Last summer, I had my record-high weight gaining pace, 12 lbs in one month! It may not sound a lot to you, but it accounts for about 10% of my weight! I’d be thrilled if it was muscle, but sadly, it was all fat. Wonder what got me there? Try drinking milk tea 2 to 3 times a week, and I guarantee you will grow out of your clothes in no time. Even regular workout routines won’t save you, based on my experience.
My husband/coach Michael recommended Precision Nutrition, a habit oriented nutrition program. I’ve gained so many insights since then, which I will share some of my favorites in the future. But if I had to narrow down to one thing, then it has to be the “Hunger Game” (not the movie)!
Yes, a healthy diet begins with not what to eat, but not to eat. It may sound counterintuitive, so let me explain. Before diving in, I want to clarify that “hunger game” here is not fasting, which requires a lot more understanding and careful planning to succeed. The “hunger game” is something you can implement right away.
Have you ever had the experience of emptying a whole bag of popcorn without even realizing until the last bite? Or is your stomach complaining after your gobbling 20 minutes ago? Turns out that we are not physically hungry most of the time we eat. It’s our mind tricks us thinking we need to eat, and the trigger is the release of the adrenaline hormone. There are many things that could stimulate the release of adrenaline, a stressful work situation, getting excited about an event, or facing a potential danger/threat. “Stress eating”, “holiday weight”, all sound familiar? For me, it was the deadline pressure from work.
Manipulated by adrenaline, we enter a panic mode furiously searching for food, especially those that are high in sugar. My choice of poison was milk tea. As a result, we end up in-taking a lot of excess calories, in particular, “bad” calories.
To break free from adrenaline control, the key is to identify what’s real hunger versus false alarms. And it’s simple, you only need to remember two things.
Rule No. 1, hunger comes in waves. When you feel hungry, try to wait for 10 to 15 minutes and see how you feel. Of course, don’t stare at your watch during that 15 minutes, find something to keep you distracted. My strategy is to take a short walk, grab a cup of water or tea. Most of the time, I don’t feel hungry anymore after that 15 minutes. Important to note, coffee or anything that contains caffeine might not be the best choice, as caffeine tends to intensify adrenaline release.
Rule No.2, identify your hunger index. Scale your hunger from 1 to 10, 10 being I am seeing stars and about to faint any minute, 1 being no urge for food. Don’t eat until it’s 8. And even when it’s 8, you still have a few hours before it reaching 9. So, NO RUSH, EVERYTHING IS FINE. Of course, you might receive mixed signals and be confused for the first few days (like me), it’s completely normal, you have to give your body/brain time to learn and adapt.
Playing the hunger game and regular workout routines are the only two things I stick to. There is no doubt a healthy meal plan with balanced nutrition will also be very helpful. But I personally would never give up bread as long as I am breathing. When it comes to result, I lost about 10 lb over a 3-month period. I gained some muscle along the way, which might offset some of the weight loss.
So next time when you think about weight loss or healthy eating, hopefully, my experience here can help you think outside the box and try something new.