When a Diet becomes a LifestyleChallenges
Thursday June 28, 2012
Lifetime success in weight management involves not only changing the way we interact with food but also changing our mindset. Unfortunately, many of us continue in the attempt to lose weight without taking the time to reassess our strategies.
We must stop and ask ourselves questions about past attempts to lose weight. Why did we give up? Were appropriate goals set? Was the time frame realistic? Often it is learned habits that keep us from losing weight and not the weight loss plan itself. Fortunately, these habits can be unlearned and replaced with more constructive ones.
When choosing a weight loss plan, it is important to find one we can stay on. It must be satisfying and allow for foods that are whole, nutrient dense and minimally processed. It is easier to change our behaviours when what we eat is satisfying.
For instance, unstable blood sugar is known to cause irritability and headaches before meals or when food is delayed. It has also been known to negatively impact our emotions leading to mood swings, depression and anxiety. The hunger and cravings caused by unstable blood sugar can easily set up an addiction cycle to food. By stabilizing blood sugar we are able to provide our body with constant energy, while decreasing other symptoms such as sleep apnea and snoring. Our ability to cope with stress is increased and our mood swings and anxiety often fade away as we stabilize our blood sugar.
In order to achieve stable blood sugar levels, there are various changes that we can make. We should avoid foods with added sugars and refined grains, eat breakfast, avoid skipping meals later in the day and incorporate protein at every feeding.
As dieters, we tend to change diets often and repeat the same behaviours and habits while in pursuit of a sometimes unrealistic goal. When these expectations are not met, we sometimes give up and try a different diet without examining what caused us to stumble in the previous ones. In these situations, we need to pause and examine what old habits led to failure. That way, bad habits can be replaced with new ones, and we can achieve successful weight loss and a better lifestyle.
In order to make these decisions and create new habits, we must be consciously aware of the changes to be made and why the bad habits started in the first place. Keeping a food diary is an excellent tool as it forces us to be more aware of what we are eating. Having only those foods in the house that are a part of our plan will help decrease temptation.
We need to take time to examine past behaviour: what has worked and what has been a stumbling block. Did hunger, cravings or food addiction cause us to stumble? Or perhaps, were we drawn to eat through boredom or loneliness? Did certain situations sabotage our attempts at weight loss, such as grocery shopping while hungry? With answers to these questions in mind, we can create and document fresh goals for the future, breaking them down into short and long term goals. We can then include with these goals a weight maintenance strategy by considering “What will I do once the weight is off?”
We should also anticipate mistakes, keeping in mind that it is not a failure if we learn from them. When problems arise, take a step back to examine what went wrong and develop a strategy for similar situations in the future. Remember that life happens, vacations, holidays and stress. In these situations, we can temporarily change goals from weight loss, to weight maintenance. Events that are not part of our regular routine are not a reason to give up. We should pause to reassess the situation and develop a strategy to move on and never give up. Our goal is to not just diet but to put a plan in place that becomes a lifestyle.
You can do it. Keep on trying and don’t ever give up!