Through a miserable ending to my marriage, I piled on weight. It hadn't occurred to me at the time that it was related to stress. It was one of many factors, but no matter why you gain weight, the issue of how to lose it and KEEP IT OFF is critical.
In the photo above, I weighed my highest weight (left) and here I am now after 37 pounds down (right). I'm still not done though. For a 5'8" woman to be in a healthy BMI, I still have another 13 pounds. I am listed as "overweight" on the right.
I know, I know. It's my *large frame that allows me to hold more weight without looking like it, but I am going to adhere to BMI weight ranges as that is how doctors refer to healthy margins.
*Frame size - wrap your thumb and middle finger around your wrist. If they overlap, you have a small frame, if they touch you have a medium frame, if they do not touch you have a large frame.
There are two huge changes I made in my lifestyle that had major effects on my weight and my well-being. There are some other ancillary tips I will add at the end of this post, but for now, let's focus on the POWERFUL 2 CHANGES -
1. Use only 8-inch dessert plates. Remove, hide, or give away the 10-inch dinner plates. Those are absolutely harmful. Its is human nature to use them as portion sizing and that gives us so many more calories per meal!
You may say, "but how do I fit my roll or french fries? Or the extra taco?
The side effect of using a small plate is a sense of a full meal without all the BS. Fries, chips, rolls - those are carb add on's you find out you don't even need once you do #2 (below).
You can also use a Bento Box for prepackaging a meal for lunch or supper. What I love about these is they give you compartments to put crackers, spreads, nuts, fruit, sauce, etc. You eat your meal like a nibbling tray instead of a big sandwich to gobble down. This also creates a leisurely time eating, burning up the 20 minutes (below) you need to take for your meal.
2. Take a minimum of 20 minutes to finish the meal. If you have a sandwich for lunch, no sides necessary. Simply fill it with the usual things you love - cheese, mayo, meat, but add veggies if you can - avocado, spinach, lettuce, tomato, grated carrot.... Enjoy that all you wish. Don't worry that it's "just a sandwich."
Consider your food choices to be divorced couples. When you see sandwich, you don't see fries or chips accompanying it, but you know it's not so bad - it's still a sandwich. If you want garlic toast with your lasagna, try lasagna on its own and you might realize it didn't need toast....
How do you pace yourself? I set a timer on my phone first so I could learn what a long meal is like. I was used to inhaling a sandwich, chips, soda, or a fast food meal so fast, my stomach took time to register I was full. The faster you eat, the more you can pack in before stomach says, "whoa dude!"
Set the fork down, read, watch a show, talk with someone, sit back in your seat, chew, taste, enjoy. Take small bites. Really learn to fall in love with food instead of loving "feeding time."
It's a plate, not a trough!
If you were to take that sandwich and ball it up, guess what? It'd be the size of your fist which is the size of your stomach, signalling satiety.
Don't fear you will starve. Believe me, you won't.
If you aren't spiking a high blood sugar from a too carb-loaded meal, you won't be having gremlins in your belly soon after.
Remind yourself, you can get something else if you must, but for now, let's give that 8" plate and 20 minutes the best try. You are going to be asking yourself, "why was I eating these calories I didn't need?" After a month of no side items with my lunch sandwich or burger, I realized that I never needed fries or chips, marketing made me believe they come with meals.
We eat so unconsciously, we don't even realize we are pacing a bite of a sandwich, some chips, a bite of a sandwich, some chips. We just notice when we don't have that complement there to shove in after a bite.
The mouth doesn't need to be in perpetual motion.
This is a ridiculously easy lifestyle to maintain. I emulated what we know of French, Italian, Greek meals and how they eat, slowly, socializing, enjoying very high quality real foods. I didn't want to end up having to ban fruits or bread because of carbs or demonize meat because I needed something I could maintain forever without counting, fussing, or missing out on family events.
The average restaurant plate is 11-12 inches and the average American supper plate is 10-1/2".
There are some other ancillary things that can be done to further progress, depending on what you think you can maintain for life.
A. Keep from using muscles as fuel. I added 30 minutes of activity daily, whether it's tough housework, raking the yard, dancing, walking, cleaning the house.... I wanted to have strong vessels. Although it's hard to burn off calories eaten with even heavy exercise, building muscles can help the metabolism. There is nothing worse than losing pounds of fat and still feeling flabby because the muscles had wasted.
B. Count sugar grams. I started reading labels and looking them up until I had a very good understanding of how much sugar I consumed in a day. I had been diagnosed with diabetes, but even when the blood glucose levels went down and weight came off, I still wanted to maintain a lower inflammation level in my body. Keeping sugar grams under 24 was a great way for me to go. If I wanted that cookie, I had to give up some bread for the day.
C. Stress has to be dealt with or eating continues to be out of control. You may not have gotten rid of the stress in your life, but you will find saying "no," delegating, changing priorities, eliminating sense of duty to being everything for everyone, and reconsidering finances, living location, and even job and relationships will improve stress levels tremendously. If there is any evidence you may have underlying depression or anxiety or both, do talk to your doctor. Treating that can have a HUGE influence on your choices in all aspects of your life.
D. Find your tribe. You may not want to be someone else, but you might find a group of people that have the vibe and energy that you think is important for a happy life. I was a skateboarder who dreamed of being a surfer, loves healthy foods and growing her own veggies, and would stay in the water 24 hours a day if I could. My people? Surfers. I find videos on YouTube and play them in the background while I'm working out or during the day to see what they eat, why they stay so healthy and happy, and just appreciating the braids and beads, barefoot, and fresh produce-eating lifestyle.
E. If you don't like eating breakfast, this is a good way to semi-fast from last night. I do not like to eat in the morning so I make a Keto shake with unsweetened almond milk and it lasts me until noon.
Just two things - an 8" plate to eat off of or use a bento box for your work lunch/meal and eat s-l-o-w-l-y.