- 15 tips to think yourself thin
- 23 Habits That Keep Skinny People Skinny — Exercise Is Not On This List
- Before Embracing Skinny People Habits
- The Mind of Skinny People
- Can Your Thoughts Make You Gain Weight?
- “But it tastes so good and it’s right in front of me”
- It Comes Down To This
- 20 Habits Skinny People Live By
- Eat an Early Dinner
- Weigh Yourself Daily
- Eat a Boring Diet
- Reward Yourself
- Get Educated and Find a Support Group
- Eat Breakfast
- Take Snack Breaks
- Drink Water
- Order a La Carte
- Choose Whole Grains
- Eat Spicy Food
- Sleep 7–8 Hours Each Night
- Manage Stress
- Take the Stairs
- Chew Thoroughly
- Walk After Meals
- Keep Healthy Food on Hand
- Learn to Take a Joke
- Eat Protein
- Avoid Dinner Distractions
- 7 Secrets to Being Naturally Thin
15 tips to think yourself thin
1 ‘See’ yourself thin and enjoy the feelings of success
First, create a clear mental picture of how you will look at your desired target weight. Next, write down how you want to see yourself by the end of your chosen weight-loss period. Finally, allow yourself to consciously feel the joy of your weight-loss success.
“Feel proud, confident and happy about this picture of yourself,” advises Dr Brosnan, who has a Master’s degree in Health Promotion and Wellness Management, and a Doctorate in Health Sciences (Psychology). “Emotions and feelings are very strong drivers for where you want to get to.”
Do this continually, she recommends: “This helps to create a strong vision of you at your ideal weight and keeps you focused on that vision.
“Your thoughts and feelings are centred on where you want to go, rather than where you are now.”
2 Create a Vision Board
A vision board is a collection of words and images that inspire you. “It might be a picture of you when you’re young and looking great, or photographs of fruit and vegetables. It’s simply a visual representation of your vision and goals,” explained Brosnan.
Creating a vision board will help you stay focused on success because it acts as a daily reminder of the new reality you want to create for yourself, she explains: “Every time you look at it, you should be inspired to continue to move toward your vision of your ideal weight, your new story, your new reality.”
3 Know Your Why
What’s motivated you to commit to losing weight? It may be a health scare, a family wedding, or the fact that you want to be a better role model for your kids.
“Successful participants in Operation Transformation have very strong reasons as to why they want to lose weight,” says Brosnan.
So consider your deep-down weight-loss motivation, she advises: “Write this down, because on the tough days, you can pull out your ‘why’ and that gets you going again.”
4 Create healthy habits
The secret to a healthier lifestyle is to create new habits, explains Brosnan, who earned her PhD with the development of a special physical activity programme for overweight women, which had positive outcomes for participants in terms of fitness and weight loss.
However, creating a habit involves effort – and over a relatively prolonged period. It takes conscious daily repetition of a new behaviour, such as some form of exercise. In fact, it can take up to 21 days before your new behaviour becomes habitual.
Keep the changes small – for example, exercising for at least 10 minutes a day, but do it every day. Once a habit is formed, it’s much easier to keep it up as you’re no longer as reliant on sheer willpower.
5 Think Thin, Talk Thin
Having the right mindset – and using the right kind of language – are probably some of the most important things you can do when trying to lose weight. What you think and the language you use is very powerful, Dr Brosnan warns.
“As best you can, keep your thoughts and words in alignment to your goal,” she advises.
“Don’t keep saying: ‘I’ll never lose weight – sure I just have to look at cake and I put on weight’, if your goal is to lose weight. Instead, she suggests, repeat positive statements or affirmations such as: “Every day I am getting slimmer and slimmer.”
This can help reframe your thoughts.
6 Learn from your mistakes
Research shows that when people self-monitor in relation to their progress towards a goal, they’re more likely to achieve it, says Brosnan. So it’s about setting the goal, monitoring your progress in relation to the goal and taking appropriate action to keep you on track – either rewarding yourself if you achieve your targets, or tweaking your behaviour if you fall temporarily by the wayside.
“Rather than beating yourself up if you didn’t have a great day or week, take a step back and look at what went wrong and learn from your mistakes. Figure out how you’d deal with a similar situation if it were to happen again,” she suggests.
7 It’s not all or nothing
Losing weight is not a case of either being ‘on the wagon’ or ‘off it’, emphasises Brosnan. In fact, she believes, that’s exactly the kind of mentality we need to let go. Instead, understand that weight loss is about adopting the philosophy that the more healthy choices you make the better. “It’s about creating a healthy lifestyle. Look at it as a series of choices you make throughout the day. The idea is to make as many healthy choices as you can. Start to see your efforts one decision at a time – if you don’t make a healthy choice for lunch, that’s okay, learn from it, move on and make a healthier choice for dinner.”
8 Eat mindfully
“Eating ‘mindlessly’ means you’ll come to the end of a bag of crisps without even realising you’ve eaten them! You’ll therefore want to eat more because you haven’t been present for the experience of eating them.”
Mindfulness plays a big role in weight loss, says Brosnan – whether it be mindful eating or being mindful of your inner chatter.
