Nurture: Eat more, sleep more

So, don’t go on a diet. I know it’s tempting. It’s also winter. Your body has no interest in losing weight. Here's an article that explains some of the reasons why.

If you really feel you must lose weight, wait for spring. 

There are some good reasons to lose weight. I’m not knocking it. Recently I wrote about the impact that 10 pounds has on our knees, for instance; it adds 40 pounds of force. Even if your weight is fine, sometimes losing five or ten can help you move with more ease. Go ahead and lose weight if that will make you feel better, but don’t do it yet.

Here’s what to do while you’re waiting to lose weight.

Go to sleep. Get a good 8 hours a night. When you get less than that, several things happen. One, your cortisol (a stress hormone) rises, and your body doesn’t like that and responds by -- you guessed it -- sending out cravings for carbohydrates and holding on for dear life to the body fat you already have. A second thing that happens when we don’t get enough sleep is that our ability to deal with stress is lessened. Our self-discipline and will power is lessened. Get really practiced and very disciplined (religious even) about nurturing yourself with eight hours of sleep every night. Then, if you still really want to lose some weight this spring, you’ll have that helpful and healthy habit already in place. 

Do you need 8 hours? Probably. Sometimes 7 will do. But it’s a real outlier who functions optimally on fewer than 7 hours a night. You also might need 9 hours. Check out this article or this one if you need convincing or motivation. 

Here’s the second thing to do while you’re waiting to lose weight. Get really good at drinking water. When we’re adequately hydrated, we feel so much better. Before anything else goes in your mouth each day, down a glass of water. Get used to satisfying your need for water before you satisfy anything else.

Now I’m going to tell you what to add to your daily nutrition. Diets often are about subtracting, usually calories though sometimes also certain foods. January and February are good times to add.

Divide your plate in half and put green veggies on one half. Put whatever you like on the other half, but get really good at making half your meal green vegetables. Purple, yellow, and red vegetables are fine, too, as are some of the whites (bok choy, cauliflower, or onions, for instance). The orange ones (squash, carrots, sweet potatoes) are divine, and I definitely recommend them. But they go on the other side of the plate. 

If you’re not ready for half a plate, start with a quarter plate and work your way up. This should keep you plenty occupied while you wait to lose weight. It also will make you exceptionally well-nourished.

One of my very favorite sources for ideas about nutrition and nurturing is the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Recently they posted this gem to their FB page: “A need to overeat may result from the lack of proper rhythm, lack of slow relaxed eating, a macronutrient imbalance, a nutrient deficiency, and lack of quality food in diet.” Before you start taking things out of your diet, focus on what you can add to your diet. 

Make January and February about eating really delicious and supportive food. Have fun enjoying your food. Use these months to listen to your body, and get to know what your body likes best.