Five No-Hype Tips for Easy Weight Loss
During my ‘year of healing', I tried A LOT of dietary and lifestyle changes. Over the course of that year I figured out what works for me, I broke long-held food addictions, and I cured a long list of body and health problems that had been accumulating for years.
I also lost weight. Weight loss was never the goal. (At least not this time, it certainly has been at other points in my life.) However, I discovered that these five things helped me get and stay lean, and now I maintain my ideal body weight quite effortlessly.
In honor of the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions- of which I’m not a huge fan (on some level we all make our ‘resolutions’ anew each morning)- I thought I’d share my pain-free weight loss tips.
1) Quit Eating Breakfast.
I know, the cereal companies want you believe a ‘balanced breakfast’ is the way to start the day off ‘right'.
Others say that you must eat regularly in order to lose weight; that fasting makes your body hold on to fat. I'm pretty sure they are talking about extreme cases here, such as starvation and long-term fasting. If you stopped eating, you would lose a lot of weight. Period.
Of course food companies are happy for you to believe these myths. However, recent research is showing that short term 'fasting’ is actually very good for the body.
Yes, it was kind of hard to do at first. I used to be one of those people who ate FIRST thing every morning and was very worried about not getting my breakfast (or skipping any meal for that matter).
So I started by just pushing breakfast back an hour, then another hour, and before long it was lunch time and I was ready to eat but not starving. In fact, I’ve noticed that often I will be hungrier by lunch if I eat something in the morning than if I don’t.
Benefits of not eating breakfast:
The first thing that happened is I lost weight. I don’t weigh myself, and I have never been truly overweight. Still, I noticed I got leaner and my clothes fit better.
The other nice benefit was that I learned it’s okay to skip a meal sometimes. I used to get very worried and irritable if I was missing a regular meal. Now I realize that it wasn’t really missing the food so much as struggling with subconscious fears.
These days I might feel hunger, that’s all it is, hunger. And I know I’m not going to starve to death. (It would be quite hard for any of us to starve in this day and age. Not eating regularly sometimes is OK.) It has been very freeing to loosen the chains that food had on me.
Now I try to go at least 14 and up to 16 hours between dinner and my first food the next day. This is not rigid. I sometimes have a little breakfast if we’re traveling, or in a situation when I know I might not get my midday meal. Or some mornings I am just really hungry. So I listen to that. But most days, I’d say 90% of the time, I do not eat breakfast, and I’m convinced that my health is the better for it, and I know it is easier to maintain my weight.
2) Go Dairy-Free.
I never thought I would quit eating cheese. It used to be such a staple of my diet. Seriously, sometimes a provoleta ‘cheese-steak’ with veggies was my vegetarian meal. Cheese with nuts was my snack. Lots of cheese on top of everything was common in my kitchen.
Dairy was one of the last things to go during my ‘year of healing’. I hung on to it harder than coffee or alcohol, which says a lot.
What made me try giving up dairy?
First I read a book called 'Your Life In Your Hands', which was recommended by a friend. It’s about a woman who cured her cancer by cutting dairy out of her diet. I’m not particularly afraid of getting cancer, but I did decide it would be worth a try to quit dairy for a while. I was already on my health kick, and the face rash that started it all still hadn’t gone away... so I was open to trying just about anything.
I had never experienced a ‘detox’ reaction by quitting any food. Until I quit dairy. For three days I felt like I was sick- achey, lethargic- except that I wasn’t sick in any normal sense. I believe it was related to giving up cheese, milk, etc.
That phase passed and then I noticed that I lost some weight. Which isn’t so surprising when you consider the calorie density of dairy, and also the hormones that are in non-organic dairy products.
On the whole, I’ve stuck with it. I think of dairy as a treat, to be eaten only rarely. Not eating dairy makes it much easier for me to stay around my ideal weight. It also made it easy to quit drinking coffee, since I have no desire to drink it unless it’s at least half milk or cream and sugar.
And since I no longer use cheese as a filler, I eat a lot more healthy fresh food.
Of course, maybe you won't find the same is true for you (though you won't know unless you try), or maybe you don't eat a lot of dairy but still want to lose weight. I'll bet there is something else that would work for you. (It could be alcohol, sugary foods, wheat, nuts, to name a few. I quit eating wheat but didn't notice a change in my levels of body fat.)
Most likely it is one of the things you really don't want to give up!
3) Enjoy Real Food.
This is about quality over quantity. If I’m going to drink red wine, it had better be the good stuff. If I want a piece of chocolate, it’s not going to be the so-so, cheap, flavorless, milky kind.
