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Seven Habits for Long Term Success–Part 2

There are hundreds, if not thousands of diets that have been used throughout history. The intent of most diets is to lose weight and bodyfat. Diets that “work” will reduce your intake of calories. This can be done by reducing or eliminating certain food groups, types of food, or macronutrients. If the diet reduces caloric intake enough, then an individual will lose weight and body fat. A good diet will encourage the intake of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and lean proteins, but these aren’t mandatory for weight loss and fat loss. The problem with dieting alone is that good nutritional skills and habits are not typically emphasized so they do not last. Once the “diet” ends, then we revert back to old broken habits and lose all of our progress.

At Fenton Fitness, we utilize the Precisions Nutrition system of habit-based nutrition coaching. We know that in order to change, our actions need to change. And in order to make lasting changes, actions need to remain changed. This is where a habit-based approach comes in. Most people know how to eat better or what they can do to lose weight. What they lack are the skills and action steps to make that a reality. With our Nutrition Coaching clients, we have a 52-week curriculum that helps clients work through obstacles and motivations. We introduce new habits every two weeks along with daily lessons that reinforce and teach the importance of each habit. Each habit builds off of the previous one, mastering one before moving on. For most people, two weeks is a good time frame to get a good grip on each habit, but If there is difficulty, we simply spend more time on that habit until the client is ready to move on.

The six habits which back up the foundation of our program will take most of our clients twelve weeks to work through. These six habits will serve anyone looking to improve their eating habits and can be adapted to virtually any food preference and goal. This series will describe the basics of our program.

Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CSFC, Pn1

Stop when 80% Full: (week 2-4)

This is the second “anchor habit”. To lose fat, clients usually have to eat less than they do now.  “80% full” is not a specific number, but rather an idea: Eat until you are “just satisfied” or “no longer hungry” but not full or stuffed.  This habit continues to teach appetite awareness, building intuitive understanding and control of hunger/fullness. Over time, you will learn to sense your hunger and satiety cues properly, as well as distinguish physical hunger from cravings.  This habit helps you analyze eating habits as a process (rather than something that “just happens”). You can identify situations/cues that contribute to your eating habits and improve mindfulness.  This habit puts the burden of action on you–you have to struggle to figure this out.  This is a “hard” habit: harder to do, but simpler to understand so give yourself time to figure this out. This can be mentally, emotionally, or physically uncomfortable.  At first, you may not be able to feel hunger or fullness or any stomach cues. Try to keep learning, and pay attention to any signs that you are physically hungry or full, such as hunger cues, fullness cues, and satiety cues.  Hunger cues include “hunger headache”; light-headedness or “spaced out”; being “hangry” (hungry + angry); growling or empty-feeling stomach; etc. Over-fullness cues (ate too much) include feeling stuffed/bloated; heartburn; feeling nauseated or gassy; feeling heavy and sluggish; etc.  Satiety cues (ate just enough) include feeling energized and no longer hungry; feeling generally satisfied; feeling as though you could get up from the table and do something (such as go for a walk); etc.

You may need to learn what “100% full” or even “120% full” is first, before you can get to “80%”.  Once you learn your cues, you can learn to stop short of “stuffed” or plan to eat before you get too hungry to make good decisions. Rest assured that although you should start working on this anchor habit now, there is no time frame that you must have it mastered by. Those with chronic stomach upset may find that this habit plus the previous one actually help your condition, possibly to the point where you cut down or get off stomach medications.

Eat Lean Protein at Each Meal: (Week 4-6)

We need protein for almost every metabolic process in the body. Making sure to get enough protein will help preserve lean mass (i.e. bone and muscle), as well as help you feel fuller longer.  This is an “easy” habit that is easy to understand and generally well accepted as do-able by most individuals.  This habit clicks with most people, as it finally feels like you are getting a nutritional strategy by being told what to eat. This habit adds food instead of taking it away, which helps people feel less “deprived”.

One of the biggest aspects of this habit is learning and understanding what foods are actually high in protein (it’s not almond milk, nuts, or bacon).  Having a shopping list before going to the store with protein rich foods you enjoy is a must when doing your grocery trip.  At first, it doesn’t really matter what specific foods you choose as long as you get into the habit of adding protein to meals.  This habit is most challenging for vegetarian and especially vegans.  In these cases, more thought and planning will be needed to set up meals.  Buying, preparing, and having high protein foods easily available will greatly improve your success with this habit.  Try to create a menu for your week so you know and understand how you will incorporate protein dense foods at each meal.  Understand what a serving of protein looks like (1-1.5 palms for women, 1-2 palms for men).  Servings size may need to be adjusted based on meal frequency, goals, and food tolerance.