When I talk about long term weight loss, I’m not talking about using a restrictive diet and then struggling to keep off the weight, I’m not talking about restricting your food forever – in fact, I’m not talking about restriction at all! It goes against everything that I believe in and my main healthy lifestyle principles. If you want to lose weight, then that is totally achievable and it can be done in a healthy way where the focus is on loving and nourishing your body rather than depriving and punishing yourself.
However, what happens when you reach your weight loss goal?
Are you in the habit of restricting and then binging once it’s all over?
Or have you built healthy habits that you can take forwards with you for the rest of your life?
I’m hoping it’s the latter, but I know for so many beautiful women, being on that restricting-binging cycle is all too familiar. Not only is it damaging to your health to be on a restrictive diet one minute and overindulging on delicious (probably not so healthy) foods the next, but it’s also damaging the relationship you have with food.
Think about it – if you truly loved yourself unconditionally, would you starve yourself one minute and fill your body with harmful foods the next? Probably not. It’s time to take back control and not only lose weight in a health-full way, but maintain that weight loss in an easy, non-restrictive and life enhancing way.
It’s totally possible.
There are no such things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods – there are just foods. Yes, sometimes we can overindulge and that might not be so good for us, but the foods themselves are not bad – it’s just about eating them in moderation. One issue I have with restrictive diets are that they promote the banishment of certain food groups or instil a fear within us that if we eat them, we become fat. Not only is that not true, but again it leads us to believe that there are foods we ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ eat.
The truth is, in order to be wonderfully healthy, we need to be consuming all 3 of the major food groups – carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Our bodies need carbohydrates not only for overall energy but specifically, energy for our brain. Have you ever been on a carb-restricting diet only to find that you experience more brain fog and tiredness than usual? Fats are needed by our bodies not only for hormone synthesis (and literally our entire systems are run by hormones) but for helping to absorb certain vitamins into our blood stream as well. Proteins are the essential building blocks of our bodies and therefore super important too!
So if you want to be healthy, then being fearful of fats or carbs (the two most common macronutrients I see people limiting) will damage your internal systems, health and mind as well.
Fill half of your plate with wonderful, colourful vegetables, a palm sized portion of protein, and handful sized portion of carbs and a thumb sized portion of healthy fats. When you can do that, your meals will taste amazing, fill you up, satisfy you and fuel your body with all those amazing nutrients it craves.
What you will also find is that by filling half your plate with vegetables, other foods might naturally crowd themselves out and prevent you from binging or overindulging later on!
This is a hot topic at the moment and something I see popping up everywhere. The thing is, it’s not a new concept and in fact, it’s pretty much the way humans have eaten since the beginning of time! But after all the diets that have come out over the years and articles on super foods, good foods and bad foods, learning to eat intuitively is something that is no longer natural for many of us but something that our bodies crave desparately!
It’s almost a bit like an anti-diet because there are no rules about restriction or what to eat and when to eat, it’s just about you and tuning into what you need!
Quite a daunting prospect if you’ve been dieting for years and have tried everything under the sun. Initially I hear so many fears around intuitive eating when I first bring it up with my clients:
The thing is, if you’re really eating intuitively then you won’t over indulge, overeat or even gain weight because you’re listening to the hunger and fullness cues of your body. If you use this as a chance to eat whatever the hell you want, then yes, you’ll probably pack on a few pounds and it will damage your relationship with your body, yourself and with food further. It’s all about approaching food from a place of love, rather than fear. After all, if we truly believed we could eat whatever we wanted whenever we wanted, then we wouldn’t necessarily feel the need to binge.
Our bodies are great communicators, so it’s time we start listening to them! The key to long-term weight loss is letting go of that restriction-binging cycle and intuitive eating is a sure-fire way to do that. It releases the limiting beliefs we have around food, promotes a balanced diet, encourages you to follow the 80:20 rule to allow for the ebb and flow of life and helps to heal the relationship between your body and the food you choose to eat.
Incidental activity refers to the movement we do throughout our day. It’s not activity, movement or exercise that we do at the gym, in step class or when we go for a run, but rather the choices we make throughout the day to get our body moving. We all know that for optimum health, exercising 150 minutes per week is recommended (where your heart rate is elevated) however, what most of us forget is the incidental activity during the rest of the day. Depending on how much incidental activity we do, it can build up and ultimately help us towards our weight loss goals and maintaining that weight loss in a healthy way.
Yes, exercise is extremely important, but incidental activity is just as important if not more important! It’s healthier for our bodies to move frequently throughout the day rather than a half an hour stint in the gym in the morning and sitting watching TV for the rest of the afternoon.
Aim to drink 2-3 litres of water a day and remember that caffeinated drinks don’t count towards that intake. I’m talking about pure, good quality water. Water makes up 2/3 of our body so it only makes sense that we need to keep hydrated to feel our best. One of the biggest causes of cravings is actually dehydration. So, if you find yourself craving certain foods, have a tall glass of water first and wait 20-30 minutes to see if that craving subsides. We can also mistake hunger signals for dehydration, so just be aware of your water intake throughout the day and make sure you drink more if you live in a hot climate or if you’ve done any exercise.
Your relationship with food says a lot about the relationship you have with yourself. As I mentioned before, if you truly loved yourself then you wouldn’t allow yourself to go through stages of starvation, you wouldn’t deprive yourself of eating the foods you really want to or restrict foods when you are in fact hungry. If you really loved yourself unconditionally, you wouldn’t beat yourself up for eating certain foods or for having an off day.
Once you have mastered that, you’ll only ever want to nourish your body with nutrient dense whole foods, because you want to honour and nurture the beautiful temple you were gifted with. You’ll find you don’t want to binge on certain foods or restrict others because you know what makes you feel fantastic and you know that you only want to nourish yourself from a place of love. That is the key to long-term weight loss.
Don’t beat yourself up if you gain weight, fall off the band wagon or go off track – just accept what has happened and shower yourself with unconditional love. Everything is much easier and a whole less daunting when you’re able to do that with ease.