Here we talk about some more small but powerful habits for eating well to live better, weight loss and maintenance. These habits are designed, so once implemented they last a lifetime. We all have eating patterns and it’s up to you to choose which ones you want in your life. This is about losing those last stubborn pounds of kilos and keeping you at the healthy weight you desire.
You can read Part One here, which goes into how to reset your eating pattern (using neuroplasticity) for your weight for life. And Part Two deep dives into habits.
I’ve experimented with lots over the years and these are my very best. I’m not a doctor or nutritionist or anything like that. I’m not qualified to give any kind of advice. Do seek medical advice before starting on your regime. My plan, however, is based on the advice of experts. I know it works. It does for me and has done so for others too.
Sneaky Mind Patterns
When I saw some weight loss on the scales I’d be pretty happy. But then I’d be like “Oh wow, I can have some chocolate today.” That thought would just free float in. I could indulge a little. This was a consistent pattern that held me back for a long while.
Is there some THING you do?
Something that creates a justification to eat more than you need to? A sneaky mind habit? It’s important to have a little think and see if you can find yours. If you don’t have one that’s awesome news!
Your Particular Diet
Paleo, gluten free, plant based, the not cooking diet (I just made that name up. J But it does accurately describe some peoples eating style!), the high fat diet, the 5 day 2 day diet. I know I said that my habits work for any particular diet. And they do. But I want to add a note to that.
If your diet is keeping you 5 kilos or 12 pounds heavier than you need to be then it’s not working properly. Your body is telling you “I am eating too much.” Or maybe your diet is putting you on a blood sugar roller-coaster ride. What’s more important? What a book is telling you or what your body is telling you? I think you’re body’s intelligence is more important than some book or hard line mantra. There’s been a constant fad of diets since the eighties (I was too young to remember any in the seventies). Don’t get caught up in any hoopla nonsense. Choose wisely. Make the diet plan work for you. Modify it if need be. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist. Use your common sense. And no matter what they tell you – calories going in determine your weight. Keep it simple.
Take note of how you feel over time. For example, your body may love the increased protein on a paleo diet. But 5 months later you feel gluggy and blocked up. You have reached saturation levels. You probably don’t need as much protein now you have good levels of those nutrients in your body.
The Fridge and My Weight
When I have a fridge full of food I lose weight. When I run out of food because I’m busy and have forgotten to go to the supermarket I put on weight. That’s because I eat more takeaway, and less fruit and vegetables. I did a mini survey on this. I discussed it with every check out person at the supermarket I met. What better time to talk about fridge habits than when you’re unpacking the trolley! They all said it was true for them too. Not exactly a scientific approach, but check for yourself and see. And in the same vein but slightly different. Whenever I eat too much protein and carbs because the vegetables have dropped out (for any number of reasons) then my weight fluctuates. It’s really hard to keep the pounds off unless you are eating enough vegetables. These fill you up, give you vital nutrients and lots of energy.
Protein for Breakfast
The other trick that works for me is to have protein for breakfast – preferably an egg with toast. I find I can sail through to tea time (I think it is called dinner in America? – the 7pm meal) fairly easily. If I only have carbs for breakfast I get a blood sugar low in the afternoon and end up eating something to sort this out. This might not work for you. However, every person I have recommended this to has come back and told me it helped them enormously.
If I’m bored with an egg I’ll have baked beans or sliced meat, or that protein drink I was talking about earlier in Part Two. When you’re in a hurry to get out the door in the morning a protein drink is a fast solution.
Stress and Weight
Some people lose weight when they are stressed. Some people gain it. For me, when I have a high short term stress (a deadline) I lose weight. When I have ongoing stress my weight can go up. Regardless of this the best way forward is to keep your adrenals switched off.
My colleague Lisa Callinan, who is a qualified health coach who has personal experience with healing from burn out and stress says to create a relaxation response every single day, and regularly throughout the day. This lowers the cortisol (a stress hormome) which means less extra body fat around your middle and it is easier to maintain or lose weight.
Forgetting What You Ate
Research has shown it is very common to forget what you ate. This little fact has helped me enormously. Everybody does this. You think to yourself, ‘Oh, I’ve only eaten an apple for afternoon tea so I can have a slice of cake too. Meanwhile you have forgotten the mini mars bar someone left on your desk at lunchtime. And I’d bet money you ate that mars bar when you were busy. That is, you were not mindful when you ate it. Hence you forgot it.
Next time you tally your food intake, do it again – and this time more slowly. I guarantee you will have forgotten something. And don’t forget to count the drinks too, if they need counting that is. This particular habit can derail the best intentions every day.
Eating mindfully is important. You remember what you ate and it helps with feeling satiated. Savoring flavors helps with weight loss because you know you’ve eaten enough for the day.
Make a goal with a date. I want to be X pounds by X date. For example, you want to lose 2kg by 30 May, and then another 2kg by 30 June. This keeps it specific, real and measurable.
Choose 2 or 3 strategies from the list. No more. We want the habits to last for a life time. Choose what will work for you. Keep doing them until they become natural and effortless. This is when you have reset the neuroplasticity of your brain, and made it the default pattern. We all have eating patterns. Every single one of us. You are being conscious and choosing which ones you want in your life.
And as my friend, Ann, puts it, be clear about the 3 ways you are going to achieve your goal. Being vague won’t work. For example, your 3 ways could be: A) try out 3 treats per week and see if it works, B) weigh yourself regularly, and C) keep your fridge full of good food.
For losing up to 5kg or 12 pounds in weight see my action plan in Part One.
Keep calm. There is always next week to get it right. The goal is to figure out how much you need to eat for your weight. That is all you are doing. It’s about honouring your body and putting into it what works best for you.
P.S. Don’t forget to read my very popular post Change Your Story To Change Your Life. It’s important stuff. Your internal narrative or story can life you up or tear you down.
So many great tips!! I really love that you work with making habits a lifetime thing. I’ve signed up and have got my habit checklist downloaded already. I’ve already seen results.
Great work Mara and thankyou for the feedback! Goodluck with your next few changes.
This is so useful and thank you for providing the summary of the 3 part series.
no worries Shona. Thankyou for your very kind reply.
John Grant says
What a great article!. I am bookmarking it to read it over again after work. Many thanks!! John
Thank you John. I’m so happy it’s helped.