If you had told me when I was 20 that to lose weight without dieting was something you could do I would have felt like you were handing me the holy grail.
I don’t think I can remember the first weight loss diet I went on. There was a whole lot of cottage cheese and lettuce though. I also remember feeling lethargic and lacking in energy.
I thought I had died and gone to hell.
Weight Loss Diets Became My Normal
Within 5 minutes of saying the words ‘diet,’ I obsessed about food. I’d look at skinny women and hated them with every irrational fibre of my being.
A few days later I invariably ‘fell off the wagon’. Then hated that I couldn’t stick to anything and would be all “oh well may as well go crazy for the rest of the day. How much harm can I do?”
And so started the on again off again diet and deprivation roller coaster.
Each year there would be at least another kilo on the scales.
There was the Atkins diet, the loose 5lb in 1-week diet, all bread one day all you can eat the next diet, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, low fat, and the grapefruit diet. I tried them all.
Many women young and old were doing exactly the same.
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What ‘Dieting’ Does To Your Mind
None of the following is healthy:
- Constantly dieting
- Hating yourself for eating something delicious
- Worrying over not being the perfect shape
- Deprivation to lose weight or keep weight off
This is a diet culture we live in, so there is media pressure which can mess with your head.
Obsessive, compulsive behaviour around food is born from restriction and deprivation. Your brain is hardwired to survive. As soon as you restrict food your brain fights back!
Many women are in this vicious cycle of hate your body, deprivation, fail, hate yourself.
What Can You Do Differently?
While it may be tempting to go on an extremely low-calorie diet to lose menopause weight fast, it is one of the worst things you can do.
Limiting calories is shown to possibly lead to a whole range of health problems including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. And it’s not while your limiting the calories that these things happen.
It’s after you fail and your metabolism has slowed down and you eat all the wrong things because you have such dreadful cravings and you put on more weight than you lost while half starving yourself.
What if you let go of the idea of restriction? In fact what if you let go of judgement altogether and instead, fostered a gentle curiosity around how and what you eat?
What if you based your choices around valuing your feelings and good health, instead of how you look?
Listen and connect to your body. Be mindful about how food makes you feel, does it give you energy, does it make you sluggish?
Be mindful of how and when you eat. Are you chewing your food and taking your time or wolfing it down (I am such a wolfer!).
When you eat how hungry are you?
Ravenous enough to clean the fridge out of everything bar whatever that stuff is in the back that’s been there forever.
Or are you just slightly hungry?
Are you eating because you need to fuel yourself or because you’re tired, sad or bored?
Lose Weight Without Dieting
95% of dieters can’t keep the weight off, and in fact, gain back MORE weight.
It’s exhausting and stressful to be constantly trying to get rid of those extra kilos that have snuck on over the years while you were too busy with life and weren’t looking.
Now you’re in midlife, those bloody kilos are starting to settle around your middle.
Dieting and failing can and will mess up your metabolism. Menopause will also slow it down.
While restricting what you eat can help you lose weight, it doesn’t work in the long term.
What way of eating is right for the woman standing next to you might be completely wrong for you.
The 10 Weight Loss Mistakes women in midlife make cheat-sheet
10 ways for you to start discovering the perfect way to gain energy and lose weight without dieting.
Look at these 10 paradigms
- There are as many “right” diets as there are people on the planet!
- What’s healthy for one person might not be healthy for YOU.
- The body has innate wisdom beyond any book or authority.
- Diets are not useful as a dogma, but they ARE useful as a reference.
- Your body is the ultimate dietary authority for every phase of your life.
- The diet you eat changes as YOU change.
- Your body is the most powerful, least expensive and BEST dietary experimentation lab.
- The RELATIONSHIP you have with food & your body impacts your health more than the food you eat.
- Symptoms, cravings and behaviours are not the problems, they are your only solutions until now.
- Nourishment is about much more than food.
It can be scary to think that you are the ultimate authority on what you should eat but good grief, how liberating it is at the same time.
