By Helen M. Ryan, Certified Personal Trainer
“The one way to get thin is to re-establish a purpose in life.” ~Cyril Connolly
If someone told you there really is an easy way to lose weight, would you believe them? It could be a very true statement, indeed.
It doesn’t involved cutting out carbs. It doesn’t involve starving and detoxifying yourself. It doesn’t even involve cutting out dairy. What it does involve is activating the one muscle that can truly help you lose weight: Your brain.
The Easy Steps to Weight Loss
Step 1: Re-Set Your Priorities
You have to want it. If you truly wanted to lose weight you would have done it already. Stop and think about that for just a moment. When you’ve wanted something badly in the past, I bet you made every effort to make it happen. Nothing stood in your way and nothing could hold you back. The same applies to weight loss. I lost 80 pounds easily when I wanted to (and I gained 20 of those pounds back when I didn’t “want to” anymore).
If you really wanted to be thinner you would put down the fries. In reality, they aren’t even that tasty, are they? You eat them anyway because they give you something you are missing in life – something that’s more important to you at this moment than losing weight.
Reprogramming: Figure out what you are missing and change your priorities, because that is what’s keeping you fat.
Step 2: Stop Obsessing Over Food
Obsession of any kind is not healthy, and obsession over everything you put in your mouth will only lead to weight gain. None of us are perfect and it’s the drive to be perfect that leads to weight gain. Often, if you eat one “bad” food it’s easy to believe that you have “blown it” and then continue on an eating spree.
Reprogramming: Remember that there are no “bad” foods – just better and worse choices. A cookie is a cookie, so just have the one cookie and enjoy the moment, then make a healthier choice next time.
Step 3: Shift Your Goal from Losing Weight to Becoming Healthier
As part of step 2, forget trying to lose weight. Focus instead on doing something healthy for your body. When you are tired, hungry and faced with the choice of an apple or a bag of potato chips, it’s easier and more satisfying to choose the chips. Dismiss the craving for a moment. Banish the delicious crunchiness from your thoughts and think about this: What are the health benefit of chips? None, really. Then why are you eating them? Because they taste good? But what will they do to your blood sugar, your arteries, your brain function?
Reprogramming: The more often you are able to choose the apple over the chips, the healthier you will be and mentally stronger you will become. The better fuel you put in your performance engine (you), the smoother that engine will run. The more often you make healthier food choices, the easier it becomes.
Step 4: Eat More Fresh Foods
It’s fairly easy to add a salad, for example, to every dinner. Make it a large one using dark green and colorful vegetables like spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, and carrots. This simple habit will really spiff up your nutrition and give you a dose of natural vitamins and fiber. Beware of the calories in dressings and just splash on some balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, or a dash of olive oil. Eating a large salad before your major meal will help you feel fuller and cut down on your overall calories.
Reprogramming: Fresh and raw foods are good. Learn to choose salads instead of tortilla chips – most of the time.
Step 5: Eat Often and Eat Less
You’ve heard the “eat every 2-3 hours” mantra before, but eating frequent meals truly helps weight loss efforts. By eating often you do not become ravenously hungry. The feeling of starvation is what often leads you to making poorer choices like pastries instead of low fat string cheese. Make sure you eat something light before you go out, and plan (but don’t obsess) about how you are going to fuel your body throughout the day.
Reprogramming: Don’t let yourself go hungry. Eat often. It doesn’t take a lot of thought once you get used to it, and it will save your body and your sanity in the long run.
Make the healthiest choices you can at any given moment, but don’t skip the slice of cake at your birthday party. Live a little and live well.
Reprogramming: Quality of life is as important as quantity of life. Eat healthy most of the time and allow yourself some splurges.
In reality, weight loss is not easy because we don’t let it to be easy. I am the first one to admit when I slip, but I don’t beat myself up over it any longer. I realize I am human and attempt to make a healthier choice the next time I eat (and not wait for the next day or the next Monday).
Your main purpose is to be healthy – not skinny. Remember that fact every day, remove the pressure of “dieting”, and weight loss will come almost effortlessly as your bonus.
Helen M. Ryan is an ACE-certified trainer, Spinning® instructor, author and speaker. She specializes in helping people fit weight loss and exercise into their busy lives. Follow Helen on Twitter, read her story or download her free LA’s the Place Fit Life e-book.