Four Ways to Avoid Overeating at Meals

We all do it.  Sometimes the amazing aroma and delicious flavour gets the best of us.  Especially if we're a bit on the hungry (or hangry) side.

I'm talking about overeating at meals.  

This can have a big impact on our weight, energy levels, and overall health and well being.  Of course our body needs food to fuel it and we often (usually) eat amazingly healthy foods.

But we may still overeat.  In this post I'm going to give you four solid tips for preventing that from happening.  Seriously!  If you can make these four things a regular habit and part of your daily routine you've got one up on the overeating cravings.

(Psst, turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)

 

Tip #1: Start with some water 

When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it's too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food.

But did you know that it's possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger?  Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.

Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten.  And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (...just sayin').

Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.

Win-win!

 

Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”

You've heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits?

This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion.

Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.

Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savouring every mouthful.  Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture.  Breathe.

This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less.  

When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full.

So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.

Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), use a smaller plate, and put your fork down between bites.

 

Tip #3: Start with the salad

You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish.

But don't start there.

(Don't worry, you can have some... just after you've eaten your salad).

Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they're full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret weapons that make you feel full: fibre and water.

And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you're about to indulge in a large meal.

 

Tip #4: Ditch the idea that you need to polish the plate. 

Many of us grow up with the belief that we must eat everything on our plate and not waste anything. 

Our parents would say things like "no dessert until you eat ALL of your dinner" or "don't waste food because there are starving kids out there who would love to eat that".

Letting go of this belief was one of the single most effective things that helped me lose a lot of weight.  All of the food that we eat after we are full, just because it's on the plate, adds up to a lot of extra calories over time. 

Tune in to your body and practice stopping when you are full.  Avoid wastage by putting the food in a container in the fridge for later.

 

Summary:

Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, start with your salad and let go of the belief that have to clean the plate.  These tips will help you avoid overeating at meals, and make a big difference to your waistline if you can make them a daily habit.

The Difference Between Emotional Eating and Binge Eating

When does indulging in your favourite snack cross the line from comfort to concern?

The difference between emotional eating and binge eating lies mainly in how much food you consume. But, other key features may help you distinguish between the two and put an end to unhealthy snacking.

 

Emotional Eating

Stress manifests in different ways, but most of us can relate to the concept of emotional eating. Ever catch yourself wallowing in a full container of Ben n Jerry's after a particularly stressful day? Emotional eating or comfort eating is when you consume food not out of hunger, but out of anxiety, frustration, or sadness. For some, emotional eating is triggered by a particular traumatic event but for others, it can just be a habitual reaction to financial or emotional turbulence.

But don’t worry - emotional eating is somewhat normal, and in some cases, better for your mental health depending on how you handle it.

In fact, emotional eating can be great for relieving stress with the right foods, provided it doesn’t get too out of hand. Eating puts our body into a state of relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nerves. Indulging in and savouring the flavours of food feels good and can lift our moods instantly.

But when emotional eating no longer relieves but rather contributes to stress, it can get out of hand.

At a point, emotional eating gives way to self-loathing as we feel ashamed of our indulgence. We want to hide our “binging” episodes, but because of a lack of other emotional coping mechanisms, they spiral out of our control.

To prevent emotional eating from advancing to the next stage, we need to tackle the problem at its roots: stress, frustration, and other emotional ruts. 

Take up meditation or yoga to simultaneously tackle stress and improve your self-discipline. Engage in a stress-free activity like painting or gardening and take plenty of time to distance yourself from whatever may be causing your stress - whether that is work, a stressful home environment, or relationship woes.

To make sure your stress eating never borders on binge eating, keep a food journal. Records of your day-to-day eating choices will help prevent you from putting on unwanted pounds and improve your overall mindfulness when it comes to consumption.

And finally, to manage your emotional eating in a far more healthier way, look for healthy alternatives to your favourite go-to snacks such as oven baked sweet potato fries instead of the regular deep fried kind or carrot sticks and hommus instead of crisps.

 

Binge Eating

Binge eating, unlike comfort eating, is considered by nutritionists as a potentially severe eating disorder. Characterized by constant overconsumption, BED (Binge Eating Disorder) involves consuming huge quantities of food in a relatively short span of time. It’s not just your average bloated belly after a heavy dinner, but a constant overeating that leaves the body uncomfortable and unhealthy.