“It’s about bringing attention to your food and being present while you are eating.”
9 Call a HALT
Sometimes we can’t, or may not want, to deal with negative emotions such as loneliness or stress, so we choose high-fat/high-sugar foods as a distraction from how we’re feeling – or as a comfort. However, this creates a vicious cycle, Brosnan explains, because such foods disrupt our blood sugar levels. When this happens, our bodies release more stress hormones – thus causing us to eat more of these unhealthy foods.
If you suddenly feel the urge to eat unhealthy food, try the HALT method. Ask yourself what’s driving you to eat: are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? Once you’ve recognised the real driver, it can help lessen the obsession with comfort eating.
10 Reward Yourself… appropriately
When you achieve your goals, whether they’re short-term or long-term, it’s important to acknowledge your achievements and reward yourself. But make sure your reward moves you toward your goal – new sports gear would be a better choice than chocolate cake. Focusing on your success helps keep you motivated toward your goals.
“Research tells us that it’s important to reward yourself when you reach even smaller or short-term goals, but a lot of people tend to reward themselves with the very thing they’re trying to avoid.”
11 Have a solid morning ritual
Getting a good start to your day gives you the psychological boost you need to keep chugging along that chosen healthy path. The best way to achieve a good start is to create a positive morning routine – this is the time of the day that you have most control over and so, can ensure you achieve the things you plan for yourself with little or no distraction. This is a time you can fit in meditation, setting an intention for the day, giving gratitude, exercising, preparing healthy food etc.
12 Don’t weigh yourself
Don’t become obsessed with the numbers – it’s not always helpful, says Brosnan, who only weighs her clients on week one, week four and week eight of their eight-week programme.
Weight loss is a complete lifestyle change, not a short-term quick fix, she emphasises, so you have to look at it in the long term.
“As people start to exercise and do strength training, they can gain muscle and lose fat,” she warns, adding that this means a genuine healthy shift in body weight may not show up on the scales – and people can become discouraged.
13 Curb cravings
Many cravings are down to our physiology and the habits we’ve formed. “Eating high-fat, high-sugar and refined flours can create an addiction,” Brosnan explains. So here are some useful anti-craving techniques:
* Choose to have what you are craving, but less of it (but you have to have control)
* Choose a healthier alternative (chocolate-covered rice cake rather than a chocolate digestive)
* Don’t have it at all – simply avoid it
* Things that help with avoidance are to sit it out (cravings often dissipate after 10-15 minutes), drink water, distract yourself (exercise works), remove yourself from the situation, call a friend, brush your teeth or even listen to some uplifting music.
14 Practise the great art of self-discipline
Self-discipline is actually habit-forming: “When something is a habit, we no longer rely on willpower to engage in the necessary behaviour or make the right decision,” explains Brosnan.
Easier said than done, but, she adds: self-control is really just like a muscle that needs exercise and strengthening. Each time you resist temptation, you’re developing stronger self-control and wiring yourself for success.
15 Get Support
Research shows that having practical, emotional and psychological support from those around you means you’re more likely to succeed with your programme. The support can take a variety of forms, from someone doing the dishes so you can go for a walk after dinner, to a friend who will join you for a run, to someone you can call for motivation when you are having a challenging day. Get clear on what types of support you need and ask those who can help you.
Social pressure can work for or against you, so make sure you hang out with like-minded people.
■ Dr Ailis Brosnan will be among the speakers at the Mind, Body, Spirit and Yoga Festival, March 18-20 at the RDS, Dublin. Tickets cost €12 or €30 for a three-day pass. For details or to book, seemindbodyspirit.ie
■ For more details on Dr Ailis’s healthy living programmes, see yourhealthylivingcoach.com/online-weight-loss-program as well as yourhealthylivingcoach.com/ailis-brosnan
Health & Living
Are you convinced that your normal-weight frame is…well, fat? By thinking so, you could be packing on the pounds.
New research published in the Journal of Obesity found that normal weight women who perceive themselves as fat are more likely to become fat. In the 10-year study of 1,196 normal-weight teenagers, nearly 6 in 10 women who perceived themselves as fat became overweight (measured by body mass index) within the decade, while only 3 in 10 of those with an accurate body image became overweight.
While a distorted body image might motivate some to hit the gym, the study found that exercise didn’t compensate for the effects of a negative self-image. Previous research done on normal-weight adults found similar results: an increase in weight over time in those who perceive themselves as overweight. (Has a distorted body image led you to dangerous eating behaviors? Learn more about adult eating disorders.)
One explanation for the weight gain is psychological stress, which has been linked to putting pounds on—especially around the middle. What’s more, we behave according to how we view ourselves. So if we think we are overweight couch potatoes, we are more likely eat unhealthily and generally act like said couch potatoes.
Ready to think yourself thin? Here are five mental tricks for a slimmer self-fulfilling prophecy:
See Your Vision It might seem a little silly, but the results are anything but: “Create a vision board in which you display pictures showing what you want to achieve,” says Steve Siebold, motivation expert and author of Die Fat or Get Tough: 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People. Seeing a bunch of strong, healthy women on your wall will give you a real goal to work toward. So get clipping on the latest issue of Women’s Health (after reading it, of course). Not feeling crafty? Check out our FITspiration Pinterest board.
