With over 65% of the US population needing to lose weight, it is no wonder why so many look everywhere possible to get the fastest, most effective results. But where do you start? There are so many diets claiming to be the next greatest diet you will ever do. There is the Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, Grapefruit, Cabbage Soup, Juicing, Blood Type, Paleo… the list goes on and on. Enough to drive anyone insane. And many have gone crazy trying to just that: trying to find the fastest and most effective diet. But, no matter what diet or how many diets you have tried, the end result is the same: initial loss of weight, regain of lost weight plus more, losing a bit of your sanity, feeling like a failure, and searching for the next latest and greatest. This cycle goes on and on.
So how do you stop the dieting cycle and still lose the weight your doctor is pushing you to do? Easy, stop dieting and start eating intuitively. How do you accomplish this? Glad you asked. Here are a few dos and don’ts to get you started.
Dieting rules and regulations are unreasonable and constantly try to offer false hope of losing weight quickly. Research shows that 90% of all diets fail. Making lifestyle changes will better help over the long-term and weight loss will be more permanent. So no more dieting! Try it, its freeing!
No need to measure any more. Use your internal portion control to know how much to eat. Dieting takes away from our internal start and stop signals. Use a hunger scale to help determine when to eat and when to stop. This will allow you to eat just what your body needs to get to its natural weight.
There are no “good” or “bad” foods. Restricting foods only makes you want to eat it more. If you allow yourself to eat those “forbidden foods” the desire for these foods will begin to diminish. Ask yourself “what am I really hungry for?” and go eat it (if you are indeed hungry of course).
Focus on how a food makes you feel and how it can help you rather than calories and weight loss. Choose these food because you want to take care of yourself, not because your have to in order to lose weight. You will not get a nutrient deficiency from eating some “fun food” every now and then. It is balance over time. It is not about the calories but the quality of the food you eat. Try to find some classes to learn about healthy eating and how foods can nourish your body.
Find exercises that you enjoy and focus on the benefits - not the numbers. Too many of us exercise until we reach a calorie deficit for weight loss. It becomes mundane and can lead to burnout. Exercise needs to be a routine part of your week so make it fun. Find some classes or sports, run or bike ride with the kids, or take a dance class. Just get moving! This will help with weight loss and longevity.
There will always be another diet claiming to be “the one” so don’t even let the thought cross your mind. It will keep you from developing long-term habits and lead to more guilt and dieting failure, because diets don’t work! Focus on your internal hunger and fullness signals and finds nourishing foods you enjoy.
This is the greatest challenge to getting a better relationship with food. Find your triggers and seek alternatives to deal with emotions. If you are eating and not hungry, you are eating emotionally. This is also a form of mindless eating and can lead to weight gain or difficulty with weight loss as you are not focusing on your hunger and fullness. Some people need to seek counseling in order to deal with emotions in a healthier way.
The scale can be a false tool that people use to assess progress. It can be used to determine if you have a “good” day or “bad” day, regardless of how your day actually went. Try to reduce or even eliminate how many times you weigh yourself. This will help keep your focus in the right place.
We were not born to count, weigh, or measure everything we put in our mouth. It takes away from any enjoyment from food and causes increased stress, which further affects our health. There are some medical reasons to have to watch certain nutrients, such as diabetes, kidney disease, etc, but for those trying to lose weight, counting numbers in foods is not necessary. Hunger and fullness is your portion control.
Developing good eating habits is a process. There are ups and downs. Give yourself much grace with each day. Habits take time to break and make. Weight was not gained overnight and it will not be lost overnight. This is a trick of dieting programs. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Just because you ate a cookie, does not mean you have failed and should then eat the rest of the bag. Learn about your body and why you eat and let it be a process!
Losing weight is all about making healthy choices habitual behavior. Fad diets won’t help you be healthy, and will only exacerbate yo-yo weight loss and have you gaining more weight than you lost. Throw out the diet books, eat until you are satisfied and not stuffed, and find exercise that you enjoy doing. Have patience and be confident that you will lose weight as you start living a healthier life.
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