The transition from emotional eating to binge eating occurs when you lose your sense of control: you move from being conscious of your reason for eating and how much you eat, to eating without any control over intake. It often leads to guilty eating, which is worse for your mental health and stress levels as well. This leads to a vicious cycle: your stress turns into binge eating, and your binge eating fuels your stress.

What’s worse is that the guilt of binge eating (which usually occurs when alone) traps us in a “shame cage”- we don’t want to reach out to friends or family for fear of revealing ourselves.

But BED is too serious of a condition to keep under wraps. Instead, it is vital to talk to someone if you are experiencing any one of its symptoms. Your attitude towards your body image, your history with other mental health complications, and eating habits in general could be contributing to BED.

Total recovery from binge eating is absolutely possible. It doesn’t need to take over your life. To start your healing process I encourage you to keep a food journal to track your habits to work out the emotional triggers that affect your binge eating and the thoughts and feelings you have while on a binge episode. This gives you amazing insights into the WHY of your situation so that you can easily manage the HOW of getting out of it. 

Remember to try and remain body positive.  I am always here to talk if you need to.  I have been through both of these challenges myself and come out the other side, and I know how helpful it can be to have someone to reach out to, and just be there to listen and support.  I am only ever an email away if you want to chat, and it doesn't cost you anything - it's my way of giving back and it will make both of us feel good, I promise!

 

Meal Prepping For Busy People

You want to eat healthier, but you’re super busy. 

You eat out several times a week because that’s what you have to do. That’s what works for you and your family (when it comes to time and convenience). 

But you probably realize it’s not working great when it comes to your health and fitness goals.

You want better health. You want to eat better. You don’t want the extra calories, fast food and junk food as much anymore. And you DO want to save time and money.

I get it!

So, as a nutrition and weight loss coach, I am here to help you.

I have a simple strategy that I’m more than happy to share with you. It will help you to plan and prepare healthy meals for the week.

Now, you don’t need to completely abandon your regular meals out. You can use my strategy to help you eat out just one or two fewer times per week. It’s up to you.

As with any lifestyle change, start gradually so you can build consistency. The key here is to make it easy, doable and rewarding enough to do again and again.

Let me walk you through my simple meal prep system, and how this can work for you.

 

Plan Meals For the Week

I prefer to do this on the weekend. I’ll flip through my recipes and choose a bunch to make that week. I’ll even pick which days to have which meals if I’m feeling overly ambitious, but that’s not necessary if you’re new to this. I’ll bookmark the pages and write my chosen recipes down in a notebook or even a sheet of paper to put on my fridge. I like to have at least one crock pot meal each week because they’re so easy, and dinner is ready and waiting when you get home. 

Then I create my shopping list. I take a quick look in my fridge, freezer and pantry, and list the recipe ingredients that I need to buy.

Pro Tip: If you’re not sure you have enough of an ingredient already, consider buying a “backup” one just in case. I’ve had times where the tomato sauce I planned to use was a bit short of what I actually needed. Having to run out in the middle of meal prep can be very frustrating.

Another thing to consider is doubling the recipe(s), so you can prep and cook once, but have twice the meal at the end. The extras can be taken for lunch, or frozen to pull out the night before a busy day, so you just need to heat it up when you’re ready. 

Once you have your shopping list ready, head down to the shop and pick up your essentials. If you don’t have enough food storage containers for your meals, now’s the time to pick up some of those too.

Pro Tip: If you’re not a fan of washing and chopping produce, then consider buying them already pre-washed and pre-chopped, or even frozen. You can make your meal prep even easier if you don’t mind spending a couple of extra dollars.

 

Prepare the Meals

Since you’ve already chosen your recipes and have your groceries, let’s get started on prepping some of the ingredients.

I like to book off 2-3 hours one afternoon for this. Get your recipes ready, clear off your counter, and crank some tunes (a few sneaky dance moves while food prepping will burn some extra calories, right?).

At this point, depending on time, I’ll either prep the ingredients, or pre-cook the entire recipe. Sometimes just washing and chopping produce and putting it in containers is a huge time-saver for weeknights. Or, you can go through and make a whole meal, and divide it up into portions and refrigerate or freeze. It’s really up to you, because the more you do now, the less you’ll have to do when you’re hungry.

I also like to cut up some carrot, celery and capsicum sticks and portion them out, so that I've got handy snacks ready to have with peanut butter, dip or hommus.

 

Awesome Meal Prep Tip

There is one meal that is easiest to plan and prepare in advance. It’s one that’s also often the most difficult to eat at home if you’re busy. 

That’s breakfast. 

