Change Two Habits and Get Slimmer without Dieting

by : Sheri O. Zampelli, M.S., CCH

There are two mental and emotional habits that will keep you struggling for years to come. These habits are: overreacting, and believing without thinking. I know you probably expected the two habits to be about food or exercise but the truth is, in order to acquire healthy food and exercise habits you must first establish mental habits that insure long-term success.

Many people are stuck in a vicious cycle of all-or-nothing thinking when it comes to food and exercise. Healthy habits are not an enjoyable, integrated aspect of life. Instead, being healthy is something you tell yourself you have to do. Because you haven't learned to enjoy healthy behaviors, you avoid them until there's nothing else you can do but change. By then you are so mortified by your weight gain that you decide to do something drastic to get rid of it quickly. Many times, the very method you are using to solve your weight problem is actually creating the problem.

For example, suppose you gained 3 lbs. over the weekend. Perhaps you fear that you must do something immediately. You are terrified that if you don't do something, the weight will keep creeping up and up. So you decide to go on a fast until the three pounds are gone.

First of all, fasting is a very drastic response to a 3 pound gain and secondly the mere act of fasting causes your metabolism to slow down thereby guaranteeing that you will struggle harder in the future! In this instance, overreacting is actually causing your weight problem.

Here's another example: let's say you've gained 35 lbs. and none of your clothes fit. So you decide to start a serious diet...on Monday. In the meantime, you engage in a feast of 'no-no's' where you consume 2-5x's more fat and calories than your body can process. When you finally start your diet, you are already at a deficit. Mentally you feel like a failure. Physically, you have more weight to lose now than you did last week. Many people go off their diet within the first few weeks of starting. If this is the case, you are actually guaranteeing future weight loss struggles. You'd probably be better off if you'd decided to do nothing at all.

Another habit that will make you fat and sabotage your life is: believing without thinking. Many times in our desperation or fear we believe and act on what we hear from others (especially authority) without question.

Here's an example: buying the good ol' 'Finish everything on your plate, there are children starving in Africa" line. People from age 8 to 80 have heard this line so many times that they blindly believe, accept and act on it without question. It's true, children are starving in Africa. However, finishing everything on your plate only makes you the processing plant for excess food that is guaranteed to make you fat.

Instead of putting leftovers in the trash or in the refrigerator, you put them in your body and your body has no choice but to turn excess food into fat. Meanwhile, the children in Africa are completely unaffected. They are still starving. Continuing to habitually finish everything on your plate is an example of how you literally create your weight problem.

So if you're ready to take the leap and stop the struggle now, here's a few things you can do:

  • Chew each bite at least 10 times. Put your food or utensil down between bites.

  • Remember, your stomach is the size of your fist.

  • Stop when you feel satisfied or have eaten a fist-size portion.

  • Always leave something on your plate to de-program yourself from automatic eating.

  • When satisfied, stop eating. If you're at a restaurant, push your plate to the edge of the table so the waiter will take it. If you're at home, get up immediately and throw the food in the trash or put it in storage for another meal.

  • Acknowledge your strength and self-control.

  • Tell yourself, "I can do this."

In closing, you have the power to challenge your thoughts and take note of any beliefs that don't work for you. The great thing about doing this type of self-inventory is that when you realize how you are creating your results, you can take different actions and get different results. Once you access and utilize your ability to make positive changes you will feel more powerful, less insecure and better able to accomplish your goals and dreams.