You know how it goes. You’re cruising along, mindfully enjoying whole, unprocessed foods and integrating exercise into your daily routine — in general, doing everything right. The next thing you know, one cookie turns into six, one scoop of ice cream turns into an entire tub, and you’re banging your head against the wall asking yourself where you went wrong.
Two Kinds of Relapses
There are two different kinds of relapses. The first — and the easier one to deal with — is the acute relapse. You’re going along fine and then, you just lose it.
The reasons for it are as unique as the individual. One of the more common ones, I have found with myself and with clients, is being too restrictive with yourself and putting yourself into a mindset of deprivation.
When you just can’t take it anymore and deprive yourself too much, you break out. Just as in physics, resistance creates force and extreme restriction is setting yourself up for a binge. It’s almost like pulling the elastic band too tight and having it flick back into your face.
The remedy for this is to give yourself some wiggle room, by setting healthy, nurturing boundaries. For example, twice a week, allow yourself a treat, preferably a quality one, and really savour it. This helps you learn self-trust, that it’s OK to enjoy your favourite foods occasionally.
Another reason is stress. You’ve had a fight with your spouse, the kids are whining, or you had a bad day at the office, and you decide you need a time-out. Life happens, and if you have a piece of chocolate to deal with that, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It’s just important to move on from the chocolate and do some things that truly relieve stress, other than eating such as a bubble bath, a funny movie, a good book or a walk.
When stress happens, it’s important to learn from the experience. Ask yourself what happened. Who were you with, what were you feeling, what could you have done besides eat? If you don’t recognize what triggered the relapse, you’re more likely to react the same way the next time the situation arises.
The more difficult type of relapse is the chronic variety. Somewhere along the line you loosen up and let your guard down. You can’t really pinpoint when, but you realize you have been eating mindlessly and spending all day sitting, skip your daily walks. You’re snacking — and not on broccoli — far too much. In short, you’ve given up, even if only temporarily.
Usually what this means is that you’ve lost your motivation and need to renew it. Sit down and take stock. Refocus your goals about self-care. Put yourself first. When you were eating well, managing stress and taking excellent care of yourself how did you feel? What was motivating you then? If you can recreate those feelings, you can get your desire back.
One trick is trying on and wearing beautiful clothes every day. This can help you to get motivated again, since most people are motivated by looking good.
Learn Your Triggers
When you do have a lapse, pick yourself up and return to what you know works for you.
Write a list of your trigger situations and then plan an alternative for each risk. For example: You’re at work and always get tempted by the cookie jar in the break room. Don’t take your breaks in the cookie room, go for a brisk walk outside instead and have a tea at your desk. Or: You and your kids are having lunch. Instead of reaching for the fries, take a drink of sparkling water instead.
Reinforce the new behaviors with small rewards that will keep you motivated. If you do not eat off your child’s plate for 2 weeks, have a manicure or buy yourself a new lipstick.
We all have stressors in life that we can’t change, but how we react to them is in our control. And if restricting all yummy things too much is backfiring on you, remember that weight loss is not a race, it’s a lifestyle you can stick to and the slow losers are usually the best losers, since compliance and consistency means success.
Youtubers I Love…..
If you are looking for some great toning exercises to do at home, I love Hang Tight with MarC. She has great moves for tightening abs, butt and all over and best of all you can do them in the comfort of your own home. Check out her Youtube Channel here.
Most of us are aware that excess refined sugar isn’t great for our health. Sugar (without protein or fat) spikes our blood sugar very rapidly and elevates insulin (the fat storing hormone), causes inflammation in the body, is known to be highly addictive and over time can lead to insulin resistance. But is sugar toxic?
Toxicity Depends On….
The truth is white sugar and high fructose corn syrup are not “toxins” in the sense that even small amounts are potentially harmful. However, it is when you consider the amounts the average American and Australian swallows each year—a whopping 130 pounds of added sugars ingested annually. That’s about 22 teaspoons a day, way over the max set by the national recommendations. New science shows that this overload of sugar—often stemming from hard-to-detect hidden added sugars—is affecting your body in all sorts of strange ways and leading to weight gain from overeating.
Liquid sugar and high fructose corn syrup are particularly detrimental because we don’t tend to compensate for the calories we drink by reducing our calorie consumption elsewhere. Liquid calories are easily consumed and rarely counted, and liquid sugar fails to trigger the satiety hormone that tells us we’ve had enough.
Sugar is neither a toxin nor a replacement for real food. If weight loss and optimal health is your goal, small amounts of sugar can fit into a whole foods, nutrient dense, unprocessed diet, as long as you realize it for what it is – an occasional treat.
An Occasional Treat – without the Guilt
I feel that intentionally consuming sugar on occasion, mindfully and with your full attention shouldn’t be a problem for most people. If every now and then you decide to enjoy a chocolate truffle or a slice of lemon tart with sugar in it, you shouldn’t mentally and emotionally beat yourself up about it. The stress that comes with excessive food restrictions can be much more harmful than having a bit of refined sugar here and there.
