Tag Archives: lasting weight loss

Weight Loss: How to Lose Weight Forever (Instead of Fast)

A few things to practice if you want to lose weight forever (give up losing weight fast!)Last week I talked about the benefits of switching from a “fast” weight loss mindset or timeline to a forever one. This week, I promised I would share some of the ways you can switch out of that “fast” mindset into a “forever” one. Yes, it is slower – the weight will not fall off you in a week. It may take months and in many cases years, but if you learn how to live this way and really commit to it, you won’t find yourself yo-yo-ing up and down attempting to solve the same problem repeatedly – and that means you’ll have more time to live your life the way you were meant to live it.

So how do we get you on the path to forever weight loss?

Here are a few things you’ll need to start practicing:

1. Aim for what we call the 90/10 rule. I’ve talked about this several times on the blog, make 90% of your daily food intake high quality and nutritious (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, animal or plant protein sources etc) and then 10% can be whatever you want (sugar, candy, chips, booze). You can do this several ways – some people do this by meal – they’ll have 9 super high quality meals and then their 10th meal is a fun cheat meal. If you’re a calorie counter (not my preference) and you are aiming for 1800 calories a day, you can sprinkle in 180 calories of treats in your day (and the other 1620 calories would be super nutritious stuff). I do it a little more loosely because I don’t like counting things anymore – I tend to save my treats for sugar in my coffee, some wine or chocolate. Do I stray from 90/10? Absolutely. It’s not a hard and fast rule – it’s a general guideline to try to live by (and it can help us make better choices throughout the day).

One thing people get confused with when talking about 90% nutritious / 10% treats is that they think that means that their nutritious food has to be boring or bland. Not at all! I use things like avocado, spicy extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, spices, herbs, lemons, chile-garlic paste, tamari and toasted sesame oil to add richness and flavor to my food. Those are all nutritious things. And I always buy the highest quality ingredients that I can afford. Try not to confuse nutritious with being low fat, low calorie or low flavor – they are not mutually exclusive.

2. Get familiar with how foods make your body feel. Often we think we “know” how a food makes us feel because we like or don’t like a food. We see our preferences for food as being evidence for how they feel in our body – but it’s not the same thing. I loved doritos and bagels and found myself buying them when I needed comfort – thinking that emotional comfort was the same as making my body feel good but they actually both make me feel awful physically which I only noticed when I started to look into it.

Keep a food journal for several weeks and write down everything you eat / drink and note how you feel immediately after each meal and how you feel a few hours after. After awhile you’ll see patterns emerging – you may discover that every time you eat rice noodles you feel ravenous at bedtime and that makes it hard to sleep. You may find that when you have oatmeal for breakfast you feel like you can go forever between meals. You may find that eating beans makes you feel bloated and tired but eating salmon makes you feel energized and satisfied. Once you know what foods make you feel great and what ones make you feel not so good, you’ll find making choices about what you should eat (and how much) becomes really easy. Now that I’m so aware of how awful bagels and doritos make me feel, I have no interest in them. And it’s way easier to not binge on something if you don’t want it!

3. Eat according to how much food it takes to make you feel comfortable/ just satisfied. This one can be a huge challenge but is so worth practicing. Don’t eat to total fullness or very full. But also don’t let yourself get too hungry. Aim to keep yourself always between just satisfied and slightly hungry. What does that even mean? You have to experiment to figure this out for yourself. Most of us eat according to how many calories something is, or how many serving sizes, points or some other unit of measurement. But how many times have you finished eating your portion of one of these measurements and felt like it was too much or not enough? Instead of using units of measurement to determine how much you should eat, I want you to get used to using your own body’s signals to determine when you should stop eating.

This is really scary at first if you’ve never done it before. You’ll need to keep a food journal (like above) for several weeks and note after each meal where you were on a hunger scale – still hungry? satisfied? full? very full? Start to notice how little food it takes to get you from very hungry to just satisfied. There are many hunger scales out there (a quick google search can help you find one that works for you) –  use one that makes the most sense to you.

