Personal Trainer Reveals How to Eat For Weight Loss

Personal Trainer Reveals How to Eat For Weight Loss
While extensive research has been directed towards food types, hormones, exercise, metabolism, genetics etc. people still struggle to lose weight. Why? Because knowledge can help you understand why you are overweight but it won't change your behaviour. Our behaviour and our relationship with food is what ultimately decides what we put in our mouth. The majority of thin people don't fear carbs/fats, measure their food or eat six meals a day. They remain thin because of their positive relationship with food and good eating behaviour.
To explore this idea lets look at some of the reasons fad diets fail and the general habits of thin people.
Reasons fad diets fail:
- Complete food group exclusion (eg carbs, fats etc.) makes you feel deprived and leads to cravings and binge eating.
- Fad diets prescribe strict rules regarding food: types, amounts, timing of meals etc. These restrictions make eating a complicated and unenjoyable experience.
- Fad diets are not social. Trying to stick to a strict diet when eating out or celebrating a special occasion is not practical. You either feel deprived when you attend or try to avoid the event all together. Neither of these options are suitable.
- A strict diet creates a negative relationship with food. If you begin to categorise food choices as "good" and "bad" it isn't long before food becomes the enemy.
- Fad diets cause food to consume your thoughts. Regularly thinking about the "consequences" of food feeds negative thoughts.
- Fad diets heavily restrict calories causing uncomfortable hunger.
- Stress can hinder fat loss for a number of reasons:

  • Hormonal responses (increased cortisol can slow metabolism)
  • Reduced motivation to eat well and exercise.
  • Emotional eating - In my opinion, this is the worst culprit of all. Firstly, because it creates a negative relationship with food and reinforces negative eating behaviour. Secondly, if large amounts of junk food or high-calorie food are consumed in a small period, blood sugar and insulin can rapidly increase signalling the body to store fat. Finally, emotional eating is usually followed by feelings of guilt and stress which continues the cycle.
General Habits of Thin People
1. Completely avoid snacks
Eat three meals a day. Choose meals that have fresh vegetables, lean meat and a small portion of whole grains (eg. brown rice, grain bread etc.) The result is a well balanced and nutritious meal that satisfies both hunger and taste buds. These meals are usually eaten at regular times and no snacks are eaten in between.
Note: If you are used to having an afternoon snack, it may take time to adjust to 3 meals a day - During this adjustment period, I recommend packing 2 pieces of fruit as an option to eat between lunch and dinner. By having this option available, you are less likely to be tempted by an unhealthy snack.
If you regularly buy food from a cafe/restaurant keep in mind that their portion sizes are 2-3 times more than you need. If you feel uncomfortable leaving food on a plate, ask for a take away box. You could also share a meal with a partner/friend. If the meals on the menu don't have a good portion of salad/vegetables, order a side salad and eat a smaller amount of the main meal. Sandwiches on whole-grain bread with a lean meat and lots of salad are another good option.
While some weight loss advisors suggest 6 meals a day there is a number of reasons this approach is not practical:
  • Recent research has concluded that eating more frequently does not speed up your metabolism.
  • It encourages an individual to think about food regularly (every 2-3 hours) and lessens their ability to deal with hunger. This can lead to hunger and food having more control over your thoughts and behaviour.
  • Preparing 6 portioned meals everyday can be tedious. If an occasion calls for a social breakfast/lunch/dinner, your meal options are limited to something that won't sabotage your other 5 daily meals.
  • Eating smaller meals can leave you feeling unsatisfied. You are never really hungry or satisfied. Thus you lose your ability to feel hunger without responding. Hunger between meals should not control your behaviour.
  • Hunger is a sensation in your body just like feeling tired. If you can ignore feeling tired to work late, socialise with friends or watch late night TV, why not ignore slight hunger between meals to correct your eating behaviour and lose weight?
2. Water is the beverage of choice
Our body needs 4 x 600mL bottles or 8 cups or 2.5L of water a day. Drinking water is the body's No. 1 way of removing toxins. It can remove sickness due to toxic build up inside our body, headaches, bad skin etc. It will improve skin more than any cream and reduces appetite as our body can confuse thirst with hunger signals.
Drinking soft drink, fruit juice, alcohol and coffee/tea with added sugar can quickly add unnecessary calories to your daily eating. By simply avoiding these sugary drinks you can start to lose body fat.
3. Never worry about your body weight
Worrying about your body weight/appearance creates a negative focus in your mind. Your mind is extremely powerful. It drives your behaviour. It soaks up everything we think about (visualise, self-talk) and works towards that outcome. If you visualise yourself as fat and think about negative outcomes, yourmind will work hard to keep you that way. Instead, visualise yourself becoming thinner every day with your new eating and exercise habits. Believe in yourself and remember that weight loss takes time. Don't mentally beat yourself up when something doesn't go to plan. Understand that mistakes are part of learning new habits. They help identify areas you need to work on. An example of positive self-talk I like to use when I feel down:
"Everyone falls over, it's the people who pick themselves up and push forward that succeed".
4. Don't skip breakfast!
Eating breakfast can stop you over eating later in the day. If you don't feel hungry in the morning, chances are you're eating too much at night. This is a habit you need to change. Dinner should be your smallest meal of the day because you don't need energy while you sleep. When you start having smaller dinners you may feel slightly hungry at bed time. However, you can't feel hunger while you sleep. Take advantage of this by having a small dinner and setting your body up to burn fat while you sleep. In the morning you'll wake up feeling refreshed and hungry for breakfast after your night of fat burning.
