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"Biggest losers" have things in common.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

No secret diet, no magic pill. I’m sure we have all realized this by now. All the people who have successfully tried to lose weight and have managed to keep it off, Sparkers or non-Sparkers, managed to find their own unique combination of healthy eating and exercise. Each one of us is a different person, with different needs, who needs a different approach to weight loss.

But we have things in common. Looking back at my own weight loss journey and browsing through blogs of other people’s successful stories, I think I have pinpointed some attitudes that seem similar, sometimes even identical. And I believe that if these attitudes are put together with our own individual ways of eating and working out, they can easily pave the road to success.
So, these are the things that most “biggest losers” have in common:

- They realized they had to make permanent changes.

Most of them had been tortured by diets many times in the past. Some of them hadn’t. But they all knew that a small period of eating differently and a month of exercise in a year of complete absence of activity would bring changes that wouldn’t last. Sooner or later they would go back to their old habits. It would be like a drop in the ocean. It would only affect the surface of the problem. Only if they changed their habits permanently could they hope for long-lasting results. And this realization was critical to their success.

- They moved on by trial and error.

What worked for me won’t necessarily work for you. People who successfully lost weight were ready to accept failure. They tried many things that proved to be wrong and many times they would bring them back to square one. They just researched and found another way. A new way of exercise, a new trick to deal with cravings, new menus, new breakfast ideas, anything they had a hard time with, they would just replace it with something new. Eventually they found what worked for them.

- They created a support network.

Struggling is part of everything in our lives. Sometimes we struggle with our jobs, with our studies, with our relationships. A weight loss attempt couldn’t be an exception to the rule. There will be difficult days. Days that nothing will seem to work. Days that all our will-power and motivation will have vanished somehow. And when we struggle, we need someone who can relate. A friend or many friends who can put themselves in our shoes, give us a pat on the back and help us move on. Most of the people who managed to lose weight had their own support system. One or more Sparkfriends, a gym buddy, a family member on the same weight loss journey, they all played their own role in someone’s success story.

- They constantly motivated themselves.

What did you think? That all these people lived in gyms and never missed a workout? Or they had hired a 24-hour nutrition expert who cooked all their meals for them? No, they lived in the same world we all do. Where everyday life issues continue and smaller or bigger problems come up and draw our attention away from our personal goals. And, of course, motivation is diminished. But those people didn’t let their motivation meter reach zero. They would motivate themselves weekly, daily or whenever they felt it was needed. They would make visuals, read success stories, browse through motivational pictures, reflect on inspirational quotes, blog, do anything they could to keep the spark alive. And their constant vigilance rewarded them with success.

- They put “health” in the equation.

Vanity reasons are good. Who doesn’t want to look good in skinny jeans or swimsuits? We all do. But there’s a problem with vanity motives. They can easily be postponed for …later. This way: “Well, I still have my baggy T-shirt to hide in. I’ll try for the tank top tomorrow. Now bring me those donuts!”
But when the factor “health” appears, things change. When you know that your unhealthy way of eating and your non-existent activity levels are kindly inviting Mr. Diabetes in, you don’t get lots of time to postpone your decisions. When cholesterol and blood pressure have started using the elevator and are flirting with “the upper floors” of their values, you have to act. All those people who managed to lose weight didn’t necessarily have a health problem. But they educated themselves on health statistics and they measured the odds. And they decided that to the extent they could, they would get in control of their health.

- They wanted it badly.

Probably the most important ingredient in the “weight loss success recipe”. The key attitude. A strong desire. The starting point of all achievement. They wanted to reach their goals and they wanted it badly. So badly that they refused to quit no matter the obstacles. They would always get up no matter how many times they fell. They had the visual of their goal in mind and they never let go of it. And, in the end, they made it happen.


There are so many success stories on Sparkpeople. Have a look at the strategies of those people and you’ll soon realize it’s all a matter of the right attitude. They say that attitudes are contagious, don’t they? Well, I believe you’re in the right place to “catch” them!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SUSANSERENE 11/15/2012 2:29PM

    Thank you, Elle! Your motivational post has given me some great points to ponder, especially at this stage of my life; I've started and stopped so many times yet I've gained and now find myself a mess physically...and emotionally, as well, when I think about it.

