By: Madeleine Ortiz
“I can not direct the wind, but I can change the direction of my sails.” I repeat this quote to my yoga students, encouraging them to breathe through a challenging pose. I tell them that yoga is not about how well they can do the physical posture, but instead how they react when a situation feels new and/or uncomfortable; and I remind them that the discomfort is temporary and ask them to see if they can stick with it without attachment or judgment.
A yoga practice approached in this manner is great practice for everyday life. The mat, a safe place to rehearse our reactions to tough or even discouraging circumstances.
How often do you practice taking control of your reactions? Even if you’re not a yogi, it’s something you will want to consider adding into your wellness routine. Especially if you’re trying to lose weight, says Dr. David Macklin, director of weight management at Medcan. He has dedicated most of his career to treating and preventing excess weight and says that he’s yet to encounter a person who hasn’t run into some roadblocks on their weight loss journey.
In fact, these roadblocks or setbacks are inevitable, and Dr. Macklin tells us the three most common are 1) an off track eating day, 2) a scale that doesn’t move, and 3) seeing a photo or reflection in the mirror that doesn’t feel flattering. He is encouraging, but he doesn’t sugarcoat the truth– there’s no way to avoid these “Big 3” when working on losing weight. What we can control, however, is our reactions.
1) An Off-Track Eating Day
Sometimes the day gets away from you, and before you know it you’re sitting in the fast food line. Or your stress is more than you can handle and ice cream in front of the TV accidentally becomes your coping mechanism of choice. It’s OK. It’s happens.
- Take a deep breath and forgive yourself for getting off track.
- Change the scenery. Take a walk, meditate, or remove yourself from the space where you typically eat your snacks and meals.
- Know that healthy eating isn’t all or nothing, and decide that your next choice will be a healthier one (read this article for more about that).
- Have a go-to, healthy reset meal– a meal that is balanced and nutrient dense that will signal your brain and your body to get back on the right track.
2) A Scale That Doesn’t Move
You’ve been crushing your meal prep, you haven’t missed a workout in two weeks, and you even passed up a slice of cake at a birthday celebration at your office. But the scale Will. Not. Budge. You’re frustrated and you’re wondering what the point is of all this hard work.
- Feel positive about weight maintenance. It’s tough, and not gaining is often just as successful as losing. (read this article for more about that)
- Revisit your food journal and write down every bite. Notice if there is anywhere you’ve let your meal routine slip that you hadn’t realized before (get our free food journal here)
- Switch it up. If you normally take a walk, try biking. If you’re always doing yoga try lifting weights. Sometimes the smallest change can shake things up enough to get the scale moving again.
- Talk to your doctor. Plateaus are common, but they don’t have to be the end of the road. Your healthcare professional can help you find a solution for your stuck scale. (read this article for more about that)
3) Seeing a Photo or Reflection that Doesn’t Feel Flattering
You’re enjoying a perfectly great day with a friend and she asks someone to snap a photo of the two of you. You excitedly look at the smartphone screen and immediately feel dejected. You were feeling really great until you saw that photo, and now… not so much.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. Photos can have weird angles and odd lighting, and even the fittest celebrities sometimes take shots that they’d rather the public not see.
- Remember that the outside doesn’t tell the whole story. Your health is a lot more than your appearance. If you’ve been eating healthier and moving more it’s likely your body is thanking you in ways a lot more important than clothing size.
- Have a positive mantra you can repeat. It might be something like “I’m strong,” or “I am worthy.” Say it to yourself until it helps you move your attention away from the negative thoughts.
Managing reactions takes practice, just like a sport or a new exercise. Keep working at it, and before you know it what used to feel impossible setbacks will just be another small bump you can easily navigate around.
Watch Dr. Macklin talking about why managing weight is more than about food:
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