Spying on the naturally slim…………………

As well as starting up my Coaching practice, I also work at my local library and I love it. I get paid to touch books and talk to people (and try my very best not to confuse the two!)  Maybe I should have started working there years ago, as the majority of the other women who also work there are beautifully and enviably ‘naturally’ slim.  Their slimness is fascinating to me, more so because the coffee table in the staffroom is cluttered with biscuits and cakes and chocolates, and also empty boxes that used to contain the afore mentioned items.

I have taken to observing their tea break and lunchtime habits in a David Attenborough type way.

Imagine Mr Attenborough’s hushed tone’s uttering the following question-‘How is it that these lovely library ladies can chomp on these treats and not gain weight?’

So I sit quietly and watch and listen for clues……

Deb is eating soup and fruit for lunch.

When Lesley asks her if that’s all she’s having-she replies it’s what she usually has for lunch.  She is careful at lunch time because she likes to eat more in the evening and at weekends. The other thing I observe is that Deb always cuts her fruit up and eats much more slowly than I do-she eats mindfully (Remember?  I talked about that before- here.)

After finishing her usual very healthy lunch of pitta, cottage cheese and sliced pear (it’s what she likes) Lesley contemplates having a mince pie.  She ponders a while and then decides against it. There’s no angst, no turmoil, just a considered and informed decision that it’s high in saturated fat and she’ll be having a different treat later on. Besides she’s not really hungry. (David Attenborough voice again- ‘Species Library Lady has evolved over the years to understand when she has had enough food! Remarkable…’)

That’s not to say that if my colleagues fancy a biscuit or two or a mince pie that they don’t have one- they simply (!) pause and think first and then totally enjoy (The mince pie box was empty anyway as was the three quarters empty box of Ferrero Rocher- let’s just say everyone except me seemed to know they tasted good-how does that work?)

Although I haven’t yet managed to infiltrate their home environments and spy on them when they are on their own in their kitchens at night, I am pretty sure that my colleagues behave in the same way in private as they do in public. No declining chocolates in public and then scoffing them when no one’s looking.  They’ve been practicing this behaviour all their lives; David Attenborough might comment that their sensible eating habits have now become second nature.

I find it so interesting that people who struggle to manage their weight, think that slim people are ‘naturally’ slim and can eat whatever they want and still stay slim.  Some slim people believe the same. I believe that in reality slim people do generally eat what they want, but (and this is the significant bit) they simply don’t WANT the same foods or the same VOLUME of food that many overweight people ‘want’.  The library ladies are a great example of how the slim stay slim-they put some thought into maintaining their healthy weights; their good habits help too.

So now I have a great opportunity to keep watching, and to attempt to copy those slim eating habits until they become second nature (normal?) to me too. I know it won’t be easy as I have spent the last er-hmm years practising my own unique bad habits (I do have some good ones too-just saying!).  This week I’ll keep practising mindful eating (I’m getting better at this and I enjoy food much more when I am mindful) and I will make a huge attempt to pause before I snack.  Pausing will enable me to ask myself-‘do I really need to eat this?’, and I’m hoping sometimes the answer will be ‘No!’

What have you noticed about how slim people behave around food and what could you copy that could lead to better weight management skills for you? 

Please leave your comments below-I’m curious to know your thoughts.  And if you decide to share this ……well I’m not sure how I feel about the ‘naturally slim’ reading it (giggles nervously) – it might encourage them to start watching us more closely!

Practicing ‘Mindful’ Eating

I have had an incredibly eventful four days. Day 1 and 2 were away from home days: I met new people, learnt lots and had a thoroughly exciting and adrenalin filled time. On day 3 I made a couple of very important life decisions and acted on them-gulp!  Day 4 was a traumatic, scary and emotional day involving my pet dog-enough said.  Today I feel drained physically, emotionally and mentally, but other than that, everything is fine. (Thank goodness for the natural resilience of our canine friends)

It certainly has been a busy few days. And I wonder Mr Blog, if you can guess where weight loss scored in my list of priorities?  Well as a matter of fact, it was still right up there in terms of being very important to me- the problem was, for a few days I simply forgot how important! Oops!

‘Oh no!’ (I can almost hear the collective ghostly voice of millions of fellow ‘dieters’, echoing from their own kitchen areas, all over the western world and the echo is aimed at me!)

‘She’s lost the plot again! It’s more than likely that she has overeaten, and now she must be feeling awful. It’s so hard to stay on track.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she feels so guilty about it, that she gives up altogether for a bit and has a good old binge. That’s what we do isn’t it? When life gets busy and we lose control for a bit, we figure that we might as well carry on and ‘ruin’ the whole week.  And actually’ (the ghostly echo persists) it’s only a few weeks until Christmas. I wouldn’t blame her if she stopped focussing on her weight loss from now until January-at least she could relax and enjoy the festive period without worrying. She could have a fresh start in January…’

Well let me tell you Ghostly Echo……you are WRONG!

Well you are right about some of it- I haven’t been eating perhaps as healthily as I would normally have done; and I have had a couple of pieces of cake and maybe a little tipple or two. But I am currently practicing changing the way I think, and I no longer accept that just because I have had a couple of pieces of cake that I have ‘ruined’ anything at all (because I haven’t-goodness, all I did was eat a piece of cake! People do it all over the world all of the time and it has no influence on anything that really matters-eating cake does not impact on world peace, finding cures for cancer or anything else that REALLY matters) So if I DID NOT RUIN anything, then I have no need to feel GUILTY (this is the word/feeling that does the MOST damage in our healthy eating crusade).  I think this is a really important sentence (maybe even a breakthrough?) so I am going to repeat it so that it is easier to imprint it onto my brain-

Eating cake DOES NOT equal RUINING something; and if nothing is RUINED by my eating cake, then I don’t have to feel GUILTY! If I don’t feel GUILTY then I don’t need to overeat for the rest of the week (to push down the feeling of guilt, to punish myself or for any other reason)

And in conjunction with understanding the above, I am also practicing eating ‘mindfully’-for me that means if I am going to eat cake, I am also going to ensure that I do it in a conscious state-I am going to focus on the taste and texture. I am going to enjoy it and take time over it. I know people do this all the time (especially slim people) and when I do it, it’s good fun. I really enjoyed the piece of carrot cake I had while I was away at the weekend (and the lemon poppy seed one too). I enjoyed it so much SO much more than if I had greedily, mindlessly and guiltily wolfed it down by the light of the fridge. And at the same time I made a conscious (mindful) decision not to feel guilty.

Mindful eating is definitely the way to go. I used to do it as a child. In those days I could make a 2 fingered Kit Kat last for ages, by nibbling the chocolate from the outside of the wafer in an ordered way. I’d then eat the wafer layer by layer, so that the eating of the Kit Kat was not just a snack, it was an event. I also used to eat my meals much more consciously (no TV dinners or reading at the table in those days). I enjoyed my meals and did not feel guilty if I had an extra roast potato. Yes I need to keep practicing my habits of old habits……….

I don’t believe that eating more mindfully and less guiltily is the whole answer to the weight loss question, but if you are looking for a starting point it might be worth a practice. There is some research that suggests when we focus fully on our eating experiences without any distraction, that we eat 20 percent less…….worth keeping in mind huh?