After sheltering in place, we all have a different routine and newly formed habits. Many of our clients have found a silver lining during the last few months – like eating balanced meals at home and exercising outdoors. In addition to new healthy habits, most of us have also picked up some not-so-healthy habits like going to bed later, mindlessly snacking or stressing over the number on the scale.
We know stress negatively affects our overall health, but did you know stress can plateau your weight loss efforts? It’s true – managing stress plays a major role in seeing results and making sustainable progress towards your goals.
Let’s briefly learn about stress. There are many stressors in life we cannot control, but there are other stressors that we can control. Stress related to food and eating is something we can learn to improve. It’s important to acknowledge stress is not always bad – there are some stressors that improve our productivity like project deadlines and other stressors that improve our health like working out. But during a time when stress is at an all time high from all angles in life, we have to invest energy into forming healthy habits to reduce stress and stay healthy.
Being healthy and maintaining a healthy weight encompasses so much more than just what we eat. While nutrition is fundamental to immunity and a healthy lifestyle, you cannot support a healthy way of eating without addressing other habits like consistently exercising, getting quality sleep and stressing less. Practicing self compassion and stress management are key to a healthy relationship with food and your body.
Stop Scale Stressing
You may be surprised that weekly weigh ins to measure progress are optional and most of our clients see results and feel more progress after ditching the scale.
If the scale stresses you out, you’re not alone! While the scale can provide reinforcement (and is the main way we have been conditioned to check progress), weighing yourself daily or weekly can also cause added stress. Limiting body checking and weigh ins, especially if that is a source of stress, is one way to stay positive with balanced eating.
Weighing yourself often can be a negative reinforcement to positive, healthy habits. Even when we try to keep conditions consistent for measuring progress by weighing in, there is a natural variation in weight 1-5 lbs daily that is affected by hormones, digestion, stress, diet and hydration.
If you are using the scale as motivation for your long term goals, I encourage you to step back and better understand your why so you can dig deeper to find internal motivation. Remember, weight loss is a long term goal. Weighing in daily and even weekly is very short sighted to this long term goal. Consistency in eating and exercising is one of the most important factors in seeing results. If you are using the scale to reinforce your habits during the week or for permission to indulge on the weekends, you can benefit from working one-on-one with a dietitian. You can achieve your health goals without regularly stepping on the scale.
Keep A Gratitude Journal
Journaling can help to reduce stress and ease mind chatter around food choices. There is no one right way to journal and journaling helps to promote mindfulness and accountability.
We tend to focus on what we do wrong and be hard on ourselves. Journaling positive choices and good things that are happening shifts your focus to stay positive, motivated and on track. You may think of food choices and label foods as “good” or “bad”, but food is not black and white so there has to be some great things to focus on in most meals and snacks.
Keeping a gratitude journal helps to shift your focus from any negative self-talk and frustrations to focus in on healthy habits. If you don’t think you’d be successful journaling, push back on the mindset that journaling has to look a certain way or be a daily habit. Instead of the daily goal to journal, try gratitude journaling a few days a week.
If you find yourself stressed out about food choices or thinking in an all or nothing way about eating, try this exercise:
- Write down 3 points of gratitude and
- Write down 3 points of positive choices
Don’t Set Yourself Up For Failure
Just a reminder, most people are unsuccessful with strict diets. You do not lack willpower or motivation because you didn’t stick with an extreme way of eating.
We want to remind you to beware of fad diets. Strict diets only add to stress and frustrations around food, balanced eating and a healthy body image. When you live in the extreme of restrictive dieting, it’s much harder to stick with and find a truly healthy and sustainable lifestyle. We work with clients one-on-one to understand their bodies, set realistic (and attainable!) goals and build momentum to properly fuel an active lifestyle
If you want to understand and improve your health beyond the number on the scale – we are here to help. Schedule your call with a dietitian to get started.