And, even though I started out on Weight Watchers and following the points system, there were times (still are, actually) when I felt like I wanted to eat a second helping of something awesome–and if I had the points in my daily budget, it didn’t seem like a big deal.
So in the process of losing weight, I was always looking for ways to refine my process and make it go more smoothly and BLISSFULLY (which is why the book is called Project Blissful!).
That’s what led me to do the research on the whole eating seconds thing – and since I’m no scientist, I’ll just let the ones from Harvard Medical School tell you the science behind it.
“Stretch receptors in the stomach are activated as it fills with food or water; these signal the brain directly through the vagus nerve that connects gut and brainstem. Hormonal signals are released as partially digested food enters the small intestine. One example is cholecystokinin (CCK), released by the intestines in response to food consumed during a meal. Another hormone, leptin, produced by fat cells, is an adiposity signal that communicates with the brain about long-range needs and satiety, based on the body’s energy stores. Research suggests that leptin amplifies the CCK signals, to enhance the feeling of fullness. Other research suggests that leptin also interacts with the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain to produce a feeling of pleasure after eating. The theory is that, by eating too quickly, people may not give this intricate hormonal cross-talk system enough time to work.” ~Ann MacDonald, Contributor, Harvard Health (See the full scientific explanation at the Harvard Medical School website.)
The 20-Minute Rule That Changed My Life
Anyhoo, since it takes your brain approximately 20 minutes to inform your body that you’ve had enough, I would sometimes end up eating more than I wanted.
So, I made a new rule, and it hasn’t failed me yet.
I allow myself to eat literally WHATEVER I WANT, but I only take one serving at a time AND I wait 20 minutes between servings. I also try to eat slowly, for the same reason. (According to Harvard researchers, there’s a good reason for doing so.) For me, that usually means I don’t eat a second serving, because I really do feel satiated by the single serving in most cases.
Your Fit Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It
Starting today, make the same rule for yourself. If you still feel hungry after eating a single serving or plate of food, give yourself a 20-minute break before loading up that plate again or taking a second helping. It’s so simple, but this single change can offer you a serious advantage on your weight-loss journey.
Will you give it a shot? What are your best weight-loss tips? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below!
“It’s tedious and time-consuming. It tethers you to your phone or computer and can trigger anxiety and obsessive behavior in people who get overly hung up on numbers. Yet research repeatedly demonstrates that people who keep food journals are more successful at weight loss and weight loss maintenance than those who don’t.” ~Tamara Grand, FitNitChick.com
Listen. If you’ve been reading my stuff for long, you know that I pretty much tell it like it is. With that being said, you’ll know where I’m going with this.
There are some things we have to do if we want to meet certain goals in our lives. And sometimes, those things aren’t fun, at first, but once you get moving, you realize they’re totally worth your time.
The good news is that you can do it, and even if you’re lazy and don’t like to feel uncomfortable (like MOI), you can STILL do it.
The Harsh Truth About Food Tracking: It’s a Pain in the Ass.
So yeah. Tracking your food is TRULY a huge pain in the ass. I’m not gonna lie.
But if you can do it for a month, you can do it for six months.
And often times, if you do it for six months, you don’t have to keep doing it all the time. That’s because you can train your brain to actually WANT to eat healthier foods and in healthier ways. I swear.
Here are some super simple food tracking hacks that will help you make it happen, too.
Food Track-Hack #1: No Cheating (At First)
I had to be very strict about tracking during the beginning in order to lose the weight.
I had to track LITERALLY every single day for at least six months before I felt like I was ready to try going track free.
I tracked every single thing I put in my mouth–even if it was just a handful of peanuts or a bite of a cookie. It mattered, and it changed my life.
Food Track-Hack #2: Okay, Cheat a Little (Within Reason)
Some people do well with a “cheat day” each week, others need two. My suggestion is to do one or less “days” of “freedom” at first.
Instead, I suggest a “cheat meal” option or a “cheat dessert” option once a week.
