Why can’t you just lose that weight! You watch what you eat and try to eat healthy and exercise–but the weight just won’t come off. Now I invite you to Part I of “the answer to weight loss,” where you will give some serious thought to some serious questions, and find the answer for yourself.
1. What am I eating? The first step to changing your diet is knowing what you’re currently eating. And most people really have no idea. They eat what’s in front of them during the day, not thinking as they have the offered donut during the morning meeting, shovel in whatever they can find for lunch while talking business, snack on something in the afternoon to tide them over for dinner, and eat what they can for dinner that doesn’t take too much work. If you write down what you eat in a food diary, you will be more aware of every bite you eat and see what you can change. Keeping a food diary is the number one most effective weight loss method that is free, easy, and works without going on a restrictive diet.
2. When am I eating? Many calories are consumed when we aren’t aware that we’re eating. Maybe it’s the afternoon chocolate craving that hits, or munching on salty snacks in the evening. Some people acknowledge they consume large portions at dinner. Figure out what the major problem time is during your day. Start with working on just that time frame instead of planning a complete diet overhaul. Target the problem.
3. Why am I eating? Take a moment to think (and maybe even jot in your food diary) how hungry you are when you eat. Do you eat when you are bored, angry, stressed, or tired? Find a strategy to substitute for turning to food if you realize you are eating for some other reason. You’ve probably heard these before: call a friend, go for a walk, have a glass of water, or write someone an email. Don’t take in extra calories in an attempt to solve an unrelated issue.
4. Where am I eating? You know the rules: put your food on a plate and sit at the kitchen table! Are you consuming hundreds of calories elsewhere? Maybe at your desk, in your car, or in front of the TV? I made myself little placecards that say “no eating zone” that remind me my office is not the place for food…. if I’m hungry, I go to the kitchen and satisfy my hunger with something nutritious or make a cup of tea to take back to work. See if this works for you.
5. Am I drinking enough water? You may have heard this before: many of us do not get enough water during the day to stay hydrated. Once your mouth is dry and your body is telling you to drink something, you’re already partially dehydrated! Before that, your body may be nudging you that you need ‘something’ and you think “food” instead of “drink.” So when the first craving hits between meals and you realize it’s not true hunger, have a glass of water (maybe an occasional diet soda, tea, or other low-calorie beverage) and see if it subsides in a few minutes. If not, go ahead and have something to snack on (more about snacks in part II). Meanwhile, at least you are better hydrated!
Think about these questions and what you might be able to adjust during your typical day. It’s better to focus on one area at a time that you might change without too much trouble. I suggest sticking with it for a week and then examining how it’s working for you. The next week, add in another change. In the long run, if you are eliminating a poor habit and developing a new one that is better for healthy living, you can lose weight and keep it off, without resorting to the latest diet craze. Now choose one of these to start today and see how much better you can feel by tomorrow!
Image credit: Peter W