There are specific habits women do in an effort to lose weight. Somewhere along the line, someone (society, media, or people) taught them they had to do these things to be ‘skinny’, ‘healthy’ or ‘fit’. In my experience, personally and in working with others, these habits not only delay weight loss progress, but also cause stress, anxiety, and obsessive disorders. Years ago, there was a point in my life where I had all of these habits. It was not a happy or a truly healthy time in my life. I may have looked happy on the outside but there was something missing on the inside. I look back, and think about all of the joy I robbed from myself by obsessing over these types of things. You can read more of my story here, but my history is one of the main factors that led me to become a health coach.
If you find yourself wrapped up in any of these habits, I encourage (beg) you to let them go. When you are a slave to these types of habits you become a prisoner of your own mind. You spend precious mental energy focusing on, worrying about, and stressing over these things. Once you decide to let them go, you will set yourself free. You will begin to understand that a healthy lifestyle is truly quite simple. You will have a new lease on life because you will be able to take the mental energy you once devoted to these habits and channel it into something more positive in your life.
Weighing yourself daily. Many of you step on the scale first thing in the morning and what you see will make or break your day. If the number is higher than you hoped for, you automatically feel disappointed or may even tell yourself that you are ‘fat’. If the number is lower than you expected, you may give yourself a free pass to eat a little extra that day even if you are not truly hungry. Usually, the ‘extra’ food isn’t a healthy choice because we feel we can afford these ‘bad’ calories. The other piece to weighing yourself daily is that you may base your worth from that number. You are SO much more than a measurement of mass. When someone looks at you, they don’t focus on your weight, they focus on your energy, how you make them feel, and how you treat them. You may have created an unspoken truth (something you believe to be true but is not an objective fact) in your mind. You may believe that if you don’t weight yourself daily, you will gain weight. Let me ask you, if you stopped weighing yourself daily, would you all of the sudden change what you eat? Would you stop working out? Would you change anything else in your life? If your answer is no, it is not logical to think you will gain weight by putting the scale away.
Logging your food in My Fitness Pal app. I might get mixed opinions on this one but I don’t care. I don’t think logging every single morsel you eat is a healthy way to live. You put your credentials in and it gives you a magic number of calories to hit that day. It doesn’t take into consideration things like muscle mass, metabolism, body fat distribution, and the quality of food you are eating. You end up making food choices based on the outlined calorie recommendation vs. what is truly nutritious, energizing, and what your body may be signaling to you it needs. Is it a realistic way to live to be attached to this app for the rest of your life? When you are 85, will you still be logging your food? If you disagree with me as you read this, I challenge you to delete the app for one week. At the end of the week, I want you analyze how much time you saved by not logging your food. What did you do with this time? What did you base your food choices on? How was your energy? How did your body feel? Did your mindset improve? Did you feel a sense of freedom? If you take this challenge, email me afterwards to let me know your experience.
Counting calories. I used to be the queen of counting calories and it didn’t do me a darn bit of good. It actually caused me harm. When I was in the ‘counting calorie phase’ of my life, I was physically and mentally my unhealthiest. I constantly was calculating how many calories would be in different combinations of food and then would base my meal choice off of that. Do you know how exhausting that was? Not only does this waste mental energy but it also doesn’t take into consideration the quality of food. All calories are not equal. Your body uses calories from real food much differently than it uses calories from something made in a lab. Do you spend time counting calories? Do you write them down? Log them in your phone? Do you believe that the only way to lose weight is calories in vs. calories out? I challenge you to stop calorie counting and start quality counting.
Eating artificial sweeteners. As a consumer, you may be inclined to purchase foods that say ‘low-sugar’, ‘sugar-free’, or ‘no-sugar added’ on the front of the package. Many of these types of foods have been made with artificial sweeteners and chemicals in place of sugar. Yes, they may be lower in calories or lower in real sugar but the harm from the artificial ingredients can be much worse. Certain artificial sweeteners have been linked to cancer. Think of an artificial sweetener like a cigarette. Many of you wouldn’t smoke a cigarette because of the risk factors of lung cancer, yet you would eat a box of ‘sugar-free’ cookies without blinking an eyes. Food can either fuel or cure disease; it’s your choice.
All or nothing mindset. I used to be an ‘all or nothing’ type of person. I now recognize we are not designed to live in extremes in any capacity of our lives. In terms of food, you aren’t realistically going to go through your entire life and never have a piece of cake or pizza (or at least I won’t). What becomes important when you do choose to indulge in such foods is that you do it once in awhile instead of all of the time. One piece of pizza a month is very different than a piece of pizza everyday. When you do enjoy that piece of pizza be sure to get back to regular eating right after. Many people allow that one piece of pizza to de-rail their entire diet, feeling like they ‘messed up’ and then allow themselves to throw in the towel altogether. This is not a healthy way to approach food or any circumstance in life.
Now that we have talked about what you should let go of, let’s talk about how you can replace those unhealthy habits with new, more positive ones.
Set a daily intention. Instead of weighing yourself daily, I encourage you to set an intention for yourself every single morning. Take one minute and write down one to three things that you want to focus on for your day. This can be as big as completing a work project or as simple as smiling at every person you come in contact with. It has been proven that where you focus your intention, grows. Why spend time focusing on a number when you could be focusing on the good works you want to do in your life.
Log your day. At the end of the day, we sometimes feel defeated, like we didn’t get anything accomplished. This feeling is something we craft in our own minds. We focus on one or two thing that we didn’t get done, yet forget about all of the things we did do. I challenge you to sit down at night and actually write down everything you did that day. You will be amazed. Don’t forget to write things like connecting with other people, which is just as important ask checking task off of your ‘to-do’ list. This idea was introduced to me by Joyce Meyers in her book Power Thoughts. I did it earlier this week and it was really fun and helped to put perspective to my day.
Counting quality. You should make your food choices based on the quality of food vs. the calories. Choose whole foods that are grown from the earth. Choose foods without labels. Avoid artificial ingredients, chemicals, and preservatives. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Add as many fresh vegetables to your diet as possible. Food is medicine if you allow it to be. This small mindset shift of ‘quality vs. calories’ will change your life in every way, shape, and form.
Ween yourself from the real thing. Please let go of using artificial sweeteners. Go for the real thing and use it in moderation. You have to give yourself realistic expectations too. Instead of telling yourself you are going to entirely quit sugar, maybe you try cutting back by 1/2. Wondering what type of sweetener is the best? Use 100% pure honey (local if possible), 100% pure maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or coconut palm sugar. Remember though, sugar is sugar is sugar. Whether you are eating 100% pure honey or a Snicker’s bar, the body is not designed to be able to tolerate large amounts of sugar. Moderation is key.
Live the 90/10 life. This is my mantra. I can’t express how important this philosophy is to me and how it has changed my life. You are not made to live in extremes in any part of your life–sleep, food, work, relationships, etc. You have to find that perfect balance of doing the things and eating the foods that energize, fuel, and inspire you and be sure to mix in a little fun, treats, relaxation, adventure, and ‘you-time’.
I hope you found inspiration from my blog post today. As a health coach, I work with a lot of my clients on letting go of the habits above and incorporating the new, healthier ones I discussed. If you feel like you could use support in changing some habits that may be having a negative impact on your life, I encourage you to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the first step in working in a private coaching program. You do not have to live in the South Bend area to work in a program; I work with clients across the United States. Please feel free to share this blog post with those you feel may benefit from it. Xo.