So you are getting ready for a big night out and you go to put on that sexy black dress. You know the one that makes your husbands eyes glaze over and he gets that goofy smile on his face…yea, that one. But somethings wrong. You pull and tug, squiggle and squirm but…it’s…too tight! WHAT!!!! Oh no…not again!! Why? Why? Why?
Okay so maybe your reaction isn’t that dramatic but the anxiety is still there and the self-deprecation starts…”I’m so fat! Why does this keep happening? Why can’t I keep this weight off? I’m a failure!”
At this point most people will make one of two choices. They will either jump on the newest fad diet train and cut calories to nothing and exercise for hours a day OR they will throw their hands up and quit trying, start eating everything in sight and end up in a worse mental state than they started. Neither choice is the road to a healthier body. So what do you do?
There have been numerous studies done that show attitude goes a long way to you having success. In an article in Science Daily, Diane Robinson Ph D, talked about how we are conditioned from a very young age. We have formed an attachment to food that can evoke strong emotions. We have conditioned ourselves to use food for comfort as well as nourishment. How many times have you had a bad day only to stop on the way home and get a bottle of wine, carton of ice cream, pizza or whatever your comfort food is?
Why does this happen though? Could it be that your lack of will power is not to blame? Let’s dig a little deeper. Stress produces Cortisol and adrenaline; and if not kept under control, free radicals can be produced, inflammation increases and all this suppresses the immune system. While stress can make you eat less at first, chronic stress actually boosts hunger. Do to chronic stress you body goes into survival mode (aka fight or flight). It thinks it’s using calories to deal with the stress therefore it tells your brain you need to eat more. And Cortisol? Studies show that it makes you crave high calorie foods! Long term elevated Cortisol levels produce glucose which wreaks havoc on insulin levels and makes your body store abdominal fat. Talk about a double whammy!
Now think about someone you love or a place that brings you joy and peace. When you do this, your body starts to produce Dopamine, Serotonin, and hormones that make you feel good (endorphins and Oxytocin)! Our emotional attachment to food can create these same types of good feelings. That’s why we have “emotional eaters” of which I am one! Creating healthy minds can help us create healthy habits so when those stressors happen we don’t reach for our comfort food.
It’s been said that 90% of our food choices occur as a habit. So one of the key things to do is to start creating new ones. Word of caution here. Start SLOW! Let’s change one small thing at a time. When we try to make too many changes at once, we get discouraged and quit. So slow and steady as you go….(I know that’s not what you wanted to hear but it works!)
First thing we want to do is have fun! Let’s make it enjoyable! Find things you like to do. Bicycle riding, hiking (or just walking outside), softball, tennis, swimming, gardening, yes, gardening! Have you used a tiller or a rake lately? It’s a full body workout! Exercise doesn’t have to be boring or involve going to a gym. Think about it…our forefathers didn’t have a “gym” and for the most part, they were in better physical shape than we are. Why? Physical activity…period!
Next, let’s find some healthy foods we like. “But I’m a picky eater. I don’t like vegetables.” Did you know you can change your taste buds. Yes! In 6 Tricks For Training Your Taste Buds To Crave Healthy Food Camille Hoe Pagan talks about how scientific research has been done to prove not only that it can be done but how to successfully change your tastes in food.
In Retrain Your Taste Buds, Cynthia Sass tells about her husband who grew up eating beef, whole milk and bacon grease and who loved pizza and deep fried tacos. She says “He hardly ever touched fruit and most of the vegetables he ate were battered and fried”. This was a man you would never think would one day eat tofu and stir fried vegetables as one of his staple lunches. But by trying new foods little by little, he transformed his taste buds one bite at time and shed 55lbs in the process!
So what is your problem with healthy foods? Is it taste, texture or temperature? My husband doesn’t like the texture of cooked onions and a friend of mine will eat some raw vegetables but none that are cooked. Again, baby steps are the way. A little taste here, a little bite there and before you know it you’ll be eating all the healthy foods that will help you get that healthy body you so long to not just attain, but keep.
Okay, back to that little black dress. Which camp are you going to be in? Are you going to starve yourself and exercise until you drop? Are you going to throw in the towel, give up and go shopping for a bigger size? If neither one of these is appealing to you (and if I’ve done my job here, they won’t be), there IS a 3rd camp you can join. A tribe that realizes our mind has more to do with our health than our eating or exercising. That, in fact, having a healthy mind FIRST is the only way we can create and maintain a healthy body.
Here are some strategies for you to use to assist you on your journey.
- Keep a food log. Notice when foods create that feel good feeling. What kind of feelings do they create. Do they take you back to a place where you felt safe or happy (cared for). Are there some deeper issues you may need to deal with? If so, confide in someone and get help. Ignoring an issue does not make it go away. By keeping a food log you can notice what foods you reach for when you are upset, angry or lonely. Emotional eating can be a reaction to feeling deprived. Have a strategy in place for when this happens. Be prepared to do something (go for a walk, call a friend, work on something). In other words, get your mind busy.
- Before you eat, ask yourself this question, “Am I hungry?” If not, why do you want to eat? Are you bored, upset,, lonely? Then go back and read #1.
- Focus on the positive! Don’t fixate on what you shouldn’t eat. Don’t EVER tell yourself you “can’t” have something. Instead say “I can have___________ but I’m choosing not to.” You fill in the blank. See the difference? In the first you are being deprived, you are out of control. In the second, you have TOTAL control and that, my friend, gives you power!
- Set goals. Another word of caution. Be realistic, be careful with wording so as to focus on the positive. Create SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. You can read more about SMART goals and how to create them in my post Setting Goals For The New Year.
- Don’t give up! Remember….baby steps. Consistency is key here. There is no NO quick fix! And that is one of the hardest things for people to grasp. We tend to be impatient and want results NOW! And if we don’t get it when we try one thing, we give up on that and jump on the next band wagon that comes by. (Hence all the fad diets that are so popular!).
Bottom line….don’t beat yourself up; realize things (and you) CAN change. Make changes slow and steady and don’t give up. You’ve got this! When you feel like giving up….think of that little black dress, the twinkle in your honey’s eyes and that goofy smile…talk about inspiration!
Blessings to you,