Be Optimistic and Realistic“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”.  It’s a catchy tune, sure, but it’s not the best approach to success!  Overly optimistic thinking goes like this ” I went WAY over my calorie budget today, but I’ll get back on track tomorrow, somehow”.  While it’s helpful to assert good intentions (rather than beating yourself up) being vague about how you’ll recover isn’t helpful.  Thinking things will get better somehow, without having a plan to make it happen, can derail your weight loss efforts because we need to identify what needs to change and than set specific steps to change it.  So for instance the fix for going over your daily calorie budget could be to plan out your day for tomorrow. While most unhelpful thinking styles are negative (example beating yourself up) the don’t worry be happy style feels helpful and positive.  But it too can lead to feelings and actions or more often, inactions that undermine our journey.  Because it masquerades as something positive, this thinking style might demand a little practice and shift.

An example on how to manage this type of thinking was provided by the Weight Watchers Weekly on this subject.  It teaches you a way to “balance your thinking”.

  1. Identify your “don’t worry be happy” thought. (Example: I ate way more than I planned at my lunch date today. I’ll get back on track later.)
  2. Reality check it.  Ask yourself “what needs to happen to make this true?”  Use your answer to shift to a helpful thought that has one ot more back on track solutions. (example: If I make a plan, I will be able to get back on track later.  I could track what I ate.)
  3. Plan what you’ll do.  Choose one action from your ideas above that’s doable.  Make a specific plan for what you’ll do, when you’ll do it and who you’ll do it with (if anyone). (example: I’ll track what I ate at lunch during my 3pm break at my desk by myself.  That’ll help me see how many calories I’ve used and decide what to eat for dinner)

I’m a good one for this kind of thinking.  I am a big “don’t worry, be happy” thinker when it comes to my weight loss journey.  That’s why it’s ben so SLOW!  I’m always saying to myself “it’s ok tomorrow will be better” – spoiler alert- tomorrow is never better.  The action plan above is great and something I am going to give a try!

Plan Your Meals

It’s a savvy way to streamline prep, shop efficiently and stay on plan!

Benjamin Franklin once said ” If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.  He couldn’t ne more on point when it comes to success in weight loss!  As with most things in life, advance work pays off with mealtime.  Whether you pre-track your dinner in the afternoon, batch prep the week’s lunches or decide on a full day’s menu before you even eat breakfast, planning make it easier to do the following:

  • Avoid spur of the moment eating.  When you know what and when your next meal is, you are less likely to be influenced by extreme hunger or external triggers (think donuts).
  • Multiply your possibilities!  Planning your meals helps you explore different foods and bring in a range of flavors and nutritional benefits.
  • Save money.  If you enter the supermarket with a solid list of ingredients for specific meals, you won’t spend on food you don’t need.  
  • Get in the Healthy Eating Zone.  You can plot out your meals and snacks to have them fit into your healthy calorie range.  
  • Enjoy every bite.  When you shed the stress of last minute decisions, you can anticipate and then really savor the tastes, textures and colors of your meals and snacks.
For me – planning before hitting the grocery is the most important thing.  Each week I plan out healthy meals for the family, then make my list of what I need to pick up at the store.  I really push myself to ONLY buy the items on my list.  Junk food is NEVER on my list.  Now don’t get me wrong – does the junk food jump in the cart every now and again – yup!  But going in with a plan spares me those “easy” dinners that aren’t always good for you.
In the Weight Watcher’s Weekly on this topic a member had some suggestions on what she does to plan for success –
  1. Batch cook and freeze!
  2. Focus on the foods you love!
  3. Keep pre-cut fresh and veggies on hand!
  4. Boost flavor with salsa!
Try planning for a week and see how it goes – I bet you’ll love it.  You definitely save money when you plan.  Because the chance of getting takeout goes WAY down. 

    Scheduling Your Meals?

    Planning when you’ll eat helps you manage hunger, avoid unplanned eating and make healthier choices.  

    There’s a lot to be said for this.  If you have a scheduled healthy eating plan for the day, you’re definitely less likely to go off the rails and eat unplanned foods (and for most of us, that’s junk food- Am I right?).  A few years back i saw a nutritionist to help me in my weight loss efforts and that was the main sticking point to her whole program.  Eating breakfast as soon as you wake, then a snack a few hours later, then lunch, another snack, dinner and an optional snack in the evening if you needed something to tide you over until the morning.  Her schedule also included “food rules”, that I won’t go into all of them here, but one of them sticks with me today – which I still try to achieve (not nearly as much as I should) is no carbohydrates for dinner – proteins and veggies only.  Which makes sense if you really think about it.  Going to bed with a tummy full of carbs isn’t the best plan for weight loss.
    Something that we rarely think about is there are two types of hunger:  Internal and External.  It’s vital for your weight loss efforts to be able to manage internal hunger, because when you’re internally hungry, you’ll eat just about anything and it raise your risk of external hunger.  the best way to manage internal hunger is to create an eating schedule that helps you from going long periods without eating.
    So what’s internal and external hunger?  Here are some ways to recognize the differences:
    What’s the trigger?
    • Internal – things inside your body.
    • External – outside forces, people, places, emotions, the sight of food, the smell of food.
    Physical Sensations:
    • Internal – Growling stomach, slight lightheadedness and/or headache.
    • External – None
    What you’ll eat:
    • Internal – Anything 
    • External – Specific food
    • Internal – Usually more than 4 hours after the last time you ate.
    • External – Usually less than 4 hours since you last ate.
    Once you are able to recognize the difference between internal and external hunger, create and eating schedule to help you manage it.  Another good way to know, really quickly, if you are really hungry or if it’s your emotions (or any other from the list) – is what kind of food is going to satisfy you – will an apple fulfill your need for food or is it something super specific? (and for most it’s junk food)  
    Scheduling your meals can also help in stopping yourself from overeating, because you are most likely planning your scheduled meals ahead of time.  When you meal plan you’re making better choices and creating a serving size for yourself.  You’re less likely to overeat when you’ve had something to “top off” your tummy all day long too.
    Have you tried this?  Do you like it?  Any tips?