Summer is about to begin, it bathing suit season and you may have gained a little weight. The world has not ended! Accumulating a little extra fat on your body as a result of a period of overindulging is normal, and it’s okay.
The fact is, you are probably very likely going to gain weight sometime in the near future. Although this thought may be bothersome and make you feel uncomfortable, understand that the situation is manageable if you have the tools to navigate your weight gain in a healthy, positive way.
Weight gain is one of the things that may result from the regular part ups and downs of life, which might include a food-drenched vacation, a bad breakup or death in the family, or back to back holidays (I am referring specifically to what lies ahead over the next few months starting with Halloween leading into Thanksgiving then Christmas and New Year’s eve).
Be confident that nothing bad is going to happen to you if you go with the flow and resist taking drastic measures to suddenly lose that weight. Freaking out about gaining a few pounds can make the situation worse both physically and mentally, and getting anxious about it is completely unnecessary. Life can be messy, but you can also clean it up!
As a nutritionist, people often assume that my diet and eating habits are ‘perfect’ and understanding or empathizing with this type of situation is out of my realm. Be assured that I, along with everyone else, go through periods in my life, both positive and negative, where over-indulging or veering off my nutritional path happen. I go on vacation and love immersing myself in the foods of the country I am visiting. I recently lost my father and had to travel to a foreign country where all my food was provided for me and many of my usual choices and options were not available. I develop recipes and experiment and sometimes need to do many a taste test to get things just right…
Once I return to my typical daily routine, my weight stabilizes and returns to where I am comfortable. No crazy diets required.
Through my personal experiences and dealing with my clients I have learned a few things, some do’s and don’ts, about dealing with weight gain in a healthy way:
This is a normal part of life
Gaining a few pounds does not mean the end of the world is imminent. We all inadvertently gain weight, and that is perfectly fine. You may have overindulged and it is not a big deal. Get over it and move on. This is not an invitation to continuously weight cycle back and forth, but every once in a while, you might accumulate a few extra and that is totally normal.
It is not supportive to constantly obsess over it and talk about it. Stop telling your friends, who probably care very little about how much you weigh. Stop getting on the scale to check how much weight you actually put on. Focus instead on the good things in your life, those things you are grateful for and the stuff that really matters!
Return to your normal habits and routine.
This sounds really simple and intuitive but it requires emphasis. If you have been following your whole-foods based or lower carbohydrate lifestyle, continue on. Stop the behaviour that caused the weight gain, and return to your normal diet. Your body will take care of the rest.
Stock your house with your healthy foods.
Access is everything. Having inflammation promoting, non-Paleo foods readily available will not support your getting back to your Paleo lifestyle. Make sure that you do the opposite. Stock your home, office and other areas your snacks like to hide full of healthy, minimally-processed food. Make sure you have a good supple of your favorites and easy recipe fixes. Get rid of the foods that you know are tempting.
Avoid the classic diet overcorrect.
Some people who gain a little extra weight will get really motivated to lose that weight, and do some crazy cleanse or strict diet. I see this often in my practice. It tends to fail a large majority of the time. Avoid excessively restricting calories or following some crazy plan for the sole purpose of a quick and seemingly easy weight loss fix. This only leads you down the destructive vortex of yo-yo dieting.
Stay calm, remain focused and avoid any fad diets and crazy-sounding cleanses. A Paleo diet is supportive of your wellness and physiological function. At this point there is little need for a diet/liver/kidney detox so don’t buy into the hype.
Do not berate yourself.
It always upsets me when I listen to people put themselves down because they may have made one or two less than optimal food choices and/or gained weight. Words have immense power and using them against yourself never accomplishes anything good. Everyone has times and moments where their choices around food may not be what they consider ideal. Momentarily straying from your Paleo lifestyle is not a reason to put yourself down. Furthermore, research suggests that negative self-talk may actually cause weight gain and emotional stress.
I would remind you to speak to yourself the same way you would to your best friend or your child. Practice reframing your negative thoughts into positive ones. For example, instead of telling yourself, ‘I’m so disgusting, I shouldn’t have eaten so much food on my vacation’, say, ‘I had such a great time on vacation; I really needed to get away!’
Repeating and focusing on what you think you may have done ‘wrong’ in order to gain the weight is stressful, exhausting, and unproductive. The emphasis should be to always treat yourself with kindness. You deserve it, no matter how much you may think you don’t.
All-or-nothing does not work.
Overindulging is fine every once in a while, but continuing to make poor choices based on the mindset of ‘I’ve blown it already, so what?!?’ is not helpful. All or nothing thinking can really impact your physical and mental wellness and it can set you up for a long term ride on the diet rollercoaster. This is no fun! A short term distraction is way easier to recover from than a few months of ‘letting go’. Try not to prolong things.
Seek professional help if you feel out of control.
I think everyone needs professional counselling at least at one point or another in their lives. If you feel challenged letting go of the diet mentality, you find yourself engaged in some progressively worsening food-oriented behavior or your negative self-talk is becoming overwhelming, it may be time to book an appointment with a qualified professional.
You might find that cleaning out your emotional closet can be life-changing. Consulting with an expert in the field that you require help with is essential.
Take that step when/if you need to and are ready.
Ignore the hype and stop believing in the latest trend or diet advice from celebrities, celebrity trainers, health gurus, lifestyle experts, random celebrity chefs and unqualified, self proclaimed health experts.
Remind yourself why you chose your diet and lifestyle in the first place. Get back to basics. Your body is smart and given the right tools know exactly what to do and how to recover (and lose the extra weight too).