When you think of weight loss what comes to mind? Is it measuring cups, counting calories, and rigorous fitness plans? Do you get the feeling that you have to completely empty out your cabinets (by way of eating your way through it) before you can really “focus” on getting down to business?
You’re not alone. Most women have a diet story about how they gave up “X” and lost this many pounds but then gained it all back plus 5lbs (or 10lbs). There is also the exercise route: “I joined this class and lost X pounds, but then I went on vacation (or hurt my knee, or my schedule changed) and gained it all back.”
I’m always interested in ways that you ladies are successful because as I have found over the years it's usually when you shift your mindset, or arrange your habits differently that you find lasting success. It’s never as a result of a diet.
What is a diet?
Let’s take a look at exactly what a “diet” entails because this is a key piece to your success. A diet interestingly enough is defined as: “a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons” according to Bing Definitions. Restriction is literally in the definition, right away that sends up red flags to me.
Here are some ways that you know if you are on a diet instead of a lifestyle:
Entire food groups are eliminated. Any time that you eliminate an entire category of foods you risk eliminating nutrients unique to that food. You can do this in a healthful way, but diets rarely consider alternatives or adding in health. Look at the “Cabbage soup diet” in which you eat 1-3 meals of cabbage soup a day for 2 weeks. Where is the protein? How do you walk the dogs on 500 calories a day? Where do you get calcium from?
There are strict rules. Diets thrive on rules. No food after 6, absolutely no sugar, quit all alcohol, no wheat, no dairy! Again, there are chances that nutrients are going to be missing in these patterns. The bigger issue is the psychological impact of restriction. When you rely on will power to avoid things that bring you pleasure you are set up to feel guilt. Having grown up Irish Catholic I know guilt- it’s powerful and drives the most rational people to make very unwise choices in the long run.
It requires you to alter your life to accommodate it. Have you ever been on a diet and had to pass on an event because you didn’t know what you would eat and you didn’t want to be tempted by “naughty” foods? How long does that work? Not usually very long.
Creating a lifestyle mindset
The key to weight loss success is in your mindset. When you shift from restrictive thinking to a nourishment mindset it’s easier to see that you have a choice in your health. It also becomes clear that your goals are closer than you think.
What seems more achievable: cutting out all sugar for 3 weeks at the holidays, or choosing to eat nutrition packed foods? Cutting all sugar or saving holiday treats for those items that you truly enjoy?
It might look like eating a nutrition packed bowl of oatmeal with walnuts and cinnamon for breakfast, a comforting chili for lunch, and meeting your friends for an afternoon walk followed by your favorite cookie, and then having a well balanced dinner. All of that indulgence sounds better than the diet mindset that looks like: ¾ cup egg whites and low calorie bread for breakfast, a salad with fat free dressing for lunch, and 4 oz of chicken, ½ cup of rice, and 1 cup of green beans for dinner.
Creating your lifestyle mindset doesn't have to be hard! It’s the basis for all of my programs, and the number one reason my clients can be successful losing weight without dieting.
Here are 3 steps to creating your own lifestyle mindset
Determine your goal- only pick one at a time: Maybe it’s weight loss- be specific, how much by when? Be sure that it’s realistic too. "I want to lose 10 pounds in 3 months" or "I want to cut down hot flashes."
Choose your non-negotiables: Is there a food that defines you? Are you a traditional Italian who can’t give up pasta, or a football fanatic and Sunday game day snacks are part of your core being? Odds are there are also foods or habits that you won’t really miss for instance the foods you eat from boredom or because it's a habit- identify what those are for the next step.
Adjust your habits: Again, one at a time- do you drive thru Starbucks every morning? How much would that save you in extra calories and cash to skip it 3 times a week? Over the course of a month dropping 1500 calories a week will result in about 2 pounds of weight loss without doing anything! That’s around 20 pounds in a year! If you really crave that morning jolt of caffeine try brewing coffee or tea at home 3 days a week- you’ll still save calories, and those trips to Starbucks will be more special.
Mindset for the WIN
Anything can be made easier by adjusting your mindset, have you ever sat in your car at work and talked yourself into going in? Then once you got there it wasn't actually that bad- in fact, you enjoy the people you interact with all day. It's like that!
It’s not flashy or fast, but mindset shifts make being healthy easy. Another bonus is that you are consciously choosing a positive mindset, so although you may not all the way feel it at first, you are training your mind to be more positive!
You can begin to work on your mindset with journal prompts practicing your awareness of the bigger picture. You can also practice with a yoga practice for your mind/body connection, and include daily affirmations to keep positive and motivated. The more you believe in the outcome with your whole being, the easier it is to achieve- that’s how mindset works.
Ready to take that next step towards your goals? In the Demystify Women's Nutrition Program I teach you how to use mindset, nutrition science, and hormone balancing techniques to lose weight, manage the symptoms of aging, and even learn what to expect as you are approaching your 40's. Join my private Facebook group for weekly trainings, free content, and support in your journey.