Did you know that the most common New Year’s resolution relates to health and wellness? More than 38% of people each year make New Year’s resolutions to exercise more, 33% to lose weight and 32% to eat more healthily.* Within two weeks, more than 43% of Brits give up. Within one month, 66% give up. Within three months, 80% of people give up.** Shocking, right? These figures aren’t a blip or a one-off due to global financial markets crashing—they are consistent year after year.
The problem is not a lack of willpower or belief in wanting to change something, it’s the wrong resolution. Dry January won’t change your life, nor will giving up your favourite curry or pizza Fridays. A scale can quickly become your biggest enemy and no one can function on a diet of soup and lemon water. Walking 10,000 steps per day will make a difference, but only if supported by what you eat.
I won’t lecture you on the harmful effects of sugar, processed food and alcohol—everyone knows those—and I won’t jump into meal plans and portions. Rather, I want to share my number one tip to changing how you look and feel: MINDFUL EATING.
Mindful eating is about making choices and being fully aware of how you feel before, during and after eating something. It’s about taking control and enjoying food without unrealistic diets and the shame that follows when you ‘cheat’. When I started my weight-loss journey more than 10 years ago, many diets were so complicated and labour-intensive that I gave up before even trying. Guilt and shame are destructive.
Getting started with mindful eating is easy. Start with what you know and enjoy. If you can’t give up your favourite curry, that’s understandable, but eat it with intention. That means placing the curry on a white plate, sitting down at a table with no distractions (that means no TV), savouring the smell of the curry, then taking small bites, ensuring you chew at least 20 times with each mouthful and swallowing completely before taking another bite. Enjoy the texture and the flavours. Plan your bites. Think about which parts of the curry give you the most pleasure.
Look for the first signal from your brain that you are satisfied. If losing weight is a goal, then you most likely don’t know how to read those signals and if you do, you’ve trained your body to just keep on eating and eating and eating until the food is gone. The moment you push past the full signals from your brain, you enter into emotional eating. This is when one crisp turns into an entire bag gone, without you noticing, and then in a trancelike state searching for something else to eat, then something else, then stomach pains, then shame.
Mindful eating is the first step to losing weight and becoming fit and strong. As you master it, you’ll notice the difference between being hungry and being bored. You’ll notice that your body sends you strong messages about the food it needs (not wants). You’ll also notice the food that your body doesn’t know how to process and therefore rejects by making you feel bloated or giving you indigestion.
I know about emotional eating from personal experience because that’s exactly what I did. I ate my way to 250 lbs. With each pound gained, more shame weighed on my shoulders. I felt powerless to change. The moment I was aware of my food triggers and learned about mindful eating, the weight started coming off.
Of course I exercised too, starting with walking in front of my tv, then building up my confidence to walk in the park, then join a gym. I am now a UK size 8, where I’ve remained for more than 10 years. It’s hard-work, but I will never return to my fat self. I’ve worked too hard to get where I am today and I am proud of what I have overcome.
Follow my journey and let my personal experience and fit tips help you lose weight, get fit and stay fit. You can do it!
*Source: The Telegraph "Common New Years Resolutions Stick"
**Source: The Guardian "How Long Do People Keep Their New Year Resolutions"