My friend said to me recently that since she’s hit the menopause, even looking at a slice of cake or glass of wine makes her put on weight. I have to say, in the last year or so, I have to agree with her!
Having had a life-long battle with my weight, when I first moved to a plant-based diet, I lost weight without even trying. It was a revelation. Once I hit 57kg, I plateaued, and stayed there for a while. But over the last few years, things have changed and gradually weight has snuck on. And I don’t like it one bit.
A couple of months ago, I decided to do something about it. First job was to work out why I was gaining weight. I was still eating a plant-based diet so surely nothing had changed there? But I soon realised I had started some bad habits, particularly last year whilst travelling in our Campervan. Being ‘on holiday’ for 7 months took a toll.
I didn’t want to ‘go on a diet’ as that brings back miserable memories. A more mindful route was needed as well as a decision to just eat whole plant foods (not the extra junk that had snuck in) including lots and lots of fresh veggies.
I’m going to share more about what I did over the next few weeks. But spoiler alert – it works! I’ve lost nearly 5kg in 8 weeks and don’t feel I’ve missed out on anything. Yay! For today, here’s a few tips on what you can do to help you lose weight in a positive way.
First, if you’re looking to control your weight, it’s important to do it mindfully, to really think about the approach that you’re taking, and to ask yourself whether or not it’s really healthy for you. There are some pretty questionable weight loss methods out there, from relying on cleanses that don’t provide the calories your body needs to function properly to excessive fasting.
So what are the habits you can start that can be a lot better for your body while letting you hit your weight loss goals?
Track your habits
Accountability is one of the most important things you can start taking whenever you make any changes to your lifestyle and your habits. This goes for your dietary habits, as well. For instance, you can start using nutritional tracking apps like My Fitness Pal.
Aside from helping you build a better understanding of how many calories are in everything you eat, they can also tell you when foods are too high in unhealthy fats, salt, and other things that you might want to cut down on. It may make you think twice when choosing foods a little more often in the future. I’ve been using My Fitness Pal and would say it’s been the key to my weight loss in the last few months.
Work with a meal plan
One of the easiest ways to slip from your diet is to not plan far enough ahead, and to end up relying on either quick, cheap, and nutritionally light meals, or to give up on making dinner for the day and get yourself a takeaway.
You can make yourself a meal plan for the start of the week with services like Shake that Weight so you don’t have to do it all yourself. Having meals either coming to you or ready to prepare for the week ahead helps you avoid taking any shortcuts.
If you’re going to fast, do it intermittently
There are a lot of people who take on fasting, but the method in which you do it can drastically impact both the effectiveness and the safety of your efforts. Fasting throughout the day with things like a juice diet is simply not healthy for the long term as you’re not getting the caloric intake you need.
However, intermittent fasting can be safe and healthy for a lot of people. Limiting your eating to a certain window of the day has plenty of benefits including supporting your microbiome. Just ask your doctor if it’s for you, especially if you have any chronic health conditions (although increasingly research is revealing benefits for many chronic problems). I always try to leave at least 12 hours between my evening meal and breakfast the following day, sometimes longer. But not too long, otherwise I get too hungry and a bit stroppy ;).
Keep track of your macros
One of the most important parts of a good diet is making sure that you keep the proportions of your macros in check. This means getting a good mix of protein, carbs, and fats in your diet. Of course, your vitamin and mineral intake matter as well. Take a look at the food you eat and ask yourself if there are any nutritionally ineffective foods that you could switch out for something more worthwhile?
Remember that not all calories are equal, some are more worth keeping on your diet than others. One of the awesome elements of eating a whole-food plant-based diet is that many foods are packed with healthy nutrients but low in excess calories, so I can eat plenty and never feel like I’m missing out. This is where apps like My Fitness Pal really help. But more about that another time.
With the tips above, you can still make progress towards your weight goals, but with the appropriate level of care for your body.
Do you have any top tips or aids for weight management you swear by? Do let me know in the comments below.