High-protein diets, low carbohydrate diets, liquid diets, dreary fast days. Forget them, there’s a much simpler way to be pretty and skinny. All you have to do is use your head, it’s the only thing that you need.
You probably have had the discouraging experience of going on a diet for two or three weeks and losing a couple of pounds and then going off it and gaining all the weight back again.
The reason for this is perfectly simple. You have not changed the underlying behavior patterns that made you put on weight in the first place.
Overweight comes from overeating, which is an acquired habit, and one you want to break. To do this, you have to tell yourself to change your ways. You have to think yourself thin.
Willpower is one thing you need. If you can’t look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I’m going to do something about my weight,” there is no way anyone can help you.
But if you try to do it on willpower alone, you are likely to fail. You need an extra nudge, such as a practical program of thinking through your eating behavior and changing it. We offer you 10 strategies to help you reach your goal. Use them all.
Plan a weekly series of meals – based on some good sound diet. Keep track of what you eat each day. Reward yourself if you stick to your diet plan. Punish yourself if you don’t.
Make the rewards something definite: an evening at the theatre, a dress you have had your eye on, a row of herbs for the kitchen or windowsill. You can also have small rewards along the way. If you skip a buttered roll and have black coffee or tea with lemon for your 11 a.m. break, use the money to buy yourself some little present.
Punishments, just like rewards, should be specific – like no meals out for a week.
This is probably the best strategy for weight control ever developed. You must make sure that the reward or punishment is proportionate to the effort involved and the results.
Exercise is an essential component of any good weight-loss program. Do not believe what you hear about exercise increasing your appetite and therefore canceling out any loss it produces.
Exercise before a meal tends to reduce appetite. Furthermore, people who have a regular exercise program usually end up eating less.
So set yourself a regular exercise plan, and stick to it if you can. If you can’t at first, just keep trying.
- Climb stairs instead of taking the lift whenever possible, if you live on the fourth floor and walk up four times daily, you will lose about 10 pounds a year.
- Walk rather than take a bus every chance you get.
- Take a brisk half-hour walk during your lunch hour, preferably before you eat.
- Join an exercise class.
- Exercise nightly for 15 minutes while watching the TV news.
HOW TO SHOP
Overeating starts at the supermarket. Don’t be a basket case. If you look at the shopping baskets of other people in the aisles, you will probably find that the people buying the most snack foods are the very ones who weigh the most.
- Eat a plain yogurt and an apple for lunch each day.
- Don’t shop when you are hungry.
- Don’t bring more money than you need.
- Don’t stay too long in the supermarket, browsing.
- Avoid shelves with snack foods.
- Don’t bring your children with you if you can help it.
- Try making a list and sticking to it.
It has been found that overweight people tend to eat not because they are hungry but in response to external stimuli – a heaped-up dish of ice-cream on the next table in the fast-food restaurant, the picture of a piece of chocolate cake in a magazine ad. So it’s important to change your environment in the following ways:
- Find a continuing education course and get out of the house at prime stimuli time.
- Join a squash club and play right after work every night.
- Do things other than eat at lunchtime – one of the best ways to stall your appetite is to have a manicure. Bring a plain yogurt and an apple back to the office and eat at your desk (when your polish is dry).
- Use smaller plates.
- Stay out of the kitchen as much as you possibly can – admit it is the last place in the world you should be.
- Never watch TV with any food at hand – least of all peanuts or potato chips. As a matter of fact, watch less TV.
- If you eat too much at moments when you feel low, check with your doctor. People who are mildly depressed are very apt to overeat and the doctor can help you.
Deprivation of various kinds causes eating problems. One is skipping meals – which often happens with dieters and often backfires by encouraging excesses at the next meal. Another is a lack of sufficient rest and sleep. And overeating can often stem from boredom, as well.
- Schedule meals for specific times and stick to your schedule.
- Get enough sleep and get it regularly.
- Avoid boredom.
- Make a list of activities you enjoy – and do them.
- See your friends.
- Take in all the new plays.
- Join a health club.
- Take up tennis.
- Go to tap-dancing class Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
- Learn French or Russian.
