Sorry. Not eating more donuts.
When I first sought the help of a health coach back in 2009, I expected her to immediately tell me what to stop eating. I assumed that this ‘health coaching’ would have to involve a diet of some sort.
I figured she’d introduce me to the holy grail of nutrition – the key diet plan I’d been missing while trying and failing to lose ten pounds the previous couple of years – and then I’d lose the weight and move on with my life.
But she didn’t give me a meal plan. She didn’t give me a list of foods that I could no longer eat. And she didn’t tell me how many calories I should stick to.
To be honest, I was disappointed. I thought that maybe I’d made a mistake in paying her half a month’s rent for our first two appointments.
You see, back then, I just wanted a quick, straightforward formula to follow in order to get back to my high school weight and feel good about myself again. The problem, I now realize, is that there is no quick, straightforward formula to follow in order to lose weight and feel good about yourself, unfortunately.
If losing weight were as simple as following a list of what to eat and what not to eat, we’d all be at our ideal weight. But it’s simply not that simple, and that’s the real bitch of it.
There are a million reasons that we never actually follow these lists, right?
However, there are some mindset shifts we can make that guide us toward sustainable weight loss for real. They might not be overnight miracles, but since we know those don’t exist anyway, they’re the next best thing.
One important mindset shift is crowding out.
We’ve been indoctrinated to think less, less, less when it comes weight loss. We believe we need to eat fewer calories and move more because of the faulty idea that when we burn more calories than we consume, we lose weight.
(We know that that’s not true around here, though. In fact, we reject that fully. Calories don’t cause weight gain, our hormones do.)
We’re told to count calories anyway and to make sure that we expend more than we take in. That’s the basis of most mainstream diets. And that simple equation: calories in – calories out = weight loss, has been extremely harmful to all of us.
Crowding out is the antidote.
So what exactly is crowding out?
Instead of focusing on what we can’t eat, we focus on what we could be eating more of in order to feel better and lose weight.
Instead of focusing on eating fewer calories and depriving and punishing ourselves, we focus on eating healthier calories, regardless of the amount.
We focus on filling ourselves up with the good stuff first, leaving less room for the not so good. The best way to avoid cravings is to be full and satisfied. The best way to avoid going crazy on the cookies, is to not be hungry in the first place.
Instead of cutting back and restricting ourselves, we crowd out.
This idea shifted everything for me.
(Me, before and after crowding out. Hair improvement results not typical. I bought a curling iron.)
I started looking for how I could nourish myself instead of how I could deprive myself. This might seem obvious on the surface but, for a twenty six year old girl who’d been dieting since early high school, just relaxing and filling up on anything was a radical idea.
But not only was it more effective at helping me eventually lose weight, it also just felt amazing. It was such a relief to let go and finally just eat again. And I started to notice that I just wasn’t as interested in the foods I used to not be able to trust myself around. Hint: I wasn’t starving all the time!
If any of this sounds good to you, here’s how to start.
Look at a typical day in your life: what are you eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner? And when and where can you add more of the following into all three meals, especially breakfast and lunch?
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Green Vegetables
- All Other Vegetables
- Healthy Fats
- Healthy Proteins
Once you start to focus on crowding the bad stuff out instead of just trying to eat less in general, you’ll start to feel satisfied. You’ll have fewer cravings. You’ll feel like less of basket case because nothing is off limits. It’s amazing. Especially if you’ve been riding the diet train for a while.
What do you think, wanna give it a try? Leave us a comment below.
If you would like a guide to the foods to crowd out and the foods to crowd them out with, download our totally FREE 3-day reboot: The Simple Cleanse. Pop your email in below and we’ll send it over now.
Also published on Medium.