Getting Through Easter When You’re Trying To Lose Weight
Easter is always a challenge if you’re like me and you have a sweet tooth. Over the last few years I’ve spent a lot of time researching how sugar affects us. Being previously morbidly obese and pre-diabetic and learning that I’m sugar (well technically carbohydrate) intolerant has been a life changer for me. I was literally a carb-holic and craved them all day, every day. Sound familiar?
When you’re an addict, it can be really hard to resist temptation and studies show that sugar is actually 9 times more addictive than cocaine. So: how do we get through a holiday period that’s known for it’s high carb, sugar laden seasonal food?
Set a weight loss goal. A realistic one. And it may not be a number….
The first thing to consider is to always have your eye on the prize. Is feeling healthier with more energy important? Do you dream of having enough energy to run and play with your kids or grandkids at the park? Or is your weight constantly impacting your health, like it did for me? Most people set a size or a number as a weight loss goal, because it’s what most people have always down, however attaching FEELINGS to a goal and knowing and understanding WHY you’re on a weight loss and wellness journey in the first place is super important to help you in those times when will power gives out.
I used to say to myself: ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.’ I read it in a magazine somewhere, as a quote from a super model. To be honest, that was a little obsessive and my new mantra is more along the lines of ‘There’s nothing that tastes as good as feeling healthy and full of energy feels. I eat great food that serves my health, because feeling great is my priority.‘
Losing my Dad at a young age to complications associated with Diabetes is another wellness driver for me. If obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes run in your family, chances are – as you share the same genes – you may have a predisposition towards these conditions as well. If you witness family members going through struggles associated with these conditions, why would you choose the same path? Many health conditions are not a life sentence, they are a product of our choices. I’ve made the conscious decision that I don’t want to live my life that way and even though I have those genes, every day I can choose to work with them or against them.
Wellness, in my opinion and my experience, is actually a choice. Even if we don’t have perfect health, we can still make healthy choices every day to improve our own situation.
All of these factors influence my WHY, which is really the core of my goal. They drive me to keep working towards being the best and healthiest version of me.
ACTIVITY: YOUR ‘WHY’ MIND MAP
I urge you to sit with a piece of paper and in the centre, write your key goal. Around the outside of this, write all the reasons WHY you want to achieve this. How will you physically benefit from this journey? How will you FEEL? What will achieving your goal enable you to do? What are the positive health benefits you’ll enjoy by achieving your goal? Who in your life will you positively influence by taking control of your health and wellness?
Write, draw, feel and create. Once it’s done, place your mind map somewhere where it will be a visible reminder for you every day, to help keep you on track.
Dealing with cravings
Cravings happen for a variety of reasons:
- you’re bored
- you’re nutritionally deprived
- you’re emotionally deprived (you’re eating your feelings)
- you’re triggered by a memory or event
- you’re stressed
If you want the full list of details and how you can help yourself get through those pesky cravings, read my full blog here.
When it comes to my arch nemesis – sugar and carbohydrates – I can pretty freely admit, I don’t really struggle with cravings anymore for the first time in 25 years. It took me awhile to transition to being craving free, but here’s how I did it:
I focus primarily on the foods that fill me up and give me longer sustained energy. They’re nutritionally dense, meaning my body doesn’t crave the ‘hits’ of sugar or carbs that it used too, as it has all the nutrients it needs. I occasionally eat a little chocolate because I enjoy it and I usually ensure that I have chocolate sweetened with stevia, or low calorie chocolate protein treats on hand, just in case I get a little urge.
By having these treats handy, nothing is ever off my food list, meaning treats become less of a big deal and I never feel like I’m missing out! I never need a cheat day or fall off the wagon! I’ve found ways to basically ‘game the diet system’ and my health is better than ever, while my cravings are under control!
Here’s some other tips that are also worth considering:
Portion control: You will probably eat chocolate this easter, that’s a given… It’s ok. I’m not judging……but please consider portion control. Ultimately, everything is fine in moderation and if you can find sugarless alternatives of your favourite treats, that’s even better!
Instead of eating large eggs at hourly intervals (yes, that’s what I used to do) consider buying individually wrapped mini eggs. When you’re craving chocolate, you’re craving the sugar and the creaminess. You’ll get the same hit with a mini egg as you’d get from a giant size one, with less impact on your body. CHOOSE WISELY.
Go for QUALITY: Step away from the cheap foil-clad bunny and exchange it for some dark, good quality chocolate. Ideally something with at least 70 per cent dark cocoa which has the added bonus of antioxidants. The high levels of cocoa have also been shown to lower blood pressure and you’ll get the creaminess you’re craving with less impact on your body.
