I was in a discussion about weight loss with a couple of people and one of my clients was listening in.
One person said that they believe the best way to lose weight is to listen to your body and eat intuitively.
When my client and I walked away, she said to me…
“What if my body is intuitively telling me to eat ice cream, pizza and cake every day?”
While she was joking, it did really highlight a key issue with the promotion of Intuitive Eating as a weight loss strategy.
Let’s face it…most of us honestly have destroyed any intuition we have about what we need to fuel.
And processed, hyperpalatable foods only create another challenge to “eating intuitively” as they are designed to work against our natural cues.
Now yes, you could say that we shouldn’t be eating those foods anyway, but the reality is, most of us WANT TO and ENJOY processed foods and will plan to include them long term in our balanced diet.
So we need to understand how to balance them in.
While the idea behind intuitive eating is a good one, and it has a very specific purpose and design, saying to just intuitively eat to lose weight is a recipe for disaster.
One that ultimately leads to a lot of frustration as we don’t get results and aren’t sure why.
It’s why we can even feel like we’re eating healthily and not seeing the results we want.
Because the simple fact of the matter is…most of us need to RE-LEARN how to eat intuitively.
And you can’t just do that by “listening to your body.”
So if you’re just starting your weight loss journey, the worst thing you can do for yourself is expect yourself to just instinctively know what you need. Because let’s face it, what is instinctual and easy is what got us to the point we’re seeking out something to lose weight.
That’s why I wanted to share 3 tips to not only help you lose weight but actually learn how to keep it off by re-learning what proper portions and dietary practices are for you so can eat according to your needs and goals, even as they change over time.
But before I dive into those 3 tips, I do want to remind us to STOP the guilt around eating certain foods.
Too often what also derails our weight loss efforts is the feeling of guilt we inflict upon ourselves when we eat something “unhealthy” or “unclean” or “off plan.”
Let’s face it, so many of us eat for reasons other than purely fueling…socializing and having fun or even out of stress. And while we always want to work to understand our personal relationship with food to establish a healthier balance, we do also want to avoid making ourselves feel bad when we aren’t perfect with our plan.
Because it’s often those feelings of guilt that lead to us ultimately failing, not the one indulgence or overindulgence. The guilt makes us self-sabotage even more.
It’s like we get a flat tire and instead of calling a tow truck or putting on the spare, we slash the other three tires. And that ultimately is what holds us back from moving forward faster.
I know there are those clean eating crusaders out there who make you feel like a horrible person for not just eating healthy foods every day, but the fact of life for many of us is that we enjoy foods that aren’t the best for our health.
And finding our own personal balance for our lifestyle is key.
Because we have to be able to be consistent long-term. And constantly having to drain your willpower to fight your urge to have anything you enjoy just isn’t sustainable. It ultimately leads to us eating more crap over the year than if we’d just struck a balance in the first place.
So stop worrying about someone else’s version of a healthy lifestyle and start first by focusing on small sustainable changes to what you’re currently doing!
Now what are 3 tips to help you start to lose weight and ultimately understand how to eat according to your personal needs, goals and lifestyle?
#1: Embrace The 80/20 Rule.
Those processed foods you love, the candy, chips or other treats? They are designed to make you crave more and even overeat. They basically disrupt our natural hunger cues.
Let’s face it, they’re empty calories. And because they don’t really fill you up, you can consume more calories you need without feeling full. They also have a lower thermic effect than whole, natural foods, which means you won’t burn as many calories to process them.
Now you may be expecting me to say you have to cut them out to lose weight. But I don’t believe in doing that.
I believe in the 80/20 rule to eating well.
80% of the time you do focus on those nutrient-dense whole, natural foods. But 20% of the time, you just don’t care as you enjoy those foods and mentally they’re satisifying.
Within that 20% you do want to understand what foods you can have in moderation and those that just trigger more cravings.
If you find you just want more of a specific thing, since processed foods are designed to make you crave more, you may decide to keep that treat to specific days to strike an overall lifestyle balance.
Or you may even experiment with more macro-friendly variations of that treat, say Halo top over Ben and Jerry’s or even greek yogurt with granola, that satisfy the craving but without triggering your desire for more.
Also, I honestly believe the more you tell yourself you can’t have something, the more you want it. And the more you’re having to FIGHT against eating something, the more you ultimately just drain your willpower, eventually give in and then ultimately even overeat what you would have consumed to start.
Heck, often just telling yourself you can have something, even if you ultimately don’t eat it, makes you feel like you have the choice and over feeling forced to not eat it.
And then if you do want it, by focusing on macros you could work it. Plan in something you’re craving even first and work backward around that.