How much food do you have to eat to go from just satisfied to full? This experiment requires patience and quite a bit of mindfulness – which is possibly something you are not used to doing when eating. Stick with it until you are sure you know what “satisfied” vs. full vs. hungry feels like. Describe those feelings in your body in great detail – what do they feel like to you? Most of us have forgotten what hunger, satisfaction and fullness feels like – but when we were children we naturally ate according to listening to our body. Once you know what they feel like and the difference between them, your goal is to always eat to “just satisfied”. Practice doing this over and over again until it becomes second nature. One key to being successful in doing this is to not let yourself ever get too hungry. A little bit of hunger is fine (in fact it can do many of us some good) but letting ourselves get past a certain point of hunger will make it incredibly hard to make good decisions when food is finally within reach. A little hungry is ok. Starving is not.

Lose weight forever instead of fast.

Want to lose weight forever? We have to practice things a little differently.

4. Practice being “okay” about food/body things we normally freak out about. The scale going up a little. Your pants fitting tight today. Skipping a couple of workouts in a row. Eating too much at your last meal. Eating foods that you have labeled as “bad”. Life is going to happen – no matter how long you are on this journey, you are going to have days where you don’t eat the way you want to or you eat more than you would have liked. The best thing to do when that happens is to not make a big deal about it. Accept that it happened, don’t beat yourself up or make judgements about it and move on. One of the things that keeps us make poor choices about food is constantly feeling bad about our choices. We think that if we don’t criticize ourselves then we’ll just keep doing it and blow up to extreme proportions but really our constant criticisms is exactly what makes us feel bad enough to reach for the extra food. Notice your reaction when these situations come up and try swapping out negative words and thoughts towards yourself for neutral ones (I like saying “oh well” or “no big deal”) and then literally force yourself to move on. Don’t wallow or go back looking for more evidence that you did something wrong (yes, I know this is challenging – it only gets easier if you interrupt the pattern regularly).

The less a “big deal” I make any of my eating stuff, the less of a big deal it is. It’s the truth. My weight doesn’t go up and down by 10 or 20 pounds every other month now. I can enjoy an indulgent night out with my husband that includes truffle fries, wine and dessert without hating myself for 10 days afterwards.

Try to be kinder to yourself for 2 months. No name calling, no catastrophizing, no harsh punishments, restrictive eating or excessive exercise regimens in retaliation. If it’s easier to put yourself in the right mindframe, practice living the same way as you think someone without an overeating issue or weight problem might live. Does a naturally slender person panic when they have a single piece of cake? Does she tear herself down for 3 days after eating it? No. She eats it. Enjoys it and goes about her life. Pretend you are her (for 2 months) – and then let’s see how many of her natural kinder habits you’ve started to acquire.

5. Make feeding yourself properly a priority.  In our culture, we’ve come to value convenience, speed and comfort over the quality of the food we put in our bodies. Yes, our lives are busy today, but they’re also way easier than those of our ancestors. We whine about having prepare meals that take more than 10 minutes to make which is hilarious when our ancestors essentially spent their entire days doing tasks that contributed to the feeding of the family. We have all these conveniences in life now that make it possible that we can live these busy lives full of other things that take up so much of our time – but we bitch about this tiny thing we have to do like grocery shopping and cooking. Why is something that is so crucial to our health and survival given so little priority in all of our lives? We all have the same amount of hours in our day and I will bet that there is something in your life that can take a back seat so that food prep can take a priority. It’s really about weighing what’s important to us and there is no way around this one – if you want to lose weight, if you want to get healthy, if you want to be less challenged emotionally by food – then you must make food planning, shopping and prep a top priority.

Time and time again when I see people fall off the wagon, it’s because they gave up in this area. I know it’s easier to order pizza 3 nights a week and to hit the drive thru at lunch – but it’s not going to get you where you want to go.

Look, I know as much as I love to cook, there are days where I just want someone to come into my kitchen and cook for me (and clean up!! So much clean up!). I know how hard it can be. But you know what’s harder? Eating for convenience and comfort and being unhappy forever with how that makes your body look or feel. Keeping you fed well is the only way you will ever reach your goals – and unless you are in a tiny subset of the population who can afford to have a private chef, this is something you need to put at the top of your priority list. There is no negotiating here.