Planning some overnight oatmeal is a great start to any day. Simply place ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup your choice of milk, 1 tbsp chia or flax seeds into a container (or make 5 for the whole week). Then place the lid on, shake them up and put them in your fridge. In the morning you can quickly heat them up or even eat them cold (the oats will have absorbed the milk). Top with berries, chopped fruit, nuts or seeds and enjoy.

Click here for my Fiery Chocolate Overnight Oats recipe.

 

With a little planning, you’ll be able to eat healthier while you save money and calories.

 

This may take some getting used to, so if I can be of help, please reach out and let me know.

 

 

How Much Exercise Do You Really Need to Get in Shape?

How much exercise do you *actually* need to get in shape?

Twenty minutes three times per week? Half-hour per day?

And how much is too much?

Do you need to sweat it out for an hour or more every day?

Let’s go over the (sometimes) mysterious amount of exercise that is ideal. Ideal for your health and wellness. Ideal for getting into shape.

Starting with the minimum.

 

What's the minimum amount of exercise?

Of course, you’re going to have to start from where you are right now. If you’re not already exercising regularly, there is no need to go overboard. In fact, trying too much too soon may derail your motivation, and become a reason you just throw in the towel.

So, let’s say you’re not that active (yet). What if I were to recommend ten to twenty minutes every other day at a level you think you can do? How does that sound as a starting point?

Pretty do-able, I’d say!

If you’re not training for a competition, you can absolutely get into great shape starting with this plan.

It’s going to take longer, I’m not gonna lie. But that time is going to pass anyway, so when the next season comes around wouldn’t you want to be proud of your improved strength and fitness?

Yes, I thought so!

 

There is such thing as too much

We've all seen the popular reality TV show where contestants are trained to within an inch of their lives and pushed with a 'no pain no gain' approach.  This type of training is good for TV ratings, but does not produce sustainable long term results in most people.

Pushing your body too hard not only results in eventually wanting to throw your sneakers in the bin and hit the couch with a tub of Ben n Jerry's, it can also be detrimental to your health in many ways, such as increasing your stress hormones which wreak havoc on your organs and also mental health.  So if you're stopping mid-run to throw up, or in agony for a week after a workout, you're overdoing it!

For the average person trying to lose weight and get healthy, we don't need to approach exercise in the same way as an elite athlete.  Instead of thinking all-or-nothing, just aim to move your body every day in some way, shape or form.  And try to make it fun!

 

 

How to design your exercise plan

Now, there isn’t one answer for everyone. The main rule is to begin with where you are. Take note of your fitness level and your goals and increase and improve slowly. There really is no quick fix (at least no quick fix that will give you lasting long-term results).

Always consider what is reasonably sustainable for you, based on:

●     What is your long-term fitness goal?

●     What else is going on in your life (i.e. how much time do you really have)?

●     What is your current state of fitness?

But don’t stop there!

As you create a sustainable exercise habit, it will start getting easier. So, don’t forget to make it a bit more challenging as you go. Every week do something to push yourself a bit farther than you were before. If you’re strength training, do another repetition or grab the next heavier weight. If you’re doing cardio, go a bit longer, farther, and/or faster.

A great motivational tool is to log your workouts. A simple notepad or workbook (or app) will do! Just enter your reps, sets, and/or times each time you workout. This will not only help you to keep motivated to continue, but it will also help you see where you can squeeze in that extra challenge as you progress.

Tracking devices such as a pedometer, Garmin or Fitbit can really help increase motivation as you strive to beat your own personal best.

After several weeks you can stop and evaluate. Keep going the way you are, ramp it up, or change it completely. Eventually, you will find yourself getting stronger, and more fit!

 

Don't forget your nutrition

While exercise is very, very good for your health, wellness and longevity, it’s not the only thing to consider. What you eat is going to have as big, or bigger, impact on your shape.

Some of my favourite super-simple tips that give you the biggest “bang for your buck” are:

●     Eat more vegies

●     Swap soft drinks for fruit-infused water

●     Cut your treats and sweets in half (and hide half) before indulging

●     Reduce the serving size of your main meals (try using a smaller plate)

●     Eat slower and savour it more by chewing each bite of food more thoroughly

●     Carry around healthy (unsweetened fibre-rich) snacks like nuts, fruit and berries

 

Key takeaways

You don’t need to exercise like crazy to get into shape. I promise! But you do need to do the following:

●     Start from where you are, and don’t go overboard.