Your points on what has meant success to the biggest losers are logical, inspiring and spot on. I'm looking forward to reading future posts of yours, for the inspiration and the example of success.

Best wishes on the remainder of your journey to health and who knows?? Perhaps we'll race that incredible Marathon in Athens together one day!

Thank you for sparking my day! emoticon

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DIXIEWORKHORSE 11/15/2012 10:03AM

    emoticon emoticon

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RUSSELL1960 11/11/2012 7:11PM

    Thanks. What you shared resonates with my experience too. I had many of these "pieces" in place but still didn't experience success. When I added into the mix the daily motivation provided by Spark Coach it put me over the top and I am now a bit surprised and delighted with the good results. It is possible that some discouraged people are very close to success but lack perhaps just one ingredient or one small change in their lives to tip the balance toward progress.

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PEZMOM1 11/8/2012 10:57PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PENSIEVEGAZER 11/6/2012 10:11PM

    Really like the summary of tips!

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ANNANN63 11/6/2012 8:36AM


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JANEMARIE77 11/5/2012 10:08PM

    sounds about right

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COCHRANE0511 11/4/2012 6:36PM

    Thank you for your blog, it was very interesting information.

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SHAZG321 11/4/2012 1:07PM

    emoticon emoticon

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NEWMREY 11/4/2012 10:26AM

    Thank you for your blog and for sharing all of your hard won knowledge! It gives me so much to think about and absorb as I am learning my way to maintenance.


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ELAYNE39 11/4/2012 10:16AM

    Fantastic post!

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NASFKAB 11/4/2012 7:37AM

  awesome blog put what I think in words so beautifully THANKS

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ANNARUTH2 11/4/2012 6:07AM

    Good words!

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    great post

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ARIZONA33 11/4/2012 1:32AM

    Amazing blog. Thanks for sharing and reminding us that we all have things in common but that we need to find our own unique combination in order to make things work for truly work for us!

And, you are so right--attitude is everything!

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REENIE131 11/3/2012 10:46PM

    Thank you for a GREAT blog!

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DETERMINED_ME 11/3/2012 9:23PM

    Thank you so much for sharing...You are right, as I think of the motivational blogs I have read they do read similar. Definitely puts things into perspective.

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    Wow!!!! Talk about an eye opening blog!! It really puts things into perspective!! Thanks for sharing!!


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TUBLADY 11/3/2012 8:04PM

    Another great blog. I agree each of the points you made play a part in my weight loss and my success in maintaining. I really believe you have to want it so bad that nothing will deter you from achieving your success..
It all comes down to mind, your attitude. You are either ready to commit and make the changes needed or you aren't.
It doesn't happen over night. It's a process.
I wish everyone who is on that well traveled road to health and fitness reaches their destination.
Be strong, stay positive.
Tisha emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BIERMA 11/3/2012 7:32PM

  I think you summarized very well what we all realize but needed you to put it into words. Thanks...very inspirational and motivating. emoticon

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SUSUSUZZZIE 11/3/2012 7:32PM

    Love your blog!

emoticon emoticon

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LAWANDMUSIC 11/3/2012 6:05PM

    I really learned a thing to two in your post. Thanks!

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NAOLEE 11/3/2012 5:31PM

    Thank you and well done.

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MARYGOLD5 11/3/2012 3:47PM

    Great blog. Several great ideas that I sometimes forget and needed a reminder of. It is easy to give up if we don't keep our focus and realize that we are worth being healthy. emoticon emoticon

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POINDEXTRA 11/3/2012 3:26PM

    Great points. For me, the main thing has been just sticking with it. Sometimes it's easier than others, and sometimes it's harder, but perserverance is the key.

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DEBLYNN323 11/3/2012 2:39PM

    emoticon ...great blog!

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FALLNTENN 11/3/2012 12:25PM

    Great blog!

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SHOAPIE 11/3/2012 9:39AM


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MANILUS 11/3/2012 8:38AM

    Good points!

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THOMS1 11/3/2012 8:22AM


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STEPH-KNEE 11/3/2012 5:17AM

    So true!! Great advice!! :D

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MARYJEANSL 11/3/2012 2:07AM

  Very well said. You put a lot of things together in a clear, concise way. I need to print it - thanks!

