Dieting: we’ve either experienced it ourselves, had a friend complain about it, or have closely followed the up and down dieting life of Oprah in hopes of learning something.
There’s the Atkins, South Beach, Sonoma and so many more that I can’t name them all. Each one offering varying degrees of the same kind of formula. There is the deprivation stage, followed with the re-introduction stage and then the maintenance stage where you’re no longer tempted by chocolate cheesecakes or bagels loaded with cream cheese. You’re happy with your smaller portions, leaner meats and snacking habits. For the moment. Then temptation, annoyance at not being able to eat that cookie, tiredness of fighting the crave, all these feelings come crashing down on you and there you are, smack-dab in the middle of a good old eating frenzy! You deserved it, you lost 15 pounds in four weeks, your energy levels are high, you feel younger, you look great and gosh darnit, you want a piece of pie… yes with ice cream and of course whipped cream on top!
Ah, the maintenance stage.
That’s the problem with deprivation diets, the “continued” success rate isn’t very high, and by that I mean once the weight is lost, it usually finds its way back home. All that deprivation for nothing. It can frustrate anyone. That’s why it’s important to think differently when it comes to eating, not dieting. Leave dieting behind, focus your energy on eating properly. Here are some tips:
Ask yourself, are you really hungry? Is your tummy signaling to you that it wants food, or is your mind thinking that it’s bored and would love an easy activity to preoccupy it with? Think about it before you dive into a bag of chips/cookies/crackers. Gauging where your head is it at may actually prevent you from eating just to eat.
Like the French, make a big deal out of eating. Use nice plates, set the table if it’s dinner time. Turn off the tv/radio/iTunes/iPhone… put them all to sleep for 15 minutes, it’s good for your mind not to be distracted when eating. Being aware and enjoying the food is just as important as eating the food.
Be aware of how often you eat during the day. Are you starving all day long? Do you skip breakfast because there is no time in the morning, or because you are trying to “save” calories for lunch and dinner? Think of your body as a time machine in that it thinks like our caveman ancestors (but it looks a lot nicer these days). Feast or famine is still a very much pronounced trait that our bodies hold onto and refuse to let go of. Our mind knows better, but our body is clueless. If you starve yourself, the body thinks famine and holds onto your fat cells in case of an emergency, such as a saber-toothed tiger is coming at you and you need to spilt fast. While your body is thinking that, your mind is thinking, “I’m heading out to dinner tonight with the girls and I’m gonna pile up on food and beverages galore so I best hold off eating until then.” There is no famine in your mind… but there is one in your body. Don’t skip meals and don’t “save” calories, you’re doing your body a disservice.
Lastly, pay attention to how you feel after you have eaten. Do you feel guilty, depressed or upset? Or do you feel happy, content, rapturous and joyous? Making healthy choices makes for happier people.
Losing weight doesn’t have to be a losing battle. Pay attention to your eating habits, how often you eat and what you’re eating. Be responsible for yourself and accountable, it’s the only way to be successful.Anne Marie Costanzo is a nationally certified personal trainer and owner of Little Black Dress Personal Training. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (914) 841-1121.