I introduced recently TFWtH Body Reboot. Rebooting is an excellent way to help reset your health and happy you (especially if you were a bit derailed by the holidays) and troubleshoot stalled weight loss, but it is not intended as a method of prolonged weight control.
Never ever will I advise to do this everyday of your life. That is why it’s called a reboot. A one time action. For the prolonged weight control part, you need something that lasts.
No human on earth can eat perfectly healthy for every meal of his life. And if you think about it, that shouldn’t even be your goal. Besides, nobody has an endless supply of willpower, so even if you try for perfection you will likely fail.
Enters the Frenchie philosophy: “Food is too good and life is too short to deprive yourself of things you enjoy.”
What’s awesome is that you don’t actually need to eat perfectly all the time. To achieve and maintain your ideal weight, all you need is to eat healthy most of the time. This is the 80/20 rule, which allow us to stay on the right tracks while experiencing how life is awesome. In other words, the secret to long term weight control is not restricting certain foods or ingredients, it’s changing your habits.
Over the years I’ve noticed there are a handful of essential habits that I use daily and are essential for me to maintain my preferred weight. I noticed that most of my friends kinda use them naturally as well.
Let me detailed what is working for me and might likely work for you:
I call these the Frenchie Habits.
And if I am able to do them consistently I can pretty much eat whatever I want the rest of the time. But if I miss any of them for too many days in a row without compensating in some way (hello body reboot) my weight will start to creep upward.
The beautiful thing about habits is that once they are developed they work for you automatically, without much thought or willpower. This means that if you can acquire the right set of Frenchie Habits, weight control will be fairly effortless. Cool, right?
Things only start to get tricky when you are thrown off your normal routine for an extended period of time. This is one reason the holidays can be so difficult. With travel and special occasions every weekend, it’s easy to let cooking or exercise slip for a week or more. But when you return to your home, your habits should put you back on track.
Of course, for Frenchie Habits to work, you need to defend them.
Birthdays, holidays and pressing work deadlines occur too often for you to rely on temporary diets or willpower to see you through your fitness goals. But if you have a set of Frenchie Habits that you know you can depend on whenever you’re in your regular routine, these health-defying events won’t be strong enough to have a significant impact on your weight.
Because Frenchie Habits are so essential, you shouldn’t trust yourself or your best intentions to maintain them. Track your activity and keep records to make sure your habits are working for you. Monitoring is a Frenchie Habit as well.
To keep myself honest, I use a scale weekly to track my weight (I prefer to do that on a week day as the week-end may be the time where I eat those 1-2 heavy meals). I do this weekly because daily does not show a significant variation. I know from experience that I fluctuate within a three pound window. If I start to veer outside of that I reexamine my Frenchie Habits to make sure something isn’t being neglected.
To make sure I get my 10,000 steps per day I use my Fitbit pedometer and check it regularly. The app keeps a record of your daily steps and sends you an email every week summarizing your activity.
Frenchie Habits do not need to be the same for everyone.
If you don’t like the gym, find some other activity that helps you be active and reach your step goal (I do think everyone needs to take 10,000 steps per day). Work on building the habit of portion control when you’re indulging in something sweet. This may require developing mindful eating habits so you enjoy food more and are satisfied with less.
But for me, learning how to cook your own meals is HUGE in the Frenchie Habits and TFWtH philosophy. It is for me the n°1 success factor for loosing or watching your weight. You can start with this delicious and easy omelet for instance. However, I you are just starting your health journey and a bit overwhelmed by the cooking part, find a few prepared meals (at restaurants, grocery stores or wherever) that are healthy and tasty.
Whatever habits you try to develop, make sure that you enjoy them. Habits are always associated with a reward (for more on habit building check out The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg). Though the rewards can be very subtle, if your new activity provokes a negative or even neutral emotional response it probably will not stick. So yes, you’re going to have to learn to enjoy being thinner and healthier. Bummer, I know.
By far the hardest part is identifying and developing the Frenchie Habits that work for you, both physically and logistically. There needs to be enough of them to counteract all of your not-so-healthy habits (some of your Frenchie Habits may involve reprogramming these), and they need to be rewarding enough to develop into habits in the first place.
Once formed, however, your French Habits are the ultimate secret to lasting weight control.
Author: Emilie Durand
Emilie is a French food lover, proud Parisian and founder of thefrenchwaytohealth.com. On her website, she shares delicious recipes, health tips and tricks. Her goal is to gather and share the habits and rules that have been used and approved by French people for decades. That means cooking your own meals efficiently, enjoying whole foods, eating mindfully and never ever using the word diet again while losing weight.