Being on a weight-loss plan takes time and a whole lot of patience. Losing weight too quickly can mean you are losing water or lean tissue, not fat, but losing too slowly can be a frustrating process that tests the limits of even the most patient person. Experts agree that weight loss of about one to two pounds per week is the safest, most sustainable option, but when you have a lot of weight to lose, trudging through slowly can be a challenge.|
When you're working on all aspects of healthy living—food, fitness, mindset, emotions—it's common to feel some anxiety, sometimes even frustration. You're putting in the time, effort and sweat, while adapting to a new way of living, so it's normal to want those changes to come now and not one minute later. Unfortunately, sustainable changes take time. There's no getting around that, and, for some, the waiting becomes the hardest part. For those people, staying the course becomes a much greater challenge. Without seeing some kind of benefit, it's easy to start wondering, "Is it worth it?"
In short, yes, it is worth it, and rest easy you're not the only one struggling with these frustrations. The key is learning how to handle those frustrations in a positive manner without letting them get the best of you or make you lose sight of the goals you set for yourself on day one.
The Problem: You can't eat what you want.
The Solution: If you're used to eating unhealthy fares like fried foods, cookies and cakes, you'll need to minimize your consumption of those items on this new journey to weight loss. However, you don't have to eliminate them completely. Oftentimes, I ask my clients to bring me their favorite recipe and work with them lighten it up. The possibilities are endless thanks to the internet, so don't give up hope on your favorite foods without trying to find a healthier substitute. While it might not be exactly the same, you're not exactly the same either! Embrace new foods and open yourself up to new food experiences as you work toward being this new version of you.
Consider some of these options for lightening up favorites:
- Fried chicken: Use Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs on the outside, then bake the chicken. The panko adds a crunchy texture when the chicken is baked without needing to deal with the grease involved with traditional frying methods.
- Tuna or egg salad: Look for substitutes in place of traditional, high-fat mayonnaise. Greek yogurt or cottage cheese can work to gel your ingredients together without adding unnecessary fat.
- Salad dressing: Use half the amount of ingredients to make the dressing at home. With 120 calories per tablespoon of any oil, using half cuts back on hundreds of unnecessary calories.
- Muffins: Swap half the flour for whole-wheat pastry flour and swap half the butter for applesauce. You won't notice the difference and you'll still have a quick, on-the-go breakfast for busy mornings.<pagebreak>
The Problem: You are bored with food choices.
The Solution: A big misconception is thinking that healthy eating has to be boring. It's common for people to stick with the same menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks when losing weight, assuming that consistency and routine is the easiest way to stick to the allotted calories. I commonly hear clients eating the following: grilled chicken, steamed broccoli and brown rice. Here's the thing, though: You don't have to eat the same thing daily, especially if it's boring! Weight loss-friendly meals can be exciting and mouthwatering. Whether it's in cookbooks or online, it's possible to find healthy cooking substitutes, skinny versions of your favorite foods and incredible dishes that you'd never believe were helping you reach your goals. You don't need to compromise flavor just because you're working to fuel your body in a healthier manner.
Next time you feel boredom setting in, try a few of my go-to healthy recipe hacks:
Be sure to add variety to your meal plans if you're someone who gets tired of eating the same meal every day. Lots of recipes can serve as a great base that you can then change up to keep your taste buds happy. Subscribe to different healthy cooking Instagram accounts of Facebook pages for daily inspiration and constant additions to your recipe repertoire, as well. There's no reason you should feel limited to just steamed veggies.
- Use lots of herbs and spices, which have few calories, but can add a ton of flavor.
- Bulk up recipes with a ton of vegetables, which add nutrients and flavor.
- Use citrus fruit for the juice and zest to add flavor in parfaits, dressings and sauces.
- Turn to lean cuts of meats. Due to increased trimming practices, there are so many lean cuts of beef, pork and lamb. Unless you have a health issue, there is no need to cut out red meat, but it is important to opt for the healthier cut.
The Problem: You are frustrated with always having to think about weight loss.
The Solution: I recently lost over 20 pounds and I can attest that it is difficult to eat and exercise without thinking about the numbers and your body. It gets frustrating when you're out at a party and you cannot eat everything you see, or when you're watching what you eat and exercising regularly yet you don't see any changes on the scale. When you start getting frustrated, it's important to think back to that first day when you set your goal: Was it to set a better example for your children? Did you want to avoid future health issues? Checking back in with yourself and remembering why you're working to get healthy can do wonders for your motivation. When I got frustrated, I used to call a friend who I knew was on my side. This simple gesture would help me get motivated and feel less frustrated with the whole weight-loss journey.<pagebreak>
The Problem: You fear what will happen if you go off your meal plan for one day.
The Solution: Falling off the wagon is something that happens to many dieters. Whether it's a weekend event, holiday, birthday or a celebration of another kind, temptations to go off your plan are everywhere. Healthy living doesn't mean you have to give up living, though. The key here is reframing your mind before you head into a situation that could be threatening to your progress. Know that one day is never going to ruin your chances of success unless you allow it to. To combat some common celebration culprits, keep these tips in mind:
If you do go overboard, the worst thing you can do is beat yourself up. Rather, get up, brush yourself off and start again, remembering that tomorrow is a new day. Again, you won't sabotage months of hard work by going off your meal plan for one day. However, if it continues for several days, it might be time to sit yourself down and find a way to motivate yourself to get back on track again.
- Scout the offerings: Instead of taking the first thing you see, take a few minutes to talk to the host or check out all the offerings so you can select the ones you like best.
- Toby's Two Tablespoon Rule: Once you find the two or three items you love, take two heaping tablespoons of those items. This helps satisfy your craving without going overboard.
- Use a smaller plate: Sometimes it's a matter of fooling the eyes. Using smaller plates will force you to take less food than you might otherwise. Don't feel like you need to taste everything, either. Focus on eating the items that are going to make you feel great, not overstuffed.
- Make smart alcohol choices: Mixed cocktails can have hidden calories from added sugar. Instead, opt for a light beer or glass of wine which has about 150 calories per portion. Drink plenty of water between drinks and try not to have more than two during the entire event.
The Problem: You start seeing your weight drop, but then you plateau.
The Solution: Many dieters get frustrated when they start to plateau, but it's actually a normal part of losing weight. In time, the body gets used to whatever you have been doing in terms of diet and exercise, so it's important to shake things up every now and again. For example, change up meals and cut back on calories a touch more if you feel like you're no longer progressing. You can also increase the intensity of your workouts, or switch to a new type of exercise entirely. Overall, if you continue being mindful of what you eat and your exercise, you should start to see the numbers slowly dropping again.
While it may be difficult to wrap your head around it now, thinking about this "diet" as more a lifelong habit can be the key to going from frustrated and impatient to accepting and excited. You're working toward something that is going to change your life completely and these things take time, so enjoy the ride and embrace this in-between time as you pat yourself on the back to committing to yourself.