Let’s get this out of the way: It’s fun to hate slender people. They have it SO darned easy. Oh, to be one of the fortunate born with great metabolism or a hole in their feet. For the rest of us who didn’t win the genetic lottery, life is a constant struggle.
But we say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Okay, how do you do that?
First, choose your parents. Bonus points if they are supermodels. Seriously though, we can learn from the lifestyle habits followed by people more svelte than us. The key is changing our approach to what and how we eat. That takes time and commitment.
As we learned when we lost 240 pounds in 14 months, the trick was not dieting. Instead, we learned that we had to break old habits and adopt new ones. When we started, it seemed like an impossible mountain to climb. But as the weeks wore on and we bid farewell to foods and habits now consigned to our past, we discovered that old favorites quickly fell out of favor.
We didn’t miss them. Not one bit.
The good news: The longer we worked on the habits and behaviors that defined our new lifestyle, the easier it became for us to open the door to our new life. Below are some of the things that we use to follow a more healthy and slender diet.
If you’re committed to losing weight and keeping it off, dieting is the worst way to do it. Wait — what?!!? You heard us: Dieting is a loser’s game. Literally. Yes, you can starve yourself and live on water and celery for two weeks. But a month or two later, you’ll receive the gift of the dreaded “Oprah bounce.” That weight will creep back up — and possibly more.
So how can you successfully lose weight? In a word, gradually. Losing weight is as much a mental exercise, a change of your habits and lifestyle as anything else. It’s literally mind over matter. Studies have shown that it takes about eight weeks to change your habits. We call it closing doors.
When we started on our lifestyle change (not diet), we made a list of foods we would never eat again. You know, the usual suspects: Candy. Cake. Coca-Cola. Potato Chips. Fast Food. Café Lattes. Venti Mocha Frappuccinos. Ice Cream. Nutella. Nachos with extra cheese. Double Cheeseburgers. We checked each of them off our list. Forever.
Become a Control Freak.
Slender people are picky about what they will and won’t eat. Mindlessly inhaling food is not for them. They think before they buy or order. They have a purpose for everything they put on their plate. As we re-learned how to eat, we set some rules:
- We don’t eat starches like bread, pasta, potatoes, or with few exceptions, rice after breakfast. Carbs are important at breakfast, but later in the day, we focus on protein.
- We plan. At home and when we’re out, we use a diet maintenance app on our phone like LoseIt! to project the calories and nutritional values of what we’re eating. That can help us stay on target every day. We think carefully about the nutritional value of everything we cook or what we order when we’re out.
- We avoid processed foods wherever we can.
- Junk food is a no-no. That means no chips, candy, cookies, well, you get the idea.
- We eat with a purpose, not just eat mindlessly. We carefully read the ingredients and nutritional values on every box or bag of food before buying or opening it. That helps us think twice.
- We drink water. Sugar-rich soda is history. If we drink, we think. That beer, glass of wine, or a shot of scotch contain more calories than you can imagine. Hint: It’s all liquid carbs.
- At restaurants, we’re not afraid to demand substitutions and deletions in what we order.
- We manage hunger pangs by keeping healthy, fiber- and protein-rich foods on hand. We drink water throughout the day and minimize sugar intake to prevent energy crashes and appetite surges. While calorically dense, a few raw, unsalted almonds are a go-to for us. They can dramatically decrease our glycemic index, fuel us with healthy fats and protein, and give us the alertness we need when we feel tired or get the munchies.
Somewhere in high school, we must have taken the Evelyn Wood Speed-Eating class. Re-learning how to eat helped us discover that meals aren’t a race, something that slim people instinctively understand. Eating slowly has many benefits. It’s easier on your body. And taking your time can help your tummy tell your brain that it’s had enough, preventing you from overeating.
A good trick is to stop mid-way through your meal and take a 10-minute break. That’s right: stop and walk away from the table. When you do, your body can have the time to release leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone that tells your brain that you’re full. Trying to break the world speed record for stuffing your face does the exact opposite.