Write It Down Do you want to lose five pounds? Fit—not squeeze—into your bridesmaid dress by next month? Write out your weight loss goal and how you are going to make it happen, Siebold advises, because a goal without a plan is never a reality. (Follow this personalized fitness plan to lose five pounds fast.)
Do the Dishes Apart from holding less food, smaller dishes make you think you’re eating more than you really are. A recent Cornell University study found that people who eat off 6-inch-wide plates think they are eating about 18 percent more than they really are. Meanwhile, people who eat of 12-inch-wide dishes know exactly how much they are putting away (that is, a lot).
Make Fit Friends Ask yourself: Are your friends a fat influence? If they don’t live a healthy lifestyle, they probably are affecting your waistline, Siebold says. In fact, having a pound-packing buddy makes you 57 percent more likely to join them, according to research from the University of California at San Diego and Harvard. You don’t have to break up with your less-fit friends, though. Just make a point of only eating out or setting a gym date with your fit ones.
Be Messy The easiest way to not grab a Snickers? Look at all the other candy wrappers on your desk. By reminding you how much you’ve already eaten, piling up your opened snack wrappers can cut how many calories you wolf down by more than 40 percent, according to a 2010 study published in Appetite.
photo: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock
More from WH:
The New Weight-Loss Pills
The Hunger Paradox
Try the Two-Day Cleanse That Works
Reprogram your metabolism, and keep the weight off for good. Order the Metabolism Miracle today!
23 Habits That Keep Skinny People Skinny — Exercise Is Not On This List
It’s almost impossible to lose weight and keep if off unless you develop skinny people habits.
Your thoughts and habits about relationships, money, and raising children may be working for you. Perhaps you don’t need to change a thing in those areas.
But if you are unhappy with your size; your thoughts and habits regarding food are working against you.
Before Embracing Skinny People Habits
Several years ago, a friend asked me to come by her house to pick up a snack that she bought for my son. She is one of the kindest people I know. However, shock and awe just about knocked me to my feet when she showed me the snack.
There were three gallons of punch in three different fruit flavors, two family-size bags of chips, four extra-large bags of candy, three huge packages of cookies, and one little-bitty red apple.
Huh? Snack? I wanted to know if she had purchased the “snack” for a party, a football team, or the neighborhood. Did someone give her all that junk food and she needed to unload it?
I explained that I appreciated her generosity, but was curious about her definition of “snack”.
She did not understand my inquisition, explaining that she enjoyed snacking, that it was “not that much”, and that she had plenty more.
I guess she told me…snap, snap. I left that alone, took the snack, and shared it with many people.
After a few major health scares, my friend embraced the habits that keep skinny people skinny. She changed her thoughts and attitudes about what is “not that much” and in two years, the girl lost more than more than 200 pounds!
Because of the renewal of her mind, it is highly unlikely that she will ever regain the weight. Her eating habits have completely changed and she has redefined the meaning of “not that much” in her thinking.
The Mind of Skinny People
Reaching goals require new attitudes, behaviors, and a new way of thinking. You don’t get to your next level or your desired place by thinking about things or doing them as you always have. If you want something new, you have to do something different.
If you want to get skinny and stay skinny, it is necessary to do what skinny people do.
People who have always been skinny and those who get skinny and stay skinny have habits, thoughts and attitudes that are different from people who are always on a diet, always talking about a diet, or always feeling the need to diet.
Can Your Thoughts Make You Gain Weight?
The main reasons stubborn excess weight is able to harass people and cling to them is because of their persistent thoughts about excess weight as well as their habits and attitudes toward food.
Those who believe they are destined to always have weight problems will always have weight problems. Those who believe it’s hard to be disciplined will have difficulties with discipline. Not because it has to be that way, but because your perception establishes your reality.
Many of our experiences are born in what we have strong emotions about and give continuous thoughts to. We live and continue to live what we believe in our hearts.
If your diligent thoughts are about being overweight, you develop habits that align with those thoughts; habits that will keep you overweight.
In other words, toxic thoughts about weight absolutely cause weight problems.
Dr. Caroline Leaf, cognitive neuroscientist who teaches people how to change their thinking, thus change their habits, tells us that “putting toxic thoughts into our brains is like putting poison into our pasta.”
She explains in a post that:
Putting healthy thoughts into our minds is akin to that dash of fresh basil on top of the simmering bed of rich, luscious lasagna. Moment by moment, each and every day, as we think, choose and wire thoughts into our brains, we are poisoning or strengthening our immune system, body and mind.
“But it tastes so good and it’s right in front of me”
It may surprise you to know that skinny people like the taste of food as much as those who are not so skinny. The difference is that they don’t always eat just because it tastes good and it’s in arms reach. Nor do they eat as often or in the same quantities.
Below are 23 skinny people habits that you may not be aware of if stubborn excess weight has attacked you.
1. Skinny people do not regularly condemn themselves or hate themselves for enjoying what they eat. That is toxic thinking, which leads to toxic behavior.
