You’ve been getting your yoga practice on almost every-other-day now. Life feels calmer, your body feels stronger, and more happiness is beginning to slip quietly into your days with every practice.
There’s just one thing that’s bugging you—you’d also like to lose those 20 pounds you’ve put on over the years in a way that goes hand-in-hand with your new life, not against it. That means no crash diets that stress your body and mind out, strict eating plans that eliminate the foods you love, or cookie-cutter fat-loss programs that don’t take you into account.
What can you do to drop the excess weight safely and consistently? Here are three habits and five tried-and-tested ways that I’ve personally used to lose 22 pounds and keep it off:
Habit #1: Slow Down Your Meals
If you’re used to eating on the go or to deal with boredom (hands up if you’ve inhaled a bag of chips while you were stuck in bad traffic) and rushing through your meals to save time, chances are, you’re probably taking in more food than you need to.
Try finding a quiet spot to have your next meal. This could be your office pantry or a cozy corner at your favorite cafe — somewhere with minimal distractions where you can focus on the food in front of you and nothing else.
Pay attention to how it looks, smells and tastes. How does that first bite make you feel? How many times do you chew every mouthful before moving on to the next bite? Is your hunger slowly tapering off with every bite you take? How does your tummy feel: bloated or pleasantly filled up?
Doing this gives you an opportunity to tune in to how the food you’re eating makes your body and mind feel. It also helps you get in touch with your body’s hunger and fullness cues, all of which play an important part in stopping you from over-eating, and putting the next habit into action.
Habit #2: Stop Eating When You’re 80 Percent Full
Most of us would’ve grown up in a household where finishing everything on our plate was (and still is) the norm, even expected. There’s just one problem with this habit: the more food you have on your plate, the more you’ll eat. This is great for not wasting food, but not so great for your waistline.
Hara hachi bu, which translated from Japanese, means “eat until belly 80% full”, is a form of mindful calorie control that the residents in Okinawa, Japan, follow. The results of this widespread cultural tradition? Almost 29 percent of Okinawans live until 100, and most tend to have a body mass index (BMI) of between 18 and 22. In stark contrast, the average American over 60 has a BMI of between 26 and 27.
How do you put this habit into practice? Begin by eating slowly (habit #1), and when you’re no longer hungry, stop eating.
Habit #3: Turn Your Negative Self-Talk Around
Ever caught yourself calling yourself “fat” or “lazy” when you miss a workout or slip up with your diet? If your answer is “yes,” consider this: why would you call yourself names that you’d consider disrespectful if someone else did the same to you?
As it turns out, how you talk to yourself, be it negative or positive, can play a powerful role in making or breaking your weight loss goals — researchers have found evidence that your thoughts have the potential to literally shape your brain at cell level to make you stronger, slimmer, and smarter, or the opposite, if you allow them to.
The next time you catch yourself talking to yourself negatively, take a moment to stop and run your thought through these 5 steps:
- Is this thought true?
- Is it helpful?
- How does this thought make you feel?
- Now imagine yourself telling a loving, compassionate friend what happened and how you’re feeling. What advice would they give you?
- Next, replace your negative thought with this kind, loving advice you just came up with.
Are you trying to lose weight but struggling to make progress? What aspects of your weight-loss are you have the most difficulty with right now? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.