5 Weird But Effective Ways To Hit Your Happy Weight — And Maintain It
While we don't think health and weight loss are synonymous, we do recognize that sometimes, people need a little bit of help to hit their happy weight—and that's where JJ Virgin comes in. The mbg class instructor's book, Think Yourself Thin, that takes a revolutionary approach to weight loss, suggesting that much of what keeps us from achieving our happy weight stems from our mind. In this exclusive excerpt, she shares five surprising strategies designed to help you overcome your weight loss roadblocks and achieve your healthiest, most comfortable body.
1. Develop a food-mood diary.
Food for thought: It's not what you're eating, it's what's eating at you.
For many of us emotional overeaters, it will take some time to really connect our experiences and our feelings with what we put into our mouths. It is a good idea to begin writing your food-feeling connections to give you more insight and awareness. When you write down every single thing you eat, there is less chance of unconsciously eating something. This exercise will help you explore the connection between food and feelings.
Many of us are eating when we are not physically hungry. Do you eat when you are sad, bored. anxious, ashamed, angry, or afraid? Whenever you have an unpleasant feeling, do you use food to push away the feeling and sedate yourself? Some folks like crunchy foods when they are angry and sweets when they are bored and lonely. It's time to get in touch with how your feelings affect what you put in your mouth.
Create your Food-Mood Diary in your journal by noting what time you ate, what you ate, what you were feeling before, and what you're feeling afterward.
2. Do a kitchen inventory.
Food for thought: Allow our kitchen to be a place for enjoying foods that fuel us.
Go through the foods that you are likely to binge on or foods that you have binged on in the past. Ask a supportive person to come over and go through your cabinets and refrigerator with you. Get rid of all of those foods. If you live with a partner or spouse, you might need to sit down with them and explain to them what you're going through. This is really important. If you were an alcoholic, it would be crucial that your partner didn't bring alcohol into the house while you were going through recovery. Think of trigger foods like alcohol. You will feel more comfortable if they are not easily accessible. As you go on in your process, you might begin to learn new trigger foods that you never would have thought you'd binge on.
For example, one client discovered she couldn't keep raw, unsalted sunflower seeds in her home. If she did, she'd eat as many as she could, and even if she finished them all, she would find something else to continue eating. Even though this was a healthy snack, it was a trigger food for binge eating.
Once you've cleared the house of binge foods, vow not to bring any binge foods home and declare your house a binge-free zone. This is not a forever thing, but for now, in the early parts of gaining control over your eating habits, you want to keep yourself safe. Just as a recovering alcoholic wouldn't spend time in a bar or keep bottles of gin in his or her home, you don't want to have any trigger foods in your home either.
You should also note in your journal all your trigger foods, so you can stay away from them.
3. Have a mindful meal.
Food for thought: Learning the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger will help you gain control over your eating habits.
The mindful meal is a planned meal in an intentional space that you create to understand more about your feelings when you are eating. It will help you focus on your own hunger, digestion, and moods. The more often you eat mindful meals, the better you will begin to understand the difference between real, physical hunger and fake, emotional hunger. Here are the steps:
- Set aside a time when you can be alone without any distractions.
- Turn off your television, computer, and phone.
- If you don't like dead silence, listen to light music.
- Make sure the lights are on and the room is well-lit.
- Slowly and deliberately prepare a meal for yourself. Take time to notice the colors and smells of your food. Feel the sensation of cutting your vegetables and meat. Hear the sizzle of the food cooking, but hold off on tasting anything until it's time to eat.
- Be sure not to eat any food or snack during the preparation phase. Do not eat until you are sitting at the table.
- Create a nice table setting for yourself. Use your favorite tablecloth, silverware, and dishes. and perhaps light some candles. You might also set out some flowers and make it beautiful for yourself.
- Sit down. Before you begin to eat, assess how hungry you are.
- Before you start to eat, look down at your food and see what is on your plate.
- Take a breath and then say a word of gratitude, prayer, or grace.
- Decide what you want to eat first, and put that first forkful of food into your mouth. Chew it slowly and really taste it.