If I notice I’m eating something that isn’t really very tasty, then I stop. Only the best desserts pass my lips. (I’m mentioning treats here, because it’s a great place to start, but actually I only want the best ingredients and best quality ‘real’ food in general.)
And when I say ‘real food’, I mean food that grew from the earth. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, or wouldn’t know where to begin if asked to make it, then you probably shouldn’t be eating it.
Ingedients like High Fructose Corn Syrup (or worse) are truly never in the foods I eat anymore. The saying that ‘you are what you eat’ is true in the sense that your body will thrive on natural, foods that are processed as little as possible. Fresh fruits and veggies, and even whole grains, are the things we were meant to eat. I’d eat cheese (especially if it was made with organic dairy) over orange soda any day. It's far more natural.
Yes, bodies are adaptable, but what you put in them long-term will show up eventually. The problem is that it might be 20 years later, which makes it very hard to link to current health ailments and hard-to-pinpoint symptoms.
So, start now, for wellness and prevention. You might not ever know what you ‘prevented’, but you will know that you look and feel better than many of your peers. And if you are having health problems now, keep in mind you can undo in one or two years what took 20 to create.
My meals are full of color and flavor and leave me satisfied and knowing that only health can follow this type of eating.
4) Fit in Some Daily Movement.
Every day I do a little movement. Anymore it’s nothing heavy or super hard. I look at it like I am my favorite puppy and I have to take myself for a walk and do some playing and stretching. If I’m tired I listen to my body and take it easier. If I have extra energy then I do something more active.
Usually six days a week I do some physical activity for 30-60 minutes. Normally I walk 3 times a week for 45 minutes. After this I will do some light floor exercises. Recently I have added the Tibetan Longevity Exercises.
On alternating days I do yoga. There is a great site called My Yoga Online (which was recently bought by GaiamTV) where you can choose from lots of classes by type, level, and length. I mix it up but gravitate towards Power Yoga (Ashtanga) for days I want a challenging workout, Hatha Yoga (for days that I need some light movement) and Kundalini Yoga (which I didn’t like at first but has become a favorite, it’s kind of Yoga-Aerobics and is very good for building energy).
My ‘workouts’ these days are so much lighter and easier than how I would have exercised in the past. But, strangely enough, my weight is just as easy to maintain this way. (Easier actually, because it’s not so much hard work!)
Working out really hard, as I have discovered (at least for myself), can be overrated. I no longer have to have days off or get overly tired. And I look forward to 'taking myself for a walk', or doing a yoga class at home. I need so little equipment, there’s no set schedule, and I get in enough activity to keep my body and my mind happy. And there’s no more suffering through it, gritting my teeth, and then being sore for days.
5) Don’t Buy Foods You Don’t Want To Eat.
This sounds stupidly simple, I know. But if I can resist buying something at the store, that I know will become a source of inner conflict later, then the battle is won. If having chocolate in the cabinet is going to to tempt you every day just don’t buy it.
Use the discipline just once at the store and that's it. (And I’m not saying chocolate is bad, especially if it’s easy for you to have a small piece and not eat the whole bar at once.)
If you drink too much alcohol, stop buying it and only drink when you go out or on special occasions. Or buy, say, one bottle of wine for the week, and don’t keep an unlimited supply on hand. (A lot of people also lose a great deal of weight when they cut back on alcohol consumption. Soda too. Even diet soda.)
If someone gives you a giant chocolate cake- or maybe you end up with leftovers from a party- enjoy a piece or two and give the rest away. (Or throw it away. There’s nothing that says YOU have to be the garbage disposal.)
Set yourself up for success. And don’t beat yourself up if you do eat more than you intended. Food is not a moral issue. We may call it ‘good’, or ‘bad’, but that doesn’t make you a Good or Bad Person because you ate it. Just get back on track towards your goals. Beating yourself up doesn’t help.
This is one of the reasons why I always make extra food when I cook dinner. It’s much easier to eat healthy if there are good foods waiting in the cupboards and refrigerator when it's time to eat. And the result, beside peace of mind, will be a healthier and leaner body.
Dietary changes like this can seem tough at first, but like any habit, if you can give it a good three weeks the ‘pain’ phase will have passed and you will have cemented new pathways.
An often unmentioned benefit of training yourself to quit certain foods or modify your diet is that changes such as these five can make a person much more creative in the kitchen and in life. You realize how many different ways there are to eat, and how many options there are. It expands horizons.
I discovered that the foods that I most resisted limiting or quitting were the ones I most needed to eat in moderation or not at all. Give it a try. Ultimately, you are the only one who can decide what works for you!
Every single moment, every single day you are a new you. Tap into that constant change, get unstuck, and make the adjustments that will serve you best in this year… and for many more to come.
To ask a question or comment on this article, please click here.