For the past two years I have been attempting to manage my weight through behavior modification, healthy eating and exercise. After losing 190 pounds with diet and exercise, I can assume that I am very capable of making healthy choices; however, this past weekend illustrated how emotions can contribute to slip-ups in the healthy lifestyle department. I am as human as anyone else and I ended my week with a weight gain. Through each painful experience I have learned much about managing my emotions. Finding my inner balance may always be a struggle for me and many of you as well. The important factor in finding my inner balance is to modify my behavior through discipline and goal setting.
The negative factor in my equation of healthy lifestyle choices are unforeseen events, which by their very nature cannot be planned for. These unforeseen events could be traffic, a stressful day at work, or an argument with a family member. So what’s the plan for people who struggle to make healthy lifestyle choices during stressful events?
When invited to dinners, cookouts, or other social functions, it is best to plan ahead and always plan for challenges. It can be difficult to accomplish but it can be done through discipline. Staying focused on your goal can help immensely: Do you really want to eat cheesecake after eating a full dinner? Can you just wait it out, and have cheesecake another day when you have not already eaten your daily caloric intake? The answers should be no and yes, respectively. You will not fall to the floor and be a complete mess if you don’t eat that piece of cheesecake, and yes, you can wait to have a treat after a really intense workout if you make food a prize following them.
Planning also can consist of bringing a healthy dish to a function. Look up a healthy recipe and get family and friends involved in making it. When I first started my healthy eating journey I had my partner at the time participate in preparing and cooking healthy foods. Having a partner assist is not only fun and educational, but can be romantic as well.
If you are just starving and cannot wait for the next meal, try eating some carrots, celery, or bell pepper strips with non-fat dressing. This could be a healthy snack, less than 100 calories, and let’s face facts: It’s not 100 calories that is going to make a person fat, it’s lack of self-discipline. Once I have had a snack that is where it stops. I find something else to occupy my time such as listening to music, going for a walk, calling a friend on the phone, or organizing my office. Alleviating boredom through healthy activities is also a wonderful way to stop unhealthy behaviors such as constant snacking or overeating.
Meeting your daily calorie needs is another way to maintain your weight once you’ve arrived at the number you’re comfortable with. Many people I talk to about nutrition tell me that they barely eat, or they skip breakfast. I express my shock and tell them, this is one of your major problems! Everyone needs to eat at minimum three meals a day and occasionally include a healthy snack. If someone does not eat breakfast or skips meals, they are slowing down their metabolism and telling their body to keep the fat on. Skipping meals is also a big factor in overeating. Do you remember a time in your life when you had not eaten for many hours, and when you sat down to finally eat, you consumed too much? I know that I can relate to this.
Overeating can be controlled by eating three meals a day and keeping low-calorie snacks around. Since I have been on my health journey, I eat more now than I ever did. I just eat differently by including low-fat dairy products, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean meats or other high-protein choices such as tofu or low-fat cottage cheese.
Goals are the key to weight management. Even if I slip up, I never let go of my goals — I get back on the wagon. It is never too late to pick up where you left off and start working on your goals again.