Chocolate does have some health benefits, being a source of beta-carotene, amino acids (protein), Omega-3 EFA’s, calcium, zinc, iron, copper, sulphur, potassium, and one of the best food sources of muscle relaxing and also stress relieving magnesium. Plus it’s just nice and that makes you feel good too.
Feast: If you’re on holiday over the easter break, consider starting the day with a protein-rich breakfast so you aren’t reaching for a chocolate an hour later. Never eat Easter eggs on an empty stomach as this will cause havoc on your blood sugar levels for the rest of the day. (I learnt this the hard way…..)
Veggie and protein-packed omelettes or a protein shake with berries, chia seeds and a handful of spinach leaves is a great way to get your day off to a nutritious start and damn, they’re tasty! If I’m feeling lazy, I’ll admit I always have a secret stash of protein bars in the cupboard, but I recommend you check the ingredients before purchasing. Some of them may say high protein, but they can also be loaded with sugar, so choose wisely.
Snack regularly. Do you eat when you’re bored like me? If so, snacking on something small and healthy every 3 – 4 hours will help you balance your blood sugar levels, which in turn will help avoid that nasty energy drop, which leads to sugar cravings!
Foods that cause a spike in blood sugar are generally sugar and refined carbohydrates – chocolate and hot cross buns. They cause the body to produce insulin, which makes you crave food constantly, leading to weight gain and a variety of health conditions including diabetes. Sound familiar?
Here’s some ‘Monique approved’ options – meaning ‘I think they’re tasty and they’ve been helping me with my weight loss’!
- Natural yogurt with berries and walnuts. So tasty and if it’s a little tart, add a sprinkle of stevia and a drizzle of vanilla essence! (I’m drooling just writing this…..)
- Hummus or pesto with vegetable sticks. Love it! Celery by itself is pretty boring, but with a little pesto or my new favourite – Lisa’s Hummus with sundried tomatoes (at your local supermarket) – it’s a party in my mouth loaded with great nutrition and heaps of fibre.
- A homemade meat pattie with a small side salad. I actually keep the Angel Bay Burger patties in my freezer, just in case.
- Shaved ham, pastrami or turkey, sliver of avocado wrapped in lettuce. Delicious!
- Camembert and pesto. No need for crackers here…..This snack is my everything.
Hydrate: Yes, water is literally liquid life. Research has shown that by increasing water consumption by 1.5 litres a day, you can burn an extra 17,400 calories per year. That’s pretty darn good right? A study by Dr. Brenda Davy, an associate professor at Virginia Tech, found that people who drank water before a meal consumed an average of 75 fewer calories at that meal. I’ve tried it and it works. I particularly like sparkling / carbonated water.
Move: To counter balance the extra calorie intake over easter it is important to exercise a little more and fingers crossed, we should see some great weather this year, so no excuses when it comes to getting outside and going for a walk! I’m pretty lazy to be honest, but I knew that to take my weight loss journey to the next level, I had to do something to help myself break through through my plateau.
In the new building my partner Pete and I have moved to, we have a gym and I’m finding just 20 minutes a day on a cross trainer, 4 times a week has been AMAZING for my weight loss. I do my thing while I watch reality TV on my phone. It’s a wonderful form of ‘ME TIME’ and I feel so clear in the head afterwards!
SO: here’s some exercise comparisons for you to give you an idea of how much you need to move to balance out that chocolate intake:
Burning off a small 50g bunny (approx 275 calories)
- Power walk with the dog for 85 minutes
- Dance up a storm for 56 minutes
- Swim freestyle for 36 minutes
- Jump on the cross trainer for 33 minutes
- Clean the house intensely for 70 minutes.
A medium 25g egg:
- 30 minutes brisk walk
- 15 minutes jogging/skipping/boxing
A large 100g egg
- 2 hour brisk walking
- 1 hour run/skipping/boxing
You don’t have to go too crazy, but if you’re really committed to hitting your goals like I am, you’ll make time to give it a go! You can do this. Remember – it all starts with remembering WHY you want to lose weight and feel good to start with. Write it down somewhere. Repeat it to yourself over and over again and think how good you’ll feel once you hit your target.
I’ve been on some sort of diet for more than 25 years, most of which has had varying degrees of success and up util the last 2 years, no sustainable results. I’m excited that I’m now totally on track and nearly ready to hit my end goal…….and the solution was simple: remembering WHY I wanted to lose weight to start with. There’s nothing that tastes as good as feeling healthy and full of energy feels, so start with your WHY……it’s the one thing that will keep you going when your will power gives out.
By the way: If you need additional support, or a place to ask questions, join my FB group! It’s private and no question is ever a dumb question. I wont spam you and you can ask me anything, any time. CLICK HERE to join.