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MARTHAWILL 11/2/2012 8:51PM

    Well written! Everytime I think I've heard it all, I hear a refreshing new perspective. Thanks!

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ONEKIDSMOM 11/2/2012 7:25PM

    A lot of TRUTH here! Thanks for capturing it so well! It needs to be shared and shouted from the rooftops...

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SUSIEMT 11/2/2012 5:47PM

    WooHoo to you lady! Another good insightful blog. Thank You! Keep it up!

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JEWELMOTI 11/2/2012 3:23PM


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MILLIE5522 11/2/2012 3:05PM

    emoticon Great blog!

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ADRIENALINE 11/2/2012 1:57PM

    This is a great blog! It's great to see so many simple truths in one place. You knocked the ball out of the park!

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MELINA3582 11/2/2012 1:54PM

  what a great blog,Elle! thanks for sharing and have a good day!

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MISSB8604 11/2/2012 12:51PM

    You hit the ball out of the park with this one, especially the part about wanting the weight off badly. When I knew I was only 5lbs away from goal there was nothing I wanted more than to see my goal weight on the scale. It fueled my passion, fueled my fire to reach a goal for myself. Sure, I wanted to give up plenty of times, but deep down I knew I never would because I DESERVED to have the body/lifestyle I wanted.

We all deserve the life we want to live. We all deserve to be happy.

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    emoticon emoticon

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LJCANNON 11/2/2012 10:35AM

    emoticon I believe you Nailed It!! Each of these things -- Added to Individual Needs -- Really Will make a Huge Difference!!

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OOLALA53 11/2/2012 10:29AM

    Props for sure. emoticon

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GETFIT2LIVE 11/2/2012 9:50AM

    Spot on. When I look back at why I have been successful this time as well as what it will take to keep the weight off for got, it comes down to those things.

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DAISYBELL6 11/2/2012 9:11AM

    Your blog was right on! Without all these factors combined, I know I would have quit at the first roadblock. Now, when I goof, I just dust off and do it again!

Thanks for your thoughtful summary!

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ISHIIGIRL 11/2/2012 8:59AM

    Hi Elle, you really made some excellent points with this blog and everyone of them is true. i think anyone who is successful at maintaining their weight loss incorporates all of these into their new lifestyles. You did an amazing job of summing them up. Great job!

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62NVON 11/2/2012 8:51AM

    Brilliant thoughts and so very true.

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LOGOULD 11/2/2012 8:51AM

    emoticon insisghts and so right on! There are so many more facets to living healthy than just dieting. It REALLY MUST become a lifestyle, your lifestyle, my lifestyle. We need to take ownership of ourselves and what we want for ourselves. That is KEY!

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TORTISE110 11/2/2012 8:50AM

    You nailed this. Great job.

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WATERMELLEN 11/1/2012 8:15PM

    Another fabulous blog! I'm so glad to have been introduced to your excellent writing . . .

Vanity can be effective short-term motivation . . . . but HEALTH is the biggest factor in sustaining motivation for life-long maintenance: gotta agree with you from my own experience.

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Sparkers don't know quitting.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

8 weeks!
That’s the time I would need to run 5 kilometers non-stop according to Sparkpeople’s 5K Your Way Rookie Running Training Program. This means that the end of this week would find me running my first 5K on the treadmill.
emoticon emoticon
Hmmm… Not even close…
I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to finish the sixth week of the program. Even though the last time I ran – which was a week ago – felt slightly easier than all the previous ones, I just can’t find the strength to get on this treadmill again and continue with the rest of the program. It’s not that I don’t exercise. I do circuit training most days of the week and an hour of dancing on Mondays. But on the days that I’ve scheduled to run, I just look at the treadmill and this little perfectionist inside me that has been making my life difficult for 36 years – what a mean girl! – starts the talk:

“Seriously now, do you really believe you will run for more than half an hour in two weeks? Ha! You can’t even run for five consecutive minutes! You run for three and you need another two to recover! Look at you, you can’t even finish week 6! Can’t you just accept it and go on? Running is not for you! You will NEVER be a runner! You weren’t able to run when you were in high school. What makes you think you will do it now that you’re approaching your forties? You? A runner? Wishful thinking!!!”

See? I warned you! She’s mean!

But she’s part of me. And she wins. And I turn around, away from the treadmill and do circuits instead.