So those are just a few of the things you can start doing today to make a switch from fast weight loss to forever weight loss. If you need some support in making this switch – I know someone who could help (me!). Shoot me a note and let’s set up an appointment.

Make no mistake – none of this is easy at first. It’s essentially a complete reversal to what most of us have been doing our whole lives and it takes a lot of discipline to change it. Remember, anything we want to get good at, we have to practice. No one wakes up one day and is an amazing piano player or fluent in 4 languages after reading one blog post or book. No one is an incredible public speaker the first time they get on stage. No one can do advanced yoga asanas the first time they get on the mat. No one creates their best artwork the first time they ever put pencil to paper. Overhauling our eating habits so that we can have less ups and downs throughout our life is something we have to practice – daily. You can’t do these things once or twice and expect to be fixed. But if you come back to these things daily, and really make the effort to put them into your life and call yourself out when you try to hide or lie your way through it, then I know you will make huge strides towards forever weight loss and a happier relationship with your body and food. And isn’t that worth it?

Download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).

Weight Loss: Do you want it fast or forever?


Weight loss doesn't need to be fast to be successful.

Relaxing about when you reach your weight loss goal can make a huge difference in your success.

I’ve come to the conclusion that how fast we want to lose weight can be a critical factor in how successfully we lose it, and how well we keep it off. It’s not as sexy to go slowly. It’s not hip to do it for the long haul. There’s no “21 year fix” program. Moderation and consistency are not what people want to hear but if we want to keep our sanity and have a peaceful relationship with food, it really is the way to go.

Fast diet plans set us up for failure.
We’re taught that setting concrete, specific and timely goals are the best way to reach them and diet plans know this. All the marketing we see for popular plans out there focus on how quickly they can produce results for you. Yes, having a specific time goal can be motivating and also keep us on the path when we’re tempted to stray. Having a firm, short time based goal can help some of us bring our A game. But if we focus too much on the time aspect of our goal, it can undermine our success in the long term because we never learn to deal with our eating stuff. What use is a 30 day diet or a 6 month diet if you don’t know how you’re going to eat to maintain that loss for the rest of your life? Or they provide you with a maintenance plan but it’s not something you can follow? Most of us want to lose weight permanently but short, fast diets don’t give us the tools we need to keep it off when the diet ends.

If you’ve tried to lose weight quickly, many times, and you’re still out there searching for a solution to your weight struggles (because you’ve gained it back or never lost it to begin with), maybe it’s time to try something different. I want to ask that you let go of the short and fast goal to lose weight. Let go of the “now” timeline for losing weight.

Slow weight loss plans are easier to maintain.

Slow weight loss plans are easier to maintain.

Instead, make your weight loss goal forever.

I’ve done both – tried to lose weight quickly and also gone the slow and steady route. Fast weight loss plans are always motivating at first and helped me drop initial pounds but on the other hand I have to say that letting go of the quick fix and relaxing about “when” I’ll reach my goal weight has been way easier.

Some people will cringe when I ask them to try to not have a strict time goal in mind. I get it. We are completely conditioned to want everything right now and some people view not worrying about how long it will take as “giving up”. It’s not. If holding yourself to a tight deadline, a fast goal hasn’t fixed your weight struggles, all I ask if that you give a forever plan a chance. For me it was like having a massive weight lifted off my shoulders.

A few reasons why a forever weight loss goal is easier than a fast one:

1. It gives you the ability to relax about your food choices so that you can enjoy life.

Without the pressure of “I need to be thin now!” you can choose foods that you enjoy eating all of the time. This doesn’t mean that you can go ahead and eat junk food all day long but it does mean that you don’t need to eat fat free cardboard stuff that doesn’t satisfy you. Without the pressure to drop weight instantly, you can make choices about food that come from what will feel best for your body right now, what will fuel it for the next few hours and what also tastes good. This means that sometimes you’re going to choose to plan and prep lots of healthy nutritious meals at home and sometimes you’re going to order greasy take out. You don’t have to worry about one high calorie restaurant meal derailing you . . .because you’re in it for the long haul. So that meal may move your goal by a day or two. What’s a day or two in the scheme of things, really? You can go to a party and enjoy what others are eating. You can make room for a moderate dessert a few times a week. You don’t have to stress about every little morsel you put in your mouth because your goal is on taking care of yourself everyday, not just for the next 30.

