I’ve lost a lot of weight over the past year and I wanted to share some tips that have helped me along the way that might be able to help you with your goals as well.
Dropping too low on daily fat intake, over a long period of time, causes massive cravings/binges and can mess with your hormones. If I go any lower than 50g/day of fat, I tend to start craving food obsessively. If you turn into a food obsessed emotional monster, this is might be why.
When you really nail down a good diet, you might start finding new foods to slip into the mix to make things fresh/new. Keep this in mind: The more you think about food (Planning meals, recipes, etc), the more you will crave food. The best thing you can do for your appetite is minimize the time you spend thinking about food. You do this by preparing 2-3 menus of food you adhere to on any given day – like wearing a different suit on any given day of the week. “Oh, it’s Tuesday – that means it’s 1 lb chicken breast, 8 eggs, 500 calories of fruit/veg, and a serving of butter today”.
Looking forward to only one meal (maybe spread out a bit) requires less conscious thought than looking forward to 3 meals + snacks. Less thought = less appetite. There might also be weird hormonal reasons for IF curbing appetite, but it works regardless. Less meals.
Foods that fill you up are foods that have a lot of fiber and/or absorb a lot of water. Examples include fruit, vegetables, and oatmeal (with 3 cups of water per 1 cup of oats). Protein and fat also satiate obviously, but the satiety from protein/fat feels more hormonal than physical. Fiber/water absorption satiates on a very physical level.
When you start a new habit or routine, it will feel very hard at first. You’ll find that after 2 weeks it starts to seem “easy” to you to do the new routine, and after 4 weeks of repetition it will seem “default” or “automatic”. After a month of doing something it will become your natural state, and it will be hard for you to think of any way else to do things.
I like to think of this as a kind of psychological momentum. Every positive routine you have creates a feedback loop where doing it becomes easier the more you do it. The same can be said for bad habits though. This leads to two lessons:
- When you’ve established an upward spiral (You have good routines), don’t stray from them! It’s easy to say, “Oh I’ll just have one donut”, or “Oh I’ll just order pizza this one time”, but one diet break might be a “combo breaker” for your winning streak. It might push you out of your upward spiral. That single lapse has a greater psychological burden than it seems to from first glance. Preserve your positive momentum.
- Breaking a bad habit is hardest to do during the first two weeks. Don’t think about making a life change – just beat that habit for 2 weeks. If you can make it those 14 days, you can make it to the 30 day point EASILY. When you make it to 30 days, it will feel NATURAL and DEFAULT to never do that bad thing again. 2 weeks is the goal. It is not insurmountable.
Think About Your Goal
As previously stated, the more you think about something the more you will gravitate toward it. If you’re having trouble sticking to your goals, think about how much you want them every time you find yourself straying. If you think about where you DON’T want to be two minutes a day for every minute you spend thinking about where you DO want to be, you can’t expect yourself to succeed. Force yourself to stack the odds in your favor by thinking about your goals more than you think about your temptations.
If I find myself day dreaming about my weakness foods, I consciously force myself to spend more time immediately after that thinking about how awesome it would be to look amazing, and to be ripped. IT WORKS.
You’re going to slip up. When you do, your focus will be to abolish the bad habit you’ve picked up and re-establish your positive momentum. During this time, the name of the game is DAMAGE CONTROL. Putting on 5 lbs during a bad time is a huge psychological burden compared to just “stalling” in your weight loss. Minimize the damage you do during your “slip ups” by eating less for a few days after you splurge. Your body takes DAYS to process food. When you overeat you incur debt. You have a few days to pay it off with a correction to your diet. You have about a day to exercise as much of it off as you can while it’s still being processed before it turns to fat. DO NOT use this as an excuse to binge-starve-binge. That is unhealthy for obvious reasons and will lead to an eating disorder. This method is occasionally used to temporarily correct a lapse in control or judgement – it is not a pattern you want to adopt.
Your body talks to you. It tells you what nutrients you need by giving you cravings for certain foods. Your body doesn’t know what a pepperoni pizza is, or what a sweet potato is. All it knows is, “That fatty thing with a lot of sodium I ate yesterday (pizza)”, or “That filling starchy thing with vitamin A (Sweet potato)”. If your putting pizza and hamburgers into your body, your conscious mind will interpret those cravings as “Eat more Pizza!”; and If you are constantly craving pizza, it will be very hard to lose weight, and very easy to over eat.
For this reason it is important to eat “healthy” foods. After a few weeks of eating fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods, you will start CRAVING THEM. it’s easy to stick to your diet when you’re craving veggies and chicken breast.
This is also why you want varied food in your diet. Your body needs to be able to put a name to the nutrients it needs. If you need more vitamin C, and you’ve eaten peaches recently (they have vitamin C), then you crave peaches. If you aren’t eating any peaches though, you just get “hungry” without knowing why, and you stay that way after you should be full. Eat a somewhat varied diet so you know what to eat to satisfy yourself.