Detoxes. 30 day cleanses. 4 week challenges. Paleo. Whole 30. Atkins. Keto. Macros. Clean Eating. These are all tools that help people lose weight. Some with more success than others. The problem with a weight-loss “tool” is that it rarely addresses “why” you eat. Anyone can white knuckle their way through four to twelve weeks of strictly following a plan but if the “why” isn't addressed the “what” doesn’t matter. Without addressing the “why”, pizza will never stop calling your name. You will find yourself elbow deep in a bag of cheetos. That “F*CK it” moment will eventually appear
So how do you prevent this from happening. First off, I think awareness of what your current eating habits, patterns and behaviors are is key to picking a plan that is right for you. Remember, “right for you” means something that you can see yourself sticking with for at least six months. I challenge you to write down or track on an app like MyFitnessPal for a week everything you eat*. (*The only drawback I find to using MyFitnessPal is the first thing people do is that they put in how much they weigh, how tall they are and that they want to lose three pounds a week…...EKKKKKKK. MyFitnessPal spits out an ungodly low number of calories and then instead of tracking what you eat on the daily you are trying to hit this superlow number. This is not sustainable and it does you no favors. DON'T DO THIS!)
Your goal should be to just track what you normally eat, accounting for sauces, dressings, cooking oils and beverages. After a week, look back on everything you ate. Look for patterns and trends. Sometimes seeing how much you are consuming and what you are consuming is eye opening. You start to realize that two tablespoons of olive oil may not be necessary to cook your vegetables. Maybe you could just use one and it would taste the same. Or maybe you realize that your morning coffee and bagel is a 1,000 calories. Whoops. Having this realization will allow you to choose a medium latte instead of a medium mocha. In Starbucks land this is a 170 calorie difference. If you did this everyday, that would change your weekly calorie intake by 1,190 calories without making extravagant changes to your lifestyle.
You might be willing to take coffee out all together. Good for you!! I would give away my kids before my coffee but that’s just me. My point is what little tweaks can you make one at a time that will add up in a big way. This would be a more effective and lasting first step than any 12 week diet plan could offer.
Here’s the deal, none of this even matters if you do not know “why” you choose the latte, nightly glass of wine or ice cream. Without being aware of why you are making your choices you will never be able to sustain lasting success.
For me, my weakness has always been Chick-Fil-A fries and chocolate (think Reese’s peanut butter cups, Twix). If there was an excuse to eat either of these things, I was eating it. I would rationalize with myself that I would just eat one fry or one piece of chocolate but most of the time I would crush a servings of fries. Of course after I crushed the fries I would feel bad about myself.
The reason that I ate both of these things was stress relief. Allowing myself to eat these things made me feel good in the moment. It gave me a hit of “happiness” and allowed me to forget the stress of my day, life or upcoming worry. If you do not know me, I have a tendency to “worry” a lot…..I’m a working on it.
When I started this journey before I ate anything I asked myself a couple of questions.
WHY AM I EATING THIS?
AM I HUNGRY?
HOW WILL I FEEL AFTER I EAT THIS?
IS THIS CHOICE IN LINE WITH MY GOALS ?
IF I EAT THIS HOW WILL THIS IMPACT THE REST OF THE DAY?
The questions that you ask yourself may not be the ones that I ask myself. The point is to build awareness as to why you are doing what you do.
For me sometimes when I was choosing foods I just did it because it was there. I wasn’t really hungry but it was there, so why not. Other times I used it to calm my nerves like I talked about before. Effective yes…..in line with my goals, no. What this allows you to do is to make choices that meet your needs that do not involve food. Now when I am stressed I go for a walk or write a to do list. Other options for when you are a stressed can include listening to music, calling/texting a friend, reading a book, adult coloring, etc. There are a whole host of other things that you can do to relieve stress other then eating.
What I have found is that those fries and chocolate no longer have power over me. I have come to realize that the fries…...aren’t even that good. The Twix, well it tastes kind of waxy. If I am going to eat dessert I want it to be the brownie truffle bites or a nutella chocolate cookie that my husband made from scratch.
When you know “why” you make the choices you make, you have the power to change. Changing at this level is hard. You have to take a look within yourself. Sometimes what you find out isn't pleasant. Maybe you eat because you are sad. Maybe you eat because it is the only thing you feel in control of. Being aware of this means that you have to make a choice of whether you are going to address it.
The thing is that if you address it, not only will you better your life from a health standpoint but you will better it on a much deeper level. This will allow you to not only make better choices for weeks at a time but for months and years. That is the secret to lasting weight-loss success.
Challenging yourself to awareness is a hard step to take. Would you like some help? Send me an email at Theresa.Worley@icloud.com