I was about to quit. Forget about running. Post a blog about my failure, thank all my wonderful Sparkfriends for their support and let all of you know that, simply put, running is not for me. I tried, I failed. It happens.

And suddenly I started thinking differently.
I’m a Sparker!
I belong to the Sparkpeople community. People here don’t quit! It's the number one rule! I took the word “quitting” out of my vocabulary a long time ago. When I realized that not every plan is for everyone. When I figured out that everything, from meal plans to fitness schedules should be flexible and tailored to our own individual needs.

Who decides that every person in this world is able to run in 8 weeks? Who can be absolutely sure that life will agree with our plans? No one! It’s just a plan that gives us the guidelines. And if we want it to work, we have to make it flexible. We can’t be perfect at it. Simply because our lives are not perfect. My life right now is a constant combination of multi-tasking and multi-thinking! I’m not always in the mood to press myself for something which my brain and my body categorize as “very difficult”. Sometimes I just need to do something that is also challenging but I know the limits of it. I’ll choose the time when I will be strong enough and ready to exceed my limits.

So, I won't quit. I’ll keep on training with my own terms. Maybe I’ll need double the time to finish this program and run 5 kilometers. So? Time is irrelevant to the accomplishment.

Soon you'll read one of my next blogs. It will be called “I ran my first 5K!”
I can’t promise you the date I’ll post it.
But you can be absolutely sure that I will.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LLL742 11/7/2012 11:43AM

  Your post opened my eyes. I'm a great planner and will spend all my time getting prepped and ready only to get discouraged when things don't go as I planned them. I now realize I am setting myself up for failure this way. I have to allow for adjustments. Go your own pace. That's what I'm going to do.

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FALLNTENN 11/3/2012 12:30PM

    Thanks for the inspiration!

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BRIAN36 11/2/2012 10:26AM

    I've ran two full marathons but I have yet to successfully complete couch to 5K. Can't get past week 5. Your plan, your way.

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MOBYCARP 11/1/2012 6:56AM

    Yes. No canned running program is right for everyone. If you really want to run, you can take the principles of the canned program, and modify the program to fit where you are and how quickly you develop.

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WENDYSPARKS 10/18/2012 8:00AM


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STARDUSTGR 10/18/2012 2:33AM

    We can’t win all the battles but for sure we can win the war!!! Keep going Elle and think like a winner!!

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CRYSBROWN1 10/11/2012 10:45AM

    You can do it! The C25K program is HARD! To prep myself for the later weeks I added more days of the shorter run/walk intervals which helped out a lot, it kept me psyched for the days that I had to go longer. Also, I slowed it "run" was more like turtle-like for the longest time, but that is what worked for me. AND it seems like you have the right idea, find out what works for YOU!
Never Quit!

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EDOHERTY107 10/11/2012 5:35AM

    What a great attitude !!!
emoticon emoticon

emoticon Here you come!!!

Comment edited on: 10/11/2012 5:36:28 AM

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BAKER1009 10/10/2012 2:47PM

    That is the spirit Elle!! You're just so darn emoticon and I knew you would just emoticon

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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FITFOODIE806 10/10/2012 1:35PM

    YES YOU WILL! You are stronger than that mean girl. One thing that I've learned about running is that it is just as much about mind and soul as it is about muscles and lungs. Running can be a mental battle. And it sounds to me like you are winning!!!

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VIXSTERLU 10/10/2012 1:07PM

    My week 5 took 3 weeks to complete, week 4 took 2 weeks to complete. For me it was finding a good app on my phone that told me when to run/walk. If I was left to stare at the clock, my mind took over and I got winded and would walk more. And my first 5k I even walked twice for a minute each, but I did it :)

You'll get there!
emoticon emoticon

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TRIXIERUNS 10/10/2012 11:09AM

    You will get there! I struggled with the C25K program. I never actually finished it. I started the program 2 or 3 times and never finished it. My first 5k race - I ran and walked. Probably walked more than I ran, actually. But now I can run a 5k. It's taken me almost 2 years to get there. And sometimes when I go out for a run I still do run /walk intervals. It's okay. What helped me was getting off the treadmill and running outside. At first I found it harder to run outside, but it's not nearly as boring.

