Disappointment. Discouragement. Feelings of being a failure. Thinking why can everyone else do this and I can’t? That is how Sally felt after her first day of trying a new weight loss plan. Many of us struggling with weight loss or any change in our health or behavior habits have felt this way. What do we do? How can we not feel like giving up? Well, we certainly can feel like that but it doesn’t mean we have to give in to it. Before I begin to tell you how Sally could have dealt better with her day, I’d like to share some ideas on increasing your chance of weight loss success.
First and foremost, DO NOT LET YOURSELF GET TOO HUNGRY! This is a dieter’s worst enemy. See this guy in the picture to the right? You think he is running in an Olympic race, right? Actually this guy is famished and running to get some food. This is pretty much how we feel when we get too hungry. We cannot wait to get something and put it in our bellies. Of course, we consume whatever is easy to grab and ingest it in the shortest amount of time possible. I’ve done it and bet you all have done it as well. Not eating breakfast or skipping that midday meal will get you into trouble later. I guarantee it. The ultimate goal with changing your eating habits is to listen to your body. Are you hungry? How hungry are you? Are you eating by someone else’s rules/guidelines? Are you a clock eater – for example, at noon it’s always time to eat lunch? Your body is different from my body. Getting in touch with your feeling of satiety are key to adapting new eating habits and particularly maintaining them. Secondly, surround yourself with people, things, reading materials that will put you in a mindset for weight loss. The first thing I tell my patients to do is write down one or two reasons they want to lose weight. Place these everywhere and anywhere you can see them several times a day. Place them by your bed, on your bathroom mirror, as a screen saver on your cellphone, or any other places you will see them as frequently as possible. It helps us to train our brain. Eventually, these thoughts become automatic and eventually become the key to long-term changes. If you have a supportive friend or family member, weight loss counselor (dietitian, I hope), weight loss buddy, spend time with them – and I mean as much as possible. Research has shown that having a weight loss coach significantly enhances your chances of success. The other thing people need to remember is TAP – Thinking, Awareness, Planning. These will be mentioned as I discuss some changes Sally could have made in her day.
Certainly we cannot always avoid certain situations. We sometimes give in to the behavior we to avoid. We must stop beating ourselves up! Check out this link to help discover some techniques on how to be kinder to yourself: http://corinnedobbas.com/an-unheard-of-tool-for-weight-loss/. Great suggestions on how we should to treat ourselves. Sally did too much negative self talk. We are not perfect. Negative self talk often leads to stress which in turn can lead to more overeating.
One positive that Sally did was download an app to document her food intake and activity. Tracking your food consumption and exercise has been scientifically proven to be helpful in weight loss success. She started her day off well consuming a green smoothie and exercising. One thought about the green smoothie is that Sally needs to make sure she likes this and that it is satisfying to her. We don’t really know, but if you are eating something you don’t like or doesn’t fill you up, chances are you won’t stick with it. A hard-boiled egg, apple, and piece of whole wheat toast might be your thing. Who knows, maybe Sally was not only stressed when she entered her meeting but a little bit hungry as well. Kudos to Sally for getting her workout done early in the day. After a busy day at work, it is unlikely she will do this later. It is important that the exercise you do is (1) enjoyable and (2) done at a time when it is right for you. Maybe you are energized later in the day and that is when you feel best working out. Doing something you like will exponentially increase the chances that you will keep at it for the long-term.
Real problems start while Sally is on her way to work. These are unavoidable things – except for the piece where she left her meeting preparation for the same morning as the actual 8:30 meeting. Sally could not avoid the customer issue (or maybe she could?) or her daughter getting sick. She could have avoided being unprepared for the meeting. If Sally prepared the day before she may not have gone into that meeting so stressed. Stress is a huge trigger point for us to over eat. It is important to think and plan to eliminate those stressors when we are able. It is hard for me to feel empathy for people who cause their own stress. Consider the possibility that if Sally had been less stressed (prepared for the meeting) would she have been less likely to grab the doughnut? Maybe.
Sally is prepared for the likelihood that someone at work may want to get take-out for lunch. She is aware of this and plans accordingly by bringing her own lunch to work. She also eats her lunch when she is hungry. Not when the clock tells her it’s time. Remember Sally leaves work early as her daughter was feeling ill. Then she realizes book club is that evening. Again, Sally needs to be organized with her plans for the week. She had intended on spending a relaxing evening at home. After discovering she had book club, her stress hormones escalated. She was also hungry prior to leaving for book club. Instead of having a light snack at home prior to leaving, she let herself get too hungry. She went to book club tired, stressed, and ravenous. Sally needs to manage her calendar better to eliminate some of these stress-provoking situations. When starting a weight loss program, you need to look at your schedule ahead of time at least each day but even better for the entire week (any friends of mine reading this may be laughing – I am working on this). Anticipate those days that may be more difficult and prepare for them as best you can. For example, (Sally’s situation) knowing you have a morning meeting and there are usually doughnuts there which you can’t resist, skip your smoothie, have half of a doughnut, and bring a nutritious lunch. Maybe a different solution would be better for you. Figure out what works. It may take some trial and error. All of us can benefit from taking control of the avoidable stressors in our life when possible. No excuses. Get a good night’s sleep. Don’t let yourself get too hungry. Work on changing your brain so your new eating habits just become natural to you. Don’t forget TAP – Thinking, Awareness, Plan. Kindness and forgiveness to yourself when set goals aren’t met. Remember small, sustainable changes lead to big results. I had to include the cartoon below – I think it sums things up nicely! Made me LOL.