For me, the Weight Watchers bonus points (aka cheat within reason option) made it easier to understand what an appropriate amount of cheating looked like, and tracking taught me how to eat right and still live in the “real world.”
But even when you cheat, you should still track every single thing you eat. It will help to know exactly what kind of damage you’re doing–in more ways than one.
Food Track-Hack #3: Why Tracking Is Seriously Worth the Trouble
Look, I know what you’re thinking. Tracking food? Boring, waste of time, annoying, restrictive, waste of energy–doesn’t work anyway. Right?
Wrong. So wrong. And trust me, I know what I’m talking about – I learned it the hard way.
For me, tracking everything I ate and drank was a pain at first and felt really restrictive, but that short period of restriction ultimately led to freedom.
It will be for you too, I promise–so just do it! It is WORTH it. Now I get to wear stuff like this. Way more fun. 🙂
Food Track-Hack Tip #4: Find Your Inner Gamer (Dig Deep If You Gotta)
So listen, I’m not a gamer. Honestly. But tracking sort of became a game to me, eventually. I actually (don’t tell anyone) sort of had fun with it.
I wanted to see how much I could eat while still staying within my points allowance, so I’d figure out different menu options and play with the numbers until I had the most satisfying options possible. Give it a shot!
And Freedom From Food Tracking Looks Like This
These days, I don’t track on a daily basis. But through tracking, I learned what portion sizes are healthier, which small adjustments to which dishes can reduce your fat and calories but still retain the flavor and more.
But the biggest and most important thing that six months of tracking my food helped me to learn was how to listen to my own body’s cues.
Now, I just eat what I want and nothing more or less. I pay attention to my body and feed it what it wants–and nothing else.
How the Food Tracking-Game Changed My World
Within the confines of my little game, I naturally leaned toward healthier foods. Fruits and veggies were mostly free–so I could eat a HUGE and awesome salad with a few ounces of chicken and a couple tablespoons of dressing for seven or eight points, max.
This kind of game-playing led to a change in my taste preferences. Eating greasy, cheesy, creamy, fried or otherwise bad-for-me foods suddenly became less attractive.
Now, I wanted fresh, cleaner-tasting stuff.
These days, I am able to literally eat anything I want, simply by eating healthy MOST of the time and by allowing myself to indulge on occasion.
And since I’m still working on getting those last few pounds off, I am still keeping an eye on my scale. If I notice that I plateau for too long or even gain a pound or two, I’ll go back to tracking for a few weeks so I can regain balance.
I promise, tracking your food doesn’t have to (totally) suck. You might be surprised to find out how much (or how little) you’re really eating and how small changes in your choices can lead to big changes in your health.
Do you track your food? Have you in the past, or will you start food tracking now? Have tracking tips that worked for you? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below, or join the discussion on our Facebook page.
As you may or may not be aware, I lost more than 100 pounds a couple of years ago. When I finally hit the big 1-0-0 in December 2013, I released a video showing my progress. Here it is (be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to see the updated video!):
At that time, I got many positive comments from people who had watched and felt inspired by the video. Comments such as one from a user named Nina who said, “You look BEAUTIFUL!!!!! IF You did it I know I can,” made me feel great–like I was inspiring others to get healthier. Helping others get healthy is an absolutely beautiful thing, something I aspire to do–something that makes me feel good.
Another user said, “Even at your heaviest you are an attractive woman. Now you are unusually good looking. Keep it up. I have just started my journey,” which of course stroked my ego a little.
And Britva613, a fellow Weight Watchers member, said, “What an inspiration!! I also started out a size 24 (well 24-26 by the stretchy labels I wore) I got down to a 16 and am back up to an 18 I just put on the breaks and went back to WW and this video collage is great! Way to go and it looks like you husband lost along with you.”
There were many more really positive comments too, and I’m grateful for them.
