Do healthy eating habits make you feel like you’re ‘missing out’?

Growing up, I didn’t have a concept of healthy eating habits beyond the obligatory vegetable on my dinner plate. Like any child, I wished broccoli would taste like chocolate brownies. Then as I got older, I wished brownies were just 45 calories and contained the cancer-fighting properties of the cruciferous broccoli. 

Even up to a few years ago, healthy eating had a whiff of deprivation for me. But that changed when I started to look at all the foods I “get” to eat. Have you ever had those little orange tomatoes fresh from the farmers market? If I’d had those as a kid I may never have “needed” so much chocolate.

Of course you can think about all the energy you’ll have, and how great that pair of jeans will fit if you can just stick with your healthy eating habits. Creating a clear picture of how fit and strong you’re becoming, imagining yourself looking and feeling fantastic, is great motivation. 

But there’s that part of our brain that likes instant satisfaction, and thinking about those results can feel too vague and certainly not “instant.” So thinking about all of the delicious healthy foods we get to eat provides that spark of immediate enjoyment.

And I learned not to expect a sweet, juicy strawberry to give me the same feel-good dopamine spike as mint chocolate chip ice cream. It’s a different level of satisfaction. Like the difference between marriage and that initial dating phase.

Staying on track with healthy eating habits requires balancing brain chatter and temptation with your desire for losing weight, and this is one strategy that really helps me and my clients. When you not only focus on the healthy foods that you really like, but make sure to have them readily available and incorporate them regularly into your daily fare, you will feel more satisfied. And the more satisfied you feel, the less you feel deprived.

In fact, I can’t remember the last time I felt like I was missing out.

Photo by Brenda Godinez on Unsplash

Is weight loss easy?

Is weight loss easy? It could be. So, what’s the problem? Why doesn’t it feel that way to most people?

It’s easy to get excited about new habits for a short while, but the feeling wanes and old habits come back.  That’s because there’s nothing solid to support the excitement so it’s not enough to keep us going.

Then, what is?

In my experience with hundreds of individuals, I notice several steps people can take to lose weight and keep it off for good. Here are my top five:

  1. Think long-term: The habits and behaviors that lead to weight loss are the same habits and behaviors that sustain weight loss. Buckling down for a short time doesn’t bring permanent results. You don’t hit your ideal weight and then get to go back to your old habits and keep the weight off. The key is to not want to go back to them.
  2. Claim responsibility: Our culture promotes blaming other people and things for our failings. Weight loss is no different. But let’s be honest. It’s not your partner’s fault for bringing home ice cream. Nor your friend’s fault for cancelling on your exercise date or your boss’ fault for asking you to work late. The sum total of all your decisions is your responsibility. Isn’t that freeing to admit?
  3. Use food as intended: We use food to celebrate, comfort and distract, and when we do that, weight loss remains a struggle. Addressing non-food needs without food is essential for reaching and maintaining your body’s ideal weight.
  4. Make it good: How consistent would you be with healthy habits if your exercise was boring, your food tasted “meh” and everything you tried to do felt hard? Right, not much. Find fun movement and exercise, tasty and healthy food, and discover an ease in implementing healthy habits. Remember, this is for the rest of your life. It’s gotta be good!
  5. Have a “no matter what” attitude: Sometimes despite all your best efforts, your weight doesn’t budge for a few days, or a couple of weeks. It’s taking longer than you hoped. What you need at that point is to believe so firmly in what you want and what you’re doing that you’re willing to stick with it. Trust that your body is changing at the cellular level regardless of what the scale says.

I know these steps don’t sound exciting. But my clients who have lost 25lb, 30lb, 40lb know the end result is plenty exciting!

Is weight loss easy? It could be, but it doesn’t feel that way. It's easy to get excited for a short time, but the feeling wanes and old habits come back.
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

So, what if weight loss was super easy? What if you simply believed that was true? Give it try, because isn’t believing that better than lamenting about how hard it is?

By the way, if you know something’s gotta give with your weight loss efforts – that willpower and counting carbs and calories isn’t getting you what you want (oh, and it sucks) – then it’s time for a better result. Schedule a strategy session and let’s make it happen together!

 

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