You might ask yourself "why can some people so easily control their weight without really thinking about it?". It's a common question that puzzles many people.
It is 100% impossible for ANY human being to eat "perfectly" every single meal, every single day. There is no definition of a perfect diet anyhow, so striving for that goal of perfection is unrealistic. Furthermore, food is more than simply fuel for humans. It is social, it is comforting, and meant to be enjoyed. So if your goal is to eat perfectly all the time, you will fail.
The good news? You don't HAVE TO be perfect and you don't have to eat 100% clean in order to control your weight or your health. The key is to eat healthy MOST of the time, as your norm. That means getting into good habits so that healthy eating is your home base, and then you have exceptions the other 10-15% of the time, eating whatever your heart desires.
There are a bunch of healthy habits that keep people in control of their weight, and some might work better or look different for different people. But its found that adopting these basic habits and being able to do them consistently sets you up so you can splurge the rest of the time (at social events, etc) and your weight will not be negatively affected. If you stray from your good habits for too many consecutive days, THAT is when the weight starts to creep upward. It's natural for that to happen around the holidays or on vacations, but no need to worry. Once you are back in a normal schedule, you'll be back at your "home base" of healthy norms and anything you gained will fall right back off.
The really awesome thing about habits is that once they are formed habits, they work for you automatically without conscious thought. In essence, if you can adopt the right set of healthy habits, you can control your weight without even thinking much about it. How cool!
The following habits are 6 general essentials that you can work off of to control your weight effortlessly forever. Some might look different for different people, and that is okay. Finding the specifics that work the best for you and making long term commitments is all the work there is. Once formed, your healthy "norms" are the ultimate secret to lasting weight control.
1. Schedule in grocery shopping like an appointment
Grocery shopping translates into cooking your own meals which translates into having full control over what's on your plate. Any time you eat out, no matter what you order, you're getting approximately double the amount of calories as if you were to make it at home, and at least a day's worth of sodium. So even if you think you're choosing the "healthy" items when you go out, you might be shooting yourself in the foot. Additionally, cooking your own food helps you to APPRECIATE healthy food and ingredients, making healthy eating a more enjoyable part of your life.
2. Rise and Dine!
We've all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, because it is! Your metabolism does not start until you give it the fuel to start, so the earlier you get some fuel into the digestive tract, the stronger and longer it burns.
3. Drink water - a lot of it
Water is to the human body like oil is to the car. If you want your car to do what you want it to do (drive), you have to have enough oil in it. If you want your body to burn fat on top of ALL its other jobs, you HAVE TO be giving it enough water.
4. Focus on quality over quantity
Counting calories is tedious, and time consuming. You can't rely on counting calories, and good news, you don't have to! For one, counting calories turns the focus onto what we "can't" have, and what we "can't" fit into our calorie "allowance". This triggers the diet mindset, causing us to feel restricted and deprived. Shifting your focus to the QUALITY of your food, now you start thinking about all the foods you can ADD IN to your diet (vegetables, whole grains, protein, etc). So now, food becomes a fun and creative playground again, and all you had to do was shift your thinking.
5. Eat more veggies
Again, focus on "more" instead of "less". By including MORE of the good, clean foods in your diet, you will naturally eat less of the refined, processed, low quality food. Veggies, in particular are something you should always be focused on getting in every day. Vegetables are extremely low in calories, contain fiber that keeps you full, and vitamins and minerals that fight disease and keep you healthy. Bulking your meals up with vegetables will make your meals more voluminous without piling on extra calories. You don't have to have microscopic sized meals in order to lose weight, go crazy with those veggies!
6. Avoid highly processed / artificial ingredients
The only time focus should be on "cutting out" is when it comes to highly processed and artificial ingredients. Read your food labels and make sure you are getting good quality ingredients without tons of processing or additions of artificial ingredients, or refined carbohydrates that are toxic to our bodies and sabotage weight control when consumed in excess. Foods that are highly processed or artificial should fall under the "10-15%" of the time when you indulge. But when you are in your normal regimen, its worth it to make sure you are eating mostly whole, clean foods with minimal to no processing.
7. Don't Diet
DIETS. DON'T. WORK. Diets place emphasis on restriction, which sabotages your efforts in a myriad of ways. They do not create solid effective habits, they are not sustainable, they only keep you drowning in the perpetual merry-go-round of "dieting". The habits mentioned above are lifestyle changes, none of them are "diet behavior". You have to make long-term commitments in order to control your weight long-term. Diets are not long term and they will never do you any good. If you're stuck in the dieting cycle, don't panic. Recognize that it is not doing you any good and start making real lifestyle commitments to your health.
Whatever habits you develop, be sure you enjoy them and that they are conductive to your overall wellbeing. Working out the specifics is where the conscious effort and work comes in, but once you have identified and developed the healthy habits that work best with you and your lifestyle, it just becomes what you do, and you don't have to think about it ever again.