Having said that, we need to become more aware of where the sugar is hidden and cut back where we can. Some of the best ways to do this are;
- Buy plain foods (like yogurt) and sweeten them yourself with stevia and spices, which are natural, calorie free and don’t raise blood sugar.
- Rather than keep sugary treats at home, only consume them when out and in the smallest serve (sharing is a great option). This helps you keep track of when you ate.
- If you love ice-cream, instead of stocking the freezer at home, make it a point to drive to a local ice-cream parlor, no more than once a week and order the small serve, savoring every bite, while at the shop.
- If you love sweetened beverages, including teas and coffee, carry sachets of stevia with you, order them unsweetened and add your own healthier sweetener.
- If you’re a dessert lover, opt for fruit based-desserts (nature’s candy) like baked apples, frozen or fresh berries, frozen red grapes or honeydew.
- If you love pasta sauce, (most contain hidden sugars), try using diced tomatoes with herbs and tomato paste for your Bolognese and casseroles.
Plan Your Indulgences and Savor Every Bite
We know that excess sugar is bad news, but fear of food is no good either. It’s what you do 80% of the time that really counts, so if you plan to have a dinner out and want to mindfully enjoy your favorite dessert, make sure you don’t ruin the sweetness by feeling guilty or beating yourself up for days.
As a weight wellness coach, I often hear clients tell me that they are eating healthily – consisting of whole foods and exercising regularly, but…they are stalling in their slimming efforts.
It can be very frustrating, especially when they watch a slim friend bite into muffin or donut at the mid-morning coffee break. It just doesn’t seem fair.
The major problem is we can’t compare ourselves with others, as our metabolisms are all different. Some of us have very broken metabolisms due to years of dieting, and if we happen to have impaired thyroid function as well as some degree of insulin resistance – it can be a real challenge to shift the weight.
With that in mind, there are a few common mistakes I see regularly that, if addressed, can make all the difference to your results.
- Amounts Do Count! – How Much “Healthy” Food are You Eating? A lot of people are eating foods that are ‘healthy’ when looked at individually. Like if you have oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, they are both carbs, with NO fat and NO protein. These are two ‘healthy foods’ but will not help you lose weight when eaten that way, especially if you are eating a big bowl. Also, a high GI meal like that will probably lead to being ‘hungry’ again in an hour or so, and you still haven’t given your body any fat or protein it needs to keep you satiated for very long.
- Eating Too Many Nuts and Cheese – Nuts have great fiber, fat and protein and cheese is a rich source of satisfying protein and fat, but both are notoriously easy to overeat. Your best bet is to portion them out in zip-lock bags or serve in a small ramekin and put the container away. Better still; buy nuts in shells, because cracking them and shelling them yourself will help control portions. I love pistachios for this reason. With cheese, I love Babybels, or simply serve yourself the size of 4 dice with your meal and sit down to eat at the table.
- Eating Too Much Fruit – Fruit has amazing antioxidants, fiber and phytonutrients, but it also has a lot of sugar, which can spike insulin and make you overeat. When we eat fruit alone (without fat or protein) it fails to trigger the satiety hormone that tells us we’ve had enough. So try having apple slices with almond butter, for example, or berries with Greek yogurt, both make a delicious dessert
- Going Fat Free – We know well that when the fat has been taken out of food, it tastes like cardboard, so what do food manufacturers do? They add lots of sugar and refined flours, which is addictive and spikes insulin to make you fat. A smaller amount of the real thing is better, like whole, plain Greek yogurt is much more satiating and doesn’t contain excessive amounts of sugar. Better yet sweeten plain yogurt yourself with stevia, cinnamon or coconut flakes.
- Getting Carried Away with “Healthy” Desserts – There are some wonderful “healthified” ways to enjoy your favorite treats, but just because it’s “sugar free’, “gluten free” “fat free” or “high fiber”, it still contains calories which doesn’t make it a free pass. Remember, if we eat more than our bodies physically need, we get fat, even if it’s healthy food.
You may be on the right track with un-processing your diet, but it’s also important to approach certain foods with caution and to really learn to read your own body, to see what’s working. With a few small tweaks, you can be well on your way to reaching your goals.
It’s common for me to have clients lament that they are unable to stay away from food when they are at home alone with nothing to do. Boredom eating is a common trigger for many people. At times, we eat because we have nothing better to do and, arguably, this is the worst kind of eating. Still, it’s something a lot of us do without thinking.
Of all the reasons we eat, boredom has to be one of the least helpful. It almost always happens when we’re not really hungry and in physical need of food and we are often procrastinating doing something we don’t want to do, like work. To top it off, when we eat when we’re bored, we don’t know when to stop eating, since we weren’t even hungry to begin with.
So why do we do it and how can we stop?
