“Love the life you live, live the life you love.” ~ Bob Marley
Do you want to have the body that you love this summer? The first step is to love the body that you have. Not this summer, not when you drop a size, or when you reach your target weight. Love the body that you have right now, in this moment.
The US weight loss industry rakes in 61 billion dollars annually selling products and programs for weight loss, yet Americans continue to gain more and more weight every year. (http://www.marketresearch.com/) From 1960 to 2000 the percent of Americans at healthy weights decreased by 18%, while the percent of obese Americans increased by about the same amount. (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/). By some estimates, as many as 80% of overweight people who manage to slim down noticeably after a diet, gain some or all of the weight back within one year. (http://www.cnn.com/2011). Clearly the current approach of self denial, punishing exercise regimes, and self judgment that the industry sells are not working. While a healthy diet is beneficial, other important factors to successful maintenance of a healthy body weight include stress management, mindfulness, positive thoughts, and participation in enjoyable activities. Here are a few approaches that you might consider for managing a healthy body weight:
Positive affirmations – Choose a positive affirmation that is encouraging, specific, and focused. Write your affirmation down and read it daily. The American College of Sports Medicine states that positive reinforcement in the form of daily affirmations can dramatically influence your behavior. Some examples of affirmations are:
- I enjoy exercising more each day, and I choose to eat only healthy food.
- Today, I love my body fully, deeply and joyfully.
- Today, my own well-being is my top priority.
Eat nutrient dense foods – A high nutrient density (HND) diet emphasizes a liberal intake of vegetables while intake of animal products, as well as processed foods and oils, are minimized. Foods are grouped into four categories: unlimited, limited, more limited, and off limits (as much as possible) based on their micronutrient levels per-calorie density.
- Unlimited — All raw vegetables, green vegetables (steamed or frozen), beans/legumes (canned or cooked), fresh fruit, bean sprouts, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, cauliflower.
- Limited (1 serving daily) — High starch vegetables (potatoes), grains, breads, cereals, dried fruits, nuts, seeds.
- More limited — Fat-free dairy (12 oz maximum per week), animal products (12 oz maximum per week); and
- Off limits as much as possible — Fruit juice, sweets, white flour, cheese, oils.
Practice mindful eating – mindful eating or mindfulness-based weight management programs are recent arrivals to the scene; a growing body of research reveals how this approach can promote weight loss and improve health. An example of a mindful eating program is Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL) at the University of New Mexico Center for Life Integrative Medicine Specialty Clinic. The MEAL program incorporates sitting meditation, gentle yoga, and walking meditation at every meeting, as well as discussions about mindful eating. (http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/ampmindfulness-weight-loss)
Practice stress reduction techniques – When we are stressed our bodies produce increased levels of cortisol which is a hormone which encourages us to eat more and for our fat stores and excess circulating fat to be relocated and deposited deep in the abdomen, which left unchecked can develop into or enhance obesity. Here are a few stress reduction techniques that might work for you:
- Deep breathing
- Use visualization to picture yourself relaxed
Find a physical activity that is enjoyable for you – If you read enough articles you will find that there are many opinions and plenty of evidence that supports many different types of activity for healthy weight maintenance. The best advice is to find an activity that feels good to you and that you enjoy, and make it a regular part of your life. The perfect exercise is the exercise that you will enjoy enough to do on a regular and ongoing basis.
So, nourish yourself with unconditional love, fresh, delicious nutrient dense food, and enriching activities that make you happy, and reap the benefits of loving your life and your body!
Katey Hawes, owner and founder of Posabilities, Inc.., is a physical therapist, registered yoga teacher, and yoga therapist.