I started talking about healthy weight loss a few days ago, because I want to help people find their ideal weight, maintain it, and not have to struggle like a crazy person when your favorite dessert is nearby!
I am really enjoying the 4-Day Win by Martha Beck as a guide to getting healthy. Something she talks about is that weight loss and lifestyle are very unique to each person. We all have different genetics, preferences and environments. There really is no one-size-fits-all diet that will lead to permanent success. That is why it’s so important to really know yourself (personality) and your body (physically) to know what’s gonna work without heroic effort.
I want to share a little of my personal story to help illustrate some of these points. I’ve always been average sized, not too big, not too small, and enjoyed relative good health (knocking on wood, now!) Over time my weight went up and down the scale depending on my age, stress level, exercise plan and diet.
What I’ve learned is that my ideal weight is probably in the 140-150 lb range. I’m never going to be 120 lbs and a size 6, and that’s OK. I gotta be me! I’ve also learned that I am terrible at following diet plans! I can only stick to a plan for a short time, then I get restless and grumpy, and ALWAYS feel like I’m starving. This girl has a healthy appetite, and if I don’t get to eat, it can get ugly fast.
So what do I do? I still eat, but I make better choices. I have to be careful because I eat when stressed, when I’m bored, and I use food as a reward. My major challenge is listening to my stomach…are you really asking me for food? Or is my brain just playing games with me? Learning to really read your body, what it wants and what fuel is best takes time, patience and practice.
I learned that if I want to munch, but feel restless or stressed, that I should walk out of the kitchen and go stretch or walk or generally find something to do that feels productive. If I can shift myself into an activity, it distracts me from my stress response. If my hands are already in the potato chip bag before this healthy thinking kicks in, I allow myself a handful, figure I’ll do better next time, and then immediate flee the kitchen. I fall off the wagon all the time, but if I can limit the damage, that’s something!
I also know what foods fit the bill for health and enjoyment. I can’t eat seaweed and kale chips, they just hold no appeal. But I can eat quinoa, berries and avocados. They have nutrients and actually taste good to me. Finding the right menu takes time. It’s easy to know what you like (or don’t), but takes a lot of observation to see what healthy foods may not agree with you. (ex. I like sweet red pepper, but it gives me heartburn!) I also need to limit bread (it’s like gum in the works) and keep a steady supply of protein and health fats in the line up. Eating according to those guidelines helps me feel satisfied, and gives me the energy I need. As for activities, my favorites are walking and yoga. They don’t require fancy equipment or large amounts of time, and you can do them even if you aren’t feeling 100%.
So, here is my completely non-medical, personal advice on this front:
1. Notice when your body feels healthy (foods, exercise, situations) and focus in.
2. Try not to eat unless you are hungry (gently question your motives!)
3. Don’t beat yourself up if you mess up.
4. Seek support from family, friends, etc. Food is very social and it can be hard to stick to our intentions without help.
5. Love who you are, your unique body, personality and gifts. We are like snowflakes, none the same, yet beautiful.
Thanks for listening, talk to you soon!