I am astounded at how many of you have now joined my Secret Weigh group and even more thrilled that some of you are already totally getting it and losing weight too (and I haven't even told you all my secrets yet)!
I got this awesome message from Nicola Rogers on my Secret Weigh Group the other day...
"It was my birthday the other day and yesterday all I wanted for breakfast was a slice of birthday cake - so I had some and ditched the cereal. When I was hungry again in the afternoon, all I wanted was chocolate so I had it and didn't bother with any tea. I wasn't hungry the rest of the day so didn't have anything then I realised that although I'd eaten crap all day, I'd actually eaten very little as opposed to when I used to have a proper meal then pig out on junk. Today I've been craving more healthy stuff such as porridge. I've lost 2 and a half pounds this week by following the hunger games and feel like I'm finally getting some control back so thank you so much xx"
What I am learning from most of you is that you didn't realise, until you started listening to your hunger signals how little you actually need to eat during the day. So skewed are our perceptions about food from years of dieting and the silly out of touch rules that diets bring, that it's not until you start to listen to you own body and it's signals that you really see exactly what you need.
How do you gauge when you are full up?
This does become a lot easier if you wait until you are hungry to actually eat. However, you still need to pinpoint when you are actually full up.
The whole object here is to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied not full to bursting, otherwise your whole meal will be ruined and you will feel awful.
To help you - I once read about a hunger gauge from 0 - 8 I use this in my Secret Weigh and it really works - it is as follows....
0 - Too hungry, Starving and shaky you are so hungry
You don't really want to get this point as it's no fun and this way of eating should make life happier not like you are starving to death. Sometimes if I time it wrong I do get here and it's not great - you tend to overeat to compensate for how awful you feel and you don't enjoy your food, you just binge.
1 - Ravenously hungry where a small amount of food will not satisfy you.
Again you don't want to get this hungry either as once you start eating you might think you're on a diet again and you will going in to a feeding frenzy. As I've been doing the Secret Weigh for years if I do get here I can still eat normally but it's not very good for you so try to avoid it.
2 - Very Hungry.
There is still a danger of overeating at this stage of hunger but it is OK to get here if you know your food is ready and on it's way to your growling tummy
3 - Moderately Hungry
This is the ideal time to eat. Your tummy is rumbling you can feel it's empty - now just think about what you really want to eat and life is great.
4 - Mildly hungry
You only need a few bites to feel satisfied. There's no rumbling but you know there's still a gap. If you like sweet things like me, this is a good time to stop eating the savoury stuff to leave room for a little chocolate!
5 - Satisfied.
You have just eaten enough. Always try to leave some food just as an exercise, especially if you've always been made to clear your plate.
6 - Full
If you feel full - you have probably eaten a little too much at that sitting and you are more likely to go on eating a few mouthfuls more than you need to.
7 - Very Full
You've ignored the signal to stop eating. Probably your old diet mentality urged you to eat more than you needed. You now feel very uncomfortable and the food you ate no longer is enjoyable.
8 - Overfull
So full you could burst and you are actually in pain. You probably feel awful and slightly panicked that this way of eating is not working for you and that you will have to go back on a diet. If you can learn to stop when you are satisfied you will very quickly learn that this way of eating until you feel awful is no fun and you will eventually hate over eating and stop doing it for good.
It's a very common thing to leave the food that is your favourite to eat until last. DON'T DO THIS! Eat your favourite thing first. That way if you're satisfied before you've eaten everything you won't be tempted to overeat just so you can taste your favourite food!
The hunger gauge is a great way to monitor your instincts when you first start eating this way. Every time you want to eat ask yourself AM I HUNGRY?
Because so many of us have been on diet's it's surprising the sort of things we worry about when gauging our hunger levels. I call these the Hunger Fears... Here are some you may recognise...
You say to disregard breakfast, lunch and dinner but all the diets I have been on tell me it's very bad to skip meals..
What would you do if society told you to eat 20 meals a day? Would you become a robot and do what they said even though you felt awful and it made you miserable? Meal times are artificial creations and it's strange to me that we question our own natural hunger signals but not the man made by the clock meal times. As you reconnect with your own hunger you may find that your body is hungry at meal times and that's fine but please listen to your body not the clock. Only you know your own hunger no one else can.
Prepare yourself though as people will question you about this way of eating and they will probably tell you that it's really really bad to skip meals. If I had a pound for every time my way of eating has been criticised by people on diets I'd be a millionaire. Usually these people would be happy for you to drink meal replacements or eat sins all day until your sides burst - but tell them you are listening to your body and it blows their minds. Ignore them, they will yo-yo diet their way through life, you won't.
What if I'm hungry all the time?
You definitely won't be. Already most of you are telling me that you're shocked at how little you really get hungry. If you are listening to your body then you will get hungry but it definitely won't be all the time.
What if I never get hungry?
It is a total misconception that over weight people never get hungry. Of course they do! We all need energy to live. What you may find is that you don't need as much food to begin with but the more weight you lose then your hunger will increase slightly. Please just trust your own body to guide you here.
What shall I do about family mealtimes?
Family meals are important for many of us as it's the only time we all sit down together in our busy lives.
If you are hungry at family mealtimes then eat but if you're not hungry then you can still sit at the table and chat, you don't have to eat! You can have your food later when you are hungry. It's a great way of teaching your children to listen to their hunger signals too. Please don't make them eat if they're not actually hungry either. I know if you have loads of kids and they are all saying they are hungry at different times that is a nightmare but in general they will all be hungry together as they will have similar days (plus chilren seem to be hungry most of the time and they should be they are growing) but if they are not hungry why force them to eat? It's really not fair.
