When I am maintaining my weight, I go by the 80/20 rule, eat healthy 80% of the time but enjoy pasta, some fries, a small sweet sometimes and you will be fine. I go by the 90/10 rule if I am trying to lose weight. I have lost over 100 lbs. and have kept them off for over three years by doing this.
This is how it works….
If you are like most of us when you want to lose weight you want to lose it as quickly as possible, so you try cutting back your food intake too much or going on the latest fad diet so that you felt deprived and crabby, as being hungry makes all of us feel. Or you began going to the gym every day after not going for months and you pull a muscle or get injured or exhausted in the process and give up both on the “diet” and the exercise.
Research confirms that many of us have given up too extreme weight loss plans and blame ourselves for our failures. But are we the problem, or is it the diet industry and all the quick fixes it promises that bombard us with confusing information every day? Is it us, or the processed food industry that pretends and wants us to believe that no fat or low fat and artificially sweetened products will help slim us down?
What I know from all the many “diets” I’ve been on and you probably know it too is that diets don’t work and the faster I lose weight the quicker I will gain it back. We may feel happy about losing seven pounds in seven days by fasting, juicing or going on a “cleanse” but once you start eating normally again those pounds will return and usually you will gain some more in the process.
You are succeeding, if you are losing one or two pounds a week on a steady basis and not gaining it back. At my highest weight I was using “low fat margarine”, instead of butter, drinking lots of diet sodas daily and using artificial sweeteners in place of more natural sugars. I bought products that advertised themselves as fat free or light or reduced calorie. I have never met anyone who has lost weight, or kept it off by doing this.
The heavily artificial foods that one eats by going on a regimented food plan that gets delivered to your door are tempting because they take the guess work out of what to eat and the calorie counts in each food are measured, but have you read the labels on their products? Any food that has a long shelf life is not a “real” food. They are loaded with artificial additives and they won’t fool your pancreas, thyroid, stomach or brain and are potentially dangerous to your health.
Instead, try eating real food and center your meals on vegetables locally grown and/or organic. Eat meat, fish, grains, fresh fruit and eggs in moderation. Don’t be afraid of “good” fats, such as olive oil, avocados, unsalted nuts and whole milk cheeses that all have their place in a healthy food plan. Make a detailed list of groceries each week after planning your menus and never go into a grocery store without a list, or if you are feeling hungry, deprived or upset. Don’t eat a healthy food that you dislike or that does not agree with you, there are plenty more that will fill and satisfy you.
Center desserts around fruits, a frozen banana drizzled with “real” maple syrup, baked apples, or a wedge of blue cheese and some grapes will make you feel as if you are pampering yourself. Is this type of food always more expensive? Maybe not, you can buy a bag of pre-washed greens for about the price of a bag of potato chips. A bag of apples, or oranges in season is less expensive than the decorated cake, or quart of ice cream that tempt us as we walk down the aisles.
Once you stop eating fake foods loaded with ingredients that keep up your cravings you will stop wanting them. The Boy Scout motto “be prepared” helps in this regard. I feel good about making enough roasted vegetables, or soup and salad to last for a few meals and to pack a handful of almonds and some cherry tomatoes as a snack to take with me to work rather than impulsively eating the 400-calorie muffin left over after a meeting when I’m tired late in the afternoon.
When I am maintaining my weight, I go by the 80/20 rule, eat healthy 80% of the time but enjoy pasta, some fries, a small sweet sometimes and you will be fine. I go by the 90/10 rule if I am trying to lose weight. In my life I have been on liquid diets, only eaten protein, cut out all carbohydrates and have tried The Atkins Diet, The South Beach Diet, Jenny Craig, Overeaters Anonymous, etc., etc. I have spent a fortune on consulting nutritionists, diet doctors, health spas and psychologists and always blamed myself after not being able to live for any length of time on unbalanced food plans and too extreme exercise programs. Weight Watchers though is the exception as it advocates a sane and healthy food plan and offers accountability and support in their group meetings and on-line.
Eating mostly plant-based foods in moderation that will fill you up and finding an exercise you enjoy or can at least tolerate and doing it regularly are the only methods that work long term for me. I have lost over 100 lbs. and have kept them off for over three years by doing this. So simple and sensible to say, but for many of us who are stressed and feeling overwhelmed by the many demands on us, a candy bar, a bag of chips, a fast food meal, or one glass of wine or three seems like a treat, but is it? You and I both know the answer to this, don’t we?