Welcome back to Minimalist Monday. If you're anything like me you're probably a few pounds heavier after the Christmas break and are finding it harder than ever to exercise. A minimal mindset can help you to develop a healthy relationship with food because it involves both self discipline and self care. A minimalist attitude to health involves avoiding excesses either of food or self deprivation. It is about eating just enough, doing a moderate amount of exercise and appreciating the joy of food and the gift of health.
I am no medical or nutritional expert but I would like to offer you some simple tips to motivate you to adopt a healthier relationship with food and exercise. I have managed to keep my weight stable since my teenage years and would like to pass on my tips. Knowing and respecting your own body is the most important thing here. We are not all meant to look the same and being thin is not necessarily healthy. But being healthy and looking good are within everyone's reach. Here's how.
Baby steps to a healthy new you
1. Keep a record of your weight. Weigh yourself once or twice a week and note it down. I like to weigh myself on a Monday and a Friday. It's easy to be disciplined in the week but often healthy eating can go out the window come the weekend. By weighing yourself on a Friday you can try and keep some of your weekday resolve and not slip too much at the weekend. Weighing yourself regularly over a few weeks can also help you to track how a small weekly weight loss can snowball into half a stone or more over time.
2. Resolve not to diet ever again. Instead adopt a balanced approach to eating – neither feast nor famine but somewhere in the middle. If eating a small amount of chocolate everyday makes you happy then allow yourself this daily treat. Feeling deprived can lead to an obsession with banned foods and ultimately end in failure. As the saying goes a little of what you fancy does you good. No food should be seen as an enemy but some foods just have to be enjoyed in moderation. However, endeavour to develop some healthy habits like eating more fruit and veg.
3. Reduce your portion size. Eat slightly less at each meal and you will lose weight without noticing too much. Have smaller portions of high calorie foods and fill your plate with a larger serving of low calorie but nutritionally high foods like vegetables. Serve the healthier options onto your plate first then put a smaller amount of the higher fat/higher calorie food in the remaining space. Try using a smaller plate – it really does work.
4. Bank some calories. If you know you are going to a social function such as a meal out or a party don't deprive yourself - go and enjoy the fabulous food. Eat slightly less the day before or the day after and your overall calorie intake for the week will be no greater. However, generally try and keep your eating regular – eating meals at routine times will help stabilise your eating and your mood. If you have a social occasion coming up, involving food, make plans for what you'll eat in advance. Look forward to it but make a promise to yourself to be moderate - just have one helping at the buffet or two courses instead of three at a meal out.
5. Drink more water. Hunger is often mistaken for thirst. Also, if you are really hungry soup then is an excellent way of making yourself feel full.
6. Choose complex carbohydrates over refined ones. They will make you feel fuller and have a higher nutritional value. Try and reduce your carbohydrate intake generally and have some meals that are high in protein.
7. Don't skip breakfast. EVER.
8. Don't go shopping when you are hungry. Whatever you bring into the house you will end up eating.
9. Make eating a sensory pleasure. Take extra care with the presentation of your food and make the area where you eat pleasant; try not to eat in front of the TV too often. Chew your food more and put your fork down more often. Stop eating before you feel full. This is how to be a mindful eater.
11. Cook more often. Cooking from scratch with simple ingredients will increase your enjoyment of food and your diet will be healthier. Put effort into making healthy foods tasty – use more fresh herbs and spices to enliven simple meals.
11. Think like a thin person. Skip the odd meal (but not regularly) – not every meal has to be a banquet.
12. Get moving. Instead of thinking of exercise as a regime just aim to get more exercise through daily activity. Take the stairs over the lift more often, walk instead of using the car. Fidget more – try and move every half hour. Find an excuse to use the stairs or have an impromptu dance in the kitchen. Also, don't see exercise as just a means to lose weight – it has so many other advantages such as stress relief, relaxation and personal fulfilment. Exercise can also boost your mood and can be a great way to interact socially with others.
These are not just weight loss tips but are ways to help you eat a more moderate healthy diet and find some motivation to exercise a little. They are by no means definitive.
Happy eating and here's to a healthy and active 2013 xo