We in the US, live in a very toxic culture when it comes to food, one that encourages constant snacking and overindulgence of highly processed cheap food. The following is a list of 10 things that I do to keep my weight under control. Ten things may sound like a lot from a blog that promotes simplicity, but remember the bottom line for maintaining or losing weight is consistency, whatever strategy you decide to take resolve to stick with it; and practice mindfulness, paying attention to what you eat. But please, remember to allow yourself to enjoy your food. There is an old Italian saying, “Life is buttering bread.” Bad eating habits, not food is the enemy.
- Move through your self judgement. Get it out: I’m fat, I’m lazy, I don’t have the will power to loss weight etc... let it out because you know it’s there lurking in your subconscious mind. Now acknowledge that these are all self-judgements that may or may not be true, but you can move past them. Now listen to your rational mind, and make a choice. Say it, write it: “I chose to be such and such weight. This a healthy weight for my body.” Be realistic, be honest. Now decide how you are going to achieve this weight. Hopefully, the following ideas will be of use to you. Good luck, and remember - weight that is lost slowly is more likely to stay off
- Weigh yourself every day at the same time. I do it in the morning before I eat. (You’re usually the lightest then.) Now visual the weight on the scale moving to your desired weight. Feel the tension of your intent. This is an old creative visualization technique that is really great because it forces you to acknowledge where you are, and helps you to direct your energy toward where you want to go. It is helpful for any change you want to make in your life. Even when you are not trying to loss weight you should weigh yourself daily. You don’t get fat overnight, the pounds accumulate gradually. If you see you are starting to gain weight it is much easier to get a grip on 5 pounds than 15 pounds.
- Become a picky eater.The pickier you are about what you eat, the less you will eat. Decide: I only eat real, unprocessed, fresh whole food. Don’t eliminate any food group: you’ll only crave it. Decide: I can eat anything in moderation. So, if you want chocolate cake, don’t go to the grocery store and buy an inexpensive artificially full of crap cake and gobble it up while watching TV. Instead, meet a friend at a nice cafe, order a really luscious freshly baked piece of chocolate mousse cake and share it with your friend over a lovely conversation. This way you’ll reduced your calorie intake, eat good cake, and connect with a friend.
- Don’t keep any trigger foods in your house. A trigger food is a food that you can’t stop eating. Mine is cookies. My husband’s is ice cream. I could stand at my kitchen counter with a bag of cookies and eat the whole thing while I stare at the clock on the wall. My husband eats ice cream like a pregnant woman, right out of the carton, never leaving a scoop of it behind, whether it is a pint or a quart container. When you want to indulge in a trigger food make it an event. Go out and eat a small about of it in public, were you’ll be too embarrassed to over eat it.
- Don’t eat directly out of a container. I know it means more dishes to wash, but it is essential that you stick to a serving of an item. So, if you want some potato chips, look at the bag, read the serving size. Count out 9 chips put them into a bowl. Put the bag away. Then sit down at the table and consciously eat and enjoy your snack.
- Savor your food. Stop reading, typing, surfing the web, watching TV, talking on your cell, etc. while you eat. The only thing OK to do while eating is to socialize with friends and family. Most people will not overeat in front of another person, so if you can do all of your eating in public or with company at home. Once when I was in Florence, Italy in a tiny family restaurant, “Latini” it was called, the owner remarked to me that Americans need to enjoy food more. He said, “The best times you’re gunna have in life are at the dinner table and in bed, so, relax and enjoy!”
- If you eat after 8 you’re gunna gain weight. It is not conclusive, but there is research that indicates food is digested better earlier in the day. You also have less self-control later in the day. There is definitely evidence that you are less likely to be overweight if you always eat breakfast, probably because it kick starts your metabolism. After dinner I usually sip tea or drink water. I think there must be something good about going to bed with your food digested, so your body can do other things: like regenerate your cells! Also, if you don’t eat after dinner you will wake up hungry and want to eat breakfast.
- Drink only 1 to 2 calorie drinks a day. I drink green tea without sweetener. I also drink a lot of water. At lunch or dinner I may dilute a little juice with seltzer water and make a spritzer. Save your calorie drinks for a nice glass of wine or beer with friends or family. I would not recommend drinking diet sodas. No one knows for sure what the ingestion of artificial sweeteners and chemicals can have on your health. I don’t think it’s worth the chance. We definitely know that the phosphate in soda is linked to osteoporosis.
- Eat on a regular schedule. When you eat regularly, and often, you are less likely to overeat. For me three 400-500 calorie meals and 2 snacks that are not over 200 calories, all eaten before 8pm works best. What and how much to eat depends on your physical size and your activity level. The USDA has a site that can really be helpful in determining the approximate calories you should take in per day. You can plug in what you eat and it will tell you what you need to alter in your diet. My husband is enjoying a free app called Myfitnesspal. You can take pictures with your phone of barcodes with it, and it tells you the calories and nutritional information per serving. It also helps you track calories and calculate different activities calorie burn.
- Exercise Daily: Daily is the key. We inhabit a body. Bodies are designed to move or they become dis-eased and down right achy. I am so used to walking 20 minutes a day and stretching, that if I sit around like a blob, even for one day, I get stiff and achy. Do not use the excuse that you are tired. Exercise will wake you up. Or the excuse that you are in pain. I went back to the gym 3 days after I broke my wrist. I could only pedal on a stationary bike, but getting my circulation going helped ease the pain. When my lower back hurts, I walk. Most of the time after the walk the pain has eased. It is not until you move that your brain will produce endorphins that will relieve your pain. Listen to this old Yankee girl, sometimes you have to push yourself. Just remind yourself that you will feel better AFTER you exercise. So get off your butt right now, and go outside and take a walk! If you can’t leave the building, find the stairwell and climb to the top floor and down to the lobby... and when you go back to your computer you will have more energy, and if not, you know you still burned a few calories.
It really stinks that as we get older we have to develop discipline, consistency, and mindfulness about eating and exercise, but it is worth it. The pay off is not just living longer, but enjoying a better quality of life.