How to be a Slim Person – Action Plan for How to Get Slim

In Part 1 – How to be a Slim Person – Why Diets Don’t Work, we discussed why going on a diet does not help you lose weight in the long term and in Part 2 – How to be a Slim Person – Fat and Thin Habits, how real slim people are different from overweight people in what they eat, their behaviour and in the way they think. This is all well and good, but how do you get slim? In this section we will present a pain, stress and sacrifice-free action plan for becoming a slim person that can be personally tailored to you. If you follow the plan you will become slim, and more importantly stay slim for the rest of your life.

Before continuing, I must warn you that if you are looking to lose 50lb for your high school reunion in two months, you won’t get there by following this action plan. However, if you are looking to lose weight properly, for the long term then read on.

Becoming a slim person will not happen overnight, nor should it. Changes to what you eat and your habits should be done gradually if there is going to be any chance of long term success. Also, weight should be lost slowly so that there is no chance that the starvation – binge cycle can kick in. Although you will be losing weight slowly, it should be a steady process and over the course of one or two years, you should see a dramatic change. As a rule of thumb, you should not lose more than a pound a week, preferably less. Because you will be losing weight slowly, it will be pretty much impossible to measure any weight loss on a week by week basis. This is because your weight naturally fluctuates daily by several pounds due to how hydrated you are, whether you’ve recently eaten, or been to the toilet, or other factors. These fluctuations have nothing to do with whether or not you have lost fat. You should never weight yourself more than once a week and don’t necessarily believe what the scales say when you do. We would suggest you do not weigh yourself at all (most slim people don’t), instead just look in the mirror or work out whether a favourite pair of jeans are getting looser.

In the action plan we will give step by step guidance to turn you into a slim person. Each step in the process will involve a small manageable permanent change to the way you live your life. Once you have comfortably managed a step, move onto the next one. Do not move onto the next step until you feel comfortable with the step you have just made. When I say comfortable, I mean that you will have incorporated it as a permanent – no going back change to your life, and it feels right. Some steps may be easier than others. It may take you several months to go through the action plan.

Not all the steps in this guide will necessarily apply to you. Everyone is different, not everyone will have the same “Fat” habits, for example, it is not true that all overweight people drink soda or diet soda, although a high proportion do. When you come to an action plan step that you can say hand on your heart does not apply to you, go to the next step in the list.

Step 1 – Eat a hearty breakfast every morning before you go to work.

This should be one of the easiest steps to take as you are actually going to have food at a time when you usually don’t. If you don’t feel you have enough time in the morning for breakfast, get up earlier and go to bed earlier at night. To become a slim person, you should be aiming to keep your energy levels constant throughout the day, which also means you should never skip meals either. The type of breakfast you should eat is cereal, fruit juice (you should not drink more than one glass of fruit juice each day) and maybe toast. The best cereals are ones that have a high fibre content and low GI ones that will give you a slow steady release of energy to keep hungry pangs at bay. Eat cereals such as bran, muesli or home made porridge, which is one of my favourites and only takes 3 minutes to make. Cereals with masses of added sugar and chocolate should be avoided.

Step 2 – Stop drinking carbonated soda drinks.

Your should regard all soda drinks, whether they contain sugar, or are sugar free, as mind altering drugs; mind altering drugs that are telling your brain to eat sugary treats and junk food. It’s probably not a great idea to just go cold turkey and give up soda drinks completely on day one, as with all drugs they are highly addictive. Instead, slowly cut down on the quantity of sodas you have daily and replace with plain old water, plenty of water, especially before mealtimes. It is recommended that you drink at least eight 8 oz glasses of water a day.

Step 3 – Take more time when eating meals.

Double the time that you take to eat your lunch and dinner. This will give your body time to realise how much food you are eating and regulate how much you eat at one sitting.

Step 4 – Switch your brain on to know the difference between real hunger and mental hunger.

Most overweight people eat even when they are not really hungry. Get in touch with your mind and body and work out when you are really hungry because your body is low on energy and when you just want to eat though force of habit, comfort eating or cravings. It is not as easy as you think to know the difference. Sometimes you can feel hungry because you are dehydrated. Try drinking some water and see how you feel in 15 minutes. Recognising the difference between real hunger and cravings will be useful in the later stages of the plan.

Step 5 – Increase the amount of natural exercise you do.

