I stepped on my scale this morning and for the first time in many years I was under 170 pounds. The scale winked 169.5. This is no means my goal weight (that is between 140 to 145 pounds). But I am proud of myself.
I weighed close to 190 pounds after my divorce in 2007. With the help of my good buddy Adam I lost most of the weight. I was around 150 pounds when I returned to New York City in 2010. In the years since I put it all back on and then some. The most I tipped the scales was almost 200 pounds. When I left to film Starship: Anthology this July I was down to "around" 180 pounds. I sort of was paying attention but wasn't really concerned. I told myself I should lose weight. I told myself losing weight would make it easier on my joints. I would be more attractive and have more stamina. I also told myself that eating healthy was more expensive, that you needed to spend money to get fit and "in shape," that I didn't have the time to work out. Then I saw myself on film carrying my twin bowling bowls in my belly. I decided to reframe my thoughts on food, eating, exercise, and living healthy.
This is what I attribute to my success. Yes, the yoga and walking help. Yes, cutting out soda and other sugary drinks is important. Yes, eliminating processed food and fast food from my diet while removing 90 to 95% of all dairy items is beneficial. None of it would have been possible had I not changed my mindset and changed my thoughts about myself and my relationship with food, weight and health.
All my friends who are struggling with weight loss have asked me what diet I'm on.
"Is it the paleo diet?"
"You're not eating carbs."
"You're only eating carbs."
"You cut out protein.
"You're eating only fish, right?"
When I tell them I'm not dieting that I simply reframed certain beliefs and changed my relationship with health and food, they are dubious. They either don't believe me or they don't want to believe me because they keep looking for that "quick fix" diet.
The most important factor in losing weight and keeping it off is being aware. Being mindful and consciously choosing. Without changing our beliefs and the way we look at food and health we may lose the weight but we won't keep it off. Remember the word diet contains the word DIE. If we believe that by dieting we are denying ourselves certain things we will crave those things. It's a psychological fact. Instead focus on looking at food as your daily fuel. You do not fill your car with more gas than the tank can hold. Why would you fill your body with more fuel than it can healthily hold?
Here are some tips and techniques to help you cultivate a mindset of health and vitality.
- Become non judgmental. Things are not good or bad. There is no success or failure, there are only results. Begin to look at your results without judgement. Step away from the moment and ask if what you are doing or eating is moving you closer to your health and weight goals. Do not assign "good" or "bad" labels to your answer. Simply observe the results of your action. If your actions are moving you closer to your goals then keep doing what you are doing. If they are moving you further away then try something new.
- Live in every moment. Being mindful is about being aware. Take your time when you are eating. Slow down and take your time with every morsel. Feel the texture of the food on your tongue. Smell the aromas. Look at on your plate. Before you even take a bite ask yourself if this is going to be "good" fuel or "bad" fuel? In other words, will this give you sustainable nutrition and energy through the day or just a quick satisfaction to a craving?
- Daily reminders. Write down why you must change your beliefs about food, exercise and health. Write down what you will lose if you do not reframe and refocus your energy and intention. Think about the health problems and the social stigmas you will suffer and write them down. Then write down all the benefits you will gain by reframing and refocusing your energy and intention. Think about and visualize the new clothes you will buy for yourself, hear the compliments you will receive, feel the pride of accomplishment inside yourself and write it down. Then tack that list (or paragraph) on your fridge and read it every time you are about to open the refrigerator.
- Jedi mind tricks. Studies show that when you use larger plates, bowls, and serving spoons you eat between 30% and 57% more than if you used smaller plates, bowls, and utensils. This is why self serve yogurt shops only have "large" bowls out. Start to serve your meals on smaller plates and bowls. If you go to all you can eat salad bars and restaurants choose the smaller plates and make no more than two trips for food, ideally make one.
- Keep a food journal. Buy a little spiral notebook and start to track everything you put in your mouth. This will help you visually become more aware of how you are eating. You could simply list the food you eat or include time, amount, and how you were feeling (where you tired, upset, sad, etc.) when you ate. The more information you have the more you will become aware of your eating habits and your emotional/physical triggers.
If you need help reframing your thoughts to a more positive one I suggest visualization and hypnosis. Many people find that daily or weekly sessions with a hypnotherapist "locks in" the empowering beliefs they are trying to create. You may find a hypnotherapist in your area or you can check out my hypnosis recordings at my Digital Download Store. Once you reframed your thoughts about health, food, and weight to a more positive one it will become easier to stay motivated and achieve your health and weight goals. Exercise is part of the equation as well. There are a great many exercise videos you can watch on YouTube. If you are on Facebook, I highly recommend my buddy Adam Carey. He helped me lose the weight originally and I still follow his principles and lessons today. You can find him at MainMan Fitness Plan.