Fitness Tips – 8 Steps to Changing Your Eating Behavior
Do you alternate between following a meal plan and losing weight (being “good”) and falling off the plan and regaining weight (being “bad”)? It’s a frustrating but common cycle. Behavior modification strategies–rather than diets–can help you break this self-defeating cycle and make lasting lifestyle changes.
Enlisting the aid of qualified professionals (e.g., a registered dietitian, a physician, a personal trainer and/or a psychologist) will make it easier to interrupt old behavior patterns. You can also begin to practice the following lifestyle change:
1. Stop Dieting. How can you lose weight if you don’t diet?
Creating a deficit of about 500 calories a day for one week should result in a 1-pound weight loss. Most people can incur a large part of this 500-calorie-a-day deficit by exercising and making moderate changes in food intake. In choosing this approach you avoid the negative consequences of rigid dieting.
2. Become Physically, Not Externally, Connected to Eating.
Internal hunger cues–such as a rumbling stomach, a slight headache, fatigue, irritability and decreased concentration–are meant to remind you to meet your energy requirements and maintain your natural set point weight. Reconnecting with your physical signals of hunger and satiety can help you acquire the internal power to regulate your food intake.
3. Distinguish Between Emotional and Physical Hunger.
Physical hunger is a physiological process that occurs every three to four hours. When you don’t listen to hunger cues, your hunger subsides and your body begins to slow down to conserve energy. Emotional hunger involves eating when you’re sad, happy, anxious or bored. Understanding when you are trying to satisfy emotional needs with food can help you find more appropriate ways to meet those needs.
4. Do Not Skip Meals.
Eating frequently throughout the day (3 small meals and 2-3 snacks) will stimulate your metabolism. Skipping meals (including breakfast) can decrease your metabolism.
5. Dispel Myths; Do Not Create Them.
A safe weight loss is 1 or 2 pounds a week, not 20. Be wary of supplements and meal replacement products with spokespersons may or may not have any credentials because the industry is not regulated and companies make all sorts of claims.
6. Be Supportive, Not Critical.
People lose weight at different rates. Weight may drop off quickly at first and then plateau, or vice versa. The important thing is that long-term healthy behavior gets results. Reassure yourself that you are working hard and remember that hard work pays off.
7. Watch Your Language.
Do you find yourself thinking “I will never lose weight” or “I feel fat”? Watch for thoughts that are negative or irrational, rather than supportive of your goals. See if you can accurately describe your mood. Are you angry, sad, afraid? Understand that “fat” is not a feeling.
7. Change the Reward System.
You are probably used to rewarding yourself and being rewarded by others for losing pounds, rather than for altering your behavior. Create a system of rewards for the positive changes you make, rather than the numbers you see on the scale.
Fitness Tip – 9 Tricks for Sticking to It
Now you’re exercising again, and it feels great. Of course, it felt great last year, too, when you went to the gym every morning for almost the entire winter! If it feels so great, why do you keep quitting? You may be able to make your physical activity more consistent by using some of these tricks.
1. Think Small.
This advice can be hardest for people who expect the most from themselves. Why bother walking around the block when you should be running your usual four miles? Because when you don’t have time to do all four miles, a brisk hike can keep you from feeling that you’ve failed.
2. Set an Agenda.
It helps to challenge yourself with a learning or performance agenda, says Gavin. Set a goal, such as increasing the speed, frequency or duration of your activity. Maybe it’s time to train for a marathon–or take a walk up the hill in the backyard without getting winded. (It’s perfectly fine to think small for your performance agenda, too). Your trainer can help you determine appropriate goals.
3. Get off the Beaten Path.
Have you ever tried Bowling? Swing dancing? Body surfing? Chi kung? How about reversing your power walk route? Exercising at a different time of day? Physical activity isn’t boring, but how you participate in it can be.
4. Use Your Brain.
The active mind needs to be engaged. If you’re new to exercise, dissociate tactics, such as listening to music, watching TV or playing computer games may help you stick with it–but stay aware of sensations that could signal injury or overdoing it. As you become more experienced, associative strategies, such as focusing on your breath or concentrating on the movement of your body, can help you enjoy exercise more.
5. Get an Accountability Partner.
Find a friend, mentor or coach to keep you honest. You can either exercise with your partner, or simply check in with him or her to report your progress.
6. Plan to Stay Active.
Don’t decide in the moment if you can make the choice beforehand. Plan to park farther from the office and put your walking shoes in the car the night before. Plan to take that new yoga class next week, and call the babysitter now.
7. Face Your Fitness Foes.
Does vacation throw your exercising schedule out of whack? Do projects at work overtake your activity time? Do injuries sideline you? Boredom? Fear of success? Fitness foes can be beaten once they’ve been identified. You can change your vacation style, set work limits, get guidance for injury-free activity, find new challenges, or face your fears with counseling and support.
8. Go Tribal.
Even if you are introverted, the presence of others in your exercise environment can be motivating. We pick up on other people’s energy, Gavin points out. We get into the tribal rhythms of being fully alive. Choose places and times to exercise where there will be other people who are actively involved in exercise.
9. Use a Script.
We tell ourselves things like, Skipping this one little walk won’t matter all that much. Next time, be prepared with an answer for this excuse. Use images of past successful experiences to remind yourself of how good exercise makes you feel. Or repeat a simple phrase to yourself, such as, Every little bit makes a big difference. If you use planning, flexibility and imagination, you won’t ever need to feel like a dropout again.