- Continue to chew, and taste the food thoroughly. Put your fork down after every two bites and pause.
- Notice your thoughts and feelings as you eat. Notice how you feel when you are really focused on eating.
- After you are halfway done with your meal, stop and put your fork down. Take a few deep breaths, close your eyes, and notice where you are on the hunger scale.
- If you are still physically hungry and desire more food, allow yourself to eat more.
- When you feel full and satisfied, put your fork down and place a napkin over your food.
- Give yourself permission to get up from the table, put your food away, and go do something else.
- Notice what you are feeling. Are you satisfied? Do you want to eat more? Are you able to go do something else, or are you thinking about eating more?
- If you continue to think about food, even though you are not physically hungry, try to figure out what else is eating at you. What is it that you truly need right now?
- If you continue to desire food, sit still, think for a while, and write in your journal what you are feeling. Allow your obsession with the food to pass so you can you enjoy some other activity besides eating.
Commit to having a mindful meal at least once a week to really help you tune in with your physical hunger and emotional hunger. It will help you be more conscious of your eating habits and your feelings and moods when you eat. As you continue on your journey, you will begin to gain more control over how to satisfy your body with food without overeating.
4. Create a weight-loss vision board.
Food for thought: Your mind responds strongly to visual stimulation.
A weight-loss vision board is one of the most valuable weight-loss tools that can help you achieve your goals. If you want a vision of your future life to look completely different, then it's important to focus on the pictures and images that inspire you to make healthy choices along your journey.
Your mind responds strongly to visual stimulation, and when you surround yourself with images that invoke positive emotions, your brain will work to achieve the affirmations and images. Your vision board will program your subconscious to attract things that will help you reach your weight-loss goal.
How to use your vision board:
- Look at your vision board often to feel the inspiration it provides.
- Believe it is already yours.
- Read your affirmations and inspirational quotes out loud.
- See yourself living a life in your new slimmer body.
- Picture yourself shopping for smaller clothes
What you need to make your vision board:
- Pictures, quotes, and photos that cause happy thoughts (you can use magazines/books)
- Glue/pins, markers, scissors
- Poster board, a large sheet of paper, cork board, or pinboard
- You can use glitter, paint, or stickers. It's your board. Make it your own.
- Have fun with it and get your children to help you.
What to put on your vision board:
- Pictures of how you want your body to look when you've lost weight
- Images, quotes, and words that give you happy thoughts
- Things you WANT to look at because they make you feel empowered, happy, and motivated about losing weight
- Motivational quotes that make you feel empowered
- Images of people you admire or people you love
- Pretty pictures of delicious food and healthy recipes you'd like to try
- The outfits you'll be wearing at your goal weight (skinny jeans and form-fitting dresses)
- A list of exercise goals—like crossing the finish line of a marathon or a Bikram yoga pose you'd like to master.
When you complete your weight-loss vision board, be sure to share it with your friends, family, and online support system.
5. Leverage a support system.
Food for thought: Be deliberate about creating a supportive environment that can lead to long-term success.
Don't assume a family member or friend you're closest to is the best choice for your support system. Think very deeply and be brutally honest about who has been helpful to keep you on track in the past. The best supporter will be someone who has the same goal of getting slimmer and healthier and is committed to doing whatever it takes to achieve it. It would be great if you got together to work out, do meal prep and share recipes, go grocery shopping, cook shared meals together, and if you touched base on the phone weekly. It really depends on what kind of support you actually need. Encouragement can come in many forms. Some folks just need a motivational word or quote each day to stay on track.
Also consider who is most available. Discuss how much time and energy you both have to devote to the partnership and how realistic it is to be available to support one another. Discuss what will be your primary mode of contact and support. Determine if you prefer phone, email, or text communications—this will be key to maintaining contact. If you need face-to-face time, discuss that as well and figure out the best times to get together. The goal is to ensure there is time devoted to listening and encouraging each other.
Take a few minutes to think about what support you need on this journey. Use a journal to write down a few notes and be as specific as possible so your family members know how best to support you. An example would be, "Don't eat junk food in front of me—please go into a different room." Explicit rules will allow family members to have a better understanding of how to support you.