When we see commercials for weight loss or fitness programs, they almost always have some kind of 30 day or six week guarantee. You follow their program for the requisite number of days, and “if you don’t lose weight/ inches, we’ll refund your money!” Of course, there is always the caveat that “you WILL lose weight/ inches” because you’ll be following their program (yeahhhhh, riiiighht!) but no one ever guarantees that you’ll keep the weight off and won’t have to do this again.
There is one guaranteed method of losing weight and keeping it off, but no one likes to talk about it. It’s not glamorous or ‘trending’ or novel. It’s Consistency. We all know about it but we hate doing it, so most of us don’t! We know we should eat more veggies and less processed/ packaged foods, but.…. We know we should avoid the sweets, the carbs, the treats that aren’t good for us, but……one won’t hurt, right?? We make exception after exception because it’s So & So’s birthday/ anniversary/ celebration etc. Then it’s a holiday or another special occasion or a ‘special’ treat so we cram those treats down even though they’re # 10 or more on our list of ‘exceptions.’ Then we wonder how we got so far off-track or why we stopped making progress or how we managed to gain X amount of pounds when we haven’t eaten ‘that much!’ This is the first sign that we’ve become Inconsistent: we stop making progress, i.e. losing weight!
Then comes the second consequence of Inconsistency: “why is it so hard to resist temptation??” Because we have taught ourselves that we can eat whatever we want! Yes: we have taught ourselves this bad habit! It might be nice to blame all those people who had birthdays or brought cookies or shared candy or other treats but they didn’t make you eat them! Even if they pushed them at you with the “one won’t hurt” excuse, you were still free to say firmly but politely: “no thank you.” It also wouldn’t have been out of line to give the brief explanation: “they’re not good for me.” But we didn’t say that, did we? We said “thanks!” and helped ourselves! ……And now here we are, our progress stalled or erased and we are once more struggling with cravings and temptations that we really want to give in to, when just a few months ago, we would hardly have noticed that the grocery store has that great bread from that restaurant chain or that the Peanut Butter M&M’s are on sale for Halloween.
This is where most people just tune out because no one wants to hear that it’s our own fault and that staying Consistent would have bypassed these issues entirely! We don’t want to be Consistent because it’s BORRR–INNNNGGG!! Eating nutritious healthy low calorie food every day is just so old and tired! I’m tired of eating healthy food that helps me lose weight! I want to eat all the cookies and bread and sugar that makes me feel like crap and makes me gain back all the weight! Of course, we don’t actually say that to ourselves but it’s still the truth. We lie to ourselves by making the ‘celebration’ excuse or the ‘one won’t hurt’ excuse, but at the end of the day, the truth is that most of these treats that we want to eat don’t make us feel good, they get in the way of our reaching our goals, and they make it harder for us to resist temptation. But they were yummy, right?
“Eh…they were okay….” This is also usually the truth. Most of the time, these treats aren’t as good as we remember them being and even if they are good, they last only as long as it takes to eat them: about a minute or so. Was that minute worth the cravings and sacrificing your progress? Add all those minutes up and weigh them against feeling cruddy, gaining weight and fighting temptation: worth it? Yes or no?
I can only answer for myself: NO, they weren’t worth it. Some were good (bread is nearly always yummy for me!) but at the same time, I know what happens to me when I eat bread: I retain water like a freakin’ sponge, my hunger shoots through the roof about an hour after eating it and the next day, my hands hurt. Nothing like a pin-through-your-thumb-joint kind of pain to get your attention and remind you “Yep! You chose to eat that bread!” As much as I love bread, it’s not worth the ‘hangover’ I have to suffer through for the next couple of days or so until the grains and carbs get cleared from my body.
But is Consistency really boring? Not unless we make it boring! For most of us, there are a lot of foods on that healthy and nutritious list, but we either don’t want to make them or we just crave novelty. Right now, there are dozens of new books hitting the stores almost every day full of delicious, low calorie healthy recipes and, if you don’t want to buy a book, the same kinds of recipes are available for free on Instagram, Facebook, websites and blogs! All you have to do is Google! You can eat something different that’s healthy, low calorie, low carb and unprocessed every day if you choose to do the work! (FYI: I Googled for you & there are links below!)
Myself, I choose not to do that much work with cooking! It’s too much of a hassle for me and I am seriously happy with much more simple recipes like “fried hamburger.” I am also just as happy with steamed veggies, tossed salad and –whoa!– sweet potato fries! (Those last almost qualify as ‘a hassle’ for me!) But those are the kinds of foods I like to eat, and if I get bored, I can change it up by getting roasted chicken or simply switching to another protein that I enjoy such as pork, lamb or even an omelette. The same is true with the vegetables: if I get bored with one, just switch to another! It sounds simple and it is! I don’t have to choose between Mexican or Chinese or Indian food in order to eat what I like, and even among those foods, there are still dishes I can enjoy that meet my guidelines. Last week I met friends at a Mexican restaurant and had chicken caseras: grilled chicken on a bed of shredded cabbage and onions with guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo– and it was really really good! Even more importantly, after enjoying something different and delicious, I didn’t feel cruddy afterwards!
Also as a bonus, how hard would it be for me to make something like that at home? It’s something even I could do: get a bag of shredded cabbage, chop an onion, chop up some rotisserie chicken breast and mix it up with some fresh pico, sour cream and guacamole! Yummy, healthy and– most shocking of all– it’s Consistent with my goals! I can eat something like this every week or every day and stay Consistent with my weight loss, health and nutrition goals! How boring is Consistency from this viewpoint?
What happens with most of us (me included) is we get stuck in a rut. It’s easy to fill the fridge with rotisserie chicken and bagged veggies so we forget that there’s a whole array of foods and recipes that are available to us. In that situation, yes, Consistency is boring, but it doesn’t have to be! We don’t know what to look for or we get lazy and rather than try to find something new that stays within our eating guidelines, we go back to what we used to eat. The problem is the way we used to eat is what caused us to gain weight and feel cruddy all the time. We call it a treat or a special occasion but all we are treating ourselves to is failed goals, a blood sugar roller coaster, weight gain and added aches and pains. Personally, I don’t think of any of those things as “treats!”
Food For Thought