Find Freedom in Being Alone and Bored
It is useful to ask yourself what it was like for you to be alone as a child. Was aloneness (and therefore nothing to do) forced upon you or did you choose it? If you were stuck home alone when you were young because your parents were working, you might have been frightened, bored, or felt neglected. And so you ate to feel comforted. Many kids who had working parents came home from school to an empty house and had free reign with the fridge and pantry. So they used food to occupy themselves. Now as adults, when we are home alone with no planned activity, our first instinct is to eat.
Consider what being alone means to you; freedom, relief, being unloved, having too much time to think about things, having nothing to do, silence. Redefine your views and find freedom in time to yourself.
Reach Out For True Connection
Emptiness is a word I hear clients describe how they feel when they’re simply being and not doing, so they eat, simply to have something to do, to fill the perceived ‘void” they feel in their head or heart. Ask yourself “Where did you get the idea that empty is distressing?”
What do you truly want when you feel empty emotionally? When your stomach is empty, food is the right thing, but what about when you feel as if you have a hole in your heart? How can you fill that? The best way is to reach out to people for real connection. This may be difficult if you fear rejection, but nevertheless, it is healthier than eating food you don’t need. As the song goes “people who need people are the luckiest people…”
Seek Out Fun Ways to Cure Boredom
Eating is only one of a thousand things to do when you’re alone and bored. If you’re not hungry, you can choose to redirect your attention by making a conscious decision to focus on fun things to do.
By having a handful of eating incompatible activities you love to do like crafting, watching Youtube videos or surfing Pinterest, having a bubble bath or playing an instrument, you will never need to engage in boredom eating. And remember to make your activity areas a “food free” zone, so there’s no chance of mindless grazing.
If you’re like many women over 40, you’ve probably noticed that it’s become a lot easier to gain a few pounds or kilos than to lose them. The foods that you ate without care in your 20s and 30s now stick to your body like glue, adding bloat and bulk to your midsection.
Enter hormonal havoc! At this age, certain hormones begin dipping and declining, especially your thyroid function and insulin function, which becomes resistant, making it much easier to gain weight, even if you aren’t eating more.
These days we’re also constantly exposed to toxins, especially excess estrogens in plastic bottle and genetically modified foods. Also the food we buy is losing its nutrients; and we’re less active than we once were, so our muscles shrink and slow our resting metabolic rate.
To successfully lose weight after 40, it’s important to understand that imbalanced hormones and chemicals have a huge impact on your health. Eating well to keep inflammation low, your gut healthy, insulin regulated and exercising to retain muscles are even more important as we age.
With all the junk and convenience foods out there, it takes some focus these days to embrace real food from nature. Remember: if it comes in a bag or a box, it is most likely processed and contains chemicals and preservatives. Once you start weaning yourself from these foods, the cravings will go away.
Here’s three tips to help you recharge your metabolism after 40;
-DETOX YOUR LIVER – If you’ve gained weight, especially around your midsection, it may be a sign that your liver is not functioning properly. Your liver is your vital detoxification organ, and if it becomes overloaded with toxins from the food, drink, or medications you’re consuming, you’ll have more toxins circulating throughout your body, damaging your organs and glands, especially the thyroid. Detoxing your liver will help it work more efficiently — and help you slim your waistline. To do this, eat a clean, fresh diet, steer clear of alcohol for a period and drink lots of water and green tea.
-USE FIBER AND PROBIOTICS TO AID WEIGHT LOSS – When your body absorbs toxins, it stores them in fat, which is why fiber and probiotics are strategic weapons for weight loss. Fiber keeps your colon healthy and reduces your body’s absorption of toxins. Enjoy lots of non-starchy vegetables with each meal. You can also consider adding psyllium husks or drink to your daily routine. Probiotics also aid in digestive health by supporting beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract. Good bacteria enable your body to fend off incoming toxins, absorb nutrients more efficiently, promote good colon function, and strengthen the immune system. Since good bacteria naturally decrease with age, you may want to supplement with a high-potency probiotic.
-EXERCISE- Exercise is vital to health and weight management at any age, but once you hit 40 years old, your lean muscle mass begins declining. If you don’t build it up through strength training and other exercise, you’ll start losing calorie-burning muscle and gain more weight with each year that passes. The three main components you need to focus on to stay fit are: Flexibility, aerobic exercise, and strength training. For flexibility, try yoga or Pilates. To get your heart pumping with aerobic exercise, walk briskly for at least a half an hour each day, or ride a bicycle, work out on an elliptical machine, or go up and down the stairs 10 times. For strength training, start with a low 2- or 5-pound weight and work your way up to doing reps with more weight.
Keeping your metabolism robust after 40 may take more vigilance and effort than it did when you were 25 or 30. Yet with the right food to optimize your hormones and exercise to boost muscle strength, you can stay slim, healthy and energetic without the too tight jeans and puffy midsection.
Sally Asher Healthy Tips
Food is not the enemy. All foods can fit in the context of a healthy diet. Get all the tools, resources and support you need to reach your weight loss goals.