Since March 15th when the United States joined in the world shut down, it seems like a decade has passed because there have been so many changes, yet this year nearly over.
Time is speeding by, and there is no better time than now to start our 2021 New Year’s Resolutions to improve vitality, energy, strength, and well-being.
For those of us who are ready to lose those COVID pounds, it is time to start the momentum towards prioritizing health before, and during, the holiday season.
We must start by changing our behavior and mindset around food. Our culture bombards us with advertisements of people reaching for unhealthy food to feel better, reduce anxiety, celebrate happy times, and get through the rough times.
Does food really do that? No! This is a vicious cycle that we get into that turns food into a drug. We need (…fill in the blank…) to be happy, less stressed, more satisfied, make it through the day, and on and on. However, it is the craving of the substance that contributes to the void (something is missing and something outside of me will stop this uncomfortable feeling).
High fat, sugary food never really quells that void. After binge-eating on your craving, do you feel better? Are you more satisfied with life? Do you have less anxiety? It is possible to have a moment of contentment that is short lived, but then the guilt sets in and that disappointment in ourselves for losing control.
There is a better way! It just requires some effort to develop new habits. We can change our maladaptive behavior to food when we see the truth of the problem and treat sugar like a drug.
With the stress 2020 has brought, we must start to prioritize well-being. As we learn to cultivate, maintain, and sustain an internal state of contentment and ease (well-being), choosing healthy food and healthy activity becomes easier.
Basic principles in losing weight:
- The goal is to trick your body into taking in less calories than it is used to without feeling deprived.
- Plan for long-term, small changes rather than quick losses that lead to deprivation and diet sabotage.
- Vegetables (5-7 servings per day) and fruit (1-3 servings per day) are the most important change to make in order to start filling your body with the nutrients needed to feel satisfied.
- Drinking more water every day helps you to feel full on less calories. Try adding 1-2 glasses of extra water a day. Add variety with carbonated water or adding in lemon, lime, cucumber, or other low calorie fruits.
- If you are craving sweets, eat a piece of fruit.
- Try to eliminate sugar (which your body treats like a drug) from your diet. After 30 days, the physical withdrawal will be over.
- It is best to start the day with moderate exercise such as walking at a brisk pace for about 30 minutes. However, carving out 30 minutes any time of the day to exercise will be highly beneficial for weight loss. Exercise has been proven to control appetite, reduce stress, improve memory, and lead to healthier food choices. Walking is an important activity missing from our modern way of living. We need to find a way to incorporate this back into our daily routine.
- Choose whole grains over white bread and pastas. This change will give you sustained energy and satisfaction from your food.
- Healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil, nuts and nut butter in moderation also lead to more nutrients and satisfaction from food. It is important to mind the portion size of healthy fats.
- Legumes (beans, peas, lentils) are lower in calories and high in nutrition to help feel more satisfied on less food.
- Most women should create a 1200-1700 calorie diet plan depending on age, activity level, and hunger level. Never drop below 1200 calories without consulting your doctor.
- Most men should create a 1500-2000 calorie diet plan depending on age, activity level, and hunger level.
- Meditation for 10 minutes per day can also help with weight loss. Focus on taking deep breaths in and out while softly and calmly observing the breath and mind. During this time, if your mind gets off track, gently remind yourself to softly focus on the breath.
Most importantly, when making changes to your diet and daily routine, allow yourself grace. It takes time and repetition to create new habits. There will be mistakes made. Just keep modifying habits that work within your lifestyle. Many people find that keeping a journal helps them stay on track and to be more accountable.
Be sure to also give yourself credit for every positive choice you make as you create a healthier body and mind - for example: choosing fruit, vegetables, water, exercise, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats.
When you fall off track, let it go - then start the next day fresh, with renewed resolve to stick to your goals for 2021.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu