The things that I have learned and experienced in the last ten years have become the pillars of my success. Losing 100 pounds was a fantastic and a key part of the process, but the real journey of change came from my ability to continue to work through my challenges and stay committed to taking my life to an entirely new level. A life where I now have a healthy relationship with food, where I’m no longer controlled by temptations and my cravings, and I’m able to remain completely self-aware of my actions. I have a new mindset for success and I understand how to manage the relationships with my friends and family and how to prevent myself from cheating. I’ve completely changed my perspective on the world, I enjoy exercising each day, and I’ve even learned how to embrace success and rebuild my self-esteem. And finally, I’ve learned to make peace with myself and accept myself for who I am.
In doing all of this, I knew that it was absolutely imperative that people needed to stop looking for a single solution through simply measuring their calories. Alone, it causes irreparable damage to the body, the smashing of ones self-esteem, and destruction of how we feel about ourselves every time we lose weight and gain it back. Furthermore, this single approach wreaks havoc on our metabolisms, hinders our ability to burn fat for energy, and doesn’t allow us to change the shape of our bodies or overcome our incessant food cravings.
And, this is why I’m here and the reason that this book is so important. It is now time for you to approach weight loss from a more holistic perspective. Instead of just seeing weight loss as the act of calories in and calories out, you’re going to learn the importance of addressing the issues behind your eating. You’ll find your motivation, take back your self-esteem, and become accountable and responsible for your success. In doing so, you’ll learn to overcome your temptations, food cravings, and learn to manage your appetite. As you grow stronger, you’ll become more self-aware, develop a new mindset and begin opening your eyes to your family, friends, and the world around you. You’ll no longer cheat on your diet, but learn to embrace healthy eating and learn to give your body the right nutrition to not only lose weight, but to move your body each day and reshape it. You’ll learn to embrace your success, achieve greater peace through self-discovery and learn to be passionate about your life. You have now started on a journey that is going to teach you all of this and much more. As you read So Damn Hungry, you’re going to laugh, cry, and learn things about yourself and the world around you that you were never aware of. You’re also are going to lose weight, forever change the way you think about yourself and food, and in doing so, learn to keep the weight off. So, let’s stop being “So Damn Hungry” for food and start increasing your appetite for life and the incredible journey you are about to take.
One of the fantastic things about learning to differentiate between emotional hunger and real hunger is that we are learning how to listen to our bodies. Unfortunately, for many of us, we’ve allowed our appetite to become associated with different internal and external things in our lives. For example, some people eat when they are sad, stressed out, or depressed (internal) and others feel the need to eat when they see a commercial on TV, see food in front of them, or pass by a restaurant or fast food outlet (external). In other words, when our appetites kick in and we feel like eating, it’s often related to many things that have nothing to do with true hunger. This was an extremely hard lesson for me to learn, but the more I tracked my cravings and the more I examined my mood and actual hunger, the more I was able to recognize where my own personal triggers were coming from. When I was able to identify the things that were causing me to want to eat, I was then able to create strategies for managing the issues and learning to control my appetite. To assist you in also doing this, the following are ten simple rules for living your life that will allow you to control your appetite. These are the same rules that helped me and I have no doubt that if you apply them in your own life, they’ll help you too. I realize that rules are meant to be broken, but these rules truly need to be followed. It will change your life.
Rule #1: Stop Eating in the Car
One of the worst things that I used to do was drive around town and eat in my car. I was essentially exposing myself to countless external triggers (restaurants, grocery stores, fast food chains, 7-11’s, etc…), I was giving myself permission to accept the triggers and act upon them. To stop myself from doing this, I made a steadfast rule that I would no longer eat in my car. Although this may seem overly simplistic, making this one small change in my life made a huge difference. Make it a point to apply this rule in your own life and stop treating your car as a mobile dining room.
Rule #2: Put Down Your Fork
If you are anything like I was, you have a big appetite. That is, you love to eat. The problem is that in doing this, we often forget to savor and enjoy the food in front of us. To succeed, I had to stop eating so fast and learn to put down my fork between bites. Like everything, my eating just reflected some other issues in my life. I was rushing around doing everything and never stopping to smell the roses. I had to learn to slow down and it started with my eating. Take a moment and think about your own life. Think about the amount of rushing around that you are doing and how its impacting the way you eat. Now, make a point if slowing things down and use your meals as a good place to start. Take the time to sit down for each meal, take your time and enjoy what it is you are eating, and learn to enjoy food again.
