If you had told me when I was 20 that losing 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.
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.
Is this your story too?
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None of the following is healthy:
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 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?
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.
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.
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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.
A colourful rainbow mix of whole, nourishing plant food. These should be 75% of your meal.
Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues?
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?
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.
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.
Hi, I'm Jane. I'm the author of the janelamason.com blog. Hitting midlife and menopause can be challenging. I write these posts to highlight my own experience for other women to read about and to give tips that might help to make their path into this time of their lives a little smoother.