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Food cravings, the urge to put off a workout, that little voice that says it won’t matter if you drive instead of walk… just for today. We know what we should do in a perfect world, but when we are faced with constant temptation to take the easier road, or chose the short term win over the long term goal, it can be incredibly difficult to make the right choice instead of give in to temptation.
Change the phrases you use.
Self talk (that little voice in your head) can have a huge impact on how you feel about a situation. Phrases such as “I can’t have that” “I’m not allowed that” “I hate exercise” “I’m not good at this” etc. These will either make you feel like you are missing out on something, that you aren’t in control, and that you are doing something you don’t want to do. What you need to do is catch yourself saying these unhelpful things to yourself, and actively change the wording you use to yourself.
“I can’t have that” can be changed to “I can have that, but I choose not to.”
“I hate exercise” can be changed to “I’m not fit yet, but every day I’m getting stronger.”
“I’ve failed before, I’ll fail again” can be changed to “I don’t care about being perfect, I care about making progress.”
The idea is that you are in complete control of your own choices, that uncomfortable feelings such as burning muscles or breathlessness are signs that you are getting fitter and healthier, and that you aren’t missing out on anything- because what you will get in the end is reaching a goal you’ve been wanting desperately for months, or years.
Work with your physiology
Your body needs fuel, frequently, and stable blood sugar levels for it to work at its best, and you will experience strong physical urges to eat if you are running low on fuel. Our bodies are wired to crave the highest calorie foods when we are feeling this way, which makes sense. If it was a period of scarce food supplies, we would do much better choosing high fat/high sugar foods that would restock our fuel stores quicker and more effectively than a salad which would contribute minimum calories and leave us in no better condition than before it was consumed. Our body doesn’t know that we are deliberately reducing our energy intake to try and lose weight, it thinks we are starving.
The way around this? Cut your calories more gradually and increase physical activity, some find smaller more frequent meals (every three hours) helps “fool” their body and mind into thinking they are constantly eating. Whether you choose 5 meals a day or 3, choosing low GI high fibre carbohydrates such as whole grain breads/cereals, lentils, fruit, vegetables such as sweet potato, and including lean protein like low fat dairy, lean meat/chicken/fish or eggs, and also healthy fats such as nuts, avocado, olive oil/spread, or low sugar peanut butter. Non starchy vegetables can be great fillers, bulking up a meal without overdoing the energy consumption, and helping slow down digestion to avoid insulin spikes. All these choices, as part of a moderately calorie controlled diet plan, help keep blood sugars stable and avoid sugar crashes, keep you feeling fuller, and less likely to succumb to cravings as you won’t have those purely physical urges pushing you towards the wrong things.
De-stress without food
Finding ways to eliminate stress from your life if possible, perhaps through better planning so that last minute unexpected requirements don’t take you by surprise, or through making an active effort to be kinder to yourself, and letting go of some of the more extreme requirements you put on yourself. Of course stressful situations can arise no matter how prepared you are, and finding outlets for this stress can help reduce the likelihood of turning to food as your outlet, or a wine at the end of the day. Things like getting a massage, a pedicure, a spa treatment, seeing a movie, reading a book, and of course one of the best stress relievers has been proven over and over again- exercise. Do little things that relax you or make you feel good, and you won’t need that sweet treat to get you through the day.