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JHUSTO01 10/10/2012 9:15AM

    GREAT Attitude!! I'm rooting for you! Let me know how it goes, I'm in week 5 right now and will be doing for a second time (at least)... I'm also fighting the mean girl inside of me telling me I can't and will never run.

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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 10/10/2012 8:40AM

    Listen girl, you need to put some duct tape on the mean girls mouth = ) I struggled with the 5k program, and decided to do it MY way. I'm a perfectionist, and trying to run 3 min and walk for 3 when I knew I could run longer, was ruining my fun! So, I just started running until I couldn't, then I walked, then ran more, etc. No timers, no numbers, just me and what I can handle. I'm REALLY slow right now, 44 min for a 5k, but I'm jogging the whole thing. Best advice I was ever given... SLOW down. I was trying to run TOO fast, and I never made it. Slow down, get your endurance built up, and the time will get faster and faster. I may only be at 44min right now, but when I started, it was 57. 13 min off my time is good for me, and I know I'll get better. SO WILL YOU!!! NEVER QUIT!!!

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FIT_MAMA_2_FOUR 10/10/2012 8:33AM

    Yup Yup, YOU CAN DO THIS. I just commented on your feed about this. Just a suggestion, why not move your running outdoors? I find it very very hard to run any length of time on the treadmill. You have the right attitude. Just keep on going and who cares how long it takes. I am looking forward to reading your 5k blog. Happy training!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BLOOMINGLENA 10/10/2012 8:20AM

    emoticon That's my sparkgirl! That multi-thinking did the miracle I guess! Thank you for the inspiration and I needed it so desperately! As you know this week I have been off the right track as I had to be at the hospital for my dad and at work and at the hospital again and my nutrition and my workouts were behind schedule. But I will be ready tomorrow with my salads, fruit and my fitness videos because WE NEVER QUIT!
Love you ELLE! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Cravings: Build your defense system!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Are you a “sweet” kind of person?

Or a “salty” one?

You can’t stay away from the bag of chips?

Or you’re drooling at the sight of chocolate chip cookies?

Or maybe both? Either way, I’m sure you sometimes imagine how much easier your life could be without these cravings! How much more successful your weight loss efforts would be if you didn’t feel this mouth-watering sensation every time you looked at the source of your craving! If you still dream that one day you’ll wake up and your cravings will have stopped once and for all, stop dreaming.
This. Will. Not. Happen. Ever.

We all live in the 21st century. Over the past centuries our world created civilization from food. It wasn’t just used to fuel our bodies. We were raised in societies that used food as part of social encounters, family traditions, holiday festivities, friendly gatherings, and so on. Food was a source of enjoyment and entertainment. If you think you can suddenly fight back to all those years of living with this frame of mind, I’m afraid you’ll be met with an ugly surprise. Our human brains work in a pretty simple way: If something makes us feel good, we want more of it.

Accept it. Cravings will always be part of our lives.
Especially if we’re women and our hormones ally with our sweet tooth once in a while.
Or if we’re emotional eaters and we want to gulp down our feelings with some sweet or salty help.
Or if we just lack some strong will-power and we use the above excuses to allow ourselves to fall heads-on in the temptation which is calling our name!

So what do we do? Do we become the slaves of those food temptations that are constantly around us, putting our weight loss or weight maintenance efforts in continuous jeopardy? Nope! We build a strong defense system and fight back.

My own self-defense against cravings was actually a discussion with myself.

Plan A. At first, I would take a distance from the temptation and ask myself:
“Do you really want to eat this? Is it something you really like or you just want it because…
a. That’s what you’ve been used to do for years.
b. It has a “sweet-unhealthy” label which suits your own “sweet-tooth-person” label.
c. You’re trying to eat away your boredom, anger, sadness, disappointment.”
Usually, it worked. My sensible, non-spontaneous and patient self would find the right answer and drag me away from the craving’s source. I was amazed to find out that many of the things I thought I liked actually belonged to the second category. I had convinced myself that I had a sweet tooth and I had every right to treat my body like a sugar-eating garbage bin! The truth is I don’t like all kinds of sweets. And I’ve come to enjoy the ones I really like better. So, my self-talk worked most of the times.

But not always.

There were times I really liked something and I just wanted to eat it.