5. Concentrate and enjoy your meals
Sit down to eat your meals. Don't rush your eating, make sure you savour the taste of your food and chew it thoroughly before swallowing. Don't eat mindlessly such as in front of the computer. Your brain needs to register that you've eaten the food otherwise you'll still feel hungry. It takes 15-30mins for your brain to receive signals from the stomach that it's full. This is why it's important to eat slowly. After enjoying half your meal, stop eating for a few minutes and ask yourself if your hunger has passed. Finishing everything on your plate is a bad habit when there is too much food there. This is especially relevant for restaurant meals which are 2 to 3 times the required size. You should only eat until satisfied - not full. Taking a break from eating to see if your hunger has passed is a good way to get into this habit. If you continue to eat after your hunger has passed, I guarantee in 10 mins you'll feel stuffed and have eaten too much.
6. Don't let emotions control your eating behaviour
Learning to observe your emotions without acting is just as important as observing your hunger without acting. If you find yourself reaching for food when you feel upset, worried, stressed etc. you may be an emotional eater. Obviously the long term solution to this is to ask yourself what triggers your negative emotions so you can deal with the cause. However, this may take some soul searching and time to fix. In the short term, you should replace using "comfort food" with another activity that relaxes or distracts your stressed mind. Meditation, reading, walking, listening to music and taking a bath are just a few of the activities you can do. Choose one that helps calm your negative thoughts and emotions.
7. Avoid junk food
Sugar, white grains, alcohol, chocolate, cake, sweet biscuits, soft drink, deep fried foods, fast food etc. Eating these foods regularly can cause you to gain weight and increase your risk of physical sickness such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke etc. Negative self-talk and emotional stress is also common with frustration towards body shape and self-worth.
These food items should only be enjoyed every now and then. If you have trouble restraining yourself, then they shouldn't be kept in the house. A good tactic is to save these foods for special occasions (no more than once a week) such as eating out with friends or a birthday/holiday. If you decide to indulge in a "rich" (high calorie) food, eat it slowly and savour it. Some people like to have one relaxed eating day a week. This isn't an opportunity to revisit negative eating behaviour by gobbling down anything and everything. It's an opportunity for you to enjoy a favourite meal and maybe a dessert to follow it.
8. Don't binge drink
Drinking is a common obstacle that stops people achieving their goals. It's OK to enjoy a few drinks every now and then but the trick is to limit them so they don't sabotage your goals. One of the biggest problems of drinking is that it tends to make people overeat and/or eat junk food.
To drink less: have a glass of water between every drink; drink slowly and enjoy your company and conversation; when your glass is empty wait a while before you get a refill; limit your social drinks to 1 night a week. If you still find that drinking is sabotaging your goals, you may need to have a complete break from it.
9. Go to bed at a regular time
Have you ever noticed that when you stay up late or only get a few hours sleep your hunger signals increase? This is the body's attempt to help it stay awake. Different jobs require different working hours but the best thing you can do is go to bed at a regular time and aim for 7-8 hours sleep a night. If you find yourself snacking late at night; have a big cup of herbal tea after dinner and go to bed early. You'll feel fresher in the morning and be hungry for breakfast.
Note: If you're a shift worker, treat your shift as a regular day and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner accordingly.
10. Don't make excuses to justify bad eating behaviour
When you're satisfied you're satisfied. Don't make excuses to overeat.
  • "I must finish what's on my plate": it's fine to leave food on your plate. If you think you're wasting food, order a smaller meal or get them to put what's left in a take away container.
  • "My friend/family offered it so I must eat it": Your friend/family offered it as a suggestion. They won't think twice if you politely thank them but decline because you're full.
  • "I've exercised today so I can eat this": This is another dangerous habit. You can never out run a poor diet. I can't stress this enough. Until you start practicing good eating behaviour and establish a healthy relationship with food, no amount of exercise will make up for it.
  • "I've eaten this much so I may as well eat the rest": This is common with binge eating junk food. As I mentioned before if you can't resist, keep it out of the house. Practicing good eating behaviour, developing a positive relationship with food and addressing emotional eating will remove the desire to binge.
These guidelines have been developed to help you succeed where fad diets have failed. The key is to re-kindle your love for food and develop healthy eating behaviours to lose weight and remain thin. By keeping things simple and practical, the guidelines contribute to a happier more social lifestyle rather than leaving you feeling deprived and compulsive. It also encourages you to recognise and deal with negative thoughts about food and body image. This helps you remain calm and focused on a positive outcome.
Like all knowledge, reading this article won't bring about change. You need to make a serious commitment to change your behaviour. Remember that behaviour change takes weeks not days. Some bad habits may be easy to break while others may take more time and commitment. Start small and focus on one new habit at a time. Take a few minutes each night to reflect on how your day went. Congratulate yourself for positive behaviours and make note of the negative behaviours that are holding you back. Never beat yourself up because things didn't go perfectly to plan - this only feeds negative thoughts and outcomes. Instead, write down the obstacles that seem to be holding you back. Once you know what they are, you can think of ways to minimise or overcome them.
I wish you the best of luck with your weight loss journey. If you need help getting started or you can't seem to make progress, please contact me. I specialise in high intensity training and helping people overcome lifestyle, behaviour and mental barriers.
Eric Harkins is the owner of Eastern Suburbs Personal Training
If you would like to organise a free positive focus session with an Eastern Suburbs Personal Trainer visit our website today.
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