2. You will naturally make better choices, more often.

When getting skinny tomorrow isn’t on the menu and instead being fit, active and strong for the rest of your life is, you feel thankful that you can make choices every day about what to put in your body. You will willingly choose foods that make you feel good instead of foods that make you feel ill. When you’re in it for the long haul, there are no foods you can’t have, there are no foods that are totally off limits so there is no urge to “rebel”. There is nothing to rebel against. And because you don’t feel like you need to act out to rebel, the foods that previously would have held you captive, lose their appeal (or most of their appeal). You will actually want the foods you thought you wanted less and less. You will start to notice that they don’t make you feel the way you thought they did (they actually make you feel terrible) and that they don’t even taste as good as you thought. By making them available and not off limits, you’ve actually removed a lot of the power that they had for you.

3. You will find you are able to be more present in life.

Without the pain and pressure of trying to conform to a restrictive eating plan, you will find that you have the emotional and mental energy to actually spend time connecting with the people in your life. Instead of spending 20 minutes at a restaurant trying to figure out the meal that will be least likely to blow your limited diet for the day, you’ll be able to quickly go with your gut and choose a meal that you know will make your body feel good and be able to spend more time being with the person you are sharing a meal with. You won’t need to mentally tally up the calories in every bite and you can actually hear what the other person is saying. You’ll have more to talk about because your entire mental life isn’t spent thinking about how little or how much you can eat today. You’ll “live” more instead of just trying to make it through all the calendar days until you’ll be done with this stupid diet.

4. You’ll find value in your body beyond the scale.

One of the best things I’ve found about dropping any type of time goal for my weight goals is that I care way less about what the scale says today or what size pants I’m wearing. Instead, I find value in what my body can do (lift super heavy weights, carry lots of grocery bags at once, bike 30 miles etc) and I see how closely that is tied to what I put in it, how I care for it. There is less room for crappy foods that make me feel terrible if I want to be able to be strong and active, not just now, but as I age. As a bonus, the things I do to make sure I am strong and fit for life (exercise, sleep and good food), naturally help me look my best, and they also increase confidence, which also looks good. As I get physically stronger, my body changes in a good way. My weight doesn’t change all that much (since I’ve put on some muscle) but my clothes fit better and I like my shape more. And have I mentioned how awesome it feels to be strong????

5. You’ll have less drastic ups and downs in your weight.

Short, hard diets get most of us caught in a tedious cycle of restricting and bingeing – we’ll lose the weight quickly because of our strict adherence to the diet, but as soon as we go off of it, we feel so deprived that we binge our way back to the weight we were before (or gain even more). It’s awful and then we’re looking for another quick diet to help us lose this weight too. And do it again. No one can lose weight that way and keep it off, unless they are willing to continue on that diet for the rest of their life. If you throw out the strict, rushed timeline and eat more according to the needs of your body (not saying this is easy), you’ll find that these big ups and downs become rare. It will take longer to lose weight, for sure, but if you gain weight, it’ll only be a couple of pounds – and usually it’s because we’ve been unconsciously depriving ourselves and find ourselves resorting to old rebellious behavior. That’s an easy fix – get back to being conscious about what you put in your body, based on how the food you eat feels.

6. You’ll actually have fuel and energy to do awesome things.

When you aren’t in such a rush to drop pounds, you can eat enough to fuel your body properly. This means performing your best at work, in school or in creative pursuits. This means being able to have and meet physical fitness goals that have nothing to do with how small you are. This means being able to play with your kids for hours without being too tired. This means doing things that you thought people didn’t do at your age. This means being able to get frisky with your honey even though it’s late and you have to get up early. This means not getting headaches or feeling weak from a lack of food. This means not dreaming about when you can eat next. This means having a more chill relationship with food.

When you feel the benefits from a timeline of forever, fast won’t be as appealing. You’re worth slowing down for!