Natural exercise is the type of activity you do on a day to day basis while living you life, not the organised kind such as working out at the gym. Basically, you just need to get yourself moving more. Here are some tips

  • If possible, leave your car at home when you go to work and walk to the bus/train, or even cycle to work.
  • For any short journeys, avoid using the car and walk or cycle instead.
  • If going to work by bus, get off at an earlier stop and walk.
  • Go for a brisk walk in your lunch hour after you have eaten.
  • Avoid using the elevator or escalators and walk up and down stairs instead.
  • When you go to the supermarket, park your car at the far end of the car park so you get exercise walking to the front door and pushing the shopping cart back.
  • Walk your kids to school instead of driving. This gets your kids into good habits as well.
  • Do more energetic outdoor activities and games with your partner, friends or kids.
  • Do your own gardening and car washing.
  • Look for and take all opportunities to get yourself moving more.

Step 6 – Identify you comfort eating times and apply distraction techniques to break these habits.

Most people have unconscious routines that they follow during the course of the day. You will probably find that there are times, usually at night, when you will snack when you are not physically hungry. These are your comfort eating moments. You do this because you have got into a habit of snacking at particular times or in particular situations, for example, when you are watching TV, when you are bored, or at times when you are dwelling on personal issues. The problem with comfort eating is that you are taking in extra energy when you don’t need to use it. What happens to this unused energy? It is stored as fat in your body.

To break the comfort eating habits you need to first identify when these points are. If you followed step 4, you should now be more in tune with your own body and be able to recognise the difference between physical and mental hunger. Work out the times when you are feeding your mental hunger. At these points in the day, apply distraction techniques to take you mind off food. Distraction will involve stopping what you are doing and taking part in a different but engrossing activity. For example, if you eat a bag of potato chips when watching a certain TV program, don’t watch that program, do some housework instead. With practice, your obsession with food will gradually diminish because your spare time will be filled with activities that will absorb you so much that the thought of eating won’t even occur to you. Here are some ideas for activities that you can do to stop yourself from comfort eating.

  • Go for a walk.
  • Housework.
  • Phone/email friends or family.
  • A workout.
  • Go to the gym
  • Read a book.
  • Do a crossword.
  • Play board games.
  • DIY jobs around the home that you have been putting off.
  • Gardening.
  • De-junk your house.
  • A hobby such as painting, knitting, woodwork etc.
  • Pamper yourself and have a long soak in the bath.
  • Listen to music (and dance).
  • Learn a musical instrument or a foreign language.
  • Go out somewhere.
  • Go to bed early.

Step 7 – Gradually change your diet.

This step should not be confused with going on a diet, this is diet in the sense of the types of food and drink that you are going to consume for the rest of your life, and more importantly, what you are not going to eat. As with cutting out carbonated soda drinks, it is best not to just suddenly stop eating all of the bad foods that we discussed in part 2 of this article. Sugary and fatty foods are highly addictive and bad eating habits are hard to break. It would be ridiculous to try and break all of your ingrained bad eating habits in one go, no one has that level of will power. Your body and your palate has to gradually get used to eating the healthier alternatives. Every few weeks, change one food type to a better alternative.

There is no problem with snacking during the day if you are genuinely physically hungry. You should be aiming to keep your energy levels constant, so snacking is a good thing as long as you are not doing it at night when your body should be winding down for sleep. Replace potato chips and other unhealthy snacks with unsalted nuts such as almonds, walnuts, brazil, pecan and cashew nuts. Nuts provide protein, healthy fats and essential mineral and nutrients. Don’t go overboard on nuts though as they are densely packed with calories. A handful is perfect for keeping hunger at bay. Replace candy bars with fresh fruit. You should be eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

For your main meals, ditch the highly processed junk and replace with real home cooked food with real (lean) meat, real fish, real vegetables, pulses, wholemeal ingredients etc. There are plenty of recipes out there for tasty healthy home cooked recipes. You should favour low GI meals that give you a slow release of energy. Obviously, it will take longer to cook your own food, but you can cook large batches and freeze for your lazy moments. When you cook your own food from basic ingredients, you know what you are eating. Who knows what is in junk processed meals. You can look at the ingredients on the back of the box, but you’ll probably be none the wiser.

Step 8 – Gradually start doing workouts and other organised exercises.

