The first step towards recovery is admitting that you have a problem. What you have been doing isn’t working. You are overweight, but that is not the problem. Being overweight is the result of the problem, not the cause. Finding what has caused the excessive pounds to pile on is Step 2. Admitting that a problem does, in fact, exist is Step 1.
After you admit that something you’ve been doing is causing this unfavorable result, the next step is identifying the problem. This is not always easy, and the answer is typically multifaceted. Most people will over-simplify the problem as being that they overeat, eat the wrong things, and don’t exercise. This acknowledgment is a step in the right direction, but to set up a successful action plan, you have to delve deeper into the “why.” Why do you overeat? What qualifies “overeating?” What are the wrong things, and why are they wrong? What causes you to refrain from exercise? THESE answers may reveal the real problems. If you don’t know the answers, you’re missing pieces to the puzzle. You should find them before trying to put it together.
Maybe you overeat because you simply don’t know how much fuel your body needs each day. By finding your basal metabolic rate and adding calories based on your activity level, you can learn how many calories your body needs to sustain the weight that you are at. Consuming anything less than that would mean weight loss. That deficit could be created by upping your physical activity, eating less, or a combination of these things. You have to know what your body needs to sustain itself to understand the arithmetic of weight loss. If you create a deficit of 500 calories per day, you should lose approximately 1-pound of body fat in one week.
The solution above would work if the problem of overeating is that you overeat because you don’t know the quantity of food you ought to be eating. That may or may not be why you overeat. Logical solutions don’t solve emotional problems. You are setting yourself up for disappointment if you lay out framework for changing your meals and calories without addressing the emotional relationship you may have created between yourself and food. Many people turn to food as a comforter when things in life are going bad; or a celebration when things in life are going good; or a refuge when things in life are intolerable. These “things in life” need the emotional energy that you’ve been redirecting to food. If emotional eating is triggering you to overeat, before pulling out the Weight Watchers point calculator, you must pull out the emotional baggage that you have hidden in your heart. If you’ve tried to drown it with food, it will be a refreshing feeling to finally fight fire with fire. Professional help from a licensed professional may help you learn how to feel your feelings, especially if you have been feeding them for a long time. This, to you (feeling, not feeding your emotions), may allow you to put a fork in overeating.
Yet another root reason for overeating may be that you have impulsive tendencies. This behavior may be (and probably is) pervasive in other areas of your life, besides eating. When you go window shopping, do you have a very difficult time not buying things that you see and like? When somebody sends an email that rubs you the wrong way, do you draft and send an ugly response before thinking it through? Do you, unintentionally, spend every dime in your pocket when you hit the casinos for a little gambling entertainment? If you have a pattern of doing these things, it wouldn’t be surprising if you also have a problem with impulsive eating. For impulsive people, a clear candy jar sitting on the coffee table, filled with peanut M&Ms is nearly impossible to resist. They may think they can just eat a small handful, but that usually turns in to more and more. Before long, the jar is empty. Likewise, for impulsive people, the food sitting on kitchen counters, at the front of the fridge, and at eye-level in the pantry are the foods they’ll typically eat. It’s what they see first, so it’s what they’ll grab and eat. We all have a certain amount of impulsiveness, but some people are vastly more impulsive than the average person. There are some foods that would be considered bland and uninteresting, such as Saltine crackers or rice cakes, but left sitting on the kitchen counter in plain sight, will be eaten by impulsive eaters in no time. If stocked in the back of the pantry, they’d probably stale before the box is emptied. Impulsive eaters don’t like to acknowledge their lack of control over the strength of their impulses. They may cook their favorite food, say brownies, convinced that they just want one and will only eat one. Once the brownies are done, one turns in to two which turns in to three, which quickly becomes the whole batch. Their failure to resist eating the whole batch may cause a post-binge deep depression. You can see how impulsive tendencies and emotional eating can be a tag-team problem that some people face together. It takes humility for impulsive people to admit their problem, but by recognizing it, the power that they have given food can be revoked. By recognizing their weakness, they know there won’t be a clear candy jar in their house- they get rid of it. They go to the bakery and buy a single brownie when the craving strikes, because they know if they cook the full batch at home, they won’t be able to stop themselves from eating too many. They purge their pantries, tossing out any food that may be a stumbling block for them. They stock the refrigerator with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. True, most fruits and veggies are best kept in the crisper, but the crisper is hard to see. For impulsive people, it’s better to put these items at the front of the fridge where they will be seen instantly, regardless of the fact that the temperature is more suitable in the crisper.
Plenty of people say that they eat a lot of junk, but have trouble identifying what parts of their diet are junky and how they will change. Any food can be junk. Spinach and artichokes are very healthy, but spinach and artichoke dip is very unhealthy. Garden vegetables are very healthy, but garden vegetable-flavored crackers are just a bunch of salty junk. A breakfast muffin from a bakery may have more calories than a cupcake. Butter isn’t the healthiest choice in the world, but it does provide some calcium and a little bit of real butter is much healthier than the chemical nightmare that is calorie-free spray artificial butter. It can be difficult to distinguish what is good for you, versus what it junk. Two slices of pan crust pizza from Pizza Hut may have over 900 calories. Made at home with a little pizza sauce and reduced fat, part skim mozzarella cheese broiled on a brown rice tortilla with spinach and mushrooms, you’re looking at under 300 calories for the whole pizza, and it’s a good source of fiber, iron, and antioxidants. Food can be manipulated to be unhealthy, but you can find ways to enjoy the things you like by making modifications, such as with the pizza example above. If you really love the “real deal,” there’s no harm in indulging once in a while and cutting your serving size down so that you do not consume more calories than your body needs from that meal. When eating in this way, you can sometimes eat some food items that you would have categorized as “junk” at one point in your life, and still lose weight.
If your lifestyle doesn’t currently include regular physical activity, explore the reasons why not and what may make you change that. Do you like the way your body feels after exercise? Most people do. Is that benefit not worth the misery you feel the entire time you’re exercising? Maybe you are starting out your program too intensely. Your heart is a muscle, and just like any muscle, it gets stronger with time and training, so it’s a good idea to start out with something light, like half an hour of walking or swimming with a kick board. Do you not exercise because you don’t have time? You have 24-hours in the day, just like everyone else. Is exercise boring to you? Join a group fitness workout. With great music, an entertaining instructor, and a room full of energy from all of the other people in it with you, you’ll be too stimulated to be bored. Do you not know what to do for exercise? There are a plethora of free downloadable safe and effective workouts that you can load straight to your iPod at www.cardiopump.com/virtual-workouts. You may think of other explanations for why you don’t exercise, but if getting healthier and losing weight is your goal, you must explore all things that are holding you back and devise a plan to counter them.