Ultimately, we strike an 80/20 balance because, to still hit our macros because we need to include a lot of nutrient dense, high volume foods around the processed treat.
And those other volume foods keep you feeling full even when enjoying the processed treat that doesn’t trigger make you feel full even when it’s more than enough calories.
You may even find you ultimately choose NOT to have the treat because the way you’d have to adjust other meals isn’t “worth it.” But the point is you are choosing your balance and creating something sustainable.
You need to assess your lifestyle and make small adjustments to that if you want them to be sustainable.
Small changes can add up.
Even swapping white bread for whole grain and a process cheese for a less processed cheese can increase the thermic effect of the foods you eat.
And as you make those tweaks you want to realize that processed foods may be a part of your balance BUT that they won’t make you feel full while being calorically dense and are hyperpalatable foods that make you want to eat more and more!
#2: Don’t Start By Making Changes
It may sound strange to tell you not to make changes when you’re first starting your weight loss journey, but too often we just jump into these all or nothing programs without assessing whether they will even be sustainable.
And part of what ultimately works for us is what will allow us to dial in our macros and our calories to meet our needs and goals long-term.
One size doesn’t fit all.
It’s why your friend could do really well on Keto while you feel horrible and ultimately gain weight.
If you want to create a sustainable version of your lifestyle and ultimately learn what you really need fuel, you need to create changes based on your current lifestyle.
One of the most eye opening things is to just track what you’re currently doing.
And the accountability of tracking helps us automatically start to make changes that aren’t forced.
Tracking begins to make us more aware of how we’re truly fueling and can even help us start to assess how certain foods make us feel.
It gives us true feedback as to what we are doing and the results we then get based off of specific habits.
And then from here we can make realistic and sustainable changes personalized to our needs.
Too often I hear people say, “I just don’t have as much willpower or discipline as (insert person/friend/family who got results).”
We feel like we don’t have the willpower someone else does because we aren’t creating small changes that allow ourselves to engrain the habits and mindsets need.
We cut out something we love most first. And feel deprived.
We create so many changes we’re constantly fighting against everything that is habitual and instinctive, even if it isn’t “right.”
The key to actually building lasting results isn’t some sexy extreme fad diet.
It’s small changes over time that build and allow us to make those habits so engrained they don’t really take willpower to replicate. They are our new normal.
So don’t start to try to lose weight by following some all or nothing plan.
Start by determining what your current lifestyle is and then make tweaks to it. For some that may mean setting a calorie cap or calorie intake range based on their goals. Even just 100 calories under what they’re currently doing.
For others it may be making small macro changes, increasing protein while not worrying about where carbs and fats fall.
For others it may mean making one simple swap and including veggies at a meal. The key is first assessing where YOU personally are currently to make small changes you can build upon.
#3: Realize that change is uncomfortable.
Most of us simply don’t like change. It’s hard going against what has become instinctual and easy even if we know its for the better.
But change requires change and that means stepping outside our comfort zone.
It’s why this idea of eating intuitively and whatever you want is false.
Because we will keep just repeating the habits we are comfortable with, the ones that aren’t moving us forward and may even be causing us to gain.
So as you start to track, and learn about the impact of the foods you are consuming, realize that there will be times you don’t feel comfortable. That there will be times you don’t want to do what is needed.
There will be times that things that ultimately are sustainable don’t feel that way to start.
But new habits will become instinctual and easy if we give them time and base them off our current lifestyle.
The key is even realizing our mindset behind the new habits.
We can’t just take actions we don’t believe in. We can’t just fake it till we make it.
We’ve got to recognize that we are CHOOSING to make these changes and believe in the process.
Your mindset has to back the actions you’re taking or you’ll set yourself up for failure and ultimately fall into old patterns.
So even recognizing before you start to make changes that things WILL be uncomfortable can help you embrace the process more.
Too often we make these sweeping changes and try to tell ourselves they are easy when they aren’t. And then when they aren’t easy, we feel discouraged and give up.
Instead lower your defenses against the changes and even tell yourself they’re going to be challenging. Honestly, you’ll be surprised by how much easier it ultimately makes the process of change that you aren’t surprised when you do encounter a difficult time!
Change requires change and if we knew how to eat intuitively for our needs, we wouldn’t be seeking out a weight loss solution.
Learning to better understand what we need is a process.
So if you’re starting out on your weight loss journey, start tracking what you’re currently doing and be ready to be a bit uncomfortable as you make those changes that build toward results!
Ready to create the healthiest version of YOUR lifestyle?
Schedule a call to chat about the program right for you!