UNITED STATES—The plan to lighten up 30 pounds in 30 days seeks to avoid the adversarial relationship with foods that arises in so many conventional diets. Now that you are on the countdown (day 22), the secret is strict adherence to basic practices. And one of the fundamentals to maintain these accelerated results is keeping mealtimes and snacks sacred and wreathed in gratitude. And gratitude is precisely what springs when true need (hunger) meets food.
To maintain healthy hunger, we accentuate activity and absorption in activity. Aim to be utterly absorbed in what you’re doing and the hours fly by—that’s bliss, time evaporates, and the next thing you know it’s already snack or mealtime. To conjure that state, stop thinking with your stomach and gladly surrender your mind and body to the simple task at hand. The gift of absorption hones respect for eating times and respect for not eating between mealtimes. It also honors the function of food as fuel.
Be ever observant for what is to be done and what needs to be done, in our streets, homes, jobs and planet. On the whole, the importance of smiling, standing up straight, and straightening up the many little messes that proliferate, starting with the contents of our own pockets, is vastly underrated. The planetary dividends in taking care of these items often deemed trivial or dismissed because “we don’t have the time,”Â are enormous, and also of getting engrossed in these tasks bolsters respect for non-mealtimes.
OK, let’s reel in the kite a bit: to reinforce not eating between meals, here’s something concrete to practice. When you feel hungry, and it’s not yet mealtime, think about what activity you could be doing instead. I bet there’s already something on your to-do list, so get to it.
One alternative to consider is practical exercise. Practical exercise is when you flex the body’s muscles and it also accomplishes a job. Sweeping the street, putting away dishes or trimming an out-of-control bush all are examples of practical exercise. In addition to providing a wonderful break, practical exercise puts you in a receptive, relaxed state ideal to foster creative ideas, and this invigorating movement is downright alluring when we’re immersed in cerebral chores of the computer age. Who knows? Practical exercise may advance your career as well as helping to maintain eating only at mealtimes.
Also, to optimize the results of the 30-day plan, plain old exercise can’t hurt. It can’t hurt, anywhere, anytime, to do 10 push-ups or imaginary jumping rope. It can’t hurt to take the stairs instead of the escalator; it can’t hurt to take two steps at a time instead of one; it can’t hurt to park your car in the first parking spot you see and walk the rest of the way. If you happen to be already walking, it can’t hurt to walk twice as quickly. (No less a luminary that the natural medicine guy, Dr. Andrew Weil, calls walking “the best exercise”Â to boost mood, lower heart-rate and improve cholesterol ratios).
When you feel like eating, think about what activity you can do, instead. That’s a major new habit to cultivate, which flips around the unhelpful and well-established association, wherein we think of what nagging task we have to do and then go open the refrigerator instead. That is hunger as avoidance and, as a result, it is never quite satisfied, whereas hunger that arises after task completion just hits the spot.
Food is, finally, more than fuel. When shared, it is a time for companionship, conversation and laughter. When we embrace that rich experience, instead of depriving ourselves because of diet hang-ups, we’ve reached the touchstone of our endeavor: liking me and liking who I am as I am. Liking yourself opens the way to lightening up effortlessly, and to like yourself you must accept yourself. That means you will be ready to like who you are quickly becoming as you lighten up 30 pounds in 30 days.
Humorist Grady Miller is the author of “Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet,”Â now on Amazon Kindle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.