I met with a client the other day who is struggling with his weight.
I begin my nutrition coaching sessions by collecting some history so that I understand where my clients are coming from.
This particular client began by telling me his day to day habits. When he started describing his struggles at lunch, he said it’s really hard because he was trying to not eat bread- because he thought “bread was bad”.
Perhaps bread is bad- if you’re someone who’s gluten intolerant or has Celiac disease. And maybe down the road I would address this with my client OR I would deal with it sooner if say he mentioned he felt bad after he ate bread. But it doesn’t bother him, he just heard or read that he shouldn’t eat it.
This is a problem. My client lacks a solid nutrition foundation, but he’s already focusing on the minutia. It’s like building a house and worrying about the curtains when the cement hasn’t even been pored. It’s not a logical process. We must build the framework then work on the details.
Nutrition and diet are complicated. I get it.
There are SO many factors wrapped up in how we eat and then compounded by people who make billions on our food choices. And everyone has an opinion or read something somewhere or has a friend that is doing the diet, etc etc.
But how many people do you know that keep trying new things? Or gain and lose the same 20 pounds over and over again?
When I work with clients- we build the foundation first.
How can I get someone to lose weight if they never sleep? Or if they use food to make themselves feel better? Or if they skip eating all day then binge at night?
I don’t want my clients to yo-yo diet- I want them to learn how to have a healthy relationship with their bodies, with their food, and then they learn to maintain a stable weight because they take good care of themselves.
This is the advice we start with:
1. Eat to live
Food is for nourishment and to provide sustenance to breath and sleep and move and think. It is not something “to do” nor is it something to be used as praise or punishment.
2. Exercise to be healthy and because we are designed to move
Exercise should not be torture. Moving is something we are designed to do- just like your car which should be driven regularly- your body needs to be used.
3. Enjoy food- not for the emotional rewards but because it’s fueling your body
Recognize that every thing you put in your body affects how you feel, how you think, even how you sleep and breath. Take responsibility for what you feed yourself.
4. Take care of your body because it deserves your love
You are a worthwhile, valuable person. Your body is part of that person. Take care of it. Love it. Stop staring in the mirror saying bad things to it- start feeding it good foods, giving it rest, and challenging it to grow stronger because it deserves to be taken care of.
5. Stop resenting sleep- it has to happen- make the most of it
Suck it up- you have to sleep- you might as well do it right and to the best of your ability.
6. Sleep well because if you don’t the rest of your day is crap
Some studies suggest an adult driving on less than 6 hours of sleep has the equivalent reaction time of someone who’s had two alcoholic beverages. You think you are crushing life in this sleep deprived state- imagine what you could be doing if you were well rested.
7. Stop worrying about the little things in your diet until you have managed the big things
Build your foundation- if you aren’t eating regularly, if you avoid your vegetables, and you eat like crap at dinner, stressing about what oil to cook with is a waste of energy. Figure out the big things first, then worry about the small stuff.
8. Make peace with your body- you are where you are- stop fighting it
If you accept where you are it will be easier to improve upon the situation. Improving on things will ultimately result in a stable and healthy body weight- once you stop dieting and start eating for health.
9. Food is not a coping mechanism- address your feelings
Deal with your feelings. Find coping skills that actually manage your emotions. I get it- you have demons- we all do. I didn’t say this part was easy- I am just telling you it needs to be addressed- and the sooner the better. Find someone to help you. Start journaling. Talk to someone. Hire me– whatever you need to do- do it now.
10. Find exercise that feels good
If you’ve been stationary for a while nothing will feel good initially- find something that might be FUN and then you have to make yourself stick to it. But you HAVE to exercise- again, I’m sorry. I understand it’s hard. Too bad. Exercise is necessary.
These are starting points- the basics. Get a solid foundation of eating healthy and moving, then work on the rest of it. And it IS work- sorry. Dealing with all the habits, the self-talk, the way you’ve been programmed for years- I get it. I don’t ever tell anyone that it’s easy- but it’s totally doable if you want it bad enough.
Stop the dieting- you are messing with your metabolism and not in a good way. Find your demons and slay them- start to value your health and who you are as a human, and you will get to where you want to go. I guarantee it.