Home > Life > On Eating, Weight Loss and Lifestyle Changes

On Eating, Weight Loss and Lifestyle Changes

I dislike the term dieting because that implies a temporary solution to a problem that took years to develop. Instead I prefer to think of it as eating healthy and making lifestyle changes. For example, I brush my teeth at least twice a day and have never gotten cavities. However this does not mean I should stop brushing my teeth completely until I get cavities then start again. Similarly if you plan to make changes to your diet, do so because it is healthy and be ready to commit to it for the rest of your life. Don’t stop once you hit your target weight since chances are, you will gain it all back when you go back to your old routine.

All of the lifestyle changes I mention below are based on my personal experiences and own set point theory. I believe a person’s weight range is determined by several factors: diet, sleep, physical activity, the environment etc… ie one’s lifestyle. Therefore if you change your diet or level of physical activity, you will change that set point and your body’s weight will shift towards that point.

One of the biggest ways to prevent weight fluctuations is to have a regular eating and sleeping schedule. It’s not a big deal whether you eat three or six meals a day as long as your daily routine is constant. The key is time management. As a student, I plan the day so I eat breakfast in the morning right after I wake up, make lunch before leaving for school that I eat around noon, have a light snack in the afternoon then eat dinner in the evening before I go to sleep. As a result, my body is accustomed to eating at specific times and I don’t feel hungry or get food cravings at random times during the day.

Remove any emotional attachment you may have to eating. Many people monitor their eating habits by keeping a log of what, when and how much they eat. Even though that is a good thing thing, what people should focus on first, and most fail to do, is to note down why they eat during every meal. When you critically analyze why you eat, you will realize there are plenty of other alternatives for you to choose from if you find yourself eating more often than you’d like. Do you eat as a reward when you accomplish something significant? Go out in public instead. Do you eat to deal with stress or boredom? Instead go exercise, sing or have sex etc…

Be proactive. By this I mean you control the food you eat, don’t let the food control you. There are many little things you can do to limit your calories and a good way to start is by reducing the seasoning on your food. Eat smaller portions and from a smaller bowl. I stop eating when I finish all the food on my plate so I control how much I eat by choosing how much food I put on my plate in the first place. By that time I don’t feel hungry anymore so I don’t get seconds even though I still have room for more food. Also it helps to eat slower because it takes time for the stomach to send signals to the brain telling the body it is not hungry anymore. Go grocery shopping (when you’re not hungry) with a list of items and stick to it so you don’t end up buying anything you didn’t intend to get when you left the house. If you follow that rule, you should plan to have limited or no junk food. Therefore when you’re at home and get hungry, you’ll be forced to find something healthy to eat.

I don’t think it’s necessary to get 30 mins of physical activity every single day to be healthy. However you can increase your activity level in many little ways. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Secondly walk more (those who go to UBC won’t have that problem). I frequently took five minute walks during my study breaks to get some exercise and to move to a different library since I can’t sit and study in the same spot for long periods of time. When you take public transit, get off one or two stops earlier and walk the rest of the way home. Try joining a sports team (emphasis on team here). When you’re on a team, you’re expected to show up to games.

It’s important to change the frame of reference. The goal should be to make healthy choices. Weight loss then becomes a byproduct of that goal. Set SMART goals and work gradually towards a healthier lifestyle (FYI the goal-setting post I wrote at the beginning of the year is the least viewed entry on my blog). Eat less junk food is too vague and not a strong goal. Reduce ice cream consumption to once every two weeks for the next three months is much better.

Categories: Life
    December 18, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    “Weight loss then becomes a byproduct of that goal.” That’s pretty good. Weight is overrated and poor indicator of health since everyone has different bodies. -jthung

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