My Chaperones | A Special Post You Don’t Want To Miss

This is weird. Yesterday I had a bad gym day. Today, I really struggled with all kinds of food cravings. I woke up feeling like some breakfast type things (Pain au Chocolat, muffin, brioche). By noon, I was obsessed with this Madras chicken curry I like from an Indian restaurant less than 10 minutes by foot from where I live. By 6 p.m., I was feeling like…well, everything, LITERALLY. Pasta, KFC, Burger King, Indian food, Chinese food, cookies, crisps, Häagen-Dazs, Sprite, fries, you name it. It was ROUGH.

Seriously, I thought I was past that phase of weight loss. I thought I was done with food cravings. God knows I struggled with it for almost 3 weeks in the beginning. I really hope I am just having two bad days in a row. Well, technically two bad days because gym went well today but I had a really hard time with the diet part of weight loss. What is this? God testing my restraint? Duh..

The important thing is though, what did I do about it? Did I cave? Did I throw caution to the wind and just made today a cheat day?

Not a rhetorical question! I actually want you to think about it and have an answer ready in your head.

So, are you? Ready I mean..

Ok then! The answer is…I fought my way through the day. I did not cave. The absolute truth of things is that I could have afforded a cheat day today. It was not going to mess my weight loss THAT much. But my body would have registered that I am weak. The cravings would have kept pouring in, over the next few days, and my body would have kept telling me “You can skip gym today” or “You can have that double chocolate chip cookie. Just fast the whole day tomorrow!”

I’ve been down this road before. Hell, I’ve been down this road for the last 1.5 years. This is precisely how I got to 85 kg. I would use my knowledge of how intermittent fasting works to explain and rationalize eating whatever I want and get away with it. But guess what? All I did was eat. The fasting part never came. I kept eating and never made up for it.

NOT HAPPENING AGAIN!

Which brings me to something I haven’t really shared with you guys until now. I know I always complain about how hard it is to go to the gym day in, day out. But I never really talk about how eating healthy can also be quite challenging. It doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s a really long and stressful process. And really, you just have to do it. There is no other way. You can’t ease into it. You can’t have someone hypnotize you into it. You just have to realize you need to make a change and then you make that change. But there are a few tricks that can help you along the way. I call them my chaperones.

See, when I find myself craving food I know I am not supposed to have or when I feel I am very close to giving in to whatever food urge I’m having, I do one of several things. What I do obviously depends on the situation I have on my hands but what will follow next are my coping mechanisms to help me deal with food cravings, which I have developed over time and which have really worked for me.

1. I talk it out

When you’re trying to lose weight, one of the most important things that will really help you (more than brand new Nike running shoes or the Nike E2 Prime Performance Running Arm Band) is having a buddy, a sponsor, a chaperone. You need someone you can turn to whenever, wherever. Someone who will give you sound advice, who will support you and who will, at the same time, should the need arise, lay some hard truths on you.

And when I am in a bad place, like I was today, I just talk it out. I talk until the craving goes away. Sometimes it takes a couple of minutes. Sometimes it takes over 3 hours.

2. I try on some outfits

This one works like magic. So here is what happens: Often, when I feel like a cheat meal or when I feel like an extra snack (and I don’t mean an apple), I dig in my wardrobe and take out some clothes I really want to get into. When I see how bad I look in an outfit or when I see how close I am to actually looking good in something, it hits me that Häagen-Dazs right now is going to mess things up. It will take me further away from my goal and it will prolong the misery that is serious weight loss.

3. I find a substitute

So I love double chocolate chip cookies. And sometimes, when I feel like 2 or 3 double chocolate chip cookies, I try to think of something I am equally fond of or get excited about (that is not packed with 300+ calories per cookie). For me, that would be fresh mango fingers or a pomegranate. If I find myself craving a cheeseburger with fries, I find a substitute for that, which would probably be a really nice dinner in a really nice restaurant that serves amazing grilled meat (or a 6-inch Chicken Teriyaki sub, which FYI, is a low calorie sub).

Substitute 1

 

Substitute 2

4. I look at my weekly progress

Looking at my weekly progress pictures is another weapon I have in my anti-cheating arsenal. I let it sink in that a cheat meal is not worth it if the price to pay is a bad number on my weight scale the following Monday.

5. Two bonus preventive measures

It might not work for many of you but when I go out, for example, when I go to class and I know that I will not be needing any money, I purposefully leave my purse at home or I leave all my money and bank cards at home. This means that, should I feel like making a stop at Burger King on my way back home from class, I can’t even if I want to. And by the time I come back home, I am in a more rational frame of mind and it’s easier to deal with temptation.

A less drastic and more practical method of dealing with temptation is to always leave a 2-hour window between wanting to have something unhealthy and actually making a purchase. For example, say you are at a grocery store and you want to buy some pastry in addition to your meat and veggies. Don’t. Just leave the pastry and get out of there. Don’t make a decision about whether or not you can afford a chocolate eclair on the spot. Say to yourself “I will think about this”. Because trust me, if you buy that pastry, it will be a rushed decision and you will torment yourself about it later.

About intermittent fasting

Over the last couple of days, I have been asked, many times: Is intermittent fasting healthy? Is it easy? Is it not too harsh to fast 16 hours everyday?

Let’s do some math.

Say you have your last meal at 8 p.m. everyday. If you just skip breakfast and you have lunch at say 1 p.m., that’s a 17-hour fast right there. How many times have you skipped breakfast because you were running late for work? Or school? Did it kill you? Did it make you feel weak? I can’t even eat in the morning. Eating early morning makes me feel sick.

And anyway, even if you can’t skip breakfast (it can be a personal preference thing), you can do breakfast, a snack and a last meal at 4 p.m. It would still be a 16-hour fast everyday.

And seriously, I really believe that the single most important reason why I actually stuck to weight loss this time is because of how convenient intermittent fasting is as a lifestyle. If I had to come up with 5-6 healthy meals a day, it was just not going to happen. For one, it costs to have 5-6 meals a day. Secondly, I would be spending a lot of time preparing food, time that, most often, I don’t have. And thirdly, intermittent fasting makes weight loss so much easier and less stressful. And it’s an added benefit that it really helps you drop the kg and lbs. fast.

And health-wise, let’s see.

The health benefits of intermittent fasting include:

  • Decreased insulin levels & increased insulin sensitivity
  • Decreased blood glucose levels
  • Increased lipolysis and fat burning
  • Increased glucagon levels
  • Increased epinephrine and norepinephrine levels
  • Increased growth hormone levels
  • Decreased chronic inflammation

Reference: Pilon, Brad. Eat Stop Eat, 5th Ed. Ontario, Canada: Strength Works, 2012. E-book.

(The book itself contains 240+ references/sources to research papers. If you want specific references for any particular health benefit listed above, send me a message here.)

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