I haven’t always been thin. Like many girls, I struggled with weight and poor body image throughout high school and college, until one day in my mid-20’s I just got sick of it.
Once I realized that obsessing about my weight and body was time-consuming, exhausting, and unproductive, I decided to stop. Worrying had never positively impacted my eating habits, exercise habits or health. In fact, it did the opposite. And when was I going to feel perfect? Never.
What a waste of time.
Many years have since passed, and at this point I can honestly say I almost never worry about my body (and I’ve sure had the opportunity, during and after two pregnancies!). Negative thoughts do still enter my mind on occasion, but rather than letting these control me, I just recognize them then put my attention and energy into the positive habits that make me feel good.
What’s crazy – or maybe not crazy at all – is that soon after shifting my mentality about weight and body image, I lost weight and haven’t ever had a problem keeping it off. Instead of obsessing about my size, I have adopted a handful of habits that help me stay healthy without much thought.
Below are seven of the habits I rely on to keep weight off without obsessing.
1. I learned to cook. Eating out a lot makes it near impossible to lose or maintain weight. When you cook at home most of the time, you become confident, and learn many different ways to make healthy foods – namely, vegetables – delicious and appealing. I now like my own food more than almost any restaurant food, and this is due to practice.
2. I avoid light and diet foods. These foods mess with your mind and your metabolism. Whether it’s gum, diet soda, low-fat cheese, or fat-free ice cream, odds are it’s not helping you lose weight.
3. Before eating, I think about what I last ate, and what I’m going to eat later. If I had toast for breakfast, I’ll choose a salad over a sandwich for lunch. If I’m going out for Mexican food later and know I’ll want enchiladas, I’ll load up on veggies & fruits earlier in the day so I have “room” for a heavier dinner.
4. On the days I don’t have time for exercise, I eat even more vegetables than usual. When one healthy habit is suffering, I kick the other good habits into high gear.
5. I never give up particular foods or food groups. Because more than anything, I want to enjoy food, and life in general. If I have to worry about food “rules” all the time, eating isn’t fun.
6. I pay attention to my pants. When I feel my pants getting a little tighter, I immediately “pull in the reigns” on whatever habits I’ve let slip. These bad habits (for me, usually excess indulgence in desserts and/or alcohol) are pretty easy to identify – and if I’m not sure, I keep a food diary for a few days until it’s clear.
7. I know my triggers, and don’t keep those around. I don’t know anyone who can continually walk by their favorite treats on the counter without giving into temptation. Thus it’s important not to put temptation in plain sight. Rice Krispie Treats? I only make them when I have a place to bring them!