I’m not a fan of fad diets or those that require you to pay for food. They may work in the short term, but rarely keep the weight off in the long run. Too often, weight is a roller coaster of starts and stops, highs and lows. Diet and exercise have such negative connotations. Already, you may be feeling anxious and stressed just reading this. Our goal is a way to eat and to increase activity so that it’s easy to adhere to and encourages lifestyle changes that promote long lasting results.
This is not so much a diet, as a way to eat without worrying about calories, portions, or exercising in amounts that impact your day. It’s all about making it easy to integrate into your already hectic day.
This guide makes the G.R.A.D.E:
Eat multiple, small meals throughout the day. This way you consistently feel satiated and avoid feeling hungry. This also keeps your stomach and sugar levels stable so there’s no feedback to the brain that says “feed me”. In fact, you may even feel like you’re overeating, as opposed to depriving yourself or fasting. The secret is in the types of food you eat. This is where I usually hear the argument “I can’t possibly be eating every two hours, I work.” But it’s not true. Put vegetable pieces, cut up white meat, or a fruit cup in your pocket. In between work needs, or while on the computer, grab a piece. It’s as easy as that! Even I can take a few bites between patients.
Studies have shown the more we stress, the more we encourage weight gain, especially in the abdomen area. That’s why I don’t like food diaries. They keep the focus on counting calories and “dieting“ instead of focusing on eating healthy foods while staying active. Then, let it go for 6 months. Don’t get on a scale, don’t agonize every day, don’t worry that you’re not changing overnight. Let it go and focus on that date as your end goal to see results. By then you could be a 24-pound thinner you!
Any kind of activity helps decrease appetite, increase the burning of fat calories, and gives a better sense of well-being. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time that intrudes on your day. Take a couple of minutes to walk in place while you brush your teeth, a couple of minutes doing leg lifts or using your purse or briefcase as a weight to mobilize your upper arms while waiting for your provider, then a couple minutes stretching in bed at night.
These will all be seen by the body as six minutes of exercise at the end of the day. Easy to integrate into any schedule- it’ll make a difference and get you started. Add a minute or two each day or month and before you know it, you’ll be exercising that half-hour daily, on your own terms. It’ll be a part of your every day life and sooner than you think, something you may even enjoy! I was amazed how much easier it was to start exercising and maintain it over time. It took the pressure off having to schedule a huge block of time, change clothes, shower- the whole bit. Eventually I even craved and looked forward to those rare moments I had to myself to decompress.
Drink lots of water and stay hydrated- at least 8, 10-ounce glasses a day (make sure you are not restricted on your water intake). This keeps the GI tract running smoothly so toxins and excess calories can be expelled. Staying hydrated also decreases bloating and helps you feel fuller, quicker; you’ll eat less too!
E: Eat healthier, smaller portions
In this country we “super size” everything. It may be good for the pocket book, but it’s not so good for your body. Change that dinner plate to a salad size one. Even a salad with dressing and fixings can be high in calories if you eat enough. Don’t finish your plate, leave half. Most times we keep eating out of habit, not out of hunger. Give yourself time to digest the food and you’ll realize you’re actually full and don’t need to keep eating. Save the rest for later.
Eat all the white meat, fruits and vegetables you want (check with your provider if you have dietary restrictions). No matter how busy you are, there’s always time for a bite of something. Cut them up, put them in baggies in your pocket so they’re ready to eat, and start to graze!
People look at me today and think I have no clue what it means to battle weight. “How can you possibly understand weight issues when you’re so thin?” As I shared in the chronic pain blog, a few months before my 40th birthday I was 15 pounds over weight, in constant pain and struggling to raise my little girl. Exercising and eating regularly just didn’t feel like an option. It was then I realized I had to follow my own advice. I couldn’t keep telling patients what to do if I didn’t listen as well and it wasn’t going to get any easier. I followed the GRADE eating plan and a few months later, lost 15 pounds, took the pressure of a bowling ball off my back, and had more energy. I was a better role model to my daughter who saw her mother maintain a healthy lifestyle for twenty years.
There are very few guarantees in medicine. But, making these small adjustments to your eating and exercise routine will work!