Raise your hand if you have tried restrictive diets in the past to lose weight. I’m sure you have seen the problems with restrictive diets.
The truth is you can enjoy food and lose weight without restrictive diets. You can live a healthier, happier life if you shift your focus from diet to wellness.
I have a special guest that is going to help tackle this issue and so much more in this episode.
Jen is a Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach and a Nationally Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach.
She is also the owner and lead coach of Driven Mama.
As a coach Jen helps moms to live happy, healthy and fulfilled lives.
Jen does this by helping busy moms that are being pulled different ways and not feeling like themselves get back to being their best self.
Jen is also a mom and a wife and can identify with the struggles of mom’s life.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear wellness?
When most people hear about wellness usually they think about nutrition and exercise.
These are two really important aspects of wellness, but there’s more to it than that.
Wellness includes our emotional wellness. As well as mental and intellectual wellness.
When it comes to losing weight there are more things that contribute to your success or struggle with weight loss.
Stress management is a big one that gets overlooked.
I know from experience that I cope with stressful situations through emotional eating.
This made it almost impossible to lose weight. There was always something going on that would trigger me to eat all of the chocolates in the break room or constantly consume snacks.
Even genetics play a roll in weight loss. Some people genetically have bodies that are set up to break down food less efficiently or trigger hunger more than usual.
Problems with restrictive diets
Before becoming a coach Jen struggled with restrictive diets.
I have tried the diets. I have done it. I am not going to say that I have never done it. I am guilty. I’ve been there, but I’ve learned through my own personal experiences that it’s challenging. Right? And then as we started understanding things from like studies in health and wellness and understanding why it is so challenging, it’s helps me to kind of forgive myself a little bit and be like, well that’s why I’ve always felt like I failed.”
Restrictive diets do not set us up for success.
The yo-yo effect
It actually results in the yo-yo effect. You lose weight, but as soon as you go back to old eating habits, you gain back weight and a little more than before.
Studies have shown that we have an 85 to 90% chance of gaining back all of the weight that we lose or even more if we go on major restrictive diets.
Restrictive diets are not meant for long term use.
Awkward at social events
Restrictive diets are limiting.
There’s nothing worse than being at a social event and feeling like you can’t enjoy the food at the event.
If you are celebrating with friends and family, you want to eat the cake and the cookies. But you can’t because you’re on a diet.
Now everyone is wondering why you’re acting weird.
Normally you don’t eat a piece of cake every day. But for your child’s birthday, you celebrate and eat cake.
And that’s a really important aspect, you know, especially for like the memory of my child that they’re like, you know, eating with me together with cake and we’re celebrating together and it’s really fun. Versus thinking about that experience long term and how that might be interpreted by my child if like everyone’s eating cake and I’m standing off in the corner being like, no thanks, I’m not eating cake. Your child doesn’t see that as um, as you know, what you are trying to do, which just trying to be healthy, they’re seeing it as like, why does that mind want to celebrate my birthday with me?
Your metabolism is fighting you
Your metabolism starts to fight against you when you are losing weight past your ideal weight.
Jen uses the example of your metabolism being like a bungee cord.
“The more that you try to lose weight and restrict your eating, the more your metabolism is going to continue to adjust to actually fight the weight loss because your body wants to be at its natural weight. So if you’re trying to lose weights, that is, you know, beyond what your natural weight is that your body’s going to fight you. So it gets harder and harder and harder, which means that we have to start adopting these more restrictive diets.”
All of these things make restrictive diets less sustainable.
Do this instead of dieting
Before starting restrictive diets ask yourself why are you doing it.
And how long you expect to maintain the restrictive diet.
If you are trying to lose weight and maintain the weight loss long term, restrictive diets may not be the best option.
Instead of picking up a restrictive diet consider making lifestyle changes.
This is why I love Noom.
Noom has been teaching me how to change my habits and the way I think about food and weight loss so that I can maintain my weight loss after completing the program.
At the time of the recording, I had been using Noom for 5 weeks.
Prior to using Noom I went to Spain for 2 weeks and gained 10 pounds.
Most people around me said I looked fine, but I struggled to get my work pants on.
In the few weeks that I have started Noom, I have lost the weight I gained in Spain and working to lose the weight I gained from having kids.
Alternatives to restrictive diets
Jen has a unique alternative to restrictive diets that will help with making better lifestyle changes.
It is the day to day experimental mentality. It is so simple.
You ask yourself what would happen if I tried, then fill in the blank.
For example, what would happen if I tried walking every day after lunch?
But, first, it starts with awareness of what is going on in your life.
You decide to make a change and implement it every day. Then at the end of the week, you ask yourself how did it go.
