As a Registered Dietitian, people often ask me, “What should I do to lose weight?”
So, what do you think I tell them?
Eat more fruits and vegetables?
Choose whole grains more often than refined grains?
Vary your protein sources and incorporate more plant-based proteins?
Limit fried food, sweetened beverages, and processed foods with added salt?
Move more and sit less?
Well yes! Of course, those are usually part of my response, but then I follow up with, “Did I tell you something you did not already know?” and they respond with, “No, I guess I know what to do, I just don’t do it.” This is when I ask them to rate how much they would like to see a change and why.
“On a scale of 1-10, how badly do you want to achieve this goal?” Whichever number they give me; I then ask them why not a higher number and why not a lower number. Depending on the person I may get a different response but the reasons why are usually quite similar:
Why It Is Not A 1: I Want…
- To be healthy.
- To prevent taking medication for diabetes, high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol like my parent(s).
- To have more energy for my kids, loved one, or spouse.
- To be happy with what I see in the mirror.
- To feel confident in my skin again.
- To be able to walk up the stairs without losing my breath.
Why It Is Not A 10:
- I do not have time to cook at home and exercise regularly.
- I cannot afford a gym membership.
- Eating healthy is too expensive.
- I am too tired.
Defining our “Why-To’s” and our “Why-Not’s” are essential steps to creating change. Our “Why-To’s” remind us what we actually want to achieve. Our “Why-Not’s” are the reminders that the road to a healthy lifestyle is not a quick fix and takes consistent effort and planning.
Did you know that we can turn our Why-Not’s into Why-To’s simply by the way we think about them? For example, preparing food at home can help you save both time and money. Think about how much time is spent deciding what to eat and when because you did not plan or cook ahead of time. You end up spending more money ordering take-out, going out to a restaurant, or snacking on junk food each day than you would have if you took the time to shop at the grocery store and prepare your food. In addition, you spend more time waiting for your take out to come, driving in traffic, standing online for your order, and/or getting a reservation at the original time desired. It is not to say these events cannot be a part of your new way of eating, but if the goal is more money in your pocket and time on your clock than I would highly consider doing them less often!
Are you still not convinced? Here is another example of changing your perspective: You may be feeling tired all of the time because your body is not getting what is needs. By not consuming a variety of nutritious foods on a regular basis, you could be depriving your body of essential nutrients. You may be feeling sluggish all of the time because you spend most of your days sitting therefore there is decreased blood flow in the body from lack of movement. Moreover, you may be having difficulty sleeping because you are not expending enough calories through exercise on a regular basis. As a Registered Dietitian, I encourage my clients to focus on health as a whole and as a result they tell me how much more energy they have because of it. Their increase in energy increases their productivity, which leads to more time for healthy cooking, exercise, and quality sleep. Do you see how it is all connected? Your WHY determines your decision and when you feel unmotivated that is when it is time to change your perspective. Keep in mind that “change is only possible when your desire to change is more than your desire to stay the same.” When you are feeling fed up with your recurring circumstances, all of those barriers and “why-nots” slowly begin to disappear. Your original score of importance goes from a 6 to 8 and you somehow find a way to quiet the voices in your head that are telling you otherwise. When you finally decide that you are going to change your lifestyle to a healthy one you eventually figure out. There will be a lot of trial and error but with consistent effort and perseverance, you will find your secret to staying committed to a healthy lifestyle because, “When there is a will, there is a way.” Stop thinking there is a quick fix to weight loss and start making yourself a priority to develop yourself into the person you were intended to be: happy and healthy.
Need some help getting started? Here are my Top 3 tips to losing the weight and keeping it off:
- Keep a food journal. “If you can track it, you can change it!” Writing down what you eat everyday will allow you to see eating behaviors, food choices, and portions. With this knowledge, you will learn what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat by reviewing repeated behaviors and comparing them with the outcomes. For example, after a week of journaling, you get on the scale and become frustrated because you are not losing weight. You then review your journal and notice that on the days you skip lunch, your dinner portions are very large. Now that you are aware of this, you can create the steps to incorporate a balanced and nutritious lunch resulting in a smaller dinner portions, which will inevitably lead to weight loss.
- Seek out a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RD/RDN). Registered Dietitians are credentialed nutrition professionals with a wealth of knowledge and insight about how to help you. Speaking with a RD will help to a eliminate a few “trial and error” attempts which can get you closer to your goal at a healthier pace than you were doing before.
- Slow down, but never quit! When you’re feeling tired, stressed out, or like you just want to eat an entire cake; take a step back, remember your WHY, re-focus, and write down the steps that will get you back on track to your goal(s).