●     If you’re a beginner, that means 10 - 20 minutes every other day at an easy level.

●     Log your workout progress to track improvements and keep motivated.

●     Slowly increase the difficulty every week as you get stronger and fitter.

●     Don’t forget to eat your veggies, reduce your serving sizes (especially treats) and carry around healthy snacks.

●     Talk with your doctor before beginning any new exercise or nutrition program.

●     Make an appointment to chat with me (your weight loss coach) on how I can support you getting into shape.

 

 

Simple Steps to Increase Your Confidence in the Kitchen

Here at Weight Loss Habits, we are all about practicality.

Because we're all busy, right?  Our efforts to live a healthier lifestyle have to compete with so many other facets of our lives, like work and relationships. 

That's why I recommend we tackle things one small step at a time.

The best way to increase our confidence in the kitchen is to try new recipes.  As we experiment with different foods, flavour combinations and cooking techniques, we commit new things to memory and increase our repertoire of things we can make, using instinct.  This builds confidence.

But we can have access to all of the recipes and meal plans in the world, and they aren't any good to us if we don't try them.

How often do we see a new recipe and think "ooh that looks nice, I'd like to try that", and then we click out of it and never give it another thought.

In the 'old days' when we used actual recipe books, we could put the book on the kitchen bench to remind ourselves to buy the ingredients and do the preparation.  Nowadays we are finding recipes online instead, but fall into the trap of looking-but-not-doing.

So here are some simple steps to get you to actually try some new recipes and increase your confidence in the kitchen.

 

Step 1 - Commit to trying one new recipe per week

We eat 21+ meals per week so making at least one of them new and exciting should be achievable for most people.  Pick a set day (maybe on the weekend?) and get the whole family involved (great way to teach kids to get excited about home-cooking).

Step 2 - When you find a recipe you like, print it straight away

I hate following recipes on my phone because I have to keep putting my PIN in every time I want to bring the screen back to life.  Phones also have a lot of germs on them so it's not that hygienic.  So I tend to find my recipes online and print them off, so that I can put it on the bench to inspire me to move onto the next step.  It doesn't matter if you don't intend to make the recipe yet, just print it anyway and put it where you'll see it.  Baby steps!

Step 3 - Write a shopping list and buy the ingredients

Write a list of the ingredients you will need to make the recipe, so that next time you are in the shops, you have it there ready to go.

Step 4 - You're ready!

Now all that is left to do is make the food and eat it!

 

It seems really simple, right?  What I really wanted to highlight here is that the tasks we keep putting in the too-hard-basket become a lot easier when we break them down into tiny baby steps.  When we try to look at the whole A-Z journey it can seem really overwhelming, and we let the Negative Committee inside our head say things like "I don't have time to try new recipes" or "I'm just not any good at cooking".

None of that is true, they are just excuses.  And whether we like it or not, home cooking is an essential part of any weight loss journey.  

A few more tips:

Learn to trust your instincts

There are no rules with food so don't be afraid to experiment with substitutions and modifications.  It'll either work or it won't, but either way, you will learn from it.  Take a flexible approach to following recipes and meal plans.   Be a flexitarian!

Watch YouTube videos

If you are lacking basic skills in the kitchen, like knife skills or using particular equipment, there are oodles of free videos available on the internet to develop your skills.

Practice, practice, practice...

Once you've tried a recipe and really liked how it turned out, make it again and again!  You will eventually become so comfortable with it that you won't need the recipe any more, and this builds your repertoire, experience and confidence.

Put effort into presentation

Food isn't just about taste.  Enjoying the complete sensory experience in terms of taste, texture, smell and sight, helps you learn to love and appreciate cooking nutritious food (if you didn't already).  Getting some fancy plates and impressing your family with some MasterChef styling will serve as an inspiration and confidence builder.

Don't expect perfection

It's all about progress, not perfection.  And it's also about having fun!

 

Remember, getting excited about cooking and making it fun sets a fantastic example for our kids to follow.  If they can grow up learning to develop skills and confidence in the kitchen, they will be set up for a healthy, happy life.

Happy cooking!

 

Why You Should Never Feel Guilty About Eating Junk Food Ever Again

Does the following scenario sound familiar...?

You're watching TV in the evening after a long, stressful day.  You're feeling a bit down or out of sorts, and start thinking about what you can do to get some relief from those feelings.  Your mind wanders to the packet of Tim Tams in the cupboard (that you were saving for a 'special occasion').