2. Skinny people seldom buy giant family packs of snacks for themselves. When they do, they take a serving out of the bag, close the bag, and put the bag away.
3. Skinny people pass on the supersize burgers, fries, and drinks. They choose size regular.
4. Skinny people eat until they are full, which is different from eating until the plate is empty.
5. “People in Africa are starving” is not a reason that skinny people have for stuffing themselves.
6. Skinny people eat veggies. They don’t use carbs as substitutes.
7. Sugary drinks are not part of the daily diets of skinny people.
8. Skinny people enjoy themselves, even when they are not eating. Food is not a necessity for having a good time.
9. Purses, cars, seat cushions, desk drawers, kitchen counters, beside the bed, and pockets are not places where skinny people always have snacks.
10. Skinny people choose to stop eating before they have to unbutton their pants to breathe.
11. Skinny people find comfort in ways other than eating.
12. Skinny people enjoy television shows without snacking.
13. Skinny people sit and enjoy their meals more often than they eat without thinking about what they are doing.
14. Despite the ease and convenience of fast foods, skinny people sometimes cook.
15. Fast foods are not their major meal source. Actually, skinny people look at fast foods as more of a treat than a meal.
16. Skinny people drink water, even when they’d rather have some other beverage.
17. Skinny people don’t indulge in one or more king-size candy bars in one day. They usually stay away from king-size.
18. Skinny people finish one meal before thinking about what they will eat next.
19. Skinny people eat. They don’t confuse their systems with starvation diets.
20. Skinny people aren’t regulars at all-you-can-eat restaurants.
21. Skinny people usually quit eating for the day before 8pm.
22. Skinny people will go to bed hungry if it’s late, rather than running out for a quick bite of fried chicken wings and fries.
23. When skinny people first notice fat creeping on them, they do something about it. Those who wait until they feel like it or until the holidays are over or until they have more time or until New Year’s or until Monday or until…don’t remain skinny people.
Although exercise is not on this list, it’s important to note that when skinny people workout, only occasionally do they seldom sabotage it with a celebration of donuts and a hot fudge sundae.
It Comes Down To This
The latest diet craze is seldom the answer to weight loss woes. Rarely is a different workout program the best solution either. The biggest problem with them is they don’t renew the mind.
If you work to change your body, that is great. However, maintaining the new svelte you, requires a change in your thinking — which brings about changes in habits and attitudes.
Developing skinny people habits will help you want to get, stay, and enjoy whatever size you choose to be.
Family and Food
Athan’s wife, a nurse, had been after him for years. Athan says, “She is a pencil-stick. I watched the way she ate but I didn’t understand it. I thought only thin people could eat like that, not the rest of the world.”
Athan, who is Greek, said, “Growing up, people were always sticking food in my face. I passed that on to my kids too.” (His children are ages 16, 14, and 12.) At the same time, he felt guilty about eating. “I remember that even as a kid, I hid foods I wasn’t supposed to eat, like M&Ms, under my bed or in my backpack.”
Impossible to Keep Up
Athan works evenings in a sedentary job at a VA hospital call center where he deals with a lot of stress. He explained that his most recent diet was a program that required him to eat seven times a day and follow a rigorous work out regimen. He was taking four meals to eat during his shift in order to follow the diet schedule. “Even though I felt stuffed when I got home, I still felt like I needed more food because I was tired.”
That diet also worsened his guilt about eating certain foods. “I felt that if I ate carrot cake, I had to burn it off with extra exercise.” He was up to running an hour and a half six days a week and running a half marathon on the seventh day just to try to keep the weight off. “Even then, I was still eating way too much food for what I was burning.”
Am I Hungry?
“My wife came home from a conference where she heard Dr. May speak. She was really excited and wanted me to read Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat.” Not wanting to waste his money or disappoint his wife, he first checked the book out of his local library. “I felt like Dr. May had been living in my house for the last 20 years.” After the second chapter, he ordered his own copy.
He also took the online Eating Cycle Assessment and scored high in both overeating and restrictive eating. “Before reading Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat, I thought I had only two choices: eating everything or being on a diet.” His perspective has changed drastically.
When his book arrived, he read it from cover to cover and started following the steps. “It was so easy but I wasn’t sure what to do next so I contacted Dr. May on Facebook. She suggested I reread the first eight chapters of the book one at a time and spend a week focusing on each topic like they do in the Am I Hungry?® Workshops,” (which the book is based on).
Athan’s first aha was “Why was I eating when I wasn’t hungry?” Athan says, “I realize now that I needed to learn to eat what my body needs rather than following a bunch of rules.” He estimates that he is eating about a third of what he used to eat. “Our grocery bill has dropped from $200-300 a week to around $70, all due to a decrease in the quantity of food. I am able to eat so much less without feeling like I am on a diet because I’m now aware of the uncomfortable feeling I have when I eat too much.”
He also says he is not only eating less but sleeping more. “Now, instead of eating when I’m tired after my shift, I just go to bed.”
Here are some of the other changes Athan has noticed:
- I am much more aware. Instead of eating on a schedule, I check in with myself every 30 minutes or so to see if I’m hungry. If not, I move on.
