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Monday, 27 September 2021 11:11

Keep the Party Going

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Last week, I went to a birthday party and I had a really good time. There were lots of people, some I knew and some I didn’t know. The conversations were lively, fun, and positive. Food and drink were abundant, the music was familiar, and we all were happy to celebrate the person who was having the birthday. I had fun in the moment, and I want to keep that feeling going!

Some of the things I do to bring that party feeling into the present include, playing the same music so it triggers my memories, keeping in touch with the people who were at the party, and sharing pictures or looking at pictures other people have shared of the party.

Every time I think about that party, every time something triggers my memory of being at the party, I smile and my whole day perks up! The happy feelings flood my body and everything I’m doing seems lighter and easier.

I’ll admit that choosing to think about weight management as fun is not ‘normal’ for us. We’re not used to thinking that way. At first, it takes some effort to turn our go-to thoughts away from how hard it’s going to be and toward how much fun it can be. We might get some of our thoughts turned around at first but not most of them.

Once we have our first success, once we have one, single experience of having fun when we change a habit, we want to build on that! That’s the party and we want to keep it going!

Let’s look at an example. I love to cook and when I’m managing my weight I spend a lot less time at restaurants and a lot more time eating my own food. The food plan I follow calls for lean meat, lots of green or non-starchy vegetables and some fruit. I get small portions of carbohydrate, like bread and potatoes, too.

I used to think that meant broiled boneless, skinless chicken, steamed vegetables, and salad, all seasoned with maybe some salt and pepper. Boring!!! And definitely no fun!!!

At some point, I decided that my food can be delicious and still follow the food plan of my choosing. So, I started with my favorite type of food, Italian, and I learned which seasonings would give my food those flavors I love. I bought about 5 different spices and experimented with combining them in different ways and different amounts until I found the ones I liked best. Now I can have baked Italian chicken and garlic seasoned vegetables and my taste buds are in heaven!!!

Playing with Italian spices was so much fun that eventually, I did the same thing with Mexican spices and Mediterranean spices. I make a mean curry these days, and although it probably wouldn’t satisfy someone from India, it makes dinner time enjoyable for me. The point is, I found a way to make mealtime fun instead of boring! Yes, I reduce the amount of fat that a chef would use and I make allowances in other ways for my particular needs. Those meals still taste yummy. My family members can’t tell the difference when I cook for them!

Let’s use another example. I don’t cook at home all the time. I like to have lunch or dinner with friends and I enjoy going to a restaurant instead of cooking for myself. In my younger days, eating out was completely frustrating. I couldn’t ‘find’ anything on the menu that would allow me to stay on my diet. It seemed like nearly every entrée had one or more items that I just couldn’t eat. Or didn’t want to eat because my goal of losing weight was important to me.

I decided that the time spent with friends didn’t have to include being miserable because of the choices on the menu. I approached this from a couple of different angles. My old thinking said that it was a waste to go to a restaurant and just have a salad. Look at all those yummy menu items that I never make at home. I deserve to have something more than a salad or an entrée from the ‘light’ menu.

My new thinking says that this is not the last time in my life I’ll ever go to a restaurant. When I’m feeling ‘strong’ about my food plan, I might choose calorie heavy entrée because I’m sure I’ll get right back on my food plan when I get home. When I’m not feeling so strong, I go for the salad or the light menu because I need the extra mental, emotional, and dietary boost to stay on my food plan.

The important part of this outing is being with friends. And that’s what makes eating out fun! It doesn’t matter what food choice I make as long as I make it consciously and with no regrets. Once the food choice is out of the way, I’m free to fully engage in conversation, laughter, and story telling with my friends. I make a choice that works for me and free myself up to have fun at the same time. That’s a party I want to keep going, too.

The other thing I did was make a game out of researching restaurants. I am always on the lookout for a restaurant that has creative, delicious, organic menu items. With obesity being a national epidemic and a national pastime, most restaurants include healthy choices on their menu. I take some time to search out the best ones. I’m always looking for healthy menus that are cost effective at the same time. By doing my research I find some of the most interesting little one-owner restaurants that prepare some awesome menus. I’m happy to support the locals and I have fun trying out all the new places I find.

These are just a few ideas, ones that have worked for me. These ideas were just that, ideas, thoughts, before I acted on them. It all starts with changing our idea of weight management from thinking of it as hard work to thinking of it as a playful and joyful process. When we make up our minds to have fun, each and every day, with every step in our weight journey, the time goes by like nothing and reaching a weight goal becomes easy.

So, are you throwing yourself a party? What’s on the menu? What party games are you going to play? Who’s invited to join you? How will you keep the party spirit present in every moment? How will you keep that playful and joyful feeling alive in your mind and in your heart in each and every ‘now’ moment?

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Betty Brink

Betty Brink is an expert on the mental and emotional aspects of dieting and body image. She is the author of "The Main Meal: The New Perspective on Weight Loss." In seminars, speeches, and consultations, she demonstrates practical methods to quiet the diet chatter, and to empower yourself to make conscious choices in diet, in life, and in relationships.

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