By Karen Protheroe
The number one reason people flock to the sport of running is to lose weight, but exercise alone is not always enough and correct eating is just as important. It’s about what you put in as much as it is about what you put out.
Many people think they have a weight problem when, in fact, they have an eating problem. The eating problem is the cause of the weight problem, which is just the symptom. By weighing yourself and following weight-orientated diets, you are trying to fix the symptom without addressing the cause, which is normally incorrect eating habits.
If you make healthy changes to your diet and then measure yourself on a scale, one of two things can happen:
(1) The scale will show significant weight-loss, which may encourage you to relax your diet as things are going well; or
(2) If the scale shows very little or no weight-loss (very common in serial dieters), you may give up your new healthy eating pattern and start bingeing because you feel despondent. So no matter what the scale says, you run the risk of falling off the bandwagon.
Don’t look for an easy, quick-fix or magical way to lose weight, because there is none. If pills or food combinations or milkshakes or injections really worked to help people lose weight permanently, then the manufacturers would be millionaires. I always enjoy working with clients who have tried every conceivable diet or pill available, as I don’t have to convince them that such products do not work on a permanent basis. The sooner you realise that you have to make permanent changes to your lifestyle to permanently lose weight, the sooner you will be successful.
Most of us cannot afford to eat exactly what we want when we want. It is frustrating to see other thin or normal weight people in restaurants or at dinner parties tucking into mounds of fattening foods. But I can guarantee that most of those individuals follow careful eating patterns as well as active lifestyles most of the time.
As a rule, I cannot keep peanut butter at home because I will eat it by the spoonful. I often say to my clients that we are no different to alcoholics – our substance of abuse is food rather than alcohol. Food-aholics should do the same and should not keep their particular binge food at home, nor hang out in bakeries or read recipe books or even watch cooking programmes, if it is going to tempt them.
If you over-eat, start off by looking at why you over-eat or make poor food choices. For some, it is about a lack of availability of healthy options, while for others it is about a lack of knowledge about what is healthy. However, for a large number of people, their particular food choice is usually related to their emotional needs. Address those emotional needs appropriately (without food) and your eating problems will be almost solved. So instead of rewarding or comforting yourself at the end of a long day with junk food, rather book yourself a massage, buy your favourite magazine, rent a video, phone a friend… or go for a run!
Does your junk food eating occur in front of the television, at work or in the kitchen while cooking dinner? Make a few rules for yourself such as no eating in front of the television, no eating standing up, or no eating anything directly from the fridge. Forcing yourself to take food out of the fridge, place it on a plate, take it into the dining room and focus on eating it also gives you time to ask yourself if you are really hungry.
Most people do not eat often enough during the day when they are active and therefore over-eat at night just before going to sleep. Try to eat every three hours during the day (breakfast, mid-morning, lunch and mid-afternoon) and you will find that you are content to eat a smaller meal in the evening.
Many people are still trying to fit into their thin jeans that they wore on honeymoon 10 years earlier. Others want to fit into clothes that they wore before they had children. But our bodies change with age, menopause, etc., and some clothes will never fit you properly again. On the other hand, many of my successful clients keep their fat clothes “just in case.” That’s negative thinking.
You have to convince yourself that you have made permanent changes to your lifestyle and therefore will never gain weight again. Positive thinking will lead to a positive result.
If you’re craving a chocolate or packet of slap-chips, then buy it and enjoy it. We all need to satisfy a craving now and then, but remember that this is perhaps once a week, not daily. Try to sit down and focus on what you are eating rather than eating it on the run or in the car. You need to savour the moment to get the full enjoyment from it, which will satisfy your craving.
Don’t tell others that you are trying to lose weight or that you are adapting your eating habits. It’s hard enough trying to live up to your own expectations without trying to live up to others expectations of you. You should feel free to eat what you want without comment or judgement from others.
Discussing your eating habits is also opening yourself up to hearing about every diet and weight solution under the sun. Everyone is a nutrition expert and if you are feeling weak and vulnerable, you may be tempted to try the latest (and very convincing) fad diets.
Need some more inspiration to lose weight? Follow these weight loss tips.