There is a very important point about eating which many people do not understand. It takes at least 15 minutes from the start of a meal for the filling effects of the food to be felt. Slow down – and you won’t run as much risk of gorging.
- Take smaller bites and chew your food thoroughly and slowly.
- Put down your knife and fork between bites.
- Carry on a pleasant conversation with your lunch or dinner partner – pause and talk for a couple of minutes before taking the next mouthful.
- If eating alone, stop every so often. Do not eat like a nonstop machine.
- Enjoy each bite fully. Give your body a chance to realize what you have already eaten.
PUT IT IN WRITING
Making a note to yourself to do something today or tomorrow or next Tuesday is a very good way of getting it done. By the same token, writing yourself a reminder of all the bad things that overeating does and the good things that will come of dieting will be a big help.
Now, taking the various points on your lists one by one, write them on separate index cards. Post the cards in places where you will see them – so they can become part of your daily routine and serve as useful willpower props. For example:
What will I look like without any clothes on two weeks from now?
After I lose 3kg I can buy a new dress.
Imagine going to exercise class and not being embarrassed by wearing a leotard.
It is important to fortify yourself against temptation before it occurs by imagining that you can break your eating-problem behavior. Four or five times a day, go through the following routine.
Sit down somewhere by yourself, close your eyes, and imagine you are in some situation where a kind of food you crave is directly in front of you. Now:
- Look hard at the imagined food and feel tempted.
- Pretend you are reaching for the food.
- Put it in your mouth.
- Imagine beginning to eat the food.
- But stop yourself from turning the dream into reality.
UNHOOK THE CHAIN
Modern food processing, the supermarket, and the refrigerator have made the non-stop eating of snacks and convenience foods a way of life. See to it that the whole matter of getting something to eat is more difficult and more time-consuming.
- Do not shop once a week for the whole week. Shop each day – and buy only what you need for that day.
- Stretch out the preparation of food. Instead of minute steak, buy fresh prawns and cook, clean and devein them. Instead of potatoes, eat freshly shelled peas (or lima beans, if you can find them). Or prepare carrots, cut paper-thin. Or eat an artichoke – with a little lemon, no butter.
- Make apple sauce for dessert – strain it well. Or chop lots of fresh fruit (carefully skin the grapefruit sections) and keep in a bowl in the refrigerator with freshly strained orange juice to sweeten it instead of sugar).
TIPS FOR BEING PRETTY NATURALLY
A pretty girl is like a melody, but if she’s pretty in more ways than one she’s worth a whole symphony.
- Facial toner in a spray is a boon. The sensation when the toner hits the skin is tingling sharp. Use it as a toner on cleansed skin before moisturizing, as a pick-up or in a short burst to set makeup.
- Use your moisturizing cream around the back of the neck. Or try a hand cream if you prefer to use expensive face cream sparingly.
- Lips can become sore and chapped at any time of the year. Wear a protecting salve at all times, including under lipstick or gloss.
- Don’t dismiss face masks as time-consuming or messy. You will find it more effective if you apply before your bath or shower. The steam will help the mask penetrate.
- Most women prefer to wash their faces with soap or at least splash with cool water after thorough cleansing. Take a soft towel and pat very gently against the skin.
- Don’t be misled about the sun’s burning rays. Even on cloudy days, they are still strong, so it is vital to use a sunblock each morning.
- Body skin dries out just like facial skin so if you bare your legs this summer, a daily application of the cream will smooth away rough skin. Sloughing body skin with a loofah removes dead, flaky surface cells and brings a warm, healthy glow.
- If you find your nail polish tends to chip easily, don’t keep redoing it but touch up the tips to help preserve the nail’s strength.
- If you wear more than one ring you can develop tiny skin calluses. Avoid them by swapping rings around. Massage in hand cream. A pumice stone will leave the skin soft.
- Short nails will look their best if they are painted a soft, natural color. Choose lots of bracelets rather than rings to take attention away from your fingers to your wrists. Ruffled cuffs have the same effect.
- Nails get forgotten in winter but with warmer weather coming you should think about painting them. Never use clashing colors on toes and fingers.
