Back from 2007-2013ish I ate a lot of fast food. Lunch and dinner. If I was running on time (that was rare) I'd also grab breakfast. I was on the go CONSTANTLY and fast food was just quicker. I was so sluggish. My tongue was blistered and raw from the sodium. At the time I assumed I had mouth cancer bc I also smoked. And boy was I down on myself. I couldn't look myself in the eye when I saw my reflection in the mirror. I referred to myself as fat ass, disgusting, a whale. I was really taking great care of myself right?
When I finally had enough of being miserable, I knew to kick the weight I had to drop the fast food. What I didn't know was that I was addicted to it at that point. I loved the feeling of being so full I could pass out. I felt like I needed to feel that way to actually be done eating. I was also part of the "clean plate club". My plate had to be empty before leaving the table. I found it impossible to get up from the table if I left anything behind. It was a mental thing. Like locking the door 10 times kind of deal. When I began my journey, I realized just how many habits I picked up as a child and how they got me to where I was. What was even more alarming, was the fact I was putting those same habits onto my kids.
What I learned was these were all HABITS. I had to retrain my brain. It was ok to leave food behind. You don't have to be so full that you can't breathe to not be hungry anymore. So how do you retrain your brain? Well I soaked up as much knowledge as I could. I learned about low carb, no carb, calories, sugars. The list was endless. There are so many books out there and it was overwhelming to say the least. I tried a few of them here and there and failed miserably every time. I found myself feeling deprived, hungry, and very cranky. So I started with little things first. My first habit was to change my route to work. If it wasn't easy to swing into McDonald's for a biscuit, then I wouldn't. I packed my lunches. I changed my grocery shopping technique. I wrote lists and menus. I worked at it.
The hardest habit for me to break was the needing to feel full. I still struggle with it once in a while. One tip I picked up from the dietician recently, was to eat slow and as soon as you don't feel hungry anymore, stop eating. She said hunger is a growling stomach and empty feeling. So as soon as that goes away, get up from the table. That's helped tremendously! Also, use small plates. Trick your mind into thinking you're getting a huge plate of food, but you're actually getting in the proper serving size. Eating at restaurants has trained our brains to think we need more food. In reality, you don't need more than a happy meal size portion. Make a rule that if you're still hungry when your plate is empty, you're only allowed seconds of veggies. But remember it's ok not to clean your plate if you don't feel hunger anymore.
Start to read labels and understand what you're putting into your body. If food is ready to eat after a quick microwave, it's likely so full of sodium that it could fill up a fish tank. Sodium retains water which makes you weigh more. Not to mention it's horrible for the heart. For food to sit on a shelf or in a freezer, it has to be preserved some how. Otherwise it'd rot. To do that, you need sodium and/or sugar. So you think you're doing right by eating a nasty ol lean cuisine, but it has a ton of sodium. Counteracts your efforts. I didn't understand this for a long time. I was eating the heck out of lean cuisine and really frustrated bc nothing was happening.
Journal. Journal your heart out. Write your foods down on one side and the opposite side, write about your day. For the first week, don't change your eating habits but write down every single thing you put in your mouth and the calorie content. This will give you an idea of what you're doing as well as start you in the habit of writing. When you write about your day, pay attention to the feelings you experienced and what you were eating in the ups and downs of the day. You may find that food and feelings link together and you will need to learn to break that habit as well. Writing helps you actually see what's happening. Not to mention, it's reallllly hard to write that you ate a 400 calorie Reese cup. That's admitting to yourself that you are in the wrong. No one likes to be wrong. By that I mean we often say "I'm doing everything I can to lose weight and it just won't happen". Then bam, there's the 400 calorie Reese cup every day and you're not actually doing all you can.
Stop being on a diet. When you say "no thanks I'm on a diet" to someone, their response is usually a sad "oh" like poor you. It's not that they're a jerk, but being on a diet sucks and people feel sorry for you. Which in turn triggers the feeling of depravation. Which can set you back. Far. So you need to convince you're brain you're living a healthy lifestyle. Be excited about it. "Oh, no thanks for the cookies" is plenty enough of a response. No need to explain anything else. And if you do feel the need to explain yourself, try "Oh no thank you. I'm in a healthy eating competition and I'm so close to winning this week!" Turns the whole thing around!
Be kind to yourself. You simply cannot be ugly to yourself all day and expect your body to perform well in return. Weigh ONE time at the beginning of your journey to get a baseline. Then get rid of your scale completely. Weighing multiple times a day or week is detrimental to your success. It was for me. If I weighed in and lost weight I'd relax and not be so focused. If I didn't lose weight or worse, gained, I'd binge out of control in a frenzy of self loathing and pity. Ditch the scale. You're not on a diet anyway and you're focusing on getting healthy. Focusing on weight changes the whole thing. Instead take pictures. Lots of them. Compare them because you will see more change there than anywhere. Also watch your clothes. They'll start getting loose before you know it.
Exercise. Do something simple just to get moving. Start off with promising yourself a 20 min walk each evening just to clear your head and have some downtime. You will find that it helps relieve depression, makes you feel accomplished, makes making healthy choices easier. You're working and you don't want to ruin it by eating crap food. Before you know it, you'll crave more than 20 mins. Exercise doesn't have to be horrible. You shouldn't dread it. I loathe the treadmill. It makes me sick to think about getting on it. But I do love dancing! So I found a YouTube channel that's like Zumba. I dance in my living room for free. I also like to walk the kids and dog. It tires them out and gives me more quiet time! So make time for yourself bc it benefits you tremendously.
Don't deprive yourself. Eating a Reese cup is not the end of the world. I don't know if I made it obvious or not, but I LOVE Reese cups. Especially the big cups. Damn they're good. So every once in a while I indulge. And I don't allow myself to feel guilty. Obviously I can't eat them every day (though I definitely could), but food isn't an enemy. That's giving it too much power. Consume the thing you love once a week. But make sure you're doing all the right stuff along with it. Definitely don't feel guilty about it!
Get in your water. I love Diet Coke. Not bc I think it'll make me thin, but I love the flavor. So if I'm going to have a Diet Coke, I don't allow myself to drink it until I've had all my water for the day. Many things happen when you drink your water. Your skin, hair, and nails all look better. You eventually learn the difference between thirst and hunger. You will find that you don't crave the bad stuff as often! It's just good for you. And you want to be good to yourself, right?
Surround yourself with people that are goal oriented and supportive. Ditch the negativity. Follow inspiring and uplifting people/groups on Facebook. When your inner circle changes, you'll be amazed at how successful you can become in all things. Your mind starts to think differently and you start behaving differently. You stop accepting anything that makes you feel less than.
Recently a good friend of mine asked me if weight loss was really this mental. It absolutely is. Every single tip I posted was about tricking your brain and creating new habits. Otherwise it'd be easy and everyone would be healthy! I'm still learning and growing from this journey. I'm 4 years into it and it's still hard some days. Mainly bc I'm insanely stubborn. (Don't tell my husband I actually admit to this). I've found that doing this the slow was has been best for me. Learning about my thoughts and feelings rather than hide from them, have helped me create long term habits. Think of this new journey as a long Sunday drive. No finish line, just striving for health and happiness.
3 John 1:2
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all my go well with you, even a your soul is getting along well.