This is the first of two articles on common New Year’s resolutions. This post addresses the goal of losing weight, and next week’s will be about achieving financial security.
Many of us have a dysfunctional relationship with food. It is such an easy trap to fall into. When I was working and had a stressful day, I often responded by gorging on McDonald’s for lunch. I sometimes even added a hot fudge sundae for dessert! Food can be comforting and feel rewarding. Unfortunately, to be thin requires very few missteps. You have to be highly consistent in your eating to stay thin.
So how can you fundamentally change your relationship with food to be thinner and healthier? Here are some ideas that have worked for me, and which I hope could help you with a New Year’s resolution to shed a few pounds.
Eat to Live, Don’t Live to Eat
I have found it useful to view my eating very clinically and scientifically. This takes out the emotion. I ask myself: How many calories do I need each day to lose or maintain my weight? What should the ratio of protein to carbs to fat be? How much sugar can I allow myself each week without sabotaging my diet? I design my meals based on these criteria and then buy only the foods that fit my specific plan. This leads to my next two tips.
Keep Only Healthy Foods in Your Home
This is hard to do if you have children, but the fewer unhealthy foods you keep in your house, the better. If I only have healthy foods at home, then I need to physically go out to get the diet-busting desserts I desire, so it is much more likely I will stay on plan. The healthiest foods at the supermarket tend to be in the outer ring of the store: fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, meats, dairy, etc. Most of the high-calorie and high-fat processed foods are in the center of the store.
Buy Healthy Foods You Enjoy
Some people make the mistake of forcing themselves to eat foods they dislike, which is a bad idea. Instead, choose among the healthy foods that taste good to you. I don’t like most vegetables, so I don’t eat very many. I instead eat a lot of fruit, some dairy, and a lot of protein like fish, chicken, turkey, pork, and lean cuts of beef. I do eat a couple of vegetables I actually enjoy, such as asparagus and sweet potatoes. If I tried to force myself to eat broccoli and cauliflower, I would probably fall off my eating plan quickly.
Enjoy Social Situations for Non-Food Reasons
A lot of people look forward to going to a party or restaurant as an opportunity to gorge on food and alcohol. I have been able to reorient my thinking so that I instead look forward to the social aspects of these events, rather than the food and drink. If I am going to a party, I figure there will probably be someone there who I haven’t seen in a while, and it will be fun catching up with them. Or I might meet someone new, who either has an interesting perspective on things or has travelled somewhere I haven’t been to yet. If I am meeting good friends for dinner, I look forward to finding out what they and their kids have been up to, and I plan to share with them some recent victory or struggle in my life.
Also, I seek out social opportunities which are not centered on food, like going to a play, concert or comedy club, so I can get out and have fun without blowing my diet.
Picture Yourself in Your 50’s, 60’s and 70’s
When I start to fall off the wagon with my eating, as everyone does from time to time, I try to think about what I want my life to be like as I get older. I want to stay very physically active, so I can enjoy sports, travel, and other outdoor pursuits. It has been said that how you will feel in your 50’s, 60’s and 70’s is largely determined by how you treat your body in your 30’s and 40’s. Think about how you want to fully enjoy life as you age, and this will give you motivation to be more disciplined with your eating.
If weight loss is one of your New Year’s resolutions this year, I hope these perspectives have been helpful. If not, just picture yourself, as you look right now, in your swimsuit on that first day at the pool this spring, and this might provide some additional incentive. Fear is a great motivator!