Forget the ‘D’ word, says Susan Hepburn. They don’t work, and yo-yo dieting is harmful to the body: it puts a strain on the heart and disrupts the metabolism, which actually makes it harder to lose weight.
Wouldn’t it be great to have no more guilty feelings about the food you eat? No more drama surrounding what and how much you eat? What if you could actually enjoy your food? All you have to do is eat slowly and mindfully.
Mindfulness is gathering force as a highly popular and effective psychological tool, both in mainstream culture and psychological practice as well. Visualisation is a powerful mind tool that can help you achieve your target size. The way it works is simple: the more you mentally rehearse a thought, the stronger the neural pathways are and the more success you will have making what you imagine a reality. Mindful eating is a joyful and peaceful experience; it is all about enjoying your food while, at the same time, being aware of what we are putting into our bodies.
More people than ever are receptive to change these days. The ‘I can change myself’ mindset is not only a powerful tool – it is a popular one as well. Through a combination of mindfulness and hypnosis, I begin an internal revolution, one that helps recapture self-esteem by making one at first aware of and then in control of what he or she consumes, allowing them to eat mindfully and healthily.
This is the holistic approach that diets lack. Without the self-awareness and empowerment that this approach encourages, results will be, at best, temporary. I emphasise building a lasting, healthy, and sustainable relationship both with food and the stresses that so often contribute to the cycles of overeating and yo-yo dieting. Dieting is usually little more than a quick fix that relies on fear and shame and uses stopgap measures like deprivation and denial. It is frenetic; mindful eating is calm.
There is increasing evidence that both men and women are mindfully paying far more attention to their ‘Body Mastery’. The twenty-first century is positively obsessed with fitness and health—this is, of course, coupled with a body-image preoccupation that borders on the pathological. There are, though, untold benefits that come in the wake of a healthy and mindful approach to health and fitness. Research has shown that those who exercise regularly and eat healthily live longer and more fulfilling live and they have higher levels of body satisfaction. Exercise and healthy, mindful eating will do more than help you avoid health complications. They are the keys to living a long and rich life.
Being active increases your lifespan and reduces the chance of heart attacks and strokes. It also streamlines your body, improves your posture, and reduces feeling of hunger, lethargy, and even depression. While exercise has immediate positive effects, there is a plateau that many reach quite early. Therefore, it is essential to have the mindset that you are enjoying the journey towards fitness and health. The results you want may be slow in coming, but, like so much in life, it is the journey, not the destination, that you’ll want to find pleasure in. Achieving your desired size is best viewed as a by-product of the journey to a healthier and more mindful relationship with our bodies and our food.
Take action. We all have to do lists; don’t let being fit and healthy be at the bottom of yours. Don’t say, ‘I will do it later’, because you won’t.
8 Top Tips
- Eat mindfully – You’ll enjoy your food more, becoming aware of what you put into your body, and therefore making healthier choices.
- Savour your food – Concentrate on what you are eating and never eat quickly. Gulping down your food means missing out on wonderful textures and flavours.
- Eat slowly and chew your food well – This will help you will eat less. Allow your body to tell you that it is full – we need to listen for this message.
- Keep a food journal – This will help you to unpack the emotional associations you have with food and to understand your trigger (the feelings that make you eat when you’re not hungry).
- Eat mindfully and in moderation – These are the cornerstones of the proper approach to weight loss – certainly not deprivation and feast/famine behaviour.
- Think small – We live in a super-size culture. Food is not only readily available on every corner and almost 24/7, it is more often than not unhealthy and served in huge portions. Consider your portions and eat less.
- Exercise daily – Exercise is an essential part of your daily life, not an optional extra. Adjust your mindset towards exercise. Treat it as fun, not a chore, and you may just become addicted to it. Forget the ‘no pain, no gain’ formula. It is ridiculous – pain usually means injury.
- Eat regularly – Don’t skip breakfast; too many people mistakenly believe that doing so will help you to lose weight. The opposite is true. The undernourished body goes into starvation mode and stores fat.
- Drink water – It is crucial to be mindful about drinking lots of water regularly throughout the day and evening. It helps to flush out toxins, avoid dehydration, and it is excellent for healthy, youthful looking skin, so that’s an incentive in itself.