<originally published Mar 11, 2009>
Now that we are ten weeks into the New Year, my patients, like many of you, struggle to stick with their resolutions to lose weight. At this time of year I like to offer dieters suggestions for “thinking changes” that can enhance any weight loss program.
Keep reminding yourself that, “The more I do it, the easier it gets.” It’s been said that 75% of resolutions made on New Year’s Day are abandoned by February 1st. This is no surprise because behavior changes are hardest in the first few weeks. This is when we learn new ways of thinking, reacting and behaving. Also, during this time, we discover many things that push us to do the unwanted behaviors.
Dealing with this takes a lot of energy, and, let’s face it, it can be exhausting and overwhelming. One way to stay motivated is to be our own cheerleader by thinking things like:
The more I do it,
the easier it will get.
The beginning is hardest,
it gets easier as I go along.
People do this every day, so can I.
Of course it’s hard at the beginning, so was learning to ride a bike.
Change your focus from “eating less” to “eating more.” If we focus our thoughts on how difficult it is to eat less, we develop a sense of deprivation and maybe even a bit of self pity. This is dangerous, because feelings of deprivation and self pity commonly inspire dieters to cheat or even quit dieting entirely. One way to get around this trap is to find several healthy foods that can be eaten between meals for snacks – or with meals to feel fuller. Decide to focus on eating “as much as I want” of the freebie foods, rather than focusing on how unhappy you are because you have to deprive yourself of off-limits foods. Some examples of food “freebies” include celery, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, green beans, commercially prepared broth/bouillon, raw carrots, zucchini and summer squash.
Write down everything you put in your mouth in a Food Log. Eating and drinking is something most of us do without paying much attention; many of us are on “autopilot” when it comes to our food/drink intake. One of the fastest ways to gain control of our diet is to become aware of how much, how frequently, and exactly what we eat and drink. We can do this by writing down what we eat and when we eat it. After jotting this information down for a week or so, we can identify areas for improvement. It can be quite surprising to realize how much we really consume each day!
Don’t fall for lies we tell ourselves about our eating. It is normal for people to be dishonest with themselves about what, how much, and how frequently they consume; people commonly think that they consume smaller amounts, fewer calories and less meals than they actually do. Although self-deception is common, especially at the beginning of a healthier diet, successful people must take responsibility for their eating behaviors to achieve long-term weight loss. Just knowing we are probably “in denial” can help us take a more honest look at our behaviors. The Food Log is an easy way to keep ourselves honest about our eating behaviors.
Weight loss can certainly be a challenging process, but changes in thinking can make it easier. A physician, nutritionist or psychologist can also provide additional assistance with successful diet and weight loss.
This document is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual patient. If you have questions please contact your medical provider.
I hope that you have found this information useful. Wishing you the best of health,
Scott Rennie, DO