I think we can all admit at some point that we have had an unhealthy relationship with our bodies. We look in the mirror and we see the love handles, flabby arms, or even the double chin and we tend to think all sorts of terrible things about ourselves. If we look at the data, weight related illnesses in America are skyrocketing, and a majority of that is due to how we eat as well as how much of what we eat. But there is also another troubling aspect of weight related issues that also needs to be addressed, the prevalence of eating disordered behavior. Many times I see clients who are struggling with aspects of different unhealthy eating behaviors such as binging, purging, or even restricting in order to lose the pounds. But all of these behaviors are counter intuitive and what’s worse they build up an unhealthy mindset about food itself.
So what do we do when we need to lose the weight because our health demands it, but not get into unhealthy eating habits? I have some tips for you that could help with your journey towards health and well being.
1. Look at the reason why you want to lose weight and see if it is a healthy reason. Many times people want to lose weight because they want to look like the movie stars that they see on the magazine covers, or they want to look like the people that are on TikTok or social media. First, what people are seeing on the screen is often unrealistic if not unhealthy. Second, many times how people achieve these bodies that we see on screen often are the result of unhealthy habits or behaviors. If your reason for losing weight is just looks based, then I would highly recommend that you seek out therapeutic services before starting any weight loss program to help sort out an unhealthy mindset that could make or break the healthy success of weight loss. If your reason for losing weight is due to medical issues that could improve with the decrease in weight and body mass, then checking with your doctor and seeing what plan would meet your needs would be appropriate.
2. Always consult with your doctor about what a healthy weight is for your height and body type. Our tendency is to look to social media or the internet to see what is a healthy body weight for our body type. This is not only unrealistic but can be dangerous because it gives us an unhealthy view of our bodies and can start the self hatred cycle. Speaking with your health care professional before starting any weight loss program will help you with putting together a realistic expectation of how much weight you can lose as well as how quickly you can lose it safely.
3. Always make sure that any weight loss plan that you start is being medically monitored by a professional. There are weight loss clinics out there that specialize in helping you lose the pounds in a healthy way, and they are medically monitored. These clinics will take your blood work and see where exactly you are in terms of what is helping you with keeping on the weight. For women, weight loss can be especially tricky due to hormonal issues such as PCOS. Weight loss clinics can help patients with getting on medication to help with hormonal imbalances if necessary, and monitoring the patient to make sure that they are losing weight at a pace that is healthy. They can also provide patients with emotional support to make sure that they don’t get too discouraged with the process of losing weight.
4. Don’t be afraid to eat! I know that for a lot of people when they are trying to lose weight, they have the tendency to not want to eat certain foods for fear that they will gain weight or stay at a stagnant weight. While your weight loss plan may involve cutting out certain foods, it is also a good idea to have substitutions for those foods if you can manage them. This will keep you from wanting to binge on the foods that you can’t have, thus sabotaging your progress. Another problem that some people will run into is simply restricting how much they eat. This is also not a good idea because it will put your body into survival mode and you will still gain weight.
5. Surround yourself with support. You can’t lose weight alone. It is essential for you to have a team of support outside your medical staff. Friends and family who support your decision to lose weight, will be considerate of you throughout this process (i.e. not make any comments about what you are eating or where you might want to eat if you go out), and encourage you to keep going when you feel like you want to quit. Having a strong support system will also be helpful for you when you feel like restricting when you don’t need to.
6. Have a cheat day for yourself. It can be really easy to cheat when you start missing the foods that you used to eat and eat an abundance of. This can be remedied by having a cheat day for yourself and allowing yourself to eat what you would prefer. I know that I may sound completely self sabotaging, but allowing yourself to enjoy foods that you like in moderation can help with the process of losing weight overall.
7. Have regularly scheduled meals and snacks. Having a routine for your meals and snacks can help you with not forgetting to eat or ignoring your hunger. Having a supply of snacks that you can eat while you are at work or at home is essential in order to keep you from binging at meal times, particularly if you have skipped a meal. I would like to mention that skipping meals is not really helpful overall because it only causes you to be hungrier when it is time to eat. Making it a priority to have regular meals helps not only giving your body what it needs, but it also helps with keeping your metabolism where it needs to be.
8. Have an appropriate amount of movement. I know that one of the doctor’s prescriptions for losing weight is working out regularly. However, working out regularly can help us with getting into good healthy habits in terms of moving our bodies. It is, however, it is important that we don’t work out in excess, especially if your weight loss plan involves some form of caloric restriction. Too much exercise can build up an unhealthy relationship with food or even with movement in some way.
9. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! Believe it or not a lot of weight gain comes from not drinking a lot of water. Our bodies require a lot of water on a daily basis in order to be healthy to begin with. From a weight loss perspective, when we don’t drink enough water, our bodies will retain it in fat cells in order to survive. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help get our bodies out of survival mode and help flush out unnecessary fat cells.
Weight loss is possible but it must be done in a healthy and productive way. Medical intervention, however, is necessary in order to help the process along and to help make sure that the weight comes off safely. If you are struggling with losing weight, seeking out the help from a nutritionist or a weight loss clinic can be a great start going forward. Remember, the goal of losing weight should be with your health in mind, not because we are trying to live up to an unrealistic ideal.