- I eat on my own schedule, not just because it’s time. If I’m going to eat dinner with my family, I’ll skip my afternoon snack or eat something light so I’ll be hungry later.
- I love eating what I want. My mother-in-law’s carrot cake used to be forbidden – but not anymore. However, I don’t eat it all because now I know I can eat more when I want it.
- I don’t feel deprived anymore. I realize that what I thought was a “sweet tooth” turned out to be almost like hoarding. When I couldn’t eat something I wanted, I wanted it more.
- When we go out to eat, I can choose from the whole menu, not just the low-fat section, and still leave the restaurant feeling great.
Sometimes if I’m not sure whether I’m full or I want to keep eating, I use the strategies I learned to help me stop.
- My co-workers bring in a lot of candy and donuts. I am much more mindful rather just eating whatever shows up.
- I don’t have to exercise like a madman. I run thirty minutes a day and lift weights for thirty minutes three times a week. I enjoy it more and I’m still losing weight.
Lessons, Benefits and Happiness
He is also learning to handle his triggers for overeating, like fatigue, boredom, and occasional stress. He made a sign for his refrigerator: “If you’re not physically hungry, then what are you looking for?” He believes the sign is a good reminder for his kids too.
One of the most amazing changes according to Athan is that food has lost its power over him. “I’ve had a box of Russell Stover candy sitting 20 feet away for days. I can see it from here but I haven’t even opened it yet because I know it will still be there when I really want it.
“I read Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat while I’m at work. I’m trying to get my co-workers to read it too but most still seem to be looking for a diet,” Athan laments. “Weight Watchers and other diets spend a ton of money on advertising so people just don’t realize there is another way.”
Athan started at 232 pounds about three months ago. He is down to a more comfortable 199. “I want to get to 190 but what I love about this is that I can sustain it forever. I can have my cake and love it and live perfectly fine. Not just for this week or this month.”
Oh, one more thing. “My wife is happy. We both are.”
Update: It has been two years since Athan was interviewed for this story. He has lost a total of 60 pounds and more importantly, feels great! Athan’s success story was even featured in Cooking Light’s The Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook!
Mindful Eating Personal Stories
More Personal Stories
20 Habits Skinny People Live By
Imagine a group of scientists in a food laboratory on a dark and stormy night. “Eureka!” one cries out. “I’ve created the superfood that will end disease as we know it!” All the other food scientists gather around. Such excitement! Soon, the food additive is being blended into everything, from cookies to fast-food burgers, as scientists are certain the superfood will help us all lose weight and live longer and healthier.
Now, imagine that years later, we discover the superfood is, in fact, a monster food—an additive so toxic that, over time, it wildly increases our risk for everything from heart disease to stroke to cancer to obesity. And—Ay, caramba!—it’s already inside us all!
Sound like a made-for-TBS movie? It’s not. It’s the story of trans fat, a dangerous, man-made lipid found in margarine and shortening that, for a little while at least, was believed to be healthier than regular fats. We bought the lie until the mid-’90s when a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicted trans fats for no fewer than 30,000 annual deaths. The worst part: They’re still in our food today!
My point: Understanding the nuances of nutrition is hard—so hard that even the scientists are constantly making mistakes. That’s why the best way to lose weight is to ignore trends and fly-by-night advice, and instead, focus on healthy eating strategies. That’s what Eat This, Not That! is all about—giving you rules to live (and eat and drink great) by. Develop healthy habits, stick to them, and no matter what nutritional blunders you might make, you’ll still keep yourself on the road to weight loss and a slim and sexy physique. Following are the 20 best fat-fighting habits known to man. Commit them to your daily routine and you’re guaranteed to drop excess pounds. Indulge and enjoy.
Eat an Early Dinner
Experts have gone back and forth on whether eating late leads to weight gain, but a study published in the journal Obesity found a solid link. Northwestern University researchers looked at the eating and sleeping patterns of 52 adults and found that those who regularly ate after 8 p.m. ingested the most calories and carried the most body fat. An easy-to-follow rule of thumb: Stop eating three hours before you hit the sack. Then, while you sleep, your body is better primed to burn fat instead of creating more.
Weigh Yourself Daily
Stepping on the scale can be disheartening, particularly after an indulgent weekend (“I gained five pounds since Friday?!”). But it’s best to face your fears because as it turns out, weighing yourself regularly can actually help you stay slim. Scientists at the University of Minnesota discovered that people who got on the scale every day lost twice as much weight as those who weighed themselves less often. The assumption: Monitoring your weight keeps your mind on your health and prevents weight denial. In fact, stepping off the scale for too long might be one of the reasons you’re gaining back the weight.
Eat a Boring Diet
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that people who ate macaroni and cheese every day took in significantly fewer calories than those who ate the cheese-covered noodles only once a week. The reason: The novelty of new foods drives us to consume more, so by removing the novelty, we feel fuller, faster. We’re not suggesting you choose one meal and eat it every day for the rest of your life, but the more weight-loss-friendly daily routines you establish, the more your belly will shrink. Start with lunch: If you find yourself scratching your head every day when the clock strikes noon, you’ll end up eating impulsively and taking in more calories. Instead, pick something healthy, like a soup-and-salad combo, and eat it every day.
