The Real Secret To Losing Weight
A diet always leads to another diet.
My neighbor recently lost a bunch of weight in a few months. Her diet plan consisted of a powder mixed into drinks. She hated it.
If you hate doing something it’s not sustainable. Best case scenario, she gets down to her desired weight and starts eating real food again but does it in a healthy way to keep the weight off.
But as a former yo-yo dieter, that’s not how it typically goes. After depriving yourself for so long, you’re looking to finally reward yourself. How about pizza? And fries. And wine. And a box of Cheez-its. You deserve all of it for the hell you’ve put yourself through on this God forsaken diet.
Then you step on the scale and the number either reminds you you’re a lazy piece of shit with no willpower, or it greenlights you to eat that entire cheese and charcuterie board. Extra bread.
After years of dieting and bingeing and obsessing and restricting and starving and torturing myself, I finally figured out the secret to losing weight by following three easy steps:
1. Don't diet or actively try to lose weight. Yes, that means throwing out your scale. Instead focus more on the process of feeling good every day.
2. Eat mindfully. This advice is often vague and difficult to implement. The question I come back to constantly throughout the day is, “How did it make me feel?” Then you can consider what you’re eating and how much:
- What are you eating? Don't worry about calories or carbs or sugar. Just pay attention to how your body feels in the minutes and hours afterwards.
- How much are you eating? Eat when hungry and stop when full. In order to stop when full you need to eat at a slower pace and periodically check in with yourself.
While training for a new restaurant job, I was famished and agitated after my shift and housed a side of fries. When I got home an hour later I found myself in a bad mood with a depressed, lethargic feeling and didn’t want to do anything except veg out on the couch. I realized I felt bad because of the greasy fries and probably the speed at which I ate them. And I realized I didn’t really like how french fries made me feel. From then on, any time I ate them, I thought about how I might feel later and only ate a small amount. Connecting my food intake with how my body actually felt was a completely new approach that allowed me to be more thoughtful about how I would feel in the long run.
3. Be kind to yourself. When you overeat, say kind phrases to yourself as opposed to the usual self-loathing and self-hatred. Try saying, “It’s okay I ate too much. This is a process that takes time. I’m only human. Awareness is the first step.” This is not about following rules and berating yourself every time you mess up. After a lifetime of dieting and having a horrible relationship with your body and food, this will take time. You have to show yourself empathy because being unkind to yourself takes a toll on the body.
Sounds simple, I know. But for a person with body image issues these steps are much harder than they seem and can take years to follow completely.
Here's your permission to say fuck the diet and throw out your scale. Eat the cookies and drink the wine (in moderation). Just stop when you're full and constantly check in with yourself with how it made you feel.
By following these steps, the obsession with weight will fade away and you can invest more of your brain space in things that actually matter.