The Nitty Gritty Of What To Eat And Drink To Lose Weight
The “calories in, calories out” philosophy is outdated.
Instead of watching or counting your total calories pay attention to the types of carbohydrates, fat and protein you eat and the ratios or quantities you eat them in.
Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods). This is the simplest most impactful thing you can do for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.
Every day this is what you should aim for:
A colourful rainbow mix of whole, nourishing plant food. These should be 75% of your meal.
You need fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These foods slowly release their sugar to give you energy all day and to help you feel fuller longer. Think about including lots of leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and kale. Processed, carbs, on the other hand, should be avoided. These convert to sugar quickly and include cereals, bread, pasta, potatoes and high sugar items.
Enough protein, and for women that is anywhere between .8 to 1 gram of protein per 500gms of bodyweight.
Remember it depends on how sedentary and how old you are. If you are strength training eat more.
If you are over 50 eat more as it will guard against losing muscle mass. Protein also gives you all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism). Eating quality protein is essential so where you can, choose grass-fed.
Don’t forget that protein should be considered a side dish not a main. AND not all protein comes from animals. Consider nuts, seeds, chickpeas, blackbeans and all other pulses and legumes.
Healthy fats and oils, never ever, EVER hydrogenated oil.
There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” – you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain. And they allow you to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy salads.
Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, eat your organic egg yolks, avocados and get grass-fed meats when possible. You don’t need to overdo it, just make sure you’re getting some high-quality fats.
How To Eat And Drink
Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues?
Try Mindful Eating
When you bring act of eating into the here and now, you become more aware of what you are putting into your body and perhaps more importantly, how your body is responding to it.
Mindful eating let’s you be more in tune to your body’s hunger and fulness signals leaving you less likely to eat when you feel ‘triggered’ with emotions such as boredom, sadness, anger, excitement and my personal trigger, tiredness.
Being fully present when you eat will allow you to enjoy the food more.
Heeding your body’s signals will leave you less likely to give in to cravings that will cause weight gain.
Try connecting to others in the household at mealtimes. Chatting over food is one of the great pleasures in life. And it has been said that it is even better for your childrens language development than reading to them. It is the best way to find out what is going on in the lives and minds of those in your family.
Mindful means: smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe. SLOW DOWN and relax. Eating meals should be an enjoyable thing to do so take your time.
This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.
Eating slower often means eating less and so can aid weight loss. Winning! Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full?
Practice Taking 20 Minutes To Eat A Meal
It seems like a long time but if your chatting, putting down your knife and fork between bites and breathing it shouldn’t be too hard. Maybe start by adding a minute a day to however long it takes you now until you reach the goal of 20 minutes.
More thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.
Eating while you are standing, working, watching T.V. cannot, in any universe, be mindful. The less stress you have while eating, the more nutrition your body is able to absorb and the more likely you will be able to recognize when you are full.
Smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy way to get lots of veggies, hello leafy greens! but consider a large smoothie to be a full meal, not a snack. And don’t gulp it down too fast. Think about getting a Nutribullet to easily make smoothies that you can take anywhere.
If your smoothies aren’t satisfying enough try adding a spoon of fibre like ground flax or chia seeds.
Green Smoothie Recipe
- A handful of whatever greens take your fancy.
- 1 tbsp chia seeds.
- One cup of liquid eg: coconut water, milk, coconut milk, almond milk.
- A frozen chopped kiwi or 1 cup berries, or both.
- 1 tsp coconut oil. Adds good fat and helps the body absorb the nutrients from the greens and fruit.
- Concentrated stevia to taste if you like it a little sweeter.
Add ingredients to a blender.
Wait a couple of minutes for the chia seeds to start soaking up the almond milk.
Blend, Serve and Enjoy!
Bonus: Chia seeds not only have fibre and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they contain all of the essential amino acids from protein.
Follow these simple suggestions and you will be a long way towards losing weight without dieting.