What if said you never had to diet again? When I say that to my clients their eyes get wide, and they ask what’s the catch? It’s very simple: moderation. We’ve all heard the term, “everything in moderation.” Yet very few people live that principle.
Most adults find themselves sporting an extra 10-40 from where they were in high school or college. For moms it can feel like a life long battle with the final ten pounds of baby weight. Staggering numbers of obese pre-teens and teens are stuck in unhealthy cycles of computer game lethargy combined with fast food diets. Parents with hectic lives look to fast food to aid in feeding a family that runs at high speed from dawn to dusk.
Not surprisingly, then come the diet crazes. The Zone, Nutrisystems, Paleo you name it, people will try it. Most times, success is short-lived and the weight comes back, often with additional pounds.
So how do you never diet again, lose weight, keep it off, while eating food that you enjoy? Again, it’s simple: moderation. Don’t starve, don’t overeat, don’t make anything completely taboo or forbidden. Change your perspective about nutrition and what it means to you.
1. Don’t deprive yourself of something you really crave. Enjoy that cookie, those potato chips, or glass of alcohol – just have a small quantity. If you have a difficult time restraining yourself, restrict the amount that’s available to you. Take one cookie out of the bag, or a single handful of chips, and then put the bag away. Keep alcohol to one glass. Don’t over-indulge, but don’t deny!
2. Share the guilt. You’re out to dinner and you really want steak instead of the lean salmon. See if you can split it with someone. If not, as soon as the food arrives, ask for a to-go container. Put half of the entire meal into the container, and get it off the table. Instant portion control. (Most people are too self-conscious to eat food out their to-go containers at the table.)
3. The 10-minute rule. Start all meals with small portions. When your plate is empty, wait 10 minutes. Sip some water. Enjoy conversation. Nine out of ten times, you won’t be hungry 10 minutes later. But if you’re still craving more after 10 minutes, have a second serving, this time smaller than the first.
4. Quantity vs. quality. You’ve just got to have McDonald french fries. Okay, have 10. (I see people waste food all the time, yet, the same people are horrified at the idea of buying an entire container of fries, and throwing away all but 10. Think about that.) Now if it’s fruit or green salad you crave, go ahead and have two servings if you desire.
5. Friends vs. enemies. Friends: whole, unprocessed foods (fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, grains, beans, lean meats and fish, and water, water, water. Enemies: refined sugars, saturated animal fats, high-fat dairy products, bleached flour, excessive gluten, fried foods, and all processed snacks. Take your enemies in small doses, surround yourself with friends the rest of the time.
6. Find a better choice. There are so many excellent tasting choices now for replacing those high-fructose corn syrup sweets or unhealthy-oil fried chips, from gluten free crackers to popsicles sweetened only with fruit juice, etc. You no longer have to feel deprived of the satisfying salty, crunchy, chocolatey stuff you love. Take a chance, and try something new, but once again, no matter how good it seems to be for you, eat it in moderation!
7. Calories in vs. calories out. A calorie is a measurement of energy that the body either stores or uses as fuel. If you ingest a huge quantity of calories, better get to the gym and burn them off. In other words – burn what you eat. That’s really what metabolism is all about.
8. 6 x 3. Everyone needs to eat six small meals/snacks a day at 2-3 hour intervals. To make your body a lean mean burning machine, eat something small every few hours. One meal/snack can be as simple as an apple and a handful of almonds, or some turkey-jerky and a banana. Make sure you have quick, healthy snacks in your car, purse, desk, etc. (Skipping meals (especially breakfast), or long spans without eating, causes your body to store fat instead of burning calories!)
9. Stay off the Scale! This is very important because the psychological effects of weight gain and loss can play more havoc on your body than a night of binge eating. Body weight is subject to change on a daily basis, especially for women: muscle weighs more than fat; monthly cycles can add water weight; stress can keep weight on, etc. Judge your success by how your clothes fit, any positive sizing changes, and your energy, not what you weight.
These nine simple strategies can make a huge difference in the way you feel and look, and yet they’re really very unassuming to live with once you embrace them. Throw in a moderate level of exercise (one hour, 3-5 times a week), and a healthy body is on the way!
Remember, moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle. If you approach food as a tool and not a reward, then you will succeed at your weight loss goals. Don’t ever say you’re dieting again, because that implies a short term fix and negative terms like I cheated sabotage results. Just keep your daily nutrition as healthy in size and quality as you can, exercise regularly, and enjoy all things life has to offer – with moderation, and never diet again!