It’s important that you understand some of the approaches I use to help you lose weight in a healthy, effective way. Much of this will make sense if you’ve read Why Can’t I Drop The Weight? But if you haven’t—or if you need a refresher, here’s how I want to help you manage your food and enjoy the weight loss process. Yes, I just said, “enjoy.”
Determine Your Hunger Quotient (HQ)
Question to Ask: How truly hungry am I?
You need to become aware of how hungry you are when you eat. This seems like something that should be a given, but think about it. Are you aware of your hunger level when you begin to eat or are you eating because, well, it’s lunch time or the food just looks so good? Learning to recognize your hunger at the beginning and end of your meals is what I call mastering your hunger quotient or HQ. I won’t lie! This isn’t easy. But once you conquer it, no matter what you are indulging in, you will never over consume calories to a large extent. Your HQ will help you determine how much to eat and how frequently you should eat.
On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 is stuffed and 10 is famished. Your goal is to stay between a 6 (slightly hungry) and a 4 (slightly satisfied) at all times. Your HQ will help you control portions and keep your metabolism revved. Listen to that body of yours! It has plenty to tell you.
Understand Nutrient Density
Question to Ask: How powerful are the foods I’m using to fuel?
The term nutrient density refers to how much meaningful value a food has. In other words (and I am bored by this analogy but it works), it’s all about how much bang for a caloric buck your food gives you. The most nutrient dense foods are the ones you want to eat the most of. These foods contain a good amount of protein, healthy fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. If you are ever confused by nutrient density think of this: 100 calories worth of apple slices and natural peanut butter versus 100 calories of jelly beans. The apple and peanut butter provide you with fiber, protein, healthy fat and many other nutrients. The jelly beans provide you with sugar. That’s it. Not only are the jelly beans missing all that nutrition goodness but they also won’t keep you full and satisfied. I share the most nutrient dense foods in the meals included in this book.
Embrace Each Meal as a Monday Morning
Question to Ask: Will I let one bad meal “ruin” my slim down?
Let’s just get one thing straight: you’re human! And sometimes that means that you’re going to indulge either because you’re in a situation that is out of your control or because you simply choose to. But, it will happen. You will slip up. I’m not being a Debbie Downer, I’m just being realistic, and I want you to be prepped on how to handle this. If you can adopt a new attitude in conjunction with mastering your HQ, then you won’t need much more advice. Yes, it’s that simple.
I want you to think of every meal as a Monday morning. Don’t we all begin the week with a healthy breakfast ready to conquer the world in front of us? How come then if you eat a big steak dinner on Thursday it’s often so hard to get back on track the next morning? Too many of us suffer from the throw-in-the-towel syndrome. If you can think of each meal as an individual opportunity to eat well you will never let a bite of your kid’s chocolate chip cookie or a decadent French toast brunch derail your entire day or week!
Make Conscious Indulgences
Question to Ask: What foods are worth the splurge?
Never allowing yourself occasional indulgences won’t help you stick to a healthy way of life for the long haul. Most likely, you’ll end up overindulging at some point. People who don’t ever indulge in their favorite splurge foods often build up a gradual sense of deprivation that many times culminates in a major binge. I am by no means suggesting going out and downing a banana split just because you have a slight and sudden craving. I am suggesting that you become aware of the foods that are truly worth the indulgence to you and then go for it in a conscious manner. When you the flip the switch in your mind from “I can’t eat the chocolate cake because I’m on a diet” to “I can eat the chocolate cake if I truly want it” you’ll be surprised at how often you actually don’t end up eating the cake!
The simple act of telling yourself you can have something puts you in control and makes you feel empowered. Hence, eating empowered. When you think you can’t eat something your brain ends up in a tug-of-war with itself. You know what I’m talking about. It sounds a little like this: “Don’t eat it. Don’t eat it. Don’t eat it. Fine! Just eat! And then overeat it and never eat it again!” It’s time to let go of the rope and embrace your power.
Dine Out Smart
Question to Ask: How do I stay on track, be social and enjoy my life?
Dining out can be intimidating for many people making diet changes, but avoiding restaurants doesn’t have to be the solution. One of the most fun ways to try new and healthy foods is by dining out. There are, however, some simple guidelines to follow to help you say “cheers” with a friend and still have your waistline thank you in the morning. Some do’s and don’ts:
● Do have a snack beforehand to “cut” your hunger. A few options are 2 slices of fresh turkey, ½ cup of Greek yogurt, or 15 raw almonds.
● Don’t skip meals beforehand that day to bank calories. You’ll end up with your HQ all out of whack and overeat!
● Do drink lots of water before the meal and during the meal.
● Don’t consume alcohol before you’ve ordered your meal. You’ll make a less wise menu choice!
