How to “Eat Your Cake and Have it Too” and Still Lose Weight!

Eat Your Cake and Still Lose Weight!

Posted Jan 01, 2011

Most diets and weight management programs focus a lot on what you shouldn't eat, drink or do. That is, they emphasize subtracting or removing foods and activities (e.g., DON'T eat pastries and DON'T be a couch potato). How would you like to lose weight without having to cut out any of the foods, snacks, or activities you currently enjoy?

Well, you can "eat your cake and have it too" with my "Add the Positives" approach to weight control. Seriously, I'm not kidding! Here's how it works.

Don't worry about cutting the cookies, cake, donuts chips, soda, etc. from your diet. Instead, start to make a few positive changes by slowly adding healthy choices to your menu. The idea is that, over time, the healthy foods and positive actions will literally crowd out the unhealthy ones from your routine.

So go ahead and eat all the "food" you usually do BUT add a nice, mixed green salad a day to your typical choices (please go easy on the dressing - instead try a drizzle of olive oil with a splash of aged, balsamic vinegar).

After a week or so of adding the daily salad, include a serving of a sensibly prepared, healthy vegetable to your menu like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, or kale. (One excellent way to prepare veggies like broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts, is to drizzle them with some olive oil, add some fresh, cracked pepper and a pinch of salt, then bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.)

Next, once you've made a habit of a daily salad and vegetable, add a bit of exercise to the mix. At first, a simple daily walk of about 1 mile (only about 2000 steps) will suffice. Gradually, try to walk about 2 to 3 miles on most days. Or, if you'd prefer, any other form of movement-based exercise will be just fine (i.e., biking, stair-stepping, elliptical training, rowing, etc.).

Now that you've added the daily salad and vegetable, started walking regularly (or doing some other form of cardio-pulmonary exercise) it's time to add a bit of resistance training to the program. Simply doing some push-ups, isometrics, or weight lifting on most days will amplify the benefits of all of the previously added positives.

Keep in mind, all along you've been "allowed" to eat all the junk and toxic "food" your heart desires and also be as generally inactive as you'd like. The idea is to simply add the positives as I've outlined regardless of all other habits and choices. BUT, once you've successfully added these simple, positive, healthy actions, something amazing usually happens. You might find yourself choosing to eat less junk and be more physically active.

Indeed, as I've noted in previous posts, by making healthy food and exercise choices you'll very likely perk up your mood and increase your motivation to continue down the healthier path because a part of your mind (what some psychologists call the self-reflective ego) will be pleased with your sensible behavior and reward you with feelings of self-satisfaction and pride. As I often tell my therapy clients, "The head and the heart follow the feet" which is a folksy way of encapsulating the core of cognitive-behavior therapy that emphasizes how we act so shall we think and feel.

Hence, simply by adding a few positive food choices and healthy routines to your repertoire, you'll very likely discover a growing desire to cultivate more positive actions and better eating habits - all without focusing on trying to eliminate your "bad" habits or unhealthy choices. And, of course, the net result of adding more positive and healthy routines to your life is the desirable "side-effect" of weight loss; sensible and lasting weight loss.

So, instead of trying to cut out that piece of cake, bag of chips or piece of pie, first add a salad, then some veggies, then cardio, and finally resistance training to your daily living. You might be amazed at how good you'll feel and how easily you'll shed some pounds.

Remember: Think well, act well, feel well, be well!

Copyright by Clifford N. Lazarus, Ph.D.

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