A Difficult (But Necessary) Step for Losing Weight 40+

difficult-and-necessary-step-for-weight-loss-40+

This post is inspired from some recent experiences with clients and workshop participants. At first glance, these people looked very different. But they had one thing in common. While they had hired me/ came out to listen to me speak, they both completely refused to take in what I had to share. They hired me for my expertise, then subsequently refused to take it.

Did I take it personally? No. Human behaviour is fascinating. We’re always a little bit of two minds about change – there’s a part of us who wants to change. And, a part of us who doesn’t. In both of these cases, the part of them that didn’t want to change won.

Why am I sharing this with you? I mean, it doesn’t make much business sense to share my failures with you. I’m sharing it with you because there’s a lesson to be learned. A lesson that you can apply to any aspect of your health, but especially for those of us 40+ folks who are looking to have a healthy weight.

The first step to making any change in life is letting go of our past habits and beliefs.

Elsa from Frozen has it right – let it go! Even Oprah is talking about letting it go in her O Magazine this month.

Letting go of past habits, no matter how much evidence we have that they aren’t working for us, is difficult. This is especially true when you want to lose weight and you’ve been on diets in the past that haven’t worked. It’s amazing how often clients hire me because they’re at their heaviest ever, yet they’re still doing habits from past diets. Diets that obviously haven’t worked (at least long-term). Or, the diets worked when young, but they don’t work for us 40+ folks.

The most difficult step in losing weight in middle-age is letting go of past habits. Giving up things like:

  • Weighing yourself daily.
  • Counting calories.
  • Writing down every morsel that you eat.
  • Eating zero carbs.
  • Aiming for a magical number on the scale from your 20’s – pre-busy life, pre-kids, etc.
  • Denying yourself the pleasure of favourite foods.
  • Nutrition mis-information that you’ve accepted as fact.

You see, when people come to me they are hardly blank slates. What I’ve found is that once people let go of these past habits, weight loss follows. I’d call it magic if I wasn’t so science-based.

So I leave you with an important question: what do you need to let go of in order to achieve your happy weight?

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Remove this Sentence to Keep Away Your Diet Self-Saboteur

keep away your diet self-saboteur

Okay, fair warning. It’s rant time. I’ve got something stuck in my craw again and I’m throwing off my sunshine & rainbows positivity hat and going deep.

There’s a sentence that I hear people say when they’re talking about food. People say it all the time. But just because people say it frequently, it doesn’t mean that it’s true.

So, what’s this phrase that has me all hot and bothered?

“I can’t have that.”

Unless you have a serious food allergy and will go in to analphyactic shock, you can eat a food. But you may choose not to eat it.

If you’re vegan, you choose not to eat animal products because of your ethics. If you are Jewish, you may choose to eat kosher because of your faith. If you have food sensitivities, you choose to avoid eating those foods because you are choosing to avoid the symptoms that they cause. If you are on a diet/cleanse/meal plan that doesn’t allow certain foods, you are choosing to follow that diet/cleanse/meal plan.

Why am I going on and on about something that just seems like minor semantics? Because the way we think about food, also called our relationship with food, can either help us be healthy or it can work against us. Changing “can’t” into “choose” is one path to creating a healthy relationship with food.

There are two reasons why saying “I can’t have that” works against you:

  1. We’re all rebels. Making something taboo, off limits, a ‘can’t-have’ naturally drives us towards it. There’s nothing to make you want to eat ice cream more than to say that you’ll never eat it again. Saying, “no thank you, I don’t choose to have ice cream today” doesn’t trigger your inner self-saboteur in the same way.
  2. Be active in your life. “I choose” is active language. It’s empowering – you’ve made a choice. It re-confirms a commitment that you’ve made. In contrast, “I can’t” is victim language. Something is being done to you. As an adult, you have the power to choose what you eat and when you eat it. Don’t give away your power. You can turn to experts to give you advice on what to eat, but the ultimate choice, responsibility, power, remains with you. Foster this power. Each time you say “I choose _______” you are reinforcing your power.

With your newly opened eyes (and ears), read the two responses in the following scenario. Even better, read them aloud. Can you hear the difference? Can you feel the difference?

Scenario: Someone offers you a tray of cookies.

You respond: “No thank you. I’m choosing to eat less sugar.”

versus

“I’d love a cookie but I can’t have one.”

Keep away your diet self-saboteur – remove “I can’t” from your lexicon.

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4 Ways to Stop Cravings

4 Ways to Stop Cravings

I received a request to address cravings. Now the community member didn’t specify what she was craving. But I’m assuming that it was high fat, sugar, salt foods. Because it’s highly unlikely that her craving for kale concerned her enough to reach out :) The scientific literature doesn’t have a very thorough understanding of cravings – why we get them or what they mean. So, I’m going to share with you 4 ways to stop cravings: two ways to stop cravings from the literature and two ways that I’ve discovered in my life.  

4 Ways to Stop Cravings: Sleep Deprived

This is a surprising cause of cravings. But there is evidence that the more sleep deprived we are, the more we seek out high fat, sugar, and salt foods. So if you want to get rid of cravings, create a plan to get more sleep. What can you take off your “to-do” list? Turn off that screen and hit the hay.

4 Ways to Stop Cravings: Going Too Long Between Meals and Snacks

When our blood sugar drops, we’re driven by our bodies towards high fat, sugar, and salt foods. Did you skip lunch and now you find yourself in the fast food restaurant on the way home from work? It’s because of a biological drive – not a lack of willpower. Don’t try to work against Mother Nature; you won’t succeed. Instead, eat when you’re just starting to get hungry. For most people this is approximately every 4 hours. Now this doesn’t mean all-day grazing. But, it may mean planning and eating a healthy afternoon snack to prevent the afternoon trip to the vending machine.

4 Ways to Stop Cravings: Increasing Protein and Decreasing Sugar at Breakfast

I was always a toast with jam for breakfast kind of woman. But I also always craved candy every afternoon. A couple of years ago I switched my breakfast to plain yogurt, usually Greek, topped with hemp hearts and fruit. This winter I’ve been on the overnight oats bandwagon, adding this to my yogurt mixture. I’ve found that my craving for sweets has gone from daily to a couple of times a month. Which is a huge change! Switch up you breakfast and see if it decreases your cravings.

4 Ways to Stop Cravings: Have Other Tools in Your Emotional Care Toolbox

Often we crave high fat, sugar, and salt foods as a way of numbing our emotions. I became such a cliché after my divorce, literally drowning my sorrows in tubs of ice cream. You don’t need to be a dietitian to know that a couple of tubs a week isn’t healthy. So I decided to create other ways to take care of my emotions. Now I have a lot of tools in my toolbox. Tools like a gratitude practice, yoga, surfing, trail running, art therapy, and the occasional tub of ice cream. Ask yourself the tough question of whether you’re really craving that food because you don’t want to deal with difficult emotions. Take the time to develop alternative tools to take care of yourself.

Have you found effective ways to stop cravings? I'd love you to share them in the comments section below!