And then there were the negative ones. Now, I could publish them or acknowledge them directly, but I won’t, because I don’t want to add fuel to any negativity fires. There was one user who felt so passionately that I had lied about my size and who felt the need to tell me how fat my arms were, rather than to offer support.
While I chose not to respond to the comments, other users jumped in and defended me, which I appreciated. But honestly, I don’t care what some mean-spirited YouTuber thinks. I know what size my jeans are, and guess what? I know my arms are one of my problem areas. Everyone’s body is different, and I know how much better I am than I was before.
So, to the lady who chose to try to bring me down–I feel sorry for you. You’ve obviously got some really difficult issues in your life and maybe it helped you to feel better to try to destroy a random stranger’s self-confidence. But luckily, my confidence doesn’t come from you or anyone else–it’s all about me and what I choose to believe about myself.
And I’m not so unique–everyone gets to decide who they want to be and how they choose to perceive themselves and their lives.
Anyhoo, enough about all of that.
Here’s the big update: I’ve maintained the loss and even dropped a few more pounds. The loss is going slower now of course, but I’m also in a sort of maintenance/loss rotation. I am relatively happy with my size now, actually. I just want to tone up a bit, and maybe lose 30 or 40 more pounds in the long run to reach my ideal weight. But ideal is all in our heads anyway, right? It’s about being happy, healthy and feeling good, for me anyway. 🙂
So here are a few updated photos from 2013 and Jan. 2014.
Jan. 2014 Weight Loss Update: 100+ Plus Loss Maintained, Continued
Ask Yourself: How are you going to keep track of your food intake and exercise?
Decide in advance how you’ll track your food and exercise. I like to use a smartphone app called Noom Weight Loss Coach. It offers me the ability to track my food and workouts, plus I have Noom Walk, which automatically tracks my steps every day and gives me goals to increase my fitness based on my weight and diet and previous activity levels. Noom gives me daily tasks to complete and is just generally a really easy-to-use and effective tool.
I have also tried and liked MyFitnessPal and the official Weight Watchers app, as well as a couple of motivational apps that just offered little tips and pokes throughout the day. I ended up removing all but Noom and Noom Walk from my phone when I recently had to free up some space.
If you have a fitness and weight loss app you prefer, please tell me about it in the comments section below—I’m always interested in finding great tools!
Are you gearing up for the challenge? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below!
Next up: Finding the support you need during the challenge
Today’s Fit Mission is inspired by one of my dear Fit & Fabulous Girls, Dawnie, who shared that she has been struggling on the weekends with staying on track. She generally just tries to eat healthy on weekends, but gives herself a break from tracking.
“During the week I rock it,” Dawnie said. “I pre-plan and pre-cook all my meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks I pack my little pink lunch bag EVERY day and I eat all my meals out of it.”
But she said that on the weekends, things are different. Even though her husband has always been very supportive of her weight loss efforts, the two of them struggle to avoid over-doing it on the weekends.
“(My husband) has watched me struggle on the weekends and while he will try to support me, let’s face it, he and I are both foodies and feed off each other,” she said. “So if I say ‘let’s order Greek food‘ he is like, “yeah!” she said. “He suggested I (start tracking) on the weekend too.”
Your Fit Mission: Make a Game of It
Your fit mission today is to join my girl Dawnie in her re-commitment to tracking her food.
Let’s play the food-tracking game! It goes like this.
Track every morsel and calorie-laden drop you put into your mouth.
Be sure to drink enough water, but don’t get crazy about tracking water intake unless you’re not getting enough. (If tracking makes you happy, though, by all means, track away!)
Whether you track with Sparkpeople, Weight Watchers points or even just scratching it down in a pocket-sized notebook or on a notepad app your phone, keep a record of the food you eat.
And that’s it! Super easy, right? And it’s about to get even better.
For now, don’t stress about how much you’re eating or drinking. Just get into the habit of keeping a record of everything you eat. (My bet is that the simple act of writing it down will change your life–but if not, you can always choose a daily intake goal. We’ll get to that soon.)