So, you’re hungry? What’s the natural response…
But what if you are looking to keep up with your goals of losing weight and finally getting fit this year? How do you offset the challenge of being hungry vs. losing the weight?
When I was training for my fitness competition last year; I struggled with this challenge like never before. I was following my meals like clockwork and on track; as it was written. I was hungry. I was miserable but I knew that my goals were more important and that since I was eating every few hours; I couldn’t possibly be in any danger of starving….so I sucked it up.
I was told by former and current competitors and trainers that I was supposed to focus on the “end result” and imagine myself up on stage accepting my awards. (yes, I did win two awards; thank you very much!) In all fairness; I would have probably said the same things to someone asking me this same question but it wasn’t my driving force.
I stuck to it and sometimes; as I look back; I don’t know how. What was it that gave me the strength and ability to push through the uncomfortable “hunger” feelings?
Well, for one thing; I definitely was not starving. I was eating foods continuously throughout the day and drinking plenty of water too. Since I am an emotional eater; this is my struggle as I cut back on calories and foods. My body begins to “crave” the foods in an awful way and it tricks my brain into telling me that I need to eat. (and let’s be honest; we never crave salads or the lean proteins I was eating all day so it couldn’t have been true hunger)
The tricks that worked for me and allowed me to continue were great learning tips for my off-season (I always wanted to say that) eating plan. Since our bodies become accustomed to what we currently feed ourselves; deprivation and serious calorie cutting will not do us any favors. The cravings will be too much to take and then we find ourselves at a binge-fest; table for one.
What works instead, is to cut back in smaller steps. Find the balance with some slight discomfort and then when things rebalance and if needed, you can cut back a little more. It’s a process and a bit like training your body for what you want it to survive happily on.
What items and strategies helped me the most? I’ll share with you (and all approved by my awesome trainer; a WBFF bikini diva!):
Surprised about this one? Well, it was a non-negotiable for me since I had already been drinking it for almost 2 years when I began my training. I asked my trainer to add it into my daily plan for my sanity and success. This is simply because it’s got everything your body needs (proteins, healthy carbs, antioxidants, probiotics, vitamins, minerals, superfoods from around the world) in just 160 calories. It’s glycemic index is so low (25) that it keeps you full for a long time so you won’t feel hungry again, after a few minutes. This is why it’s been so successful at helping people lose weight and feel great. It was my sanity and craving control throughout the bootcamp meal plans. (those of you who compete know what I mean!)
2. I ate every 2-3 hours….
Now, this habit is one that we don’t adhere to in our American culture. For some reason, we believe that it’s best to skip breakfast (what???) and then scarf down coffee and sugar loaded foods a few hours later….only to “hold off” until close to dinner. We then pat ourselves on the back thinking we’ve done some great calorie cutting in our diets; when all we did was eat MORE foods and higher calorie choices in a slow burning metabolized body. How about changing it to a fuel-burning machine? To do this; all you have to do is plan 🙂 Eat breakfast within an hour of waking up. Eat again 2-3 hours later. Repeat up to 6 times daily. What this practice does, is help your body burn efficiently and never go into what we call “starvation mode”. By holding off for more than 3-4 hours at a time; our bodies think we are starving and slows down to cut down on the energy being used. It’s pretty intelligent for the most part; but not so good on our waistlines. Choose to eat every few hours and don’t worry about “filling up”. Since you will be getting another meal or snack within a few hours; you can afford to put down the fork 😉
3. Time the foods you eat around your workouts and time of day….
This is a practice I follow still. Eat your carbos earlier in your day; when you will need it as fuel and it gets burned up as energy. Also, just prior and after your workout; eat carbs, proteins and fruits for quick energy and the proteins help to rebuilt the muscles after you’ve torn them up! 🙂 Towards the later part of your day; choose more protein sources as your body uses them at rest to rebuild while you sleep. It’s less likely to be stored as fat this way; unless you eat too much of it (another blog for another day)
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!
It’s really easy to mistake the feeling of thirst for hunger. A lot of times dehydration will trick you into thinking you are hungry. Keep your water bottle close and FULL! The more water the better. It will fill your stomach and help move you past those feelings of hunger. I start my day with a 1/2 liter of water right away; before I eat anything (and I like to add a spritz of lemon to help) and continue to drink water throughout my day. If I don’t meet my 3-4 liters each day; I feel it at night (and who wants to chug down a liter of water just before hitting the pillow?)
So, can you succeed at weight loss even if you’re feeling hungry all the time? Of course!!! Re-train your body by giving it what it needs, when it needs it, but not anymore. You’ll deal with some cravings and hunger pangs at first; but once it realizes it’s getting all the nutrition that it needs to feel it’s best and work efficiently…you’ll start to love your new plan — You’ll not only feel better and lighter but you’ll look better and lighter!!!
Hit me up for some Shakeology samples if you have yet to try them! 🙂