Also, be conscious about chewing your food slowly. Put down that knife and fork between bites. Stop to breathe, talk, and sip. Think about your eating. These simple steps can decrease your caloric intake by 20 percent. You read that right. No special diets. No lap-band surgery. No expensive diet classes. Just. Slow. Down.
Get Enough Sleep.
Wait a minute. How can sleep make you slender? Studies have shown that sleep deprivation increases levels of ghrelin, the “I’m hungry, dammit!” hormone secreted by your stomach. We found that when we increased the amount of sleep we got, that our weight management improved. We feel better too. That might mean changing your lifestyle and schedule, but sleep is important in so many ways.
Taste, Don’t Eat.
Imagine the following: We just dropped a slice of chocolate cake in front of you. That’s the equivalent of putting a biscuit atop a dog’s nose. You’re quivering with anticip...ation. That first bite? Culinary bliss. But from bite #2 onward, the level of reward diminishes rapidly. Supermodels understand this. And that’s where discipline comes in.
Slender people exercise self-control and allow themselves one, slow, delicious bite. That’s it. One. They enjoy the moment, check it off, and move on. That simple habit is what separates the supermodels from, well, the rest of us. They live life in moderation and cheat just a little bit. But they never let vices become habits.
Turn Off The Food Network.
Someone with more brain cells than we’ll ever have discovered that people who watch the Food Network eat more candy, desserts, and fast food when watching its shows. Yeah, we’re looking at you, Guy Fieri. When you see Ina Garten make some yummy, über-fattening dessert, did you ever stop to wonder how that affects you? The network is infamous for throwing health aside and appealing to our culinary lust. We love eating delicious cuisine. But the network’s emphasis on taste while ignoring often healthy alternatives can be bad for your waistline.
Control Your Environment.
One reason we eat at home much of the time is that if you prepare your own meals, you’re in complete control of your diet. Many of us eat out for its convenience and social benefits. Just remember that eating out means that a chef makes the nutritional decisions for you, so be very careful and picky. (Pro tip: See if the restaurant has a website, and if so, search their site for nutritional menu detailing calories, fat, sugar, sodium, etc.) We find that making our meals at home takes surprisingly little time, and allows us to choose recipes that are both appealing and calorie-conscious.
At the grocery store, a good tip is to shop on a full stomach. That simple trick can help you fill your cart with healthy foods, not an extra big container of Cherry Garcia. If you can’t say no to snacks, think hard about healthy options that are high in satisfaction and low in sugar, trans-fats (a Bozo no-no in our world), high sodium, and empty calories. If you’re going to snack, get something nutritional out of it. Carrots, celery, plain Greek yogurt, raw almonds, apples, and other choices will serve you better.
We’re as guilty as anyone else about our love for “see-food.” (If I see it, I eat it. All of it.) A good trick to manage our intake is to simply use a smaller plate or bowl. The size of the dishes we use conditions our brain on how much to eat. Smaller plate = smaller servings. Smaller servings = well, you get the idea.
Eat Dinner Early.
Unlike much of the rest of the world, dinner in America is often the biggest meal of the day. You know the drill: Make a huge dinner, plant your butt in the easy chair and watch TV. It’s even worse when you have a late dinner and go to bed with a full stomach. That’s where the calories really add up. We discovered that many models and world-class athletes follow a rule that they don’t eat anything after sunset. Having dinner early gives your body time to digest before hitting the pillow. It’s easier on your body and a good way to stay slim.
Go Take A Hike.
One final habit slender people follow is to take a walk after dinner. While heavy exercise later in the evening can interfere with getting a good night’s sleep, a good walk, coupled with an early dinner can not only burn off the calories but also help you sleep better. Whether it’s a stroll with your dog or a walk-and-talk, getting out pays a world of benefits.
Reinventing yourself is a challenge at first. It means having a plan, starting with serious goals, and sticking to them. As the weeks' progress, you will start to see and enjoy the results. Goals will become a process and a process will become your new lifestyle. Welcome to your new path. Trust us, you’ll enjoy it.