What do your pieces of pie look like? Does it come with a large slice of resiliency?
I don’t mean that steaming, flaky, buttery-crusted, apple pie. I mean another type of pie – your personal pie chart that will get you and keep you to your weight loss goal. You can still enjoy a slice of that apple pie, but you should know first what makes up your pie chart.
- Eating three healthy meals with adequate protein, quality carbs and some healthy fat to keep you full.
- Curbing unhealthy snacking.
- Exercising 5-7 days a week.
- Developing resiliency.
If you eat 3 balanced meals but snack a lot on chips at night, the scale won’t budge.
If you are a workout warrior but follow it by a Big Mac, fries and a soda, that scale won’t budge.
If you exercise regularly, eat 3 balanced meals and control your unhealthy snacking but are not resilient, eventually you will get bored, your negative self-talk will take over and gradually you will be lured back to old bad habits.
Resiliency is essential to permanent weight loss.
Eating three healthy meals
The simplest way to put together a healthy plate is to use the ChooseMyPlate.Gov developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Their simple graphics and website give recommendations on how to create a healthy plate consisting of slightly more than a quarter of your plate consisting of non-starchy veggies, another slightly more than a quarter consisting of grains, and the other two slightly smaller quarters containing protein and fruits. Each meal should be accompanied by a serving of dairy.
The key to staying full between meals is the combination of protein, fiber from good carbs, and a small amount of healthy fat. Following the Choosemyplate method will achieve that magic formula.
Here are some examples of each category to complete your plate. Start with a 9” plate and choose one from each column – it’s like putting together a puzzle but you get to choose the picture.
Examples of balanced, healthy meals
- 1 cup steel cut oatmeal topped with 1 tbsp chopped nuts and ½ cup Greek yogurt.
- Egg/egg white omelet stuffed with sautéed spinach and 2 pieces of Ezekiel bread.
- Salad topped with 3 oz chopped chicken, ½ cup kidney beans, and ¼ cup sesame seeds with 1 tbsp balsamic dressing.
- Turkey sandwich in wrap with spinach, tomatoes and ¼ avocado.
- 1 cup chili with side salad and 3” square of corn bread.
- 4 oz of salmon with ¾ cup brown rice, 2 cups roasted cauliflower, and ¾ cup apple crisp for dessert with a side of 1 oz of cheddar cheese.
If your plate seems skimpy, then add more veggies. People don’t gain weight from eating too many veggies and part of losing weight permanently is developing a cozy relationship with veggies 😊
Curbing unhealthy snacking
There’s not a soul on earth who doesn’t love those tasty refined, crunchy, salty snacks or soft, moist, sweet cakes and doughnuts. But losing weight is about a strong offense and a smart defense.
On the offensive side get to the root of binging on bad carbs. Determine the variables and triggers that lead to the splurge.
- Is it not eating 3 square meals?
- Is it stress or boredom?
- What are your triggers? TV, idle hands, being with certain people?
- Is it a reward for getting through another tough day?
- Is it loneliness?
- Is it not having a healthier substitute?
- Is because you’ve just “always eaten this way”?
On the defensive side you must make your environment safe. If your favorite munchie is in the house, no matter where you hide it, it will find its way into your mouth. If you don’t live alone, and your housemate (s) is not on board with keeping junk food out of the house, then find foods that will satisfy them, but won’t tempt you – find alternative cookies or chips (I love Utz potato chips, but hate Fritos), different flavored ice cream, or a can of walnuts instead of peanuts.
Find a good substitute that will work – maybe fruit, a cup of tea or a 100% fruit bar.
Go to bed earlier. It’s natural to be hungry 4 hours after eating dinner. If you’re eating dinner at 6:30, go to bed by 10.
Build in one day a week where you can ease up and eat some of your old favorites.
Starting around age 40 you lose 8% of your muscle mass each decade. Muscle mass is what determines your metabolism. An exercise regimen that incorporates both aerobics and strengthening will not only burn calories during the workout, but will raise your resting metabolic rate – helping you to burn more calories at rest. These are the American Heart Association recommendations:
There’s also evidence that exercise decreases inflammatory proteins that lead to heart disease and diabetes.
If you’re not someone who likes to go to the gym, walking the hills in your area, taking yoga classes and even participating in adult education fitness programs can get your muscles more fit. Weather should never be an excuse; there are walking, aerobic and even dancing DVD’s to get you moving.
Exercise must become as necessary as the air you breathe. Honor the importance of it and you will find the time to make it happen.
Losing weight and keeping it off requires being open-minded and optimistic. It calls for a curious, inquiring mind with a willingness to let go of old unhealthy habits and develop new ones. It’s that old saying:
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.”
Start with the habits to which you have the weakest attachment and then either reduce the frequency, find a substitute or decrease the amount.
- If foregoing a crunchy snack in the evening sounds like punishment, then try light popcorn and eat one kernel at a time.
- If it sounds too onerous making a lunch on workdays, go to the salad bar at the grocery store.
- If giving up the candy bar from the vending machine at work means missing out on a pick-me-up and mental break, then go chat with someone while you munch an apple.
Once you’ve addressed the low hanging fruit, move on to the areas where you have more resistance. Explore the reason you don’t want to change a certain habit and see if there is an area you should address first before making the bigger change.
Perhaps you hate to cook for just yourself but notice you make better food choices when you prepare your meals at home. One suggestion might be to cook a larger amount, but less often, and freeze the extra portions to eat on another day.
If you frame the new habit to replace the bad habit the right way, you will end up with a more positive picture.
Is your pie chart out of balance?
Too much snacking on junk food, despite regular exercise and eating 3 healthy meals
If your pie chart looks like the one to the left with a low-level of resiliency and a lot of unhealthy snacking, despite eating 3 balanced meals and exercising regularly, your weight loss may stall if your daily snacking consists of a bag of chips at night or a fast food excursion mid-afternoon. You’d have to sweat up a storm for hours to burn off those extra thousand calories. It raises the question of whether there is a larger emotional need not being met.
Not enough exercise or eating 3 balanced meals, but resilient and choose healthy snacks
Start small by gradually adding structure to one meal at a time. Start a walking routine by breaking it up into segments and find a partner or music to help you keep a good pace.
It takes a few weeks for a new habit to feel more natural. These changes will gradually feel less strained and you will start noticing your clothing is looser and the pounds are gradually coming off.
There are 3500 calories in a pound. Losing a half pound to a pound a week can take as little as cutting out one customary treat a day and walking a mile most days of the week.
Resiliency is as important as a balanced plate, exercise and curbing unhealthy snacking
The hardest part about losing weight is keeping it off. It requires flexibility in thinking and self-forgiveness. There will be days where you will make unwise food choices and that’s ok. Get back on track the next day and don’t berate yourself.
Reconnect with why you wanted to lose weight and remind yourself how much you enjoy how you feel in clothes, your ease of movement and the pride of accomplishing what you did in losing weight in the first place.
Stay positive, be resilient and make sure your good habits are deeply embedded to your daily routine. Keeping to a schedule and finding ways to reward yourself without food is helpful.
Keeping lost weight off requires equal portions
Losing weight permanently requires a healthy meal structure, regular exercise and limiting unhealthy snacking. But the trait that keeps people on task for the long-term is resiliency. Flexible thinking, constructive self-talk and the ability to get back on track after derailment are the essence of resiliency.
Life happens, but how quickly you bounce back is the key to permanent weight loss.
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