Strength training is important because having a higher proportion of muscle in your body will increase your metabolic rate making it easier to lose weight. You should introduce workouts gradually, and if you are very unfit, you should get your doctor’s advice first. Joining a gym would be ideal, but not everyone has the time or the money for this, and you have to understand that this would be a lifelong commitment. It is a fact that you don’t necessarily need to join a gym or buy expensive weight equipment. There are a number of muscle building exercises you can do at home such as crunches, push ups, jump squats, step-ups etc. The exercises you do can be tailored for your current capabilities and level of fitness. Just do a search on the web for the best strength exercises for you.

Apart from building strength, you should also do aerobic exercises to burn off fat and make your heart and lungs healthier. Exercises like walking, running, cycling and swimming. Swimming is one of the best exercises because it combines strength training with aerobic exercise and it is easy on your joints.

Step 9 – Reduce your food portion size.

Gradually reduce the amount of food that you eat at one sitting, especially at dinner time. If you are overweight you are basically eating too much. Having a bit less food at meal times won’t necessarily make you feel hungrier because after eating a certain amount of food, your hunger will switch itself off if you give it enough time to register (see Step 3). The best way to cut down on the amount you eat at meal times is to simply not cook as much food as you usually do. If you cut down on the amount you cook, the money that you save in quantity can be used to buy better quality foods; replace that greasy burger with a nice juicy steak. If you do cook too much, just save some for leftovers rather than clearing your plate. To help reduce portion size you could also invest in a smaller set of dinner plates that will fool your brain into believing you aren’t reducing the portion size.

Step 10 – Do not reward your slimming behaviour with food.

This does not mean you can’t go out for a great meal, just do not link going out for a meal with rewarding yourself for doing exercise or cutting down on food for a week. This will lead back to an obsession with food which will lead you back to your old habits.

Step 11 – Ditch your other “Fat” habits.

These habits include counting calories, feeling guilty when you may have overeaten and bingeing because you feel bad. There is no point obsessing about food by counting calories, equally there is nothing to be gained by beating yourself up for overeating as this can lead to you giving up and going back to your old ways. You are changing your habits for the rest of your life. If you have the odd lapse, it doesn’t matter, your are on the road to becoming a slim person, you have plenty of time to get it right.

Step 12 – Don’t go back to your old ways.

If you have followed this action plan and have reached Step 12, you are now several months down the line and you are slowly by surely losing your excess weight and moving towards your ideal body mass index. Keep going, do not allow yourself to drift back into your old fat habits, ever. If you have made the changes gradually, you won’t have had any trouble getting to this point. Even if you have not yet reached your ideal BMI yet, you are already a slim person in your mind and attitudes.

How to be a Slim Person – Fat and Thin Habits

In Part 1 How to be a Slim Person – Why Diets Don’t Work we discussed why going on a diet is a recipe for disaster. For most people, dieting is not the way to lose weight permanently. Any long term answer to losing weight and staying slim must be pain free, otherwise, there is no way that the weight loss can be sustained. By pain free, I mean that you mustn’t go hungry or have to exert any amount of will power to the process of losing weight and maintaining your new slim body. Truly slim people don’t use will power to stay slim. If you don’t believe this, just ask anyone that you know that has always been slim, they will tell you that they don’t make any effort to be slim, although they probably won’t know why.

Despite what anyone may say, your genetics are only a minor factor in determining whether you are fat or thin. It’s your lifestyle, behaviour and habits that make you the way you are. If you don’t believe this, just have a look at street photos from your neighbourhood taken 50 years ago. You will see that people were much slimmer back then. This US Government link, adult obesity facts, has a very interesting animation that shows just how much obesity has mushroomed in the past twenty years. The average American adult is 30 pounds heavier than 50 years ago, with most of the growth in average weight being in the past 20 years. It is very clear that obesity is a modern problem.

Before we go onto an action plan to become a slim person, it is important to understand the differences in behaviour, lifestyle and mindset of the slim verses the overweight person.

Fat and Thin Foods

Next time you go to the supermarket, just take a look at the sort of food and drink that overweight people buy compare to thin people. Although there are no hard and fast certainties, you’ll probably see a recurring theme. The shopping cart of the overweight person is likely to contain the following:

  • Sweet carbonated drinks sugar or sugar free.
  • Large bags of potato chips and fatty snacks.
  • Processed foods, e.g. pizza, frozen pies.
  • Candy.
  • Cakes.
  • White Bread.

