Like you mean it

Last Updated 15 May 2015, 16:13 IST

Did you know that simple things like timing your meal and thinking happy thoughts can get you in shape? Read on to know how some experts walk the talk to help you attain and maintain your natural weight.

 So, how does one find one’s natural weight? Is it really about dieting,
gymming, and punishing yourself? Three experts give top tips on getting to your natural weight the right way. Here’s what they say:

Hungry all the time

Eat like you mean it. Eat three meals a day while sitting down. Spend time on each meal, focus on the food and consume it properly. Achieving your natural weight comes from eating in a way that means your body feels satisfied with the food you eat so you stop craving more.

Eat protein. Every meal I eat contains a protein such as meat, fish or eggs, some vegetables and a source of fat. Even for breakfast, I eat something like eggs, feta and spinach or cooked frozen peas. This combination is like putting a log on your metabolic fire. It will stay burning for four or five hours. Sugary snacks and refined carbohydrates are like adding a bit of kindling – no wonder if you eat these your energy fades after a few hours and you are hungry again.

Don’t be afraid of hunger. We have become partly addicted to food – not just sugar, but the idea of eating. Before the 1990s no one really snacked, but we have ended up eating in a way that means our blood sugar see-saws and we are hungry all the time. We have forgotten that it is good for our stomachs to rest between meals. If you eat well you don’t need to snack. Eat only when you are hungry, stop when you are full. If you are eating the right foods, that should be three times a day.

Stop thinking about weight. You are aiming for a state of food freedom, a place where you eat to nourish yourself, and that won’t happen if you’re worrying about
the scales.

(Sarah Wilson is the author of the bestselling I Quit Sugar books and website)
Identify the goodness

Dieting will not help you find your natural weight. It’s too externally driven. Unless you learn to deal with the internal feelings that cause you to turn to food in the first place, you will revert to that behaviour and your old weight.

Find the good in your life. People often feel that who they are and what they have is not enough, and eat to try to make that feeling go away. The more you identify the good in your life, the less you feel the need to fill the gaps with food. This exercise can help: a couple of times a day sit and take a moment to think of five things that are good in your life right at the moment. Even the smallest thing can help you appreciate that overall your life is good.

Silence your inner critic. To tackle a weight problem you have to know how and when to eat, but you also have to look at how you talk to yourself when you are not eating. The more critical you are of yourself, the more likely you are to soothe yourself with food.
Phrases such as “You’re so stupid”, “When are you ever going to learn?” all chip away at the idea that you deserve to be kind to yourself – and eating more healthily is a type of kindness.

Never eat while you are distracted. We spend much of our lives not paying
attention – we focus on what we could or should be doing and not what we are
doing. If you are not present when you are eating, you will eat too much. On my
retreats, when people become present during meals, not only do they eat less, sometimes they also find that they have been eating a lot of foods they really don’t enjoy.

(Geneen Roth is a specialist in eating and emotions, and the author of nine books,
including Women, Food and God)

Make it manageable

Appreciate that you’ve been there before. No one is born with a weight problem, but over the years, our beliefs, confidence and self-esteem – and those of others – chip away at what helps us maintain a natural weight. Recognising that at some point you have been the weight you want to be now is key to ensuring you get there again.

Use your subconscious. I tell my clients to remember a time when they were the shape they want to be now and visualise it happening again. Often, while they do this, a doubting voice starts to speak up.

Hypnotherapy can take you past this voice and into the subconscious, a place where failure is simply not part of the process. If you don’t want to be hypnotised, try this exercise: get the image in your head and focus on it for a minute or so. Close your eyes and breathe slowly in and out 12 times. Relax your whole body from your head to your feet and now visualise yourself at the shape you want to be again. Do this for five minutes every day.

Enjoy your meals. If something is pleasurable, surely you want it to last longer, but I find people who have weight problems tend to cram their meals down as fast as possible – particularly if it’s something they are going to feel guilty about later. Stop, slow down and enjoy every mouthful. Be more mindful about the food you put into your body and what it’s going to do for you – if it’s not going to be beneficial, then don’t eat it.

If exercise isn’t enjoyable for you, you are not going to do it. If you tell someone they have to go to the gym for an hour a day and they are dreading it, they are not going to go. If 20 minutes sounds manageable, you are going to put your shoes on and head out of the door. Any workout is better than no workout.

(Susan Hepburn is a London-based psychotherapist and hypnotherapist)

(Published 15 May 2015, 16:13 IST)

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