Weight loss as a lifestyle
Many people will say that weight management and sustained weight loss is not a diet, it's a lifestyle, meaning it's something you do day in and day out. Weight management is more about living a healthy lifestyle than just changing how you eat. It's about consistency, and constantly making healthy choices that are balanced with less healthy "rewards", instead of restrictive diets that are impossible to maintain, followed by cheat days that justify the sacrifices. It's about anticipating the hard times and developing strategies in advance to deal with them. It's about living a harmonious life with food, instead of avoiding it. Every single bite of food you take is an opportunity to put something in your body that nourishes it, both physically and mentally. Surrounding yourself with cues that reinforce your values will make it easier to transition to a healthier lifestyle.
If you're on social media, like and subscribe to pages that promote health, that support your values or that share recipes or ideas that are on the same wave length than you are. By reading on recipes you'd like to attempt, or constantly seeing people that live the life you want to live, you'll slowly convince yourself that this lifestyle is realistic and attainable. If you're a movie buff, watch documentaries about the transition you're trying to make, and you'll surely pick up on a few tips and tricks. Talking openly about it will stimulate conversations with people that can bring their experience to the table.
Crisis planning is very important. By anticipating challenging situations, and those that may set you on the wrong track, you can plan ahead. For us, before going to a new town or restaurant, we check the menu online. Before trips, we email the chef to see if there are ways to veganize meals if we don't find any on the menu. We are usually accommodated, and by sticking to more plant-based options on vacation, we are able to better manage the calories we consume. We have learned that a little effort can go a long way in preventing a tough situation where we're left with only unhealthy options.
We are more mindful when we go grocery shopping. We make sure to go after meals when we are stuffed with whole foods, instead of when we're hungry and craving junk. We stick with our grocery list, instead of wandering around aimlessly in hopes of finding things we don't need. We often eat an apple before going to the restaurant. This way we end up preloading with healthy foods that will keep us satisfied and help avoid unhealthy cravings.
And when times get real hard, we remind ourselves of the life we were living before our health journey. Back then, we were tired, sick and fighting an unhealthy battle with food. If that doesn't work, we talk about how we are lucky and motivated to show our children that being healthy is cool, and that health will make them better dancers, or tumblers, or whatever their favorite sport is that particular week!
Living a healthier lifestyle is about educating yourself, about learning from past and current mistakes, and about making small tweaks that are easier to sustain, than making major modifications in the way you live. Crash diets or going cold turkey can only last so long, when your body's biology is telling you to eat all the time. This lifestyle encourages you to be open to making changes that seem unrelated to dieting. Drinking more water, being mindful of the eating process, paying attention to the taste and textures of what you're eating. Social plans don't always have to revolve around unhealthy food and you can reinvent yourself in different ways. Choosing whole foods, avoiding highly processed foods and sugary drinks are among the most important steps someone could start with. Plan in advance for the hard times and make sure you surround yourself with support instead of criticism. Exercise can be many things and doesn't always have to be in the gym. Go sight-seeing, park farther from where you're walking to, play a sport, take a walk with a friend! Living a healthy lifestyle means making small incremental changes in all areas of your life, and not only drastic ones in the way you eat! You can do this!