Rule #3: Teach Yourself When to Eat
When you’re eating in response to your appetite, time can often have no meaning. Instead of eating at specific times of the day, we learn that we can eat whenever we want. In teaching yourself when to eat again, you’re making a huge step forward in terms of controlling your appetite. By structuring your life so that you’re eating at specific times when you are naturally hungry, you’ll be learning to listen to your body. Just like the fuel gage on a car, you’ll learn to only add more fuel when it’s needed – as opposed to when we want it. If you think about, when we give into our appetites, we aren’t eating at any given time of the day; we are simply giving into the external and internal situations we find ourselves in. By establishing times of the day when you are going to eat, and not eating in between, you’ll discover something amazing – true hunger. Adding routine to your eating will allow you to take control of your appetite, get back to natural eating patterns, and stop the cycle of eating whenever you have a craving.
#4: Eating Healthy Doesn’t Mean Boring Food
When you’re making the switch to actively eating healthy foods on an ongoing basis, the first thing you realize is that healthy foods don’t taste as good as most of the foods that we have been comforting ourselves with. Let’s face it; grilled chicken and broccoli don’t taste as good as friend chicken and French fries. When I was making this switch, I came to this awful realization and my immediate thoughts were that I was doomed to fail. But, I quickly discovered that this does not have to be the case. I made it a point to get some cook books and follow some recipes. I cannot recommend this enough and the more you can educate yourself on how to prepare foods, the more you will enjoy eating healthy. Embrace the concept, and if possible, go out and take some cooking classes. I have no doubt that you’ll have a blast and discover an entirely new world of healthy cooking that you may not have even known existed. Amazingly, I love the taste of healthy food so much, that I don’t even call it healthy food anymore. It’s just the way that I eat and I can’t remember the last time I had fast food. While I used to crave fast food, today I crave turkey, chicken, and steak. My body now craves the foods that it needs and it not only feels great, but my appetite is completely in check.
Rule #5: Learn to Interpret Your Cravings
The funny thing about cravings is that we often misinterpret what they are telling us. For example, when I used to crave something cold, I would reach out for ice cream. Or, if I craved something sweet, I would seek out cookies or candy. We are always going to have cravings at some level or another and our appetite is not necessarily a bad thing. Where we find ourselves having problems is how we respond to our cravings and allow our appetite to take over. To resolve this, it’s critical to change the way you think, provide yourself with the right foods, and learn to be more creative. For example, if I crave something cold, I don’t reach for ice cream, I reach for a large glass of Crystal Light. Or, if I have a chocolate craving, I don’t eat candy, I enjoy a sugar free hot or iced cocoa. Or, a New Lifestyle Brownie with Caramel Bar – with 10 grams of protein! Remember, you’re always going to have cravings on some level of or another, but the secret is in how you choose to react to them.
Rule #6: Eat on a Smaller Plate
In our house, we have two sets of plates – large dinner plates and salad plates. As a general rule, when we don’t have guests over, we eat off our salad plates. It’s amazing, but by taking the time to eat off of the smaller plates, I have taught myself how to enjoy smaller meals. I used to sit down to a large plate of food and devour it, knowing that I was probably going back for seconds. By eating off of smaller plates, I taught myself what normal portion sizes looked like. The more I did this, the more natural it became and the more my appetite adjusted and this tip will work for you too. By making a point to using smaller plates on a daily basis, you’ll be reinforcing your knowledge of what normal portion sizes look like, and allowing your appetite to adjust at the same time.
Rule #7: Get Rid of the Temptations
One of the best ways to break the link between the sight of a favorite food (external trigger) and feeling the necessity to eat is simply not having the food around in the first place. If you live with people that are keeping tempting foods in the house, try keeping the food in a drawer or pantry area that you’re not exposed too. Even if this means getting it out of the house, sometimes this is the best approach for getting control of your appetite. Never forget external triggers can often be the hardest ones to resist, so make a point to remove your-self from hard situations. This is not something that you will have to do forever, but in the beginning, if you find yourself tempted by food in the house, at a restaurant, or a dinner party, remove yourself from the situation. Never forget that your health and wellbeing is the most important thing. Stop worrying about how others will feel if you don’t attend an event because of the foods and start paying more attention to yourself. Just like the importance of removing certain foods from being around you, you may also need to remove yourself from certain situations. Use the out of sight, out of mind strategy, to empower yourself in managing your issues with food and hard situations. One day this will not even be an issue for you.
Rule #8: Stop Eating in Front of the TV and at the Movies
For many of us, we are accustomed to eating each time we turn on the TV or go to the movies. This is extremely problematic for two reasons. 1) If you aren’t focused on what it is you are eating, the chances are that you’ll be eating too much of it. For example, think about how many times you have sat down to watch TV and ended up eating an entire bag of chips or carton of ice cream. Or, have gone to the movies and sat in the dark eating a tub of popcorn. Then, when the show or movie is over, we come back to reality only to discover an empty container in our lap. 2) Watching certain TV shows and going to the movies can often evoke strong emotions, where we find ourselves sad, excited, stressed out, or depressed (internal triggers). To get a handle on this behavior, the solution is very simple. You need to stop eating in front of the TV and stop eating when you go to the movies. This might seem like a hard strategy, but in doing this, you’ll be allowing yourself to get past this issue and will be making another step forward in terms of getting your appetite under control.
Rule #9: Stop Treating Food as Entertainment:
I never really thought that I treated food as a source of entertainment until I started the process of losing weight and taking back my life. It was then that I realized, all forms of entertainment in my life were centered on/around food. When my wife and I would go out at night, we would typically go to dinner. Or, if we went to the movies, we would enjoy popcorn or candy. If we had friends over, we would serve food. When we went to our friends’ houses, we would be greeted with food. Food seemed to be everywhere. If that wasn’t bad enough, if I was at home and bored, I would entertain myself by eating. It’s no wonder my appetite was so out of control, I had surrounded myself with temptations and cravings around every corner and endless opportunities to give into them.
To break this behavior, my wife and I started to do something amazing – we began the process of seeking out activities that weren’t related to food. We started to go for walks; we would go to the park and read, go to art festivals, and concerts. The thing that was really amazing was that in trying to escape food as a source of entertainment, what we actually ended up doing was create new forms or entertainment that were even better. Over time, we did more and more things and experienced life like never before. As I lost the weight and really started to enjoy the process of going to the gym and working out, this also became a source of entertainment and fun for me.
Right now, take some time and think about the various ways that you are using food for entertainment. Identify the things that you are doing and make it a point to seek out events and activities that aren’t centered on food. The world is filled with amazing things to do, such as, dancing, sporting events, sightseeing, and the list goes on and on. It’s a world that I truly didn’t know existed until I made the decision to step away from food, and seek my fun elsewhere. If you aren’t sure of how to start, pick up a newspaper this weekend and look at the list of events in your area. Pick one out and go have some fun. Remember, your new lifestyle starts when you decide to stop living it from behind a plate.
Rule #10: Look Better Naked
One of the greatest catch-22 scenarios is that the more we exercise, the hungrier we get. This is an absolute fact and it’s the reason that so many weight loss programs discourage their clients from exercising when they are trying to lose weight. I have always found this advice to be completely insane, since the point of losing weight is not just to get lighter, but to create a fitter and healthier body. Remember, as you are losing weight, you have the following two options: 1) You can lose weight and not exercise. However, when you reach your goal weight, you’ll be what I call “skinny fat.” Or, 2) You can lose weight and exercise. When you reach your goal weight, you’ll not only be healthier, but you’ll also look better naked – and, who doesn’t want that?
Now, if you have chosen option #2, it’s important to be aware that the more you exercise the hungrier you will get. But, this is not a bad thing. Remember, our goal is to get your appetite in check and allow you to experience true hunger and not the hunger derived from other triggers. Without a doubt, when you exercise, especially while on a reduced calorie diet, you will be hungry. But, that is fantastic! I know for myself, when I discovered my appetite increasing after I started exercising, it was the first time in years that I truly felt hungry. Exercising allowed me to recognize my true appetite and not just my response to the cravings and temptations. Enjoy the process of losing weight, shaping your body and creating the body that you will be proud of.
– Hamilton Erridge, Author of So Damn Hungry