Ok, plan B. “If you can halve it, you can have it.”
My common sense told me that I had no reason to halve a healthy and nutritious banana (see earlier blog). But that rule could help me with other foods that really need portion control. Imagine you’re a donut-lover. Can you live without donuts for the rest of your life? The longer you deprive yourself of them, the more you’ll end up eating. What if you can have half-a-donut once in a while? Stop the craving without doing a big damage. Isn’t this a fair compromise?

Plan B would usually work.
But not always.

There were times that the selfish, eat-everything-in-sight, emotional-eating monster would wake up inside my head and begin its own revolution. So after everything else had failed, there was only one solution…

Plan C. Give in.

Yes, you read that right. Give in to the temptation. Consciously. Remind yourself that it’s only this one time, that you can’t do this every day, that tomorrow you’re back on the wagon first thing in the morning. Then give in. And enjoy it. Chances are that the self-talk that led you to this decision will make you eat sensibly and not over-indulge. But even if you do, it’s only one time. It’s the exception. And exceptions only exist to prove how strong our rules are.

This is how I deal with cravings. I don’t expect them to disappear and I don’t pretend they don’t exist. I just fight them. And occasionally I give in. But I choose my battles.

You can build your own defense system, too. According to your own lifestyle and to your own character. And I’m sure that this fight will only make you happier. You’ll be able to enjoy the things you really like once in a while but also feel really good for yourself that you had the power to say “no” to any “disguised” cravings like the ones mentioned above.

And, most importantly, this is something you can do for the rest of your life.

So, what’s your plan?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHRISTINASP 11/4/2012 9:47AM

    I enjoyed reading this. I wonder if it would work for me... Can I ask how long have you been doing this succesfully?

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GONE-BIKING 10/8/2012 10:45PM

    Thanks for sharing what works for you. I think we can all learn from one another. There are a lot of Sparkers out there with a ton of knowledge.

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BAKER1009 10/5/2012 8:40AM

    This is such a wonderful blog Elle!
I need to work on plans like this with my own cravings! Thank you for the wonderful insight and ideas!!

>P.S. Keep these blogs coming Elle, they ROCK!!!

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BLOOMINGLENA 10/5/2012 3:27AM

    Thank you so much for your advice! That strategy against cravings seems to work for me, too but I am still working on it. I believe that what MILLIE5522
does with the cravings would work for me and I will try it next time. Keeping our mind busy with something and giving us time make cravings weaker. Hope we are the winners to this neverending fight most of the times!

Have a lovely weekend!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MILLIE5522 10/4/2012 1:46PM

    When I first crave something (in my case its salty snacks) I tell myself that I can have it but I have to wait 20 minutes first. Then I drink something hot and find something interesting to do such as going on SP. After the 20 minutes is up, if I still crave then I allow myself to have it and make sure that I enjoy every mouthful. I eat slowly and savour the crunchiness and the saltiness. I track it of course and if I need to adjust my calories the next meal or the next day I will. This way I avoid binge eating on snacks. I have no sense of guilt or anxiety as I have given myself permission to eat them. This method may not work for everybody but it has kept me on track and I am really enjoying my new slim figure!

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ROSEWAND 10/4/2012 1:35PM

    I have found the best defense system is:

1. Make healthy low-glycemic foods the
mainstay of my diet. this changes your
hormone response. I have a better sense
of control when I am hungry and much
less likely to succumb to unhealthy highly-
processed choices. My body really now craves
veggies and fruits, nuts and cheese, and non-
fat yogurt, etc. I have reset the cues, My
body really likes how it feels when I eat
this way. And it hates how it feels when I
do not.

2. Even though I focus on healthy food
choices, I am committed to providing my
pleasure centers the best food experiences
possible. I only eat what I really, really
enjoy, savoring every bite. Of course,
this is in the context of retraining my
pleasure responses to enjoy really
healthy foods.

3. Plan an occasional splurge into your diet.
I actually go even farther and allow one small
sweet treat each day as well as a splurge one
day each week. I do make sure that that
treat is eaten in context of a healthy low-
glycemic meal so my hormones remain in
balance It is so much easier to resist any
temptation when I know resisting is not forever.

These three strategies have really given me
so much more control over my diet than I
have ever had before.