Ok so this all sounds lovely, right? So how the heck do you do it? Stay tuned! Next week I’m going to tell you a few ways you can start relaxing your own weight loss goal to work for you instead of against you and I’ll share the strategies that have worked for me as well as my clients.

8 Steps to Painless Weight Loss

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of losing weight? For many people, it’s the idea of just how difficult the task will be. There are many people who won’t even start the journey because they have this idea about the process. They think losing weight has to be painful, boring and awful but it really doesn’t have to be. A few mind and habit tweaks and you’ll feel good the entire time the weight is coming off.

Here are my 8 Steps to Painless Weight Loss:

1. Love who you are right now.

It’s imperative that you love who you are right now and not just who you think you’ll be when you reach your goal weight. I know that’s easier said than done but when we spend precious mental energy on negative thoughts about ourselves, it’s much harder to chose to eat well and take care of ourselves. When you feel badly, you’re more likely to reach for and overindulge in comfort foods, which will lead you to feeling even worse about yourself and the cycle will continue. If you can accept and appreciate who you are right now with any perceived flaws, without judgement, there will be far fewer emotional obstacles that can detour to “Overeating City” on the path to where you want to be. Negative thoughts about yourself are just that, thoughts! And you can choose to think alternative ones. Besides, if you don’t like yourself now, who do you think you’ll be stuck with when you do lose the weight?

Love yourself now – not just when you reach goal weight.     (photo credit: Love Heart via photopin (license))

2. Eat foods you love and don’t eat the ones you don’t.

If you hate kale, chia seeds or maca, just don’t eat them. There are so many healthy and delicious foods out there that you can eat instead. There’s no reason to suffer and choke down foods that gross you out or whose texture you can’t stand and doing that for too long will actually make your efforts backfire. If you feel like you’ve been depriving yourself because you’ve been living off of cardboard then at some point you’ll just go completely off the rails. It’s much more sensible and less painful to eat foods you do enjoy because you can do it effortlessly. Just because it’s nutritious and popular doesn’t mean you have to jump on board. Hate kale? Try Swiss Chard, Collard Greens or Spinach. No big deal. Love french fries and don’t want to give them up? Try roasting potato, jicama or sweet potato wedges in the oven at home. It’s not the exact same but it will satisfy the craving (especially with a generous pinch of sea salt).

photo credit: SweetOnVeg via photopin cc

Stop eating kale if you hate it.        (photo credit: SweetOnVeg via photopin cc)

3. Find exercise that feels good to your body and you enjoy doing.

Running is an efficient way to get into shape but running in 10 degree weather seems more like a form of torture than exercise to me. Some people love jumping on an elliptical machine at the gym and doing their 30 minutes every night after work. Others would much rather get their exercise by going to group classes or by doing chores around the house. It doesn’t matter what you chose. The most effective and the healthiest exercise is . . . the one that you do! Getting into an exercise routine is so much easier if you like what you’re doing. If going to the gym is something you just can’t see yourself doing, then don’t join a gym. You can workout in your living room if that’s what you prefer! And don’t forget the importance of having it feel good for your body. I used to love running but after a few too many injuries, my feet just can’t tolerate it anymore. Instead of repeatedly attempting to get back into it, I’ve had to chose other activities that don’t cause pain. This way, I can stay active, instead of spending weeks or months out of commission. If it feels good, it’s going to be so much easier to make it a long term habit that’ll make you look and feel great.

My cutie pie husband biking in Calistoga, CA in 2011.

My cutie pie husband biking in Calistoga, CA in 2011.

4. Cook more at home.

Who doesn’t love to go out to eat? I know I do! But restaurant meals often have many more calories than the meals you would make at home and the portions are enormous. Restaurants often use far more cheese, butter and oils than you would ever use at home because their goal is to make a super delicious dish that you’ll come back and buy often. One study has even shown that people take in more calories in restaurants when served larger portions. When you cook the food yourself, you can create a similar dish of whatever it is you are craving, in a healthier way because you’re in control of the ingredients and the quantity that you eat. If you eat out 4 or 5 times a week and cut that down to once a week, the saved calories can really add up to effortless weight loss.

