How to Achieve Safe and Permanent Weight Loss (Part Three)

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A safe, common sense approach to permanent weight loss: Part Three of a Three-part series.

WEEK TWO AND BEYOND:   RESULTS  --In this final discussion, I will share with you some of the tips I regularly use to maintain my weight (or to recover from an indulgent holiday season!)  Remember:  Awareness + Preparation + Action = Results.  I know you can find success also.

Step 1.  CHOOSE YOUR FOOD: The End Of Eating Unconsciously.  During your preparation, you were to list all the foods you eat, and mark and highlight them according to the instructions given. How did you do? Did the results surprise you? So often we eat unconsciously, barely aware of how much or what we put into our mouths. Let's face it. Life is hectic, and unfortunately, our best intentions to eat nutritiously can easily fall by the wayside. Now that you are more aware of your eating habits, we can set about making changes as necessary. To reiterate, the plan here is to, one by one, introduce more healthful choices on a daily basis, and, also one by one–or maybe two by two–eliminate those "empty-calorie" foods.  Here are some suggestions which will help you accomplish this goal, and get results.

  • Arm yourself with a grocery list...and stick to it. Sounds obvious, but how many times do we go to the store for milk and eggs, and come home with 29 different things...much of it junk.
  • Eat before you go shopping. This includes not only grocery shopping, but before going off to the mall, where the mere smell of New York Fries emanating from the food court can sabotage the most iron-willed among us. If your tummy is full, its easier to ward off temptation.
  • Shop the perimeter of your grocery store (fresh produce, dairy, seafood, meat, poultry, fresh whole grain bread). Aim for at least 80% of your total groceries to come from non-packaged/canned/prepared items. Buy ingredients.
  • Use your designated cupboard space and refrigerator shelf, stocking them with nutrition foods that will support your goals.  If you have to go hunting through the potato chips, cookies, and banana cream pie to find the chick peas for your hummus...well, chances are you're gonna stop at the potato chips.  Better yet, purge your home of these "non-food" foods and enlist your family's support, especially during the first several weeks when temptation can run amuck.
  • Ask yourself what your body needs.  Sound new-age-corny?  It might, but it actually works in your favour, when you allow yourself to get in tune.  Sometimes the answer will be, say, spinach salad (body's request for B Vitamins), or bananas (need potassium and other minerals), or eggs (for lecithin).  If you're craving rice pudding, maybe you need the iron.  Anyway, try it...you'll be surprised.

 Step 2: Swap Instead of Stop.  Say you really love pasta, and don't know how you will ever live without it. Try swaping regular pasta for whole grain, cream sauce for tomato or pesto, and instead of meat sauce, try seafood or vegetables. More things to swap?

  • Abandon three cups of pasta for one cup, plus a crisp salad drizzled with lemon and olive oil.
  • Instead of salt to add flavour, use more herbs and spices.
  • White bread with butter won't be missed once you've tried a fresh, crusty multi-grain roll, warmed up and dipped in balsamic vinegar.
  • If you can't do without salad dressing, swap the store-bought with homemade. You'll eliminate all the preservatives, sugar, and bad fats. Resources abound to help you with delicious, healthful salad dressing recipes...or experiment with some of your own.
  • Wait! Don't smother that sandwich with mayo just yet!  1/4 of a ripe avocado blended with a little plain yogurt, lemon juice, and garlic will more than please the tastebuds.
  • If you're craving sweets, give in just a bit with a taste of dark chocolate, letting it slowly melt in your mouth (but monitor how much you eat--a  1 or 2 inch square will satisfy the craving).
  • Drink water and 1% milk instead of sugary beverages (pop, lattes, milkshakes, juices).
  • Above all, remember size matters: swap bigger portions for smaller ones, and if you're used to taking two helpings...slowly savour just one instead. Also, remember the new dinner plates and bowls I mentioned in my previous article? Now's the time to bring them out (or just use the salad plate and desert-size bowl you may already have.) Seeing a large plate with a regular portion of food can mess with your mind if you usually see it filled, if not heaped. On the contrary, a small plate with a regular portion atop will appear as being more food.

Step 3. Relax, Sit, Slow down, and Chew.   Studies have shown that people who consistently eat slowly and chew their food well, tend to be healthier and also thinner.  This is not new information, but it is very relevant --and simple-- since it can be achieved by everyone.  How does this work?

The process of mastication allows the enzymes in our saliva to begin the digestion of our food, and also allows the brain to signal for more saliva and secretion of stomach "juices."  This, in turn, places less strain on our stomach and intestines, allowing for a more thorough absorption of nutrients, and an expedited passage of waste as food moves along through the entire digestive tract, properly broken down.  Plus, chewing longer and eating slowly gives our brain enough time to register a feeling of fullness in the stomach   A recent study, conducted by Kathleen Melanson, Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Rhode Island, USA, also shows that women who eat their food slowly stay slim.www.usatoday.com/news/health/2006-11-15-slower-eating_x.htm Food should be enjoyed...so give yourself the time to savour every bite, and this habit will become your ally.

Finally, keep your perspective.  Remember that this isn't a short term "diet", something to be abandoned once you've lost some weight.  Undoubtedly there will be stumbles and frustrations along the way.  We're human.  It happens.  But, bit by bit you'll be able to see the many benefits of making these life changes.  Whomever first quipped, "Life isn't about the destination, it's about the ride", was absolutely correct.  This is meant to become an enjoyable road of healthy living...peppered with delicious, nutritious food shared with people you love; getting active for the fun of it; loving yourself and listening to yourself.  The answer to your weight loss and healthy living already exists within you.  Just listen...and follow.

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