Once you get used to eating this way you will be able to eat small amounts to get you through the day so you are actually hungry at meal times but for now please, if you're not hungry wait until you are.
If I eat when I'm hungry and whatever I want, how will I possibly lose weight?
It's not eating that makes you gain weight, it's overeating! As you learn to eat when hungry and stop when satisfied you will lose weight. It may take time for some and it may be a quick process for others. It really depends on how much you trust the whole Secret Weigh and apply it to your lives.
Everyone has their own 'natural weight' this is the weight that gives you the most energy and is the healthiest for you. For some that might be a size 6 for others it may be a size 12. Eventually your weight will stabilize at what it is naturally meant to be by eating this way.
What shall I do at dinner parties or nights out?
We live in a world where it's social to eat and there's no reason that you can't be a part of that. Lord knows diets have made these things a misery for years. Unfortunately you cannot arrange your hunger for your hosts or that table booking but there are things you can do and I have a secret for you, naturally thin people sometimes overeat at dinner parties! The difference is, they don't freak out about it and they just naturally make sure the next time they eat, they are hungry. Which might be even later than usually because they over ate the night before.
the following things may help you.
If you know you are going to a dinner party save your hunger that day. When moderately hungry eat something small, like a piece of fruit or even a chocolate bar or small sandwich. Don't let yourself get too hungry but it's OK to eat a bit less than usual as you are saving yourself. A naturally slim person won't have a huge lunch if they know they are going out later and that makes perfect sense.
When you are out at the meal - pace yourself. If there are a few courses have a bit of each. Say to people, " This is awesome but I want to save room for dessert".
Explain to people that you are doing the Secret Weigh of eating
Ask for a smaller portion if you find it hard to leave food
Eat Slowly - this is important as it takes 20 minutes for you brain to register your stomach is full
Really taste and actually enjoy the food and eating it
If you are drinking you will have to be even more aware of your hunger as when we are drunk some if us tend to eat more. If you do though don't worry, you will just eat less the next day as you'll be less hungry. But try not to ruin your meal by eating too much
try to leave at least a mouthful on every plate
If you do find you're eating too much be very firm with yourself, you're a grown up and in charge of you! Say to yourself, STOP NOW! Don't slip back into your old diet mentality that says, I've blown it now so I might as well carry on. Reassure yourself you can have any of this delicious food again, when you are hungry
Here are some more of the Hunger Fears you have all been messaging me about.....
I'm too scared to leave the house without eating in case I get hungry
If hunger terrifies you and it does many people including me then take snacks with you everywhere. I rarely eat before I leave the house but I always have something in my bag to munch on in case I get hungry before I can get to a place I actually want to eat. You can top up your hunger with a snack to tide you along. After years of dieting, snacks are probably alien to you - but it's OK. I'm eating crisps as I type because I didn't have lunch and this has taken longer than I thought it would. I'll snack on a few crisps until I no longer feel completely empty and then I'll be OK until tea time. It's OK to snack if you are hungry and now you're no longer on a diet, you won't just eat the snacks because they are there because you know you have to wait until you are hungry and then you can have them.
What if I'm not hungry before exercising?
This is tough one! When I was in Cats the Musical the first time around, I ate because people told me I needed to fuel my body or I would be too ill to do the show. I did eat when I wasn't hungry because I was exercising and I put on two stone in two years!
The second time I did the show, I knew about the Secret Weigh and I'd lost the weight I put on eating Secret Weigh. I started rehearsals for the show and very quickly people started to tell me I'd get ill if I didn't fuel my body again. This time though I didn't listen to them. I listened to my hunger. I didn't eat 'just in case' my body needed it. I didn't eat because the health experts said I should. I just ate when I was hungry and I experimented with that.
What I found was that eating something light before a show was best. I ate things like an egg custard or a banana before the show. I also found that I didn't really eat any more while doing that show than I did when I wasn't doing it.
This time my weight stayed the same and unlike the first time I when had done the show and eaten extra for fuel, this time, by livening to my body, I had so much more energy and zest when doing the show and I felt really great (even though I was 6 years older and hadn't danced for 6 years either).
I had a lot of rows with people during my time there though as they told me I needed to 'fuel my body' but honestly, most of those people were on silly diets and still are, meanwhile I still weigh the same as I did back then and I never have to diet.
Listen to yourself!!!! Experiment and see what's right for you when exercising. If you are hungry you can always stop and you will know if you need a bit more or a bit less to eat next time you exercise - but listen to your hunger and your body.
What if I'm hungry at work and I can't get to food because we are not on a break?
In most jobs you can have a snack bag to snack on, so if you've missed breakfast you can tuck in to snack when you are hungry - but if you can't snack on the job, just have a little bit of breakfast to keep you going, a slice of toast maybe or a muffin. Most work places have breaks every few hours. Again experiment with it. If I'm teaching a workshop I may not have breakfast, but I can't snack in front of the students so I'll just muddle through for say 4 hours til lunch. Sometimes I'll have a muffin for breakfast even though I'm not hungry though, which might mean I don't have lunch or I just have another light snack like crumpets for lunch. You can gauge this and it will get easier the more you trust the process.
Try to listen to your body!
It's a long old blog today but I wanted to get you all to the next stage so you can build on what you have already done!