You think to yourself... no, I won't have one.  That would be naughty.  But then again, I have been pretty good this week, so I deserve a treat.  Especially since I'm feeling low.  It'll cheer me up.

So you go and get the packet and sit back down in front of the TV.  You eat one Tim Tam but you were so engrossed in the TV that you barely tasted it.  Not feeling satisfied, you have another two.  Immediately the feelings of guilt kick in.

Oh no!  I've blown my diet now!  Why do I always do this?!  I'm such a failure!  I don't think I'm ever going to lose the weight.  My willpower just isn't strong enough.  Maybe I'm destined to be fat for ever.  Sigh.

Guess what happens next?

Yup.  If you're going to 'fail' your diet, you might as well do it properly! 

Whole packet... gone. 

And of course, since you are now in the mindset of 'stuff it - I'll eat the whole packet', the feelings of guilt become so strong that you scoff the rest of the packet down as fast as you can to get it over and done with. 

Did you actually stop and appreciate the taste of the Tim Tams?  No, probably not.  You ate them as fast as you could so that once you've finished you can try to shut out the feelings of guilt and move on.  You were also distracted by the TV and eating mindlessly.

I have lived through this scenario more times than I can count.  And I'm guessing it sounds familiar to you to.  We've all been there.

BUT.

Did you know that the feelings of guilt associated with having a 'naughty treat' or 'falling off the wagon' are actually doing you more harm than the food itself?

Here are the two main reasons why:

1 - Feelings of guilt actually make your body think it is under threat.  This triggers the stress response, which shuts down your digestive system.  So you won't actually digest the food anywhere near as well as if you were relaxed.  This means that more of the food is likely to get stored as fat instead.

There have been studies which prove the more relaxed and content we are when we eat, the less weight we put on, compared to eating the exact same amount of food while in distress.

2 - Guilt causes you to hate yourself and degrades your self esteem.  You felt like a failure, right?  Feelings of failure lead to a downward spiral of self sabotage, resulting in poorer food and lifestyle choices in the future.  Feeling bad about yourself increases the desire to turn to comfort foods and leads you deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, potentially resulting in an eating disorder.

We make choices that lead to the results that we think we deserve. 

Guilt only reinforces that you are either 'on' or 'off' your diet, and once you've fallen 'off' it becomes really easy to continue making bad choices.  The alternative is having one indulgent treat and then carrying on with your healthy lifestyle.

Now consider this scenario...

You're watching TV at the end of a long stressful day.  You really feel like a treat.  You've eaten really well today and done some exercise so there should be an allowance there for you to have a couple of Tim Tams without blowing out your calorie count for the day.

You go to the kitchen, get two Tim Tams out of the packet - leave the rest of the packet in the cupboard and take your two Tim Tams to the lounge room.

You look at the Tim Tams in your hand and feel grateful that you are about to indulge in a delicious treat and this might even be the highlight of your day!  You marvel at how good they look, and how good they smell.  Ignoring the TV for a moment, you focus on the task at hand.  Eating those chocolatey delights!

You eat them.  Slowly.  Savouring the taste and really indulging yourself.  You think to yourself how awesome you are, because you have broken that binge-guilt trap and have control over your choices.  You are choosing to have only two Tim Tams, not because you are on a diet and scared of putting on weight, but because you love and appreciate your body and want to treat it with respect.

You don't feel guilty at all, because you know that those two Tim Tams aren't going to set you back to square one.  We all need to indulge from time to time.

And because you enjoyed the experience so much, after two Tim Tams you now feel satisfied!  You don't need to eat the whole packet, because the experience of eating two in a mindful way, was far more satisfying than scoffing the whole packet with feelings of guilt and shame.

The moral of the story:

Next time you are craving an indulgent treat, think about it carefully and make a conscious choice.  Is this going to nourish me, either physically OR mentally/emotionally?

Once you have made the choice to go ahead and eat it - OWN IT! 

You have obviously decided to eat it for a reason, and whatever your reason is, it's perfectly okay.  So own the decision and don't look back.  Give yourself permission to indulge yourself and REALLY enjoy it.

And okay yes, so you might not have made the best food choice.  But treat it as a learning experience.  A chance to explore the thoughts and feelings that are coming up and contributing to the cravings.  

Treat it with curiosity.  Not with punishment.

A Side of Self Care That We Must Not Neglect

There is so much more to weight loss than diet and exercise.  Equally as important, is mindset.  This is the driving force behind all of our daily choices and determines whether we achieve our goals or not.