Also, cooking at home is a great way to expand your palate. Many of us tend to eat the same foods over and over because it’s what we know but when we take the time to prepare food at home regularly it gives us a chance to be adventurous and experiment with new foods and preparations. This can lead to more enjoyment of our meals so we’re less likely to continue snacking or looking for something to satisfy us.

Cook at home more!

Cook at home more!

5. Rethink strict time based goals.

While setting goals is important and can help give us the drive we need to create change, putting too much emphasis on how much time it should take you to lose weight can actually prevent you from being successful. How quickly we lose weight is dependent on many factors, including our age, sex, activity level, medical conditions and even stress levels. There will be times in our lives when losing weight is relatively easy and other times it will be more difficult. While calories in, calories out, works for many people, especially when they first take on a weight loss challenge, it’s not always that simple for everyone, and certainly not forever. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose, try to focus on the big picture and work towards your goal day by day. Sometimes you’ll meet time based goals, other times you won’t. If there’s a ton of pressure to reach a time based goal and you push yourself but don’t meet it despite your effort, what happens then? In my experience, people often give up and gain back whatever weight they’ve lost to begin with because they feel not meeting that timeline is failure. If you’re eating well and getting exercise, there is no such thing as failure. Slow and steady wins the race, it’s not just a cliche, it’s the truth!
Calendar Test.tiff

6. Get rid of anything in your closet that doesn’t make you feel great.

I know you’re thinking you need to save your money and wear whatever clothing you have right now because when you lose all the weight you’re going to have to buy yourself a new wardrobe. It’s true, buying new clothes is very expensive, even when done frugally. But if your closet is filled with clothing that makes you feel terrible (it’s too big, too small, makes you look dumpy etc), when you wear that clothing, you’re going to feel terrible, and when we feel terrible, we’re not always so great at taking care of ourselves, right? Dressing well may seem like superficial, surface stuff, but it’s not superficial if it affects how you feel inside and the choices you’ll make that day. Wear clothing that makes you feel strong, beautiful and confident. If you don’t have any that makes you feel that way, go out and get yourself a few basic pieces that do that you can mix and match with the rest of your wardrobe. I promise you it will be worth the time, money and effort.

Only wear clothes that you feel confident in - get rid of everything else!

Only wear clothes that you feel confident in – get rid of everything else!

7. Accept that there isn’t a quick fix for losing weight.

If there was a magic pill that made weight loss easy, we’d all be taking it. If you want to lose weight safely and keep it off long term, then you need to learn how that’s possible. If you fall for a “quick fix” and it helps you lose the weight, what’s going to help you maintain your new weight loss? It’s a lot easier to do the work and then adapt that once you reach your goal, than it is to speed into your goal and stumble trying to figure out how to stay there. Constantly looking for something that can make us lose weight quickly sets us up for failure – fast weight loss usually is gained back. Why be disappointed over and over? Often, it’s poor habits that result in weight gain in the first place, so it’s important to create new & better habits slowly so that they stay with us for a long time. If you can accept that there isn’t a quick fix and you’re willing to do the work it takes to get there, then you are far more likely to be successful in the long run. And that’s what we really want, isn’t it?

Slow and steady means you'll arrive at your destination. photo credit: Ancient One via photopin (license)

Anything worth doing is worth working for, even if it’s slow paced!   (photo credit: Ancient One via photopin (license))

8. Connect with your Why.

Why do you want to lose weight in the first place? Is it motivated from somewhere inside of you? Or is your motivation coming from an external place – such as what someone else thinks of you or wanting to be seen in a bikini? While everyone’s motivation is different, having an internal personal reason for wanting weight loss is usually more powerful than an external motivator. Connect with a deep reason why losing weight is something you desire and you’ll be well on your way to reaching your goals.

I hope some of these tips help you to release some of the pain and pressure that we often associate with weight loss. We want to make your weight loss permanent – so we need to connect with things that support us and that we can do indefinitely.

If you like what you’ve read here, please consider signing up for emails from me (in the green box below). And if you think someone you know may benefit from this post, please email or share on social media (and thank you for sharing!). And as always, if you’d like some help getting to the bottom of your weight or food habits and struggles – contact me for a discovery session today. You are worth the investment in yourself.