You are playing The Long Game. Remember the Weekday Fast is not a diet, it is a lifestyle change. You are not “on a diet” – you are taking control over your health and weight by making intelligent, informed and deliberate decisions on what foods to feed your body for optimum health, and when to feed your body so it can spend the majority of the hours in a week in “Restore & Repair” mode and a much smaller portion in “Digest & Store Fat” mode. This will not happen on it’s own.
By changing your relationship with food, ignoring the social queues from advertisers (Eat more! Eat Now!) , and sticking to the plan, you can accomplish your health and wellness goals while still being able to enjoy evening meals with family and nights out with friends.
Practice Mindful Eating. As part of becoming more mindful about your eating, you need to understand the differences between physical hunger and emotional hunger. Physical hunger is your body legitimately telling you that it is ready for some food. You can usually satisfy this with a relatively small amount of food. In other words, you can grab a handful of nuts or a small piece of fruit and the sensations of hunger will disappear within a few minutes.
This is why you should always have small, healthy snacks easily accessible. If you have a healthy choice nearby you are far less likely to satisfy your physical hunger with something that does not fit in with your long term goals.
Emotional hunger differs from physical hunger in that it comes on suddenly and in the form of cravings rather than physical signs. It can be triggered by stress or boredom, and you will usually crave some sort of snack or comfort food. if you give in to the urge it often results from mindless eating, and even worse the actual eating rarely relieves the stress or boredom that caused it, leaving you feeling guilty as well.
Anytime you feel hungry at a time that you were not planning to eat a meal, do these three things:
1) Ask yourself – am I really physically hungry, or is this just emotional eating? Was it triggered by a habit that I can change? (See the next section for more on habits.)
2) Drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes.
3) If you’re still hungry, have a healthy snack like a handful of almonds or 1/2 an apple
Remember – YOU are the boss of YOU. When you eat, it should be a part of your predetermined plan for the day, not because a plate of cupcakes suddenly appeared nearby.
The Importance of Habits. As you adopt the Weekday Fast lifestyle, you will likely have to change some of your habits. It is a very valuable exercise to step back and realize why you do many of the things you do and make the choices you do, and realize how many of those are actually just habits. Approximately 40-45% of the things you do every day that feel like decisions, are actually habits according to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit – Why we do what we do in life and business. It is a fascinating read that also shows you how to identify and change bad habits into good ones.
All habits work in a three step process – Cue, Response, Reward. It is nearly impossible to eliminate bad habits, but what you CAN do is recognize the Cue, and then modify your Response to a healthier one and still enjoy the Reward. Until you become AWARE of your habits and what your cues are, you can’t begin to change them.
I work from home, and I had a habit of walking to the kitchen several times a day and looking in the refrigerator and pantry for something to eat. After reading The Power of Habit, I realized that I was not doing this because I was hungry, but because I bored or needed a break from what I was working on. I realized the Cue was “I need to clear my head and refocus”, my Response was “go to the kitchen and rummage through the refrigerator and pantry” and my Reward was “taking a break from work”. It wasn’t that I was hungry, I just needed to get away from whatever task I was working on for a moment to clear my head and refocus. By modifying my Response to “fill your water cup and walk outside for a few minutes”, I still got my reward but the net result of my quick break was hydration and fresh air, not unneeded calories. And if I was a little hungry, drinking the water would fix that as well.
We are also going to develop some NEW, HEALTHY habits such as drinking water first thing in the morning and weighing every day. These are things you may not do every day automatically, but they will soon become a part of your daily routine. If you find yourself struggling with bad habits as you adopt your new lifestyle, try to ask yourself – what is my Cue, what is my Response, and what is my Reward? Now, what can I change about my Response, so I still get my Reward?