Part of cultivating a weight loss mindset, is making time for self care.  We know how important self care is, right?  As the saying goes, you can't pour from an empty cup.

But is there a part of self care that we have been neglecting?

I used to think of self care as a trip to the day spa, or a cup of herbal tea, a massage...  And while those things are nice, here's the thing. 

Self care isn't just about what we do.  It's also about what we think. 

It's just as much about our attitude as it is about finding time for pampering.

The way we speak to ourselves is critical for happiness and confidence.  It is often overlooked, but the relationship we have with ourselves is the most important relationship we will ever have.

Would you walk up to someone and tell them they are fat?  No, at least I hope not!  So why would you stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself that on a daily basis?

Self care is about being kind to yourself and thinking in a mindful and positive way, which leads to healthier decisions and habits.  It is about re-programming your mind with affirming thoughts rather than destructive thoughts, learning not to believe every random thought that pops into your head, and not letting your 'inner critic' run the show.

 

Self care is about:

- Nurturing your mind and soul as well as your body

- Believing that you are worthy of the effort

- Empowering yourself and having the strength and resilience to take charge of your own life, health and happiness

- Learning to be mindful and live in the moment, instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future

- Finding joy in the little things

- Having compassion and empathy for yourself as well as for others

- Being the best version of yourself so that you send positive energy out into the world and inspire others to do the same

- Clearing out old destructive habits such as making excuses, procrastinating, blaming, playing the victim and feeling entitled

- Saying no to extra responsibilities - if it's not a "hell yeah!" then it's a "no".

- Backing yourself one hundred percent

- Feeling the fear and doing it anyway

- Having an outlet for creative expression (yes, EVERY person has a creative side, sometimes it just needs a little coaxing to come out of hiding - and creative expression is extremely important for a positive mindset)

…And most importantly - be real, not perfect.

Speaking to yourself in a loving and kind way and embracing your imperfections will lead you towards a happier and more fulfilling life.  As you become more accepting of yourself, your candle will shine much brighter and you will be able to light other people's candles too.

Follow your heart, live your dreams and be true to yourself xx

 

How to Make Exercise Feel Less Like a Chore

When I say the word 'exercise', what is your immediate reaction?

Do you think... yippee?!?  Or do you get this sinking feeling inside your gut?

For many of us, exercise has become a bit of a touchy subject.  Especially if you have been stuck in the dieting trap for a long time, and you have tried so hard to make it work for you, but it has ended up becoming a source of emotional discomfort.  You might even feel bad about yourself for not loving it like you think you should.

Let me just reassure you that you're not alone, and there is definitely nothing wrong with you.  Just like anything, bad experiences can put you off and create negative thoughts in your mind.

Social media and the fitness industry hasn't helped.  We see snapshots all over social media of people rocking their active-wear, which makes us feel like we have to go out and buy expensive gear, and have the perfect body before we dare venture out to exercise in public.  We see personal trainers whipping people's butts with a "no pain, no gain" attitude that makes us feel like exercise has to be super intense and we can only participate if we are prepared to shed blood, sweat and tears.

It's no wonder the thought of another boring or agonizing hour of exercise makes us feel sick to the stomach.  Exercise and procrastination have been besties since the dawn of time.

However.  There is no denying that physical activity is a super important part of a healthy lifestyle and has a long list of benefits.

The secret to making exercise something we can tolerate (and even enjoy!) is to reframe our attitude towards it.

 

Here's how:

 

1 - Ban the word 'exercise'

I'm serious.  I avoid using the word at all costs.  When I think of exercise, I immediately think of it as a chore.  We've just been programmed this way over time, with exercise being something that we have to force ourselves to make time for, as a necessary part of being desperate to lose weight.

Instead I try to refer to it as physical activity, moving your body, or doing some fitness training.  Fitness training gets me excited because it makes me feel like an athlete who is working towards a really cool goal.  Or I get more specific, like "I'm going to do some yoga today".

There is a whole science behind the power of vocabulary in changing our mindset.  You'd be surprised how powerful it is.

 

2 - Choose love over fear

When we force ourselves to exercise because we are desperate to lose weight, we are making the choice from a place of fear.  Fear of being out of shape.  Fear of being judged.  Fear of being unhealthy.  Fear of not being fit enough to get the most out of life.  Fear of not being attractive enough.  Fear of not being enough.  

