Here are a few tips on how to seop eating before you are full:
- After each bite, put your utensils down on the plate and place your hands on your lap as you chew your food. When you finish chewing and swallow your bite, take 5 long breaths before taking the next bite. Or take your turn in the conversation. Your 5 long breaths can be in secret, just give yourself a moment to contemplate before taking your next bite.
- Take stock every few minutes by placing your hand on your stomach. This is a good way to make a connection with your mind and your body which can be easily lost while eating for many reasons. Stay mindful of the amount of food in your belly.
This is a practice you can integrate right away into your eating habits. Never give up on yourself, just keep getting to know your body and learning how your body reacts to food. If you forget to put your utensil down in between each bite at one meal, you can start again the next time.
3. Get Picky.
One of the best ways to regain control of your weight and your body is to become a picky eater. Refuse to put junk in your body, refuse to put processed and unhealthy foods in your body. This behavior will automatically steer you towards lighter and healthier food choices. The list of foods to avoid is long, and in this day and age, goes on ad nauseum. Here are a few foods to avoid and tips on how to turn your nose up at them:
- Fast Food. It doesn’t really matter what choice you make at a fast food restaurant, the food is mass produced, filled with garbage such as preservatives and even the healthy versions are laden with e.coli (e.g. sprouts). Just don’t eat fast food. Refuse to step foot inside, and insist on a healthier meal. One fast food restaurant that is acceptable on occasion is Chipotle Mexican Grill with sustainably raised meats and fresh ingredients, but still limit due to the fact that portions here are gigantic.
- Chocolate. Refine our chocolate palate. Eat only dark, single origin chocolates made with organic ingredients. Read the ingredient list on the back of your chocolate. Hint: if the list includes high fructose corn syrup, it is not a pure chocolate. Dark chocolates do not contain milk. Choose 70% and up cocoa. The strong taste will keep you from eating more than the designated serving, and you can savor the pure and delicious flavor.
- No Frozen Dinners. Frozen entrees are probably one of the worst things you can put into your body. Our recommendation is to make extra servings of your favorite dinners and pack them into plastic containers– to be used in a day or two, or frozen and used within a week. Obviously fresh is better, but sometimes there is no time. Make your own frozen dinner. Save money, and eat healthier.
- Minimize processed and packaged foods. If it comes in a bag or a box, it is likely processed and manufactured to death. Keep a bag of apples on hand. Wash them as soon as you purchase them, and they will be ready at any time. An apple is a suitable choice for a snack.
- Buy Local. Where did that red bell pepper come from? Chile? Eat only produce grown in your region, bought at local farmer’s markets. For those in regions without farmer’s markets and with actual winters, you may have to get creative, but with the locavore movement, more and more locals are finding ways to grow produce locally in all conditions.
- Eat less meat. Check the source of your meats. Buy local, sustainably raised meat as much as possible. If it is not available, do not eat it. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where meat comes from. If you are purchasing industrial meat, stop. You probably don’t need anywhere near the amount of protein you are eating, so it won’t hurt you. Red meat once a week is a good goal, mixed with wild caught fish (eat sparingly) and perhaps fowl from time to time.
Tell yourself, “I hate potato chips!” and you’ll stop craving them. Use this technique with any food you have trouble eating in a normal quantity. Get picky, turn your nose up, and get healthy!
4. Portions, portions, portions.
How many calories do you need in a day? 2,000? If you are 5’2″ and 125 pounds, your caloric needs hover around 1300 on a day off the bike. Do you need 2,000 calories? Probably not. Realizing every nutritional label on the food you purchase is focused on a 2,000 calorie diet, rethink your portions. Yes, portions are tiny. We collectively believe portions are tiny because we have become accustomed to overeating. Bring your portions down. Buy a scale. Use measuring cups. These tools will help you realize the actual size of a portion so you can begin to get your portions under control. Focus on eating one serving and being satisfied with that. As you eat your one serving, stop and breathe, stop and chew. Pretty soon you will have the hang of eating less.
Putting It All Together
Now that we’ve pin-pointed a few ways to get yourself on track for eating less and losing weight, it’s time to put your thoughts into action. Get out a piece of paper, a journal or notebook or open a new document on your computer, and go through your kitchen. Write down all you have, the origin of the foods, the ingredients, and how long it has been sitting in your pantry or refrigerator. Next, make a list of items you want to stock, and items you want to begin to avoid in your new journey.
For the next few days, track your food, calories, ingredients, brand names and servings. get a clear picture of what you have in your home and what you have been eating. Look at what those around you are eating. Are they eating a healthy pure meal one serving at a time? Stay mindful of your self.
Call in a friend to help you complete these tasks. Finding a real human to support you as you begin to change will make all the difference.
Think about your food choices. Be mindful of your bites and your servings. Be mindful of what goes into your body and remember: garbage in garbage out. Take your time, take it slowly, and just get in touch with your habits, the foods you crave, the way you eat and start to pay attention to your body.
In later episodes, we’ll take a look at more ideas for weight loss and control, and programs that can help.
Eat well and be healthy!