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I am 5"8, and for most of my adult life, my weight hovered around 135 lbs, which maps to a BMI of 20.5. Now in my 40s, most of my peers have piled on the pounds while my weight has stayed steady.
In a country where 45 million people go on a diet every year, I stand out as someone who has never been on a diet. I love food, and I have no intention of depriving myself of enjoying healthy food.
Here I share what I do to maintain a steady weight for your reference - feel free to copy if you think it might work for you. Ultimately, it is a math problem, and you can make the math work for you.
Focus on Health, Not Scale
In a year, I step on a scale maybe a few times, and generally only at the doctor's office when I am required to do so.
I do not deliberately avoid the scale - I simply don't remember to do it. I learned a long time ago that my attractiveness has little to do with my weight, but everything to do with how I feel about myself.
“Exercise should be regarded as a tribute to the heart.” ― Gene Tunney
When my weight dropped to my lowest at 122 lbs after a hard breakup, I assumed that people would find me more attractive, but the opposite was true. People responded to my sadness by staying away. As I recovered from heartbreak and became more upbeat, my weight returned to my typical weight, and my social life picked up too.
Think about the people you find beautiful in real life, and you will see that you are attracted to people that feel confident in their own skin. Size has nothing to do with it.
If you want to work out or eat better, do it for health, not for looks. Doing these things do not always result in weight loss, but it will always make you healthier.
Don't Use Food To Dull Pain
When an animal is not feeling well, it's natural response is to move and eat less. Humans are the same, but in cultures where parents placate kids with food, we learn to use food to regulate emotional pain. Had this conditioning not existed, we would lose weight when we are feeling sad or stressed.
Eating junk food may provide short term emotional relief, but there's the inevitable feeling of guilt that ensues, which makes us feel worse, and the cycle continues.
“Nobody is perfect, so get over the fear of being or doing everything perfectly. Besides, perfect is boring.” ― Jillian Michaels
It is crucial to not berate ourselves for relying on junk food to feel better. Instead, consciously replace this habit with a constructive way to cope with feelings. For example, listen to music, paint, go for a walk, call a friend, pet a cat, dance, etc. Going cold turkey without giving yourself another outlet does not work, but replacing food with something else enjoyable can help us make the transition.
Add, Not Subtract
The diet mindset is one of deprivation - there's a list of food we can't eat, and for what we are allowed to eat, the amount is limited, measured, tracked. This does not work. Per the Scarcity Principle, depriving yourself of anything just makes that thing even more desirable, and we are literally training our brains to want what is denied.
Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” ― Jim Ryun
Unless a diet is medically necessary, don't do it. Instead, try "add, not subtract."
The implementation of this principle is straightforward. Don’t yourself junk food, but add something healthy ahead of it instead. For example, before you indulge in a pint of ice cream, make a pact with yourself that you will drink half of gallon of green smoothie (with fiber, not green juice) first. A green smoothie is low in calories, has a ton of micronutrients, and fills you up. If after that you still feel like eating that ice cream, by all means, go for it.
You can also add a workout that burns at least half the calories you plan to eat in junk food before you eat it. A can of regular coke is 140 calories. For a person that weighs 120 lbs, to burn off half of the calories entails walking a mile.
For more about the "add, not subtract" principle, see habit stacking. Best wishes on your journey to health, and please subscribe for more articles from me.
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