For example, I got back from Spain happy and 10 pounds heavier. I could barely button my work pants. That is when I realized I need to change my eating habits.
I learned from Esther in episode 19 that we should try to eat more vegetables. In particular, aim to have half of the plate vegetables at mealtimes.
So taking the experimental mentality and I asked myself what would happen if I ate vegetables every day at dinner time.
Then at the end of the week assess and see what happened.
Back to my example of eating more vegetables.
At the end of the week, I realized that half of my plate was vegetables for dinner every day except one day.
That day we had pizza. Instead of eating vegetables for dinner I ate them for lunch because I really wanted to enjoy the pizza.
The scale actually tipped down in my favor at the end of the week too.
Right now you’re just adjusting. You’re making an adjustment into your experiment. And you continue to do that. Iterate, iterate, iterate. Constant iteration every single week. And at the, so at the beginning of the week, you ask yourself, well, what happened if I tried? And at the end of the week you asked yourself how did it go? And with a very curious mindset, no judging, no self criticism, nothing.
With the experimental approach, you really want to leave judgment out.
And don’t beat yourself up. If you tried something and didn’t get the results that you wanted, try something different next time.
How to improve our wellness
Jen explains that first, we must understand that wellness is an evolution.
What worked for us 6 years ago or before we had kids, probably won’t work now.
Jen encounters many moms that are hard themselves because they used to, for example, run every single day when they were in college and now they don’t at all.
The thing is our lives are completely different from when we were in college.
We have kids, jobs, and a completely different lifestyle.
We have so many obligations now that we can’t do the things we used to maintain our wellness plan.
Going running every single day doesn’t work in your lifestyle anymore. And that’s okay.
Another part of evolution is understanding what parts of the things that you used to do that you can pull some of those elements into your lifestyle now.
For example, you just can’t get into group workout programs or find the motivation to attend.
Maybe you enjoyed running before and now you need an independent workout. So instead of a group workout, use a workout program that you can do at home by yourself.
So incorporate what you liked before into your evolution.
“Before we had kids, it was self care wasn’t a word that we use. And the reason why is because it’s literally something we did every day without even realizing that we did it right. We’d get home from work, we’d crash on the couch, we’d turn on a TV show, we’d, you know, maybe fall asleep on the couch at 7:00 PM or like whatever it was, right? Like that’s all like self care stuff that we were doing because we literally didn’t have other little humans running around like that we have to keep alive, right? That natural self care time that we used for ourself without thinking about it suddenly gets taken up and reprioritized into keeping humans alive”
Now we have to reprioritize our time to have time for self-care. Think about the things that you used to do that you can incorporate now.
Maybe it was reading a book on the weekends or journaling.
Whatever it was that you enjoy, reclaim back.
Even if it is a modification of what you used to do. You reclaim the activities you once enjoyed by intentional scheduling.
Wellness is like a wheel
Often times we people hear talk about wellness and the instant thought is about food and exercise.
But there is more to wellness than the physical aspect.
Your wellness includes spiritual, emotional, social, intellectual, occupational, environmental as well as physical.
Many coaches use the wellness wheel when to help illustrate areas in our life that we need to improve.
Think of the wheel as a round tire. If one area of wellness is depleted or needs attention it will be flat.
This will cause the tire to be flat. When you have a flat tire you can get around very well.
The same thing is true in your life. If one area is lacking it will make it challenging for you to make progress.
Have trouble figuring out which area of wellness you need to start with?
What’s the Kink in my hose? So you think about like a hose with water running flowing through it and there’s like something that happens through your day that suddenly it’s like in your water is not flowing anymore. It’s like, so what are those things in your life where that’s happening? That’s probably an aspect of wellness and that needs some attention, right?
As moms, we tend to feel like we are being spread out everywhere. Especially when it comes to balancing work and home.
This is where occupational wellness comes into play.
How to get started with improving your wellness
If you are ready to get started with improving your overall wellness but have no idea where to start, here is what Jen suggest:
So the thing that I am going to tell you is just to have a week of awareness. So that is really just where you were going to make some intentions.
You can’t create a plan if you don’t know where you actually are in your life.
So we’re going to, even if it’s like journaling every morning to sit and then every evening to say like, how do I feel in the morning? How do I feel in the evening? Let’s take a comparison of what’s going on and start breaking it down. Maybe it is like food tracking, you know, if like if it’s an emotional eating thing or something like that, it’s, it’s tracking on, you know, um, what did I eat today?
When were the times and the moments during the day where I felt really, really hungry. Are there any times during the day that after I ate I felt like really over full. I ate too much. So those are like some really good like indicators of like what might be going on.