The slim person’s cart contains:

  • Cereals, (not the sugar or chocolate coated variety).
  • Real fruit juice, tea and coffee.
  • Fresh fruit, vegetables, pulse and nuts.
  • Fresh meat and fish.
  • Brown bread.

You will see that the old saying “you are what you eat” is definitely in play here.

Probably the item that you would see the most in the obese person’s shopping cart are carbonated soda drinks. Just check out on the web the mind blowing amounts of sugar the drinks companies manage to pump into a standard sized can of sugared soda. However, these days, you will notice that most obese people buy the sugar free variety. Even though they are supposedly diet drinks, it is obvious that they are not doing the consumer any good when it comes to losing weight, and by the simple fact that they are so often found in the cart of the obese, it stands to reason there must be something about diet fizzy drinks that actually causes people to get fat.

The link with diet soda drinks and obesity has been backed up by a number of scientific studies. Although it is not fully understood why drinking diet soda leads to obesity, it is believed that the sweet taste of the soda triggers appetite, but with no actual feeling of fullness that goes with consuming real sugar. This distorts the appetite leading to cravings for more sweet and unhealthy foods.

Potato chips are high in fat, candy is high in sugar and and cakes are high in fat and sugar, all these items have little in the way of nutrition and are highly addictive. Processed foods are foods that are artificially changed to extend their shelf life. These foods can contain a whole host of chemicals and ingredients that are bad for you, including high levels of salt, carcinogens caused by cooking at high temperatures, trans fats and high fructose corn syrup, which many believe is responsible for the obesity epidemic.

White bread as opposed to whole grain brown bread has had a significant amount of processing and removal of the good stuff like bran. Apart from not being as healthy as brown bread, white bread has a higher Glycemic Index (GI). This means that brown bread will fill you up for longer because low GI food takes the body longer to process and gives you a steadier source of energy.

Fat and Thin Behaviour

Apart from differences in slim and overweight peoples’ eating habits, there are also a number of differences in lifestyle and behaviour

Overweight people tend to skip breakfast. Slim people will have breakfast not long after they wake up. Not eating breakfast is a problem because the time that you need energy the most is at the start of the day when you are about to get active. Because you have not eaten since the night before, your energy levels will be very low if you don’t have your breakfast. For overweight people, not having breakfast seems like an easy way to try to control their weight as you do not tend to feel hungry just after you have woken up; this is the wrong way to think. A study has shown that when you skip breakfast, the brain is tricked into believing that you are starving and will switch on cravings for unhealthy calorie laden foods, causing you to overeat later in the day. The starvation/binge cycle will lead to weight gain because you burn off fat and muscle when starving and only put on fat when bingeing, leading to a higher proportion of fat in your body and a low metabolic rate (as discussed in Part 1 How to be a Slim Person – Why Diets Don’t Work).

Overweight people frequently skip meals. The slim person will eat meals at regular intervals day-in day-out. Again, skipping meals will activate the starvation response / binge eating cycle.

Overweight people eat much more quickly than slim people. There is a time lag between eating food and actually feeling full. Eating too quickly leads to overeating because the brain will not register the correct point at which you have had enough to eat.

Overweight people will finish what is on their plate, even if they are full. Slim people will stop eating when they are full.

Overweight people frequently binge on food and feel guilty about it. Slim people do not have any feelings of guilt about anything they eat. They may occasionally have too much to eat, but don’t worry about it. The feelings of guilt that overweight people have will trigger the starvation/binge cycle and lead to more weight gain.

Overweight people count calories. Slim people don’t bother counting calories, but know when they’ve eaten too much. Calorie counting leads to an obsession with food and cravings for what you supposedly can’t have.

Overweight people think about food a lot. Slim people only tend to think about food at mealtimes or when they are genuinely hungry.

Overweight people will “reward” themselves with food when they have done something “good” such as not eating much for a day or going to the gym. Slim people don’t have a concept of food rewards for being “good”, but enjoy good food.

Overweight people tend to comfort eat, that is, they eat because they are bored or for emotional reasons rather than because they are hungry. Thin people rarely comfort eat. Comfort eating is particularly bad for you as you tend to eat junk foods and snacks. Also, people comfort eat at times when they don’t need any extra energy, usually at night. The energy from this surplus food will be turned straight into fat.