But what if we made a choice to move our bodies every day, from a place of love?  Love of how energized and alive it makes us feel.  Love of how amazing our bodies are and what we can achieve.  Love of tuning in and really paying attention to the messages our body is telling us.  Love of working towards being healthier and happier.  Love of making the time to nourish and care for ourselves, because we deserve it!

 

3 - Break it down into smaller chunks

We're all busy, right?  So setting aside an hour each day to do a workout can be impossible.  

How often do we have good intentions of doing an early morning workout before work, and end up sleeping through the alarm, then thinking that we have missed the opportunity for the day, I'll try again tomorrow.  What about the rest of the day?  What about a 10 minute brisk walk on your lunch break?  What about busting out a few stretches while you wait for the kettle to boil?

There are lots of ways to incorporate movement into your day, in tiny bite-sized chunks.  And it is certainly still just as effective.  Definitely more effective than doing nothing at all!  We just have to get a little creative.

Short bursts of high intensity exercise can really rev up the metabolism, to the point where you continue burning calories long after you finish - that's a win!

When my daughter was a newborn, I wanted to learn yoga.  But there was no way I was going to make it to an hour-long yoga class.  So I asked Google to tell me five easy yoga moves for beginners.  I memorized those five, and I practiced them at random times throughout the day.  I love doing a couple of yoga moves right before bed, as it relaxes me and helps me sleep.  Then when I had mastered those five, I learned another five.  And gradually built up my repertoire over time.

Don't underestimate the value of incidental exercise.  Vacuuming the house and even a bit of late night bedroom activity (wink wink) can do wonders for your waistline!

 

4 - Track your progress and celebrate small wins

One of the most motivating things I ever did was buy myself a Fitbit.  Now this isn't a product endorsement and I don't get paid for recommending it.  And there are lots of other similar products on the market too, which are all great.  Even a $10 pedometer from Kmart is a great tool.

If you haven't got a tracking device to measure steps or heart rate, you could always simply use a journal or diary and record other parameters, like repetitions or duration.

The whole point of using a tracking tool of some kind, is so that you can compete against yourself.  This allows you to set goals, and gives you a sense of achievement when you do better than you did last time. 

Achievement gives you confidence.  Confidence gives you motivation.

 

5 - Make it fun!

It's your body.  Your life.  And there are a million ways to move your body and increase your fitness.  There aren't any rules (only that you keep yourself safe and don't do anything that poses a risk to your health).

Find what you love doing, and do more of that.

Don't like working out in public?  Get a fitness DVD and workout at home!

Don't like structured workout routines?  Try dancing, or swimming, or even gardening.  Whatever floats your boat.

Put music on.  Mix it up. Do something different every day.  Bust a few moves at random times.  Get up from your desk and walk around.  Grab a buddy and go walking together.

Move your body, your way.

 

What are your favourite ways to move?  Let me know in the comments below.

How to Make Salads More Filling

How often do we get to dinner time and realise we haven't eaten a single vegetable all day..? (guilty!)

We know we are supposed to eat five serves of veg per day.  So eating a few vegies at dinner time just isn't going to get the job done.

A great way to get more vegies into us is to have a salad for lunch.  But if we're going to do this, it has to be filling, right?  Otherwise, it's not going to help us lose weight if we spend all afternoon snacking.

So here are some tips to craft a perfectly balanced, filling and delicious salad, that you can eat by itself as a whole meal.

 

1. Add protein

For those of us trying to lose weight, adding protein at every meal is helpful because it keep us feeling full for longer, therefore reducing the desire to snack between meals.  A good quality protein component in a salad is what really makes the difference between it being a complete meal or just a side-salad.

Some suggestions:

- Roast, grilled or poached chicken

- Tinned tuna or salmon

- Boiled egg

- Nuts (my faves are flaked almonds, lightly toasted pine nuts, walnuts)

- Seeds (eg sesame seeds, chia seeds)

- High protein grain (eg quinoa)

- Chickpeas

And as you can see, there are plenty of non-animal options for vegetarians and vegans. 

 

2. Add good fats

Unsaturated fats give us energy (hooray!) and help the body absorb the nutrients that are in the salad vegetables.  Omega fatty acids are so important for warding off nasty health conditions, and of course, making us feel fuller for longer.

My number one fatty favourite is... the humble avocado.  Avocados not only pack a nutritional punch, they are also loaded with fibre (making you feel full), antioxidants for immune support, help lower cholesterol and assist with weight loss, and can even help to prevent cancer.  They taste delicious and provide a softer element to balance out the crunchy parts of the salad.  What's not to love..?

