Now that we know that women fluctuate in terms of their hormones, appetite, cravings, weight (not necessarily fat), it only makes sense to develop an eating strategy(ies) that reflect those fluctuations. That’s where the issues with most diets are – they are not flexible and do not take those monthly changes in consideration. If we keep following the same meal plan/diet every week of the month, we are damned – we will most likely fail, usually blaming our own will power (or lack of it), inability to stick with a plan, our weak characters.
But wait, it’s not really us, it’s diets’ poor design! This approach is from outside in – we follow something given to us with no regard to our internal processes. We don’t really fail – a poorly formulated diet fails us. Read this again until it sinks in – POORLY FORMULATED DIET FAILED YOU!
In order to reach your weight-loss and wellness goals, you need to develop a plan that is very unique to you and your physiology. This takes some work – I’d suggest tracking your cycle and what you eat. There’re different apps for it, you can also just mark your calendar when you get your period. If you’re sorta new to the whole idea of listening to your body (like I was not so long ago), it’ll require some practice, but it is so worth it – because you are worth it!
Becoming your own “body-keeper” is very empowering and is the highest degree of self-care. Mindful check-ins with your body will improve your health and weight, you’ll learn well and even become intuitive in recognizing and granting your body’s needs.
Now with tracking you can be better at predicting when your appetite will increase, what kind of cravings you usually get and around what time of the month, when you are least hungry and most energetic, how to feel calm about increased energy and calorie needs; how to give yourself permission to eat more than you normally do and not freak out about it.
Manage your calories like you do your budget – save up on those days when needs are minimal, and splurge some when you need it most.
Weight loss will only occur when caloric deficit is present. There’s no way around it. A calorie is still a calorie – when without context. Now, processed foods will trick your brain and spiral a bunch of hormonal and neurochemical processes that would lead you to eating more, and that’s context; while whole balanced meals will satisfy and nourish you, keeping your blood sugar stable and your hormones balanced for better diet and wellness outcomes. That’s where calories differ – in consequences they bring about.
Tracking food intake is one of the most effective tools with weight loss. You’d be surprised how much or how little you eat sometimes. It may seem tedious and time consuming, however with the technology today, it’s as easy as typing it into your smartphone app. MyFitnessPal, LoseIt and Livestrong offer easy to use versions (disclaimer – I’m not working for any one of those, I just happen to use and like them).
While intuitive eating is a great approach, it has limitations – you can “intuitively” overeat, when not thinking of why and what and how much you eat. Use intuition and common sense when it comes to figuring out your own eating strategy.