I always hated the phrase weight loss. I never believed in the culture of ''diets' where you deprive yourself of food and count every calorie you consume. I don't think anyone enjoys it and it has been proven to be successful only in the short term. Constantly decreasing your calories as a way to loose weight is not only unhealthy physically but it also creates an unhealthy relationship with food. People who diet often become obsessed with the idea of food (constantly counting how much they ate and how much they have left to eat) and punish themselves for eating a little more than they were supposed to.
Growing up, I have always maintained a good weight alhamdulillah because I ate healthy meals that my mom cooked, I was involved in sports and I didn’t think too much about food. I ate when I was hungry and I stopped when I was not.
When I got married and started a full time job, I was stressed and did not make cooking a priority, therefore I was buying my lunches from fast food restaurants near my work place. I was also too tired after work to go to the gym or even move from the sofa. A year and a half later, I weighted myself and I saw that I gained more than 10lbs. I felt lethargic, tired all the time and didn’t like the way my clothes fit on me. I tried dieting and saw a nutritionist who gave me a list of low calorie meals to eat. I even started seeing a personal trainer. It just didn't work for me. I felt hungry and deprived after each meal. I did not enjoy the exercises the trainer gave me and I just couldn't loose any weight. I basically threw hundreds of dollars out of the window.
I am sure many of you can relate to my desperation of loosing weight fast!
When I stopped obsessing over the numbers on the scale and I focused on learning HOW to eat healthy & balanced meals, everything changed. I lost the weight without even trying hard!
Here is how I did it! I changed the way I looked at 3 things:
1-I changed the way I looked at food: Instead of thinking of food as something that can make me fat, I started looking at it as something that gives my body the ability to function at its best. I see food as fuel and not as calories. This perspective change has encouraged me to focus on the quality of the food I consume rather than the quantity. I eat the foods that will nourish my body. Instead of basing my food choice on taste only, I choose foods that have plenty of nutrients and vitamins. Instead of worrying about how many calories the meal you're consuming contains, ask yourself what nutrients does this meal contains? The more ‘whole’ the food is (natural, comes from the earth), the more nutrient dense it is likely to be. Your diet should be composed mostly of fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains and seeds. Limit your animal products to 1-3 per week and increase your consumption of greens.
Once you do that, you won't have to worry about your calories as nutrient dense foods contain healthy fats and fibers that will help you feel satiated for a longer time. Eat when you're hungry and stop when you're almost full. Seems simple, but it requires a conscious practice.
2- I changed the way I looked at exercise:I once thought that the only way to have a strong, fit and sculpted body was to exercise 5-6 times a week at the gym. It is not! Training consistently at the gym requires a lot of dedication and not everyone is cut out for it. The most important thing is to get moving whether it is at the gym, at home or outdoors. The best way to ensure that you are consistent in your exercise is to do something that you enjoy. If lifting weights is boring for you, try taking Zumba classes or cycling classes. If you prefer group sports, register in your local volleyball league. If you like to dance but can't afford to take classes, put on a Youtube video and dance at home! An active lifestyle doesn't end at the gym. In fact, any type of movement is considered exercise! Take the stairs more often, take walks outside & play outdoors with your kids! All this movement will add up and make you fitter and stronger.
3- I changed the way I looked at weight:I once used to weight myself every day and would be so disheartened if I didn't see a change in my weight. If you're doing this, you will drive yourself crazy and will not be motivated to continue working on your fitness & nutrition. Here is what you need to know. Our weight naturally fluctuates daily. Weighting yourself once a month gives you a more accurate picture of your weight loss or gain. Also, weight is only one measure of progress. In fact, when you gain muscle, you will lose the fat around it and you will look leaner but your scale might not show a weight loss. That is because muscle weights more than fat on the scale but takes less space than fat. A true depiction of your progress would be a progress photo. Take a picture of your body before and after and you will see how much your body has changed!
If you implement these 3 mindset changes you will have a healthier relationship with food, exercise and weight which will help you stick to a healthy & active lifestyle in the long run!