I love the debate over diets I see on Twitter every day. Do Weight Watchers. Buy Jenny Craig. Follow Biggest Loser. Shred with PX-90. Beach body fads. Invest in a Body Bugg.
In a way, it’s all a smokescreen, isn’t it? None of these programs is going to bring the permanent change on the scale we all want. Only WE can do that.
Research shows people who achieve permanent weight loss, even if they start out on a diet, leave it behind pretty quickly in order to create a unique, personal lifestyle change. They begin to change their own individual behaviors that impact their weight, instead of focusing on food.
Here are 5 behavior changes that have huge impact on achieving permanent weight loss:
1. No drive-thrus or fast food. Oh, I’ll drive-through for coffee, but not for food. No nourishment there anyway! Fast food breeds cravings and dependence, never health. I haven’t eaten at McDonalds since I saw the excellent movie “Super Size Me!” in 2004 and my quality of life certainly hasn’t suffered as a result. In fact, it’s only gotten better!
2. Shop every 3-4 days. With this change, I ensure a supply of fresh fruit and vegetables are always on hand. Since, the first food “adjustment” I made was adding a green salad to dinner every night, shopping more often was necessary. Within a couple months, salad at dinner was a habit and my small son would say “Where’s the green food?” when he got to the table and didn’t see salad right away. Now it has grown way beyond a habit and is just part of life. I also find it quicker and easier to shop with 3 days of meals in mind, rather than a whole week. I still shop for basics and other supplies in bulk once a month but my 2x week quick shops are for the colorful part of my diet, the alive part, the fruit and vegetables.
3. No eating in the car. Cars aren’t soothing, relaxing places to eat. They’re also not an atmosphere where you can eat consciously. After all, you’re watching traffic, navigating sharp turns, and refereeing fights between toddlers in the back seat! Too much non-driving activity happens in cars. Eating shouldn’t be one of them.
4. No eating in front of the TV. Like turning your car into a dining room, eating in front of the TV is unconscious eating. That means 40-50% MORE calories every time we eat distracted by televised drama, comedy or tragedy.
5. Set boundaries around food choices. Boundaries are a common dilemma when trying to change lifestyle. In fact, it’s often a lurking subconscious need for boundaries that leads many of us to set needed boundaries with our excess weight. Sometimes, being fat keeps people away. Or prevents us from “threatening” others. Or makes us invisible. For those who find it hard to set boundaries, changing your eating style can bring comment, criticism, and judgment from others. Learning to be firm but decisive as you set boundaries is a behavior change that will serve you everywhere in life, not just in weight loss. Personally, I had to let my family and good friends know that my food choices were undergoing change and that no one was allowed to question or comment on them. Not one word! Even though we may share meals with others, our food choices are personal and sacrosanct.
Focusing on behavior rather than food can lead to powerful and long lasting changes. A lifestyle change goes a lot deeper than a diet. It takes a little longer. It’s not quite so simple. But you get to keep it!