Nobody said weight loss was easy! Well, no one I ever met or spoke to anyway… Okay, maybe those lying, cheating, stealing fad diet people who promise you incredible results without any work. But I know from personal experience that that’s just bullshit!! Just because there are small numbers of people who did get results from some crazy desert cactus super fruit capsule taken six times daily at great expense, doesn’t mean it’ll work for everyone! I have spent thousands and thousands and thousands of rands trying to get into shape, lose weight, maintain the loss, build some muscle and just feel better about myself!
I could probably have put all the money together in a big stack and done myself a watered-down version of the Demi Moore body transformation technique. But sadly I was too desperate too many times, wooed by the shallow promises of the before and after photos of something I’d come across late at night on some website promising all sorts of miracle results. I know how it feels to be desperate and scared about my weight and health, and so I found myself on the fad-diet-roller-coaster-detox-ultimate-cleanse-and-weight-loss plan. The more sad and desperate I would become with every failed attempt to get the results and then even more elusively, hold onto them. Even for 3 – 6 month period. Inevitably I would start gaining the weight back within weeks of finishing the next super-cleanse, prepacked calorie-controlled lunch-box diet. Injections, supplements, potions, pills and other weird approaches drained my bank account along with my self-esteem and ability to see the situation clearly.
Oh I could go on, but I think that the idea is clear. And I know with certainty that if you are reading this post you have been there too!
If you have followed my blog posts you’ll know that it’s been an amazing period of mental, emotional, spiritual and spiritual change for me. In not only how I look, but also how I think. And I don’t just mean about food…I mean about me. But that’s been covered in a couple of the other posts I have done recently. This one is more about me coming to the realisation that weight-loss is a team sport!
Going it alone is just pure drudgery and pain! The beauty of flexible dieting is that it isn’t about being out in the food desert of deprivation. This approach to eating is something that is completely 100% possible for you and your people. Even though my partner and me have different calorie allowances, we eat fairly similarly at dinner and over the weekend, and our other meals are where the difference lies. Sometimes it’s also in the extras that he eats more of and I have to eat a little less, but doing something like this together makes it so much easier. So if that means I have to go without the roti, sauce, bread, etc. I am okay with that since there are so many other benefits to working on our eating plan together.
The big one is evening meals actually happen. In my previous life as a shocking eater that was NEVER a given. It always seemed like too much of a schlep to cook myself a decent meal. I’d often just have another sandwich for dinner or a ready-made meal. On the odd occasion I’d make the effort to cook something that was nutrient-dense and not a calorie bomb of prepacked preservatives and watered down nutrients. I cannot remember once in the last year or so (except when we have gone out occasionally) that we haven’t cooked a meal.
Another bonus is that I get to spend time in the evenings with my partner while we cook together. So not only is dinner about sustainable, healthy eating, it’s also about quality time with my guy. Quality time also happens to be my love language, so I get to eat well and feel loved all at once. I know that I am blessed to get this time with him and a lot of other women are in the kitchen, flying solo at the end of a long day of work, kids and all that other stuff that working women do. As a coach I see them starting to resent this time in the kitchen rather than asking the family to take part in the prepping and cooking. It’s one of those things that is hard to ask for, but even one or two evenings in front of the stove with a little family involvement would surely make the task less tedious. I mean if we really want or need something from the people in our lives, we also need to learn to ask for it.
Sharing the planning, shopping, prepping and cooking really does go a VERY long way to making it enjoyable and sustainable when it comes to eating well. And what the flexible dieting approach allows for is normal food, prepared and cooked in a calorie controlled way. So meals like pizza are a very real possibility as long as ALL the ingredients are measured and weighed. Cheese burgers are made with extra lean mince and homemade oven chips. Of course we eat LOADS of salads, vegetables, lean meat and healthy fats. We use low calorie dressings and everything is pre-approved before it makes it into the fridge, freezer or cupboard. As I type this it does sound just a tad obsessive, but the truth is that it is a sustainable system that truly works for us both.
It’s not as much about being obsessive as it is about being aware!! Because once something finds its way into the kitchen it’s GAME ON! If there are apples in the fruit bowl then that’s the snack when I get hungry. If there’s a packet of crisps or biscuits they don’t stand a chance around me still. So it’s about creating a healthy, controlled environment. There is normally a selection of chocolate in the house, but there’s accountability when it comes to those. Bread is kept in the freezer so that it’s less of an easy, go-to snack when I am feeling tired and hungry.
It’s just so much easier to work as a team to eat right. We eat in a way that we both enjoy and that takes our calories and macros into account. We eat in a way that is satisfying and delicious. Of course there are certain foods that we only eat occasionally, like a slice of cheesecake (something I adore) or Crispy Duck from our favourite Thai restaurant (can’t even imagine how many calories there are in that!). We eat big, nutritious portions of food…none of this picking at little portions of wilted lettuce leaves and unappetising steamed chicken breasts and brocoli. I’ve tried that approach and it just isn’t sustainable in the long run.
What I have learned about dieting is that it is best done in a supportive environment. Which means that meals have to be good for everyone, because who wants to cook separate meals for everyone anyway. And then stare longingly at the food you’ve prepared for the other family members feeling miserable and deprived. No of that thank you very much. After all, how can you possibly stick to anything in the long run when that’s how you feel anyway!? So eating together as a family or a couple is a very important part of sustainability! Looking forward to meals rather than dreading another boring meal is an essential part of achieving and maintaining the results you are looking for.
So making and eating food and meals something to love and enjoy, rather than trying to pretend it doesn’t exist is really hard for a lot of us! But what I have learned is that I don’t need to be scared of food, I just have to be conscious and aware of what I am eating. I need to be mindful of my calories and don’t think intuitive eating is ever going to be something I get right. So I may just have to continue counting, tracking, weighing and measuring for now, but when the trade off is delicious food that makes me satisfied and happy, it actually feels like a no brainer! It’s just something I do now. And for that I have not put back any of the 30 kilograms I’ve lost. I am not quite where I want to be, but I’ll get there when I am ready, because after all my years of yo-yo dieting being able to maintain my results is a huge victory for me.
So I’m going to leave you with this:
- Don’t fall for ANY of the food diets out there that promise overnight results!
- Don’t give up any foods or food groups unless you really cannot eat them (i.e. you have an allergy or intolerance!).
- Get your people involved in the food side of life – shopping, planning, cooking and prepping. Weight loss is a team sport!
- Make cooking and eating about quality time with your partner and family.
- Find an eating plan that works for you and is sustainable in the long run.
- Remember that losing weight is only one part of the process! Maintaining the loss is the other side of the weight-loss coin.