Comment edited on: 10/4/2012 1:43:32 PM

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    Great blog!!

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FITFORMYFAMILY 10/4/2012 11:49AM

    I am so, so thankful that I came to visit your blogs today. You have a way of being so matter-of-fact and so understanding all at the same time, and it's exactly what I need right now. I really appreciate that you're sharing so much great advice with us! THANK YOU!!

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Weekend's food for thought

Friday, September 28, 2012

Whatever you do, no matter how small or important, do it the best way you can.
Whatever you say, say it because you believe it.
Whatever you feel, feel it with all your heart.

Be the best version of yourself.

Have a beautiful weekend, Sparkfriends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CLAIREINPARIS 10/2/2012 4:42PM

    Beautiful picture and blog. Thank you Elle!

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FIT_MAMA_2_FOUR 9/29/2012 11:25AM

    yes, yes, and yes!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    Thanks for the nice thoughts. Have a wonderful weekend too!

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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 9/28/2012 2:25PM

    I like it!

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DRAK416 9/28/2012 2:22PM

  Nice, Tyvm

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The “half-banana” story

Thursday, September 27, 2012

This is a story about portion control. An important weight loss and proper nutrition factor which can easily turn itself into a boomerang side-effect if you lose balance and moderation while applying its rules. If you’re one of those persons who measure everything they put in their mouth by the decimal figures of an ounce, read on.

Back in my first dieting years, I would often browse through diets I came across in magazines or meal plans that a friend would follow. I had stumbled upon a snack option many times. “Half a normal-sized banana”. I would always wonder: Why half?

When I decided to follow a specialist’s advice to help me lose weight, I visited my endocrinologist who was also an obesity expert in order to make my first meal plan. I started reading it and soon realized that it had one fruit serving for every snack. “Great!” thought the fruit-lover inside me. At the end of the weekly meal plan there was a detailed description of what one fruit serving meant: One medium apple, two large tangerines, half a normal-sized banana…!!!
The question just asked itself using my voice!
“Excuse me, why do I have to eat half the banana? Can’t I eat all of it?”
She explained to me that a whole banana counts for two servings of fruit and it would double the calories of my snack.

“Ok,” I replied, “what if I eat both my snacks in the morning and not have an evening snack? This way I could eat a whole banana!”
She answered that the calories and the fruit fiber should be equally divided between meals and that the afternoon snack is really important.

“All right then, could you please tell me what I’m supposed to do with the other half?” – I know it sounds like a stupid question but I was really wondering at the moment of what her answer would be.
- You can put it in the fridge and eat it in the afternoon.
- I hate chilled bananas which have started going black!
- You can share it with someone else in the family.
- They want to eat a whole banana, too, and they have every right to. They’re not trying to lose weight!
- Well, throw it away then!
(Oops! Anger alarm triggered! Is she really telling me to throw away half the quantity of bananas I buy?)

I wanted to start telling her about the increasing rates of hunger and famine over the world but I thought “She’s a nutrition expert, she knows about those things.” And I just ended the discussion. Already determined to break this one rule.

Don’t get me wrong, I bear no grudge against her. She’s an excellent doctor who has kept my thyroid at rest for the past decade and that was one of the two arguments we’ve ever had.

I managed to lose 17 kilos back then – which I gained back, you know the story – and I lost 19 again with Sparkpeople. Always eating a whole banana for a snack.

The moral of the story? Moderation has to be applied everywhere, even on portion control. You must be aware of how much you’re eating but one more fruit or salad serving won’t make you fat! How bad can it be compared to the cookies you used to snack on until yesterday? Food tracking is a valuable and helpful tool that will help you discover your bad eating habits but you mustn’t get obsessed with it. You don’t have to count the lettuce leaves that you’ll put into your salad! You won’t be able to do that for the rest of your life! Because if you do, you risk crossing the line. And on the other side, food obsession awaits. And it’s a very good friend with eating disorders.