My next fave is a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  This can be combined with herbs like basil and oregano and maybe even a squirt of lemon juice, to make a healthy dressing.

And of course, nuts and oily fish are great sources of good fats, and they provide protein as well, so it's a win win!

 

So when I'm crafting a lunch salad, this is what I do:

- I start with leafy greens as the base eg spinach, rocket etc

- I add some salad vegetables eg capsicum, cherry tomatoes, cucumber etc

- Then I add protein eg roast chicken

- Next I add my good fats - always avocado!

- Then I add a crunchy element eg walnuts or flaked almonds, which adds another element of both protein and good fats

- Then the dressing (a drizzle of olive oil and some dried oregano and basil)

- Stir and enjoy!

This will keep me full for two or three hours and then I have an afternoon snack (eg yoghurt, carrot and hommus, crackers and dip etc), and I'm all set until dinner time!

The other great thing about having a salad for lunch is that the vegetables contain naturally-occurring sugars, so it gives you plenty of energy to get through the afternoon without that 3pm slump.  And it doesn't sit heavily or make you feel sleepy while you digest it, or give you a bloated tummy all afternoon, like some bread-based lunches can do.

Hope this helps you perfect your salad-creation skills.  Drop a comment below and let me know how you go, or if you have any more suggestions we'd love to hear them!

Happy salad-ing!

What It Really Took To Shift the Weight...

I have been a yo-yo dieter all my life.  

But I have never hated my body as much as what I have over the last four years.

When I was pregnant with my daughter four years ago, my staple diet was icecream.  For breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Needless to say, I stacked on an extra 20kg.  I thought it would be easy to get rid of the excess body fat once my daughter was born... but oh was I sooooo wrong!

My self-esteem dipped so low that I became crippled in all areas of my life.  I remember a time when I would have an anxiety attack if I had to get dressed (in something other than a maxi dress) and leave the house.

The strange thing was, I had so much knowledge about health and fitness.  I was pretty active, and felt like I was doing all the right things.  But no matter what I did, the weight just wouldn't budge.

Then... one day... my fiancé packed a bag and walked out.

He had threatened to leave so many times before, but this time he was serious.  He had made up his mind that he finally wanted a separation.

As he walked out the door, I felt a big black cloud suddenly lift.  I hadn't realised that our toxic relationship was causing me so much inner turmoil.  As I reflected back, it dawned on me that our relationship had been completely devoid of love, for a very long time.

Every time I tried to give him attention or get him to notice me, he would turn away.  This was eating away at my soul, and destroying my confidence.  I just didn't have the guts to do anything about it, and this had (sadly) become my 'normal'.

With the absence of love in the relationship... I was turning to food instead. 

During the first week after he left, the initial shock of the separation caused me to drop 3kg, because I was too distraught to eat anything at all.  But amazingly quickly, my eating habits began to stabilize. 

I started to realise that I was better off without him, and I was determined to dust myself off and get on with things, re-connect with my true self, and be a good role model for my daughter.

And the weight continued to come off, but at a much more steady pace.

I had removed the aspect of my life that was causing me to binge-eat.

It had nothing to do with my knowledge of nutrition and fitness.  It had everything to do with the fact that I was comfort-eating to fill an emotional void.

Now, I'm certainly not suggesting that you all go out and file for divorce! 

But what I want to do is highlight the fact that being overweight doesn't necessarily have anything to do with a lack of education around what we should/shouldn't be eating, or how much we should be exercising.  Oftentimes, the inability to lose weight stems from an emotional imbalance.

It all comes down to mindset.  All of the lifestyle choices that we make, that lead to weight gain, come from our mindset.  There are lots of ways we can create mindset shifts in order to lose the weight, but a good starting point is looking at all of the major areas of our lives (eg relationships, work, career, finances, family, hobbies and leisure etc) and seeing which areas are crying out for our attention.

Are you getting stuck somewhere?  Are you unhappy with something?  Are you lacking fulfilment in one or more of these areas?  Do you need a little push (or a big push!) to make the necessary changes?

If the answer is yes, and you ARE stuck... don't beat yourself up!  It's completely normal to feel this way. 

Give yourself some love, first and foremost.

Then start thinking about the first step you need to take, to head in the right direction.

Hint: You don't need to know all the steps of HOW you are going to get from A - Z.  You only need to decide on the very first, teeny tiny step.  Then once you do that, the following steps will make themselves clear.  Trust in yourself, and trust in the process.