- If you have naturally well-shaped fingernails, they will look fabulous just buffed. You should use the buff against the grain of the nail for healthy shine.
- Hair that lacks body will improve instantly with a conditioning mousse. Give it seconds to dry then brush hair into shape. Instant hair help is at hand with ribbons, combs, scarves. Never tie back your hair with a rubber band, it will tear and split the ends. Choose covered “elastic” bands.
- Hairspray will be less visible if you first spray it on to your hairbrush. Repeat the spray and brush action about three times each.
- A warm almond or olive oil treatment remains the best solution for dry, over-bleached hair. Use your fingertips to massage in, leave five minutes, and wash.
- Brushing is good for your hair but only when done correctly. The old-fashioned 100 strokes are unkind to hair but 25 strokes each day will improve its overall condition.
- Use your favorite scent all-round, wearing scent is an art. Put essence in your bath: keep empty scent bottles in your wardrobe, carry an atomizer in your bag.
- Badly fitting shoes mean bad posture. Check yours by outlining your barefoot (no socks). If the outline is larger than the shoe sole, the shoes are too small.
- A carefully acquired tan makes you look and feel better. Tan in a solarium if you want to start before heading for the beach. Best summer makeup to flatter a tan will have strong hints of bronze and gold colors.
- Your smile is one of your best beauty assets. You should floss away plaque between the teeth and use an antiseptic mouthwash.
- Choose easy-care fabrics. Nothing looks worse than nasty wrinkles. Pure fabrics always seem to crease more easily than a mix containing some man-made fibers.
- A splash of eye drops is to red and tired eyes what a brisk shower is to your body.
- Invest in a really good haircut, long hair can look flat and lack bounce. Subtle layering makes a big difference and shorter hair is easier to wash and care for.
- A milk bath is a great treat for your body. Rub yourself all over with a sponge dipped in milk and thirsty pores will be saturated with this calcium covering and the results will be a firmer but beautifully soft skin. Another delightful body treatment is a vigorous oil rub with a nourishing salad oil. Remove excess oil before stepping into the bath and do be careful while in the tub: this is a luxurious but slippery bath! Your skin will be as soft and luscious as a baby’s.
- Treat yourself to herbal baths. There are many relaxing herbal and floral baths. Prepare herbs in a dish of hot water before straining into the bath. Make small gauze bags filled with a handful of any crushed mixture you choose of dried flowers or herbs and pungent grasses. Hang the bags over the tap. As the water pours down it will carry the fragrance of the bag into your tub. Massage your body underwater to derive the fullest benefits.
- Scents of all seasons. You can experiment and put together enchanting fragrances in your own home. Make lavender sachets to put among your clothes for a clean, lasting scent. Make spicy sachets from 30g (1oz) of each of the following items: cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, lavender flowers, rose leaves, and orris root. Grind the ingredients and mix them well. Ladle into small bags and tie.
- Consider your body as a motor car. Rev it up each day with a bout of exercise. Skipping or running will leave you feeling sharper.
- Not everybody needs eight hours of sleep each night but it is a fair guide. Sleep is one of your three basic beauty needs, along with a good diet and plenty of exercise.
- If you feel low on energy, check that you are eating a balanced diet. Consider a course of multivitamin pills. B-complex vitamins help the body deal with stress.
- Consider the sun as your free beauty bonus. It’s your best source of vitamin D, which is vital for healthy skin, teeth, and bones.
- Check your posture. If it is bad, you’ll feel sluggish. Imagine a line running from ears to shoulders, hips, knees, middle of your feet. Now you are standing perfectly.
- Staving off hunger pangs with sweets and biscuits just creates a vicious circle. The sugar they contain satisfies you at first but the effect soon wears off, leaving you craving more food. Don’t turn your nose up at raw carrots, celery, or fruit. They are great natural beauty foods.
- Sparkling mineral water is the best drink if you are watching your weight. Delicious with a slice of lemon.
- Your calorie needs vary according to daily physical activities but most women will get skinnier on 500 or 1200 calories a day. Carry a pocket counter with you to check the calorie values of everything you eat.