Long Lasting Weight Loss Secrets
During this time of year people are dieting like its their day job! Its hard to have lasting results with all of the holiday dinners, sweet treats galore and the cold weather sure doesn’t help. Willpower and white knuckling through unhealthy food choices isn’t going to save you. At the end of the day willpower fades and we end up blowing our quick fix diet and feeling very disppointed in ourselves.
Its not your fault. Really.
Most people try to count calories as a way to loose weight. I don’t think that has ever worked for me. And how could it ? People believe they only make about 15 food related decision daily. According to NASM, the average person makes at least 200 daily decisions about food.
Now thats a lot of willpower.
Even if we have the best intentions with our food, many of us still eat mindlessly.
For example, let’s say you overdid it today with an appetizer, drinks and mountain of desserts with dinner (about 1,000 additional calories) you would consciously think about it, maybe go to a fitness class, go for a run or some type of movement maybe the next day or two. The point is, with that amount of food you typically are aware of the extra food intake. However, smaller amount of calories such as 100, or even 300 calories fail to register in our brains. A little snack here and there, licking the batter or sampling your partner/friend’s food adds up. That same innocent little nibble can result in 10-31 pounds in a year. Woah!
Many Americans stop eating when they are full. It’s a cultural norm. However, leaner cultures such as Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, have reported they stop eating when they are no longer hungry.
Yes, there is a difference.
Leaner people rely upon internal cues to stop eating. Internal cues are sensations of hunger, or satiety. Obese and overweight individuals rely more on external cues. External cues are things such as eating all of the food on their plate or eating the entire sleeve of cookies. They stop eating when there is no more food.
The Hunger Scale:
I struggled with this for a long time myself. Learning how to rate your hunger on a scale 1-10 has been the most helpful tool I still use today. If you are completely full, like painfully full, sick to your stomach, you are a 10. If you are completely starving, could eat an entire cow, whether it was dead or alive you are a 1 . You never want to be at either end of the scale. Typically you want to eat when you are around 3/4. Awareness is a skill you have with you always and forever! You don’t need a scale to weigh your food or a meal plan to follow… and the effects on weight loss are real.
Even research backs it up.
NASM presented a fantastic study about chicken wings. When bones were left in plain sight for people to see how much they ate, they actually consumed 28% less food. Why? Because the bones were a visual reminder of how much they ate. It brought awareness to the portion size. Researchers also discovered that people who consumed snacks that were stored in clear jars consumed 71% more food versus those who consumed food that was concealed in opaque containers. Removing visible foods decreases temptations for mindless snacking. Its like that old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.”
The 20% Guideline:
Another habit you can experiment with is reducing portion sizes by 20%. Generally, people do not notice this reduction and still feel satisfied after their meal. It is important there is a limit to reducing the amount of food before this backfires on people. Reducing your portions more than 30% begins to trigger feelings of deprivation and can create psychological resistance. When we feel deprived we begin to rebel against our diet.
The Art of Distraction:
Another skill that I’ve learned over the years is mindfully noticing cravings or urges. Thoughts and emotions are generally fleeting. I heard someone once called emotions “energy in motion.” Emotions come and go and are always in movement. Sometimes all we need is a little distraction. It can’t just be any distraction though…. An effective distraction is one that satisfies the emotion while reducing the urge to eat mindlessly as comfort. For instance, when I feel tired in the evening I always crave sweet treats. I have found that taking a hot shower or grabbing some of my favorite body lotion and massaging hands and feet. These activities give me a break and allow me to relax. And if the desire to eat still persists after the distraction then I will indulge in a small, mindful treat.
The skills don’t just happen over night. It’s a lot of one step forward and five steps backwards. Its a process but the results are long lasting if you keep practicing. And, it does get easier with time. If are interested in getting support, more long lasting weight loss tips, or one on one coaching please message me through my website to see how I can help you!