Overweight people do less exercise than slim people whether that exercise is natural day to day exercise like going for a walking in your lunch hour, or organised exercise such as working out in the gym. Exercise is very important not only for the obvious health benefits, but also for controlling your weight. Put very simply, if you eat more calories than your body uses, you will put on weight, and if your body uses more calories than you eat, you will lose weight. If you exercise, you will burn off calories, simple. Slim people that are at their ideal weight tend to have an exact balance of calorie input to output. They may actually eat the same number of calories as overweight people, but as they do more exercise, they don’t put on weight because the exercise burns the extra calories off. Also, exercise increases the proportion of muscle to fat in the body, which increases your metabolic rate allowing you to burn off calories more quickly.

Overweight peoples’ weight tends to fluctuate wildly. Slim peoples’ weight tends to stay pretty much the same for years on end. Overweight people tend to be faddish with weight lose and exercise, with the consequence that they will ride the starvation/binge roller-coaster. Slim people keep their calorie intake and output on an even keel, but without any effort.

In Part 3 How to be a Slim Person – Action Plan to become a Slim Person, we will present an action plan for how to change your fat habits and apply gradual small changes to the way you live to give you the physique you’ve always wanted without dieting, stress or sacrifice.

References

How to be a Slim Person – Part 1
Online Body Fat Percentage Calculator
Adult obesity facts
How much sugar in sodas and beverages?
Fueling the obesity epidemic? artificially sweetened beverage use and long-term weight gain
Why processed foods are bad for you
What caused the obesity crisis in the west?
Low glycemic foods, explained
Skip breakfast, get fat

How to be a Slim Person – Why Diets Don’t Work

You’ll notice that the title of this article is not how to lose weight fast, the best diet in the world or how to get yourself trim for the summer; no, it’s how to be a slim person. In this article you will learn how to be slim from the real experts. I’m not talking about the people that write the plethora of diet books with their wacky calorie counting regimes and crazy recipes that tell you to eat mashed kumquat for three months, no, the real experts are the people that have been slim all their lives and don’t ever go on a diet. In these three short articles I will show you how slim people manage it and how you can become a slim person with no stress and no dieting. More importantly, I will show you how to stay slim for the rest of your life.

Why diets do not work

It is a fact that dieting does not work in the long term. Numerous scientific studies have shown that although dieting will cause you to lose weight initially, the majority of dieters will pile the weight back on after they have finished their so called diet. Not only will they put the weight back on, dieters will usually gain more than their starting weight. There are several reasons why dieting results in you actually putting on more weight.

Rapid weight loss will activate the body’s starvation response where the body will burn off both fat and muscle. At the end of the diet you will start to gain weight, but mainly fat rather than muscle. This yo-yo dieting will lead to you having a higher fat to muscle ratio; not a good look and certainly not good for your health (see Body Fat Percentage Calculator). Also, having a lower proportion of muscle mass in your body slows down your metabolism because muscle burns calories faster. Having less muscle means that you will put on more weight with a lower calorie intake than if you had more muscle.

Psychologically dieting is hard. Counting your calories and following a strict eating regimes requires a will power and determination that is difficult to maintain for any length of time. After the initial euphoria of losing weight, the determination to carry on will invariably fail, leading to binge eating and weight gain.

Constant calorie counting, which is advocated in most diets, leads to an obsession with food and in particular, the eating of food. As an analogy, imagine you’ve got a slight twinge of pain in your back. What would be the best thing to do? Get on with other things and forget about the pain, or set an alarm to remind yourself every five minutes to check whether the pain has gone away? Obviously, it is best to forget about it. The same goes for food. If you’re constantly obsessing about how much you are eating, asking yourself how much can I eat at the next mealtime? should I just have a little snack now? will it be too much etc, you are bound to create a obsession and desire for food that you will have to constantly fight using will power. The lifelong slim person does not think about food that much and so does not have a constant desire for food, which doesn’t mean that he/she doesn’t enjoy food.

So why are there so many diets? Because it is a multi-million dollar industry. Because diets invariably don’t succeed, the companies marketing the diets will always have an endless supply of customers waiting to try the next wonder diet that may just work this time.

If diets don’t work, what is the alternative?

In Part 2 How to be a Slim Person – Fat and Thin Habits we will compare the behaviour, lifestyle and mindset of the slim person verses that of overweight people, and give you a simple action plan of small easy changes you can make to the way you live that will make you a lifelong slim person too.

References

Online Body Fat Percentage Calculator
Scientists say dieting does not work
Yo-yo effect
Diet books: fat on profits, skinny on results?