Once you’ve established a healthy routine, you need to establish a reward system. Think of those pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail. It’s a trip known best for being rife with danger, but it was also rife with sluggish tedium. Early American settlers wouldn’t have completed the journey without the proverbial promise of milk and honey at the end, and neither will you stay the course of a repetitive diet without something more closely resembling literal milk and honey. A great way to stick to a low-calorie diet without breaking down into rebellious binge-mode is to reward yourself with a small dessert every day. Pick a food you love, and at the end of every day, reward yourself with a portion of about 200 calories. But remember—you only get the reward if you deserve it.
Get Educated and Find a Support Group
A study in the Journal of Health Psychology found that being exposed to nutrition and exercise advice and having support from friends led people to make smarter diet and lifestyle choices. To ensure you stay focused on maintaining a healthy weight, subscribe to a health-related magazine or frequent a nutrition-focused blog.
A study from the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who skipped breakfast were 4.5 times more likely to be obese. They don’t call it the most important meal of the day for nothin’—eating a nutritious morning meal jumpstarts your metabolism and prevents you from overindulging throughout the day. For optimal weight-loss results, choose a breakfast dish with a healthy balance of protein and fiber, like eggs with fruit and whole-wheat toast.
Take Snack Breaks
Snacking sometimes gets a bad rap, but packing healthy snacks to nosh on throughout your day can actually keep you skinny. A study released by the Advances in Nutrition journal found that consuming high-fiber, high-protein snacks promotes weight loss. The reason: Healthy snacking keeps your blood sugar from spiking, preventing hunger pangs, cravings, and body fat storage. An ideal snack choice? Nuts. The balance of protein, fiber, and healthy fats is sure to keep you satisfied between meals.
Almost 60 percent of your body is water, which makes it vital to every important metabolic process. In one study of 173 overweight women, those who added 1 liter of daily water to their diets lost five extra pounds over the course of a year, and if you time it right, the effects can be even greater. When researchers from Virginia Tech had subjects drink two glasses of water before each meal, they found that those subjects lost 30 percent more body fat over 12 weeks. That said, making beverage blunders is one of the easiest ways to gain belly fat—as the average American drinks 450 sugar-loaded calories a day. Replace half of what you drink with water and you’ll save 23 pounds per year!
Order a La Carte
A study from the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing found that diners consume more calories when they order combo meals because they end up with more food than they want or need. Our stay-skinny advice: Resist the temptation of the almighty “value” meal and order a la carte items, like a modestly sized burger and a non-fried side dish. You’ll save both calories and cash.
Choose Whole Grains
Choosing nutrient-rich whole grains over processed, white flour-based products can play a major role in keeping you lean. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers discovered that participants who added whole grains to their diets lost more belly fat than those who did not. One of the key weight-loss benefits of whole grains: Their healthy dose of fiber helps slow digestion, keeping you fuller longer. But don’t be fooled by “made with whole grain” labels. True whole grain products will list whole grains first on their ingredients list (think “whole wheat” flour instead of “enriched” or “bleached” flour).
Eat Spicy Food
A 1999 study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that eating spicy foods may promote weight loss. Research participants who ate a spicy appetizer before a meal ate significantly less than those who consumed a non-spicy app. The explanation: A chemical compound called capsaicin, found in chili peppers, acts as an appetite suppressant. Capsaicin has also been shown to boost metabolism and fight inflammation. The take away: Routinely adding spicy ingredients like cayenne or red pepper to your meals is an easy, flavorful way to stay slim.
Sleep 7–8 Hours Each Night
Getting a good night’s sleep has been linked to a host of major health benefits, not the least of which is maintaining healthy body weight. In a study in the journal Sleep, participants who slept for fewer than six hours or more than eight hours each night gained significantly more weight than those who slept for six to eight hours. Lack of sleep has been shown to increase appetite, lower willpower, and bolster cravings for high-calorie foods. That might be why you find it so hard to resist those doughnuts in the break room.
A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that dealing with work-, finance-, or relationship-related stress can lead to weight gain. When you stress, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that promotes abdominal fat storage. If you find yourself overwhelmed in your work or personal life, try incorporating stress-reducing activities into your day. Join a yoga class or go for a jog, and when you start to feel stress coming on, pause and take deep breaths.
Take the Stairs
Most of us are aware that formal exercise is a key component in maintaining a healthy weight, but simple choices like taking the stairs can be just as important if you want to stay trim. One Mayo Clinic study found that if you stand (instead of sit) for six hours a day, you can burn 5.5 pounds a year. Make the most of daily motion by also walking to lunch, parking at the back of the lot, or skipping email in favor of short walks to deliver messages to coworkers. (As a bonus, you’ll make your face more recognizable around the office.)
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that chewing more and eating slowly caused participants to ingest fewer calories. According to the study’s researchers, the increase in chewing simultaneously lowered levels of appetite-stimulating hormones and increased levels of appetite-suppressing hormones. One way to make sure you chew your food thoroughly: Stop to eat. Eating on the go—in your car, for example—can lead you to quickly inhale a ton of calories before your body has time to let you know it’s full.