● Do order a salad or all veggie soup to fill you with water volume and fiber before the main course.
● Don’t think about dining out as a “special” occasion (to indulge) if you dine out often.
● Do split an entree with your dining partner or order two apps.
● Do enjoy your company!
Food Journal Consistently
Question to Ask: Do I have to write down what I eat in order to succeed?
Many people won’t find tracking their food fun, but almost everyone finds it effective. Not only does it help you stay accountable, but it makes it much more clear what you may need to work on to have the body you want. And this isn’t just about food. Keep track of your sleep, your fluid intake, your exercise, and how you pamper yourself in a food journal. Consistency is key to maximizing weight loss. Food journaling helps you be consistent. Just do it. I promise, it works.
Question to Ask: How can I take control of my life?
Yup, I’m going to talk about the big bad “S” word now. We all know it. We all try to avoid it. Simply put, it’s just not our friend.
No matter what kind of stress we’re dealing with, from traffic to relationship drama to finances–even to a bad haircut–our bodies are programmed to handle it in the same way. Our breath gets shallow. Our muscles tense. Our digestive system shuts down, and our glands fire up, cranking out stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine. When the stress passes, our bodies are supposed to break down these hormones, making the process very efficient. The problem is that many of us are in a constant state of stress and this hormonal upheaval is wreaking havoc in our bodies and taking a toll on our health and waistline. This chemical cascade is known to cause heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke and is linked to cancer, diabetes, and depression. It even zaps our sex drive! Yup, stress causes you to gain weight and not want to have sex. That is exactly why I want you to conquer (or at least subdue) it.
Stress depletes our body’s energy and strength to function normally. To make matters worse we get hungrier when we’re stressed and usually crave the worst kinds of food. Simply put, stress makes it easy for people to gain weight and makes it difficult to take it off.
I want you to incorporate something that you can do every single day to reduce stress. Yes, every day. This doesn’t need to be an hour long massage. It can be something as short as an 8-minute meditation. If you don’t have a form of stress management in your life right now, start with the 8-count breath. Breathe in for a count of 8 and then breathe out for a count of 8. Do this for 8 minutes daily. This little tool has the incredible power to help you sleep better, eat better, improve your overall health and lose weight.
Another way to reduce stress is to control your environment. Studies show that people who live closer to airports have significantly higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) than people who live in quieter areas. You’re pretty powerless when it comes to controlling the outside environment, but you can take steps to improve your home environment. One easy way to eliminate inside stressors is to clean the clutter, which causes stress. Make your desk, bedroom, and car a clutter free zone. Cut down on noise by closing windows and turning off the TV when you aren’t watching it.
Question to Ask: How do I say ‘enough is enough’ to the foods I love?
First of all, you can overdo it with any food or diet. Yes, it’s much more difficult to overeat spinach than fries, but you’d be surprised at how many creamed spinach overdoses I’ve seen. When it comes to controlling portions without carrying around a measuring cup and scale, which I definitely do not suggest, there are a few things to consider. First and foremost, refer back to what you learned about your HQ. When you’re listening to your body and stopping when you’re slightly satisfied – even when you’re dining on decadent foods – you’ll never go hog wild due to not hearing what your body is telling you.
Next, go crazy with veggies. Veggies fill you up with water and fiber volume. Just remember though, if these veggies have added fat (think sautéed in oil or topped with a buttery sauce), aim to stick to about one cup or a big fist full. Lean protein should look something like your iPhone. If you’re slightly hungry go for another couple of bites. If you’re slightly satisfied before downing the entire phone’s worth, well then, stop! To help with portion control and maintain the right proportion of nutrients, aim to choose one healthy fat at each meal, such as a ¼ avocado, tablespoon of oil based salad dressing or tablespoon of nuts or seeds. Healthy fats will keep you satiated to avoid overeating. The meal examples later on in this book will give you clear ideas of what proper portions and proportions look like.
Respect the Process
Question to Ask: Can I just get this weight loss thing over with?
This is no one night stand with weight loss; it’s a long term committed relationship. It’s typical to lose weight fast at the start of a new eating plan and then hit a weight loss plateau. This can be extremely frustrating, I get it! I urge people to remember that weight loss is a process. You will lose. Then you may gain a pound. By the way, this “gain” may not be real but just water weight. Or, you may go on a vacation and gain real weight. Regardless, stay the course.
Your biggest job is to embrace the big picture changes you’re making. Take each meal individually and know that your body is doing its job to get you to your healthiest self. You most likely didn’t gain the weight that you want to lose in a few days (probably more like a lifetime of habits) so it’s not realistic to expect to lose it in a few days or weeks either. Be patient and be consistent and you will have incredible results!