Change your bad eating habits one at a time, one step at a time. I’ll never get tired of repeating it. Healthy, life-long habits that are far from tiring, compulsive obsessions can really put you among the small, successful percentage of people who lost the weight and never “found” it again. Isn’t that what we’re all trying to accomplish?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THOMS1 11/2/2012 7:29PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MELAYAHM 11/1/2012 12:58PM

    Yeah, who can eat half a banana? I know they're the most fattening fruit (except for maybe avocados, but I don't like them, so no problem avoiding them), but they are also the only fruit I actually like to eat, as opposed to eating cos it's good for me. Well, maybe strawberries. And grapes. And blueberries, but they're expensive here. But anyway, if bananas didn't go black, then maybe, but otherwise, forget it, might as well eat the whole thing and yeah, much better than half a packet of biscuits

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PINKANGEL73 11/1/2012 10:50AM

    Great blog! I always eat a whole banana too, in fact, shhh don't tell anyone but sometimes I eat two in one day.

A few years ago on my previous struggle to lose weight I went for a check up with my local practice nurse and got a different lady. Her advice to me as I was struggling to lose (though not gaining) was to eat as little as possible and cut down on the amount of fruit and veggies I was eating. Having spent the last few months trying to eat extra fruit and veggies and less of other things I pretty much gave up at that point.

Since then I found Spark with its wealth of info, did loads of research and used the nutrition tracker to begin with as a tool to look at my overall eating and what was causing the most problems and what worked best for me. Now I track everything and I am changing my life - slowly but surely.

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TINAJANE76 11/1/2012 4:37AM

    I've often found it really weird to just eat half a banana. Really, who ever got fat eating a whole banana instead of half of one? I think people need to focus on eating MORE fruits and vegetables rather than worrying about which ones are "bad" for you. If it really bugs you to "spend" so many calories on a banana, either don't eat them or try to find smaller ones. The ones I get only run me about 80 calories for the whole banana, which I think is a bargain for all the nutrients you get. End of banana rant. Thank you.

Anyway, thanks this blog. I think it goes to show how much we can overcomplicate things that really shouldn't be that complicated.

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FITFORMYFAMILY 10/4/2012 11:44AM

    I really just want to reach my arms halfway(ish) around the globe right now and give you a great big hug!

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HEATHOG 10/4/2012 10:11AM

    Great story! I honestly read it while eating half a banana (my youngest son eats the other half!)

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BAKER1009 10/4/2012 8:22AM

    Awesome blog Elle!
You're right on with everything you have posted here. Thanks for sharing your story with all of us!!


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STARDUSTGR 10/4/2012 4:09AM

    Great Blog Elle!!
I totally agree with you and I vote... a whole of banana!!!!!
Of course we should control our portions but we should also stay away or any unhealthy obsession.

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FIT_MAMA_2_FOUR 9/30/2012 10:55AM

    Oh, portion control...portion control. This is my very biggest struggle when it comes to my healthy, forever, lifestyle. I bounce all over. Thanks for the reminder about how important it really is.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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FITFOODIE806 9/27/2012 1:38PM

    Thanks for sharing this great story and lesson. I'd eat the whole banana too!

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FIREFLY4407 9/27/2012 1:13PM

    This was great! Yes, we want portion control and all, but there also needs to be commen sense applied !! emoticon

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SHANTODD420 9/27/2012 12:57PM

    Thanks for sharing I always eat the whole banana as well. Need to be more aware of my choices lol.

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ZANNBEE 9/27/2012 11:05AM

    Wonderful. I always eat the full banana too. I love bananas. Love the wisdom in this blog. Another issue is with not wanting to throw away food. So many of us have problems throwing food away so we end up eating past fullness because we don't want it to go to waste. There are no hard and fast rules. We can be flexible.

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GOTTAPLAN4U 9/27/2012 9:52AM

  Good thoughts.
I would be very lucky if I were convinced I should have only half of a banana because I have 3 dogs who love banana and are thrilled to have a chunk of mine. It would be one banana well spent among us.

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LOVESTOWALK49 9/27/2012 9:10AM

    I always eat the whole banana. I also eat the whole avocado. I rather have that one piece of fruit and eat less other foods than throw it away. emoticon

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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 9/27/2012 8:23AM

    THis is a really great blog. You're SO right, a whole banana will NOT make you fat, it's the chocolate you dip it in ; ) I also totally agree that there is a very fine line between trying to do the right thing and obsessing which leads to an ED. On this journey, I've come close to crossing that line. Thankfully, I've had enough sense to stop that in its tracks. Again, great blog!

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BIGDOG18 9/27/2012 8:22AM


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