Walk After Meals
Taking a walk after dinner can help you lose weight, and not just because walking burns calories. According to one study in Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise, light, post-meal exercise—like walking—can lower your triglycerides and prevent heart disease. Don’t have time for a walk, you say? Not a problem. As long as you keep moving after you eat, you will reap similar benefits. Even doing the dishes or completing other household tasks can help.
Keep Healthy Food on Hand
A great way to ensure you make nutritious food choices: Surround yourself with healthy options. Don’t use convenience as an excuse for a shameful diet. Keep fresh fruit on your kitchen counter, store healthy snacks like nuts in your desk at work, keep pre-washed, pre-cut vegetables in your fridge—whatever you have to do to make the healthiest choice the easiest choice, do it! You won’t feel deprived or hungry as the pounds are dropping away.
Learn to Take a Joke
A 2006 study in the International Journal of Obesity found that laughing for 15 minutes each day can help you burn 10 to 40 calories, depending on your body size and the intensity of your laughter. This adds up to about one to four pounds of fat lost per year. That may not sound like much, but there’s also been plenty of research linking happy people to all-around healthier lifestyles, and you, my friend, have an excuse to make @midnight part of your daily diet routine.
A study in Obesity Facts found that dieting participants who increased their protein intake lost 10% of their body weight. Eating protein increases lean muscle mass, which keeps your metabolism running on high—even when you’re resting. Protein also keeps you full, making you less likely to overeat. For maximum health and weight-loss benefits, aim to include protein in all of your meals and snacks. The best options? Lean protein sources like fish, eggs, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and legumes.
Avoid Dinner Distractions
With laptops, smartphones, and iPods aplenty, we’ve become accustomed to round-the-clock entertainment. But your mealtime may be one time of day we should fight our addiction to amusement. Researchers at the University of Birmingham found that diners who were distracted at mealtime consumed significantly more calories than those who paid close attention to what they ate. One possible explanation: When you don’t pay attention to the meal you’re eating, your brain doesn’t fully register the experience. That leaves you less satisfied and more vulnerable to overeating.
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7 Secrets to Being Naturally Thin
This information is taken from Bethenny’s book, Naturally Thin, available now at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
From Health magazine
These aren’t the words or thoughts of a naturally thin person, but they might be the things you say or think to yourself. I used to talk to myself like this, but I dont do it anymore. You can stop, too. You can break free from the oppression of food obsession and become “naturally thin.”
What do I mean by that? Its not some state of being beyond your grasp. You are naturally thin. You just have to make a few simple changes to let your natural thinness emerge.
By trade, Im a natural-foods chef. And a lot of what I know about food comes from my passion for both food and health.
Im naturally thin, too, but I didnt come preprogrammed that way. Dieting was always in the forefront of my mind. I cant believe how much of my life I wasted feeling fat, obsessing about what to order on a date, or figuring out how to pass up an invitation to a restaurant I perceived as serving fattening food. Back when I was ingrained in the diet mentality, I never really thought I could escape. But I did.
Today, I no longer diet. I eat pretty much whatever I want to eat. And Im ready to help you transform your entire relationship with food. Here, Ive condensed everything Ive learned about eating and cooking into simple rules you can use, too.
Your diet is your bank account
I consider this the mother of all the other rules. Its the first thing I tell people when they ask me how I stay naturally thin. And its the first thing I want you to think about every day. Just as you balance your spending and savings, you must balance your food choices. Dont eat too much of any one thing, balance starches with proteins, vegetables and fruits with sweets, and always balance a splurge with a save. This balancing is approximateÂ—but it works, without counting, measuring, or obsessing.
Most of the time, make smart investments in healthful foods that fill you up. Then, when you really want to splurge, go ahead. You arent dieting, remember. You are living. However, a splurge comes with a price. You have to balance that splurge by cutting back a little afterward, until your accounts are in order again. Lets say you had pancakes for breakfast. Theyre fineÂ—and starchy and sweet. So what do you have for lunch? Pasta? Of course not. Thats more starch. Because you had starch and sugar earlier in the day, you now need protein and vegetables. So have a salad with grilled chicken or some vegetable soup. Just stay tuned-in to what you are doing and youll be able to have the foods you really loveÂ—in a balanced way.
Cancel your membership in the clean-plate club
This rule isnt about wasting food. On the contrary, it will help you get more for your money by increasing the fun factor, making one meal into several meals, and by putting less food in your body. Try these strategies.
â€¢ Share it. This helps you eat less while allowing you to taste more. Whenever I order something in a restaurantÂ—salad, appetizer, soup, entree, even a drinkÂ—I always offer a taste of it to whomever Im with. More often than not, people are curious about food and happy to have a taste of what someone else chose.
â€¢ Save it. I often take food home in a doggie bag. I love having a beautiful, healthy, delicious dinner or lunch to look forward to the next day. Its economical, figure-friendly, and gives you one less meal to plan the day after. Ask the server to pack up half the entree in a doggie bag before you even see it. Instant portion control!
â€¢ Leave it. What if you realize the food really isnt all that good? Or maybe its fine but you arent in a situation where you can carry that last quarter of food home? Just leave it. If its hard for you to do, start by simply leaving one or two bites of something, then gradually increase the amount you leave.