You can even put reminders on your phone to remind you to stop and be aware of how you are feeling in your body and what emotions you feel.
Once you are aware of what is going on inside of you and how you are feeling, you can start making a plan to make changes to improve your wellness.
Remember wellness is an evolution and a journey. The change will take time.
Many times we push ourselves and tell ourselves “I’m fine” when we’re not.
Often times our bodies are sending us signals that we ignore. Jen mentioned Mel Robins Take Control of Your Life and how our bodies give us signals before our minds even know what’s going on.
It’s time for bed. How does their body signal that to us? You start getting sleepy and tired. Yeah.
My body is tired, right? Yes. If we haven’t like eaten all day, our body will tell us that because stomach starts grumbling. Yeah. Like our body knows that.
Kids are really in tune with their bodies and will let you know when they are tired and hungry.
Adults, on the other hand, have learned to control the body and ignore some of the cues.
Take time to tune into your body. Listen to your body.
Give your body what it needs so that you don’t have to constant power through and push yourself through the “I’m fine” moments.
To learn about Jen and her coaching, check out her website. Also, connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.
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- Restrictive diets do not set us up for success.
- Studies have shown that we have an 85 to 90% chance of gaining back all of the weight that we lose or even more if we go on major restrictive diets.
- Instead of picking up a restrictive diet consider making lifestyle changes.
- You reclaim the activities you once enjoyed by intentional scheduling.
Awesome advice. I’ve always had such a hard time keeping my weight down. The only time I was my goal weight was while I was in the military, of course lol
Thanks Aubrey! I know!! That is one of the reasons why I tell myself to stay in the reserves. lol
Yes! Thank you! I’ve never understood why people get so obsessed with these fad diets rather than looking at their lifestyle and their body as a whole.
Thanks, Nicolle. You know, most people are looking for a quick fix. I think this is one of the reasons why they are so popular. But they are so hard to maintain long term.
YES! Great article on why wellness is important. It drives me crazy how diet and “label” obsessed our culture is. We need to get away from yo-yo dieting and focus on eating real foods! You also made great points about how our wellness is all encompassing. The self-care quote you mentioned how before kids we regularly self-cared without having to think about it. So true! I definitely have to prioritize my self care or it definitely would never happen! lol. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Abby. Eating real food is key. One of my previous guest made it simple and told me everything in a box or packaging is probably processed. I never paid attention to how much processed food I was eating until recently. And I was shocked. Thank goodness I found another guest to help with this problem that will be coming on the podcast in a few weeks. You’re right. Food is only a portion of wellness. Self-care is actually apart of wellness.
Thanks for the post! It was very informative and I definitely agree with all that was said 🙂
Thanks, Taylor. I appreciate it. And thanks for stopping by.
Awesome post! You know I just downloaded the Noom app and I wondered if it really did work. Thanks to your input I think that I can make it happen now.
Thanks, Erika. If you commit to following the prompts everyday you will see results. It’s small changes and actions that add up to make changes you want to see on the scale or in your health. I hope it works out for you. Let me know what you think! 🙂
This is such a great post. This is what I need right now. Thank you.
Thank you! I have to remind myself of all the things Jen mentioned often. Thanks for stopping by.
Shellie Lynn says
I couldn’t agree more, restrictive diets are NOT set up for success. When you fall off the wagon, you fall hard!
I agree with you and making healthy lifestyle choices as opposed to trying a restrictive diet. Finding the best diet for you can be really hard. But try to keep it simple and focus on eating whole foods and avoid the processed junk.
Absolutely! I never knew how much I was sabotaging myself by eating so many processed foods. Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy some tasty foods, but I don’t overindulge anymore. Now vegetables are starting to taste better. Even my husband teases me that I am always eating vegetables. 🙂
This is full of good advice. Thank you.
Thank you, Amy.
I am ALL about this. My friends always try new diets (keto, no sugar, etc.) and although I need to eat a little cleaner I always have way more success (and way less stress/restriction) by just eating healthier and getting a lot more exercise/strength training in. I can’t understand the fad diets!
I am with you, Samantha. Now I like watching the ladies that I work with go through phases of trying restrictive diets for awhile then giving up after a few weeks. Restrictive diets are no fun. I am learning you can enjoy the foods you love in moderation. Now I just need to be consistent with exercise. 🙂
Ramona Curtis says
As you get older you realize it is not about looking like Beyonce, but being healthy controlling blood sugars and staying active.
You are totally right Ramona. I am seeing this more and more now. My biggest concern is to avoid diabetes (since I have a family history) more than getting my high school body back.