Do you get that sneaky self satisfaction when events conspire to mean you miss a meal?
That crazy busy day that keeps you glued to your desk – fueled purely by coffee – and leaves you too exhausted to eat more than perhaps a bowl or cereal of piece of toast before you collapse into bed?
HA – take that fat stores!
That used to be me. Well, I was never too glued to my desk to resist food… however I did get happy when I’d skip dinner before a big night out because ‘eating’s cheating’. I figured I was drinking my calories.
And I certainly was. HOWEVER, I also always ended up needing hot chips for breakie (or at the end of the night – often with a felefal kebab) …and masses of bread all day. And then a huge stodgy dinner.
I’m not sure exactly when it happened, however my focus changed to what I can give my body rather than how I can deprive it.
To working with it… rather than seeking to trick it or cheat it out of a meal in an attempt to get it to release some of its tightly held fat stores.
Why would you seek to punish your body and then expect it to look after you?
Oh, but “I’ve got plenty of fat stores to live off” I hear frequently… the thing is it doesn’t work that way.
You don’t get to skip breakie, pick at whatever sweet baked crap is on offer for morning tea, have a couple of cappuccinos and indulge in a massive carb-fest dinner because “I skipped lunch” (oh, and breakfast).
Now it’s true I no longer subscribe to the you must eat every three hours approach. Yes, it can work.
So can two meals a day and likely even one.
Whether you eat six or one time a day the most important thing is the quality of food – which requires a degree of planning.
Skipping meals (as opposed to deciding that you’re fasting for a set number of hours) will always catch up with you.
Your body needs to be guided into shedding fat not bullied. Beyond the fact that your metabolism literally slows down to compensate for less food – because this response kept our ancestors alive – is the mindset component:
The “Now I can have” factor.
“Now I can have” food is not the quality fuel that makes up your best planned meals.
It’s little nibbly, morish, high caloric density stuff. That likely adds up to a lot more calories than “a decent meal” (as mama Galli would say) …and that’s with a lot less micronutrients and subsequently less satisfaction, less energy and MORE CRAVINGS.
Think of skipping meals like skipping the mortgage or rent to pay electricity.
It gets you a result initially, however it is not sustainable. You haven’t found the solution. After a week or two or three the rent will need to be paid. Both what’s due this week AND what’s overdue which means you’ve got no money for electricity. The more catch up you’ve got the less discriminating you’ll be about where it’s coming from… YES, I could be talking about money or food right?
You can’t continue with the band-aide fix of just depriving the landlord of their dues in the same way that you can’t just eat less and less and less… and deprive your body of its dues.
You need to eat better not less.
Better is sustainable.
It’s proactive, setting your body up with quality fuel so it works well for you.
Rather than reactive, starving it in the hope it’ll relinquish the fat it likely took months if not years to accumulate and is quite happy to hold on to thank you very much.
Quality food is like quality time so far as the result is will give you.
Compare eight hours at work chatting with colleagues, surfing the net, jumping to OTHER PEOPLES priorities via email and putting out fires with,
…what you can achieve in just a couple of fresh and focused hours working on your number one task first thing in the am before most people have even dragged themselves out of bed?
Rubbish food leaves you lethargic and less productive, bloated and less inclined to exercise AND perpetuating the ugly cycle by craving more rubbish food. That’s just in the short term.
Long term, you’re playing with your health and potentially paying with your life. Either literally or via the quality of life you enjoy – and when you think about it, Is there anything more important than the quality of your life and all those you care about?
WOW put like that doesn’t it just makes so much sense to choose the stuff that makes you look, feel and function better?
Again, the thing is – what makes so much sense – is NOT always how it works for us emotional beings.
So, we’ve covered the logic and hopefully a couple of analogies that might resonate with you.
Finally, let’s tackle two steps to handle the emotional component that may be at work derailing your best logic:
1. If, like me, you have an emotional attachment to food then it’s important to acknowledge that you don’t need to be perfect all the time.
=> You can still get great results with awesome food 80% of the time. The key is how you think about it.
When you choose the less awesome food it’s a conscious, planned decision you’re making to satisfy a need. Maybe that “I deserve this” or “I want to feel full… like really full” or “this just makes me so happy”. You’re deciding that in the overall scheme this diversion from ‘best food’ is ok and you’re doing it to help you eat great food the other 80% of the time.
2. Next it’s a matter of recognising that emotions that cloud your ‘logical decisions’ around what you eat will be part of life.
=> Perhaps: disappointment. stress. loneliness. uncertainty. And as such ensuring your circumstances, either at home or the places you take yourself to away from home are supportive of making the best food decisions.
Rather than constantly placing yourself in discipline testing situations. I wrote about surviving temptation here, How to use cheat meals and thrive regardless of the temptation zone:
A closing cliche that I’ve expanded on a little…
If your life was a continuous journey across an ever changing landscape – vast harsh sparsely populated desserts, lush and abundant rainforest, pastures lovingly tended for by warm generous farm-folk and exposed mountains cruelly buffeted by snow and sleet – with continuing to travel forward being your only option.
The past cannot be repeated, just learnt from, and as such the path you’ve just travelled evaporates behind you pushing you forward to new discovers each day. And on this journey you carry with you only that which is most vital – water, food, shelter and clothing – as you never know when you’ll get the opportunity to replenish your stores. And on your journey you have a horse.
One horse. The only horse you will ever have.
You can’t buy a horse off another person because everyone you encounter only ever has the opportunity to own one horse and they will not give up theirs. Your horse carries you and all that is most vital and most valuable to you on your journey.
It does so gladly as this is it’s purpose.
Faced with the sometimes rough, sometimes idyllic and always unexpected terrain it was born to carry you safely across, your horse will perform and live according to the quality of fuel you give it. What quality of fuel do you give your horse?