A lifestyle change

it-s-not-a-diet-it-s-a-lifestyle-change

I’m writing this piece based on my own experiences around losing weight successfully.  I know it’s helped a number of people on weight loss forums I use who I have shared it with and thought it’s about time I shared it a little more publicly.

To succeed at weight loss and to keep the weight off once you’ve lost it, it’s crucial to think about your weight loss journey as a lifestyle change rather than a diet.

It’s about embracing the changes you are choosing to make rather than resenting them.

That lifestyle change will need to happen a bit at a time and will involve many things : changing your behaviour around food, portion control, identifying emotional eating triggers, increasing your activity levels, trying new foods, making healthy food swaps, etc.

Commitment to diet/lifestyle change and resistance to temptation doesn’t just happen! It has to be worked at.

The only way I have succeeded this time is to change how I approach food and eating it. I have learned to resist temptation! BUT please believe that this has taken a LOT of hard work and practice!

It’s about “normalising” or “modifying” behaviour around food…  with enough “practice” it becomes easier until you get to the point where a behaviour is modified permanently.  You’ve reprogrammed yourself with a new way of approaching food.

I am certain that even some people who are not over weight do sometimes over indulge – but the fact is they don’t do it very often!

Those of us who are over weight have been used to “treating” ourselves, eating portions that are too large, eating the things that we know are calorific because we can.

It’s been a combination of changing all of those aspects of how I behave around food that has meant I have been successful this time.

I have developed a respect for the food I eat. Not everyone can eat as well as we in the western world do. We should not abuse the privilege!

I rarely eat “on the hoof” any more, I rarely eat between meals. I take time to sit at a table and present my meals nicely. I take a moment or two to study my plate of food before I pick up my knife and fork.

Almost daily I say to hubbie “Aren’t we lucky to be able to enjoy such lovely food”. I really mean that too, I am not saying it for anyones benefit but his and mine. We should never take for granted having easy access to delicious food stuffs and our ability and love of cooking as well as the fact we have the time to plan, prepare and cook it.

By logging your food – keeping track of how many calories some of those “treats” contain, after a while they remain in your head (medium egg = 70 cals, slice of white bread 100 cals, meringue nest 57 cals, 30g (matchbox size) of cheddar, 122 cals).

I do have sweet treats, but I buy my own choice, so things like 2 finger Kitkat, single finger Twix, Club biscuit… these are all around 100 calories. I keep them in a tin and I can have one whenever I want to, but I limit it to no more than one a day and usually with my afternoon cup of tea. That’s not to say I eat one on a daily basis (perhaps about 2-3 times a week). They are always logged into my diary.

If you don’t keep a log of what you are eating and the calories foods contain, then it’s a bit like trying to travel from one place to another without a map. You may get there eventually BUT it’s likely to take you much longer than if you planned the route and used a map PLUS you might find yourself a few wrong turnings or even end up doubling back on yourself.

I have also learned not to plan each trip out of the house to include food. Once upon a time, I’d have included lunch with a trip into town, coffee and cake with a visit to the garden centre.

I now plan or even prepare a meal BEFORE I go out (usually a salad) so that I know exactly what I can eat as soon as I walk into the door… and don’t turn to “what I fancy” or “something quick” (usually high calorie carbs that don’t keep you full for very long…)

Make a list of the reasons WHY you want to lose weight. Keep it somewhere safe (stuck to the inside of a kitchen cupboard door?) and look at it from time to time, especially when you are raiding the kitchen for treats.

I always ask myself before eating something really calorific “Do I really want to eat this more than I want to lose weight this week?”. It’s called “mindful eating” – being aware of why you are considering eating – real hunger? Boredom? Temptation? Feeling fed up?

Have a glass of water, wait 5 minutes and consider whether you still want the food. Once it’s been snaffled down, it’s too late and you may end up feeling cross and angry with yourself….

….and that feeling (guilt, failure) lasts for a long time, much longer than the temporary enjoyment of whatever treat you ate….

Finally, I continually remind myself how good the feeling is of seeing a loss on the scales at my weekly weigh in.  That wonderful feeling lasts for days. 

Don’t forget how that feels – you need to remind yourself of that feeling next time temptation strikes!

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