I see so many people trying to lose weight (especially now it’s nearly summer and all the hideous ‘get your bikini bod so the menz on the beach don’t find you disgusting‘ ads are everywhere) and my heart goes out to them.
Seemingly each month a new diet trend comes out. Each frickin’ day there is this green smoothie weight loss challenge or that juicing weight loss challenge.
Even if people want to lose weight because THEY want to – rather than because society is pressuring them to; so much contradictory information is out there about weight loss it can be hard to know which route to take.
How is anyone meant to know what is effective and what’s not? And even if it’s effective – is it healthy? Is it sustainable? Will the weight just pack all back on at the end of the challenge or will the weight loss last this time?
I personally couldn’t give a crap what someone looks like – but in terms of health, wellness and longevity; a weight that suits our frame is ideal.
I’ve been overweight – not massively so, but enough that I know what it is to feel heavy, unfit and lethargic. The joy I get now in moving my body and having it work optimally for me is priceless (I do handstands every day, and love hiking and climbing), and it’s worth it for me to maintain a healthy weight.
The good news is that this is easier than we’re led to believe.
I’ve already written about how a whole foods, plant-based diet is the healthiest and most sustainable way to lose weight. But, just to recap, this means 100% plant-based (no animal products); whole foods (no refined foods like sugar, white flour, white rice etc, but the whole versions); minimal added oils (because these are processed, extracted fats); and minimal processed foods.
To get an idea of what whole food, plant-based meals look like – I highly recommend the Forks Over Knives Recipe resource.
Exercise is also part of any weight loss plan obvs, but I’m gonna stick to talking about the food here, as that’s my bag.
Here are my FIVE KEY components for successful weight loss:
1. Enjoyment of your food
For the love of all that’s holy, you NEED to enjoy your meals…I was gonna say even if you’re losing weight, but you need to enjoy your food ESPECIALLY if you are losing weight. How else will your new habits be sustainable?
If you delight in your food you won’t feel deprived and like you’re being punished. If you see what you’re doing as a delicious permanent lifestyle shift rather than as a temporary diet, you’re more likely to be successful.
If you’re on a diet where you’re drinking shakes or smoothies instead of having meals; I mean, really? Even if the shake tastes ok, you really want one for every meal?
If you are used to eating refined or greasy foods, you may notice a difference in taste eating whole food plant-based – but you’ll lose NONE of the flavour. And, after a while your taste buds will adjust and PREFER the whole, lower fat food.
If you’ve made the change from omnivore to vegan, you’ve already experienced your taste buds acclimating to plant foods from animal foods – it’s the same thing here but you’re adjusting to whole foods.
Get cooking and get creative.
If you are like me, you need to feel satisfied at the end of a meal. I like my stomach to KNOW it’s been fed, not in a ‘aaarrrrghhhh I feel so gross and bloated’ kind of a way; just in a warm, cosy, pleasantly satiated kind of a way. A green smoothie for dinner ain’t gonna cut it. Don’t kid yourself. Even if you do this for a few days, it’s not sustainable.
Foods that fill you up (like whole grains and beans) will STOP you reaching for crap later, or stop you dreaming of crap. And who’s got time to dream of crap food all day long?
If you’re full of beans and grains – there just ain’t room for anything else! Your belly and your brain are content!
3. Stop counting stuff
I don’t believe food and its components should ever be counted (unless you have a condition where your doctor has recommended you count measurements of foods etc).
Some people think vegans are no fun – but don’t seem to question the funlessness of counting calories, ‘syns,’ fat content etc etc.
On a whole food, plant-based diet (and if you’re conservative with the ol’ added oils) NO COUNTING IS NEEDED.
4. Consistency in the day to day is key (rather than sporadic detoxes, crash diets, or ‘challenges’)
Forget the detox and the challenges. What’s the point of a detox or a challenge, only to go back to old habits and have to do another detox a few weeks or months down the line?
No one is suggesting you should never eat vegan junk food again as long as you live; but on a daily basis consistently choosing tasty, whole food dishes will stop you wanting the junk regularly.
Make the junk an occasional treat. Junk always tastes better if you feel it’s a cheeky treat 🙂
If you’re a busy bee, prepare as much as you can in advance. It’s all about putting measures in place to prevent making less than great food choices.
Slow cookers are great for having a meal ready when you walk in the door; you can make extra soup and stews and freeze what you don’t eat for later in the week.
Even if you can’t prep a whole meal in advance you can chop veg once you’ve bought it and keep it in the veg box or freezer.