In other words, eat real food and limit processed. Choose food thats as close to its natural state as possible. An apple is better than pasteurized apple juice, but apple juice is better than an apple-flavored drink that doesnt contain any apples. It may sound trite, but you are what you eat, so keep it real by eating organic, seasonal, and local foods. Plus, in most cases, fresh, real food tastes better.
Another important reason why eating real food can help you become naturally thin: Its usually high-volume food. Raw vegetables, in particular, are high in fiber and volume so when you eat them first you end up with less room in your stomach for other, higher-calorie foods. Start your meal with a big salad or a bowl of vegetable soup and you wont have much room left for food with more fat and calories. Sure, I still have my favorite junk food, and you can, too. But if it becomes an “I know what this is going to do to me, so Ill have only two bites” kind of thing, then youll be eating like a thin person.
Taste everything, eat nothing
I dont really mean that you cant eat anything. You will eat plenty of full portions of things. But you dont always need to do it. I love the Italian saying mangia poco ma bene. It means “Eat little, but well.” In fact, I learned this rule during a trip to Italy: I started each morning with cappuccino with real full-fat milk, the way the Italians drink it. They dont drink “skinny lattes” or ask for skim milk and sugar-free sweetener. For lunch or dinner, I would have some pasta, but at only one of those meals, and only a small order, combined with a little filling protein. Its how humans are supposed to eatÂ—tasting little bits of the very best foods. But how do you pull off little tastes?
If you spoil your appetite, rule 4 is possible. For example, when you know youre going to an event that will offer opportunities for overeating, the worst thing you can do is to starve yourself all day because you think it will allow you to eat more. Do just the opposite: Eat a simple, sensible breakfast; have a healthy, light lunch; and right before you go to the party have a healthy snack.
People are so afraid to do this! They think that eating before a party will add way too many calories. But the calories you save by having a healthful snack before you are faced with temptation will more than make up for the calories you spend.
When you barrel through the food on your plate as if youre in a race, do you really taste what youre eating? Did your body even register that it had a meal? Eating consciously makes food worth the calories. It also helps you become choosier about what you eat. And it helps you eat less. Here are some tips for learning how to do it.
â€¢ Taste your food. It takes two seconds to shift your attention to what you are doing and actually taste what youre eating. Then, the food will register as an experience.
â€¢ Quit multitasking. If somebody told me to quit multitasking, I would laugh. My life wouldnt work if I didnt do a million things at once. But we dont have to carry that way of life into mealtimes. When we do, not only do we fail to digest our food as well or enjoy it as much, but we also eat more of it. New policy: Dont eat while doing something else. I know this isnt always possible, but its a good goal. If you have to eat an energy bar in the car, take little bites and taste it.
â€¢ Always sit down to eat. When you eat standing up, whether youre cooking, snacking, or just picking at food, you wont feel satisfied, because you arent really thinking about eating. Those bites while youre distracted with cooking really add up. If you dont eat until youre ready to make yourself a plate and sit down, youll save hundreds of unnecessary calories.
â€¢ Make food special. In a restaurant, you pay to have your food made special. So why shouldnt you do it at home? To make a salad, dont just grab some iceberg lettuce out of a bag. Choose fresh, crisp greens, and top them with nuts or shaved Parmesan. Add herbs or crumbles of feta cheese.
If your food is really worth it, youll be more likely to pay attention.
If your portion is small, you can eat absolutely anything that really sounds good to you. But Im not going to tell you to break out your measuring cups and spoons. You arent on a diet. You arent eating obsessively or with anxiety and worry. Just put these simple containers in your portion-control tool kit instead.
Small plates. If you put a little food on a big plate, youre going to feel cheated. I always use a salad plate instead of a full-size dinner plate for my meals and snacks at home. Keep the salad plates at the front of your cabinet, and grab those first.
Ramekins. Never eat anything out of a bag; use a ramekin for decadent treats like ice cream or chips. I use them every day.
Mini-muffin tin. Instead of baking big cakes and loaves, bake mini cupcakes and muffinsÂ—automatic portion control.
Chopsticks. Although you can certainly use regular utensils, chopsticks are fun and can help slow you down.
Small juice glasses and dessert wineglasses. Save the big tumblers and pint glasses for water. For everything else, use smaller glasses.
All that time and energy spent wishing you looked like, say, Victoria Beckham is much better spent getting to know yourself and your own hunger patterns. Part of the problem I have with “eating every three hours” or “eating five times every day” is that not everyone is hungry so often; and even if you are this hungry on some days, you wont be on other days.
Or, maybe youre the kind of person who does have to eat when you arent hungry because if you dont, youll forget about eating until youre ravenous, and then you wont be able to control yourself. It all depends on you. Youre the one in controlÂ—not the food, and not any kind of diet. Get to know yourself: Write down your own rules about how you like to eat, but only if you see them as your personal preferences and qualities, rather than self-imposed laws.
Bethenny Frankel is a celebrity natural-foods chef, author of Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting, and owner of the baked-goods company bethennybakes.