Learning to think like a thin person can help make the inches melt away
People say it a lot: “You’re so lucky you’re thin. It must be nice to eat whatever you want.” Admittedly, like many thin people, I am blessed with a fast metabolism that gives me an advantage in the battle against the bulge. Yet the reason most thin women stay that way isn’t simply luck or genes. We’ve trained ourselves to think about food in ways that keep off the pounds, and we’ve developed strategies that work. Here they are:
Downsize portions. “Often a heavy person’s food choices are the same as a thin person’s,” notes nutritionist Alicia Moag Stahlberg. “What’s different is portion size.” To exercise quantity control, you need to think of quality. “I’d rather have a tiny smear of real cream cheese than a big blob of the fake stuff,” says Sherri Atkins (5’6″, 139 lb), a 51-year-old bookkeeper. This way, cravings are satisfied with-out piling on calories. It also helps to redefine the word meal. Many of us grew up thinking a meal means lots of different dishes—more than many adults need. Some evenings, though, dinner can be a cup of soup or apple slices with peanut butter. Short-circuit bingos, Everybody overeats sometimes. But thin-thinkers have tricks to help them cut short eating jags. When my sister, Barbara (5’5″, 101 lb), can’t stop munching, she forces herself to brush her teeth. “The toothpaste breaks the stranglehold the snacks have on my taste buds,” she says. Adopt an activity, such as knitting or painting that can’t be done while eating, advises John Foreyt at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “After ten minutes of distraction, cravings usually dissipate.” But if you do polish off that third doughnut, don’t write off the day as a failure. “Thin women know that eating sensibly 80 per cent of the time is generally enough to keep weight in check,” says Moag-Stahlberg.
Maximize enjoyment. Give food your full attention. “If you eat while watching TV, you’re likely to nosh until the show’s over,” warns Nancy Rodriguez, an assistant professor of nutritional sciences. Instead, take your time while eating. “People who wolf down food eat more,” says Rodriguez, “because it takes 20 minutes for the brain to get the message that you’re full.” Make meals a ceremony. “If I plop down a huge helping of pasta and eat it at the counter, it’s unsatisfying, and I wind up foraging for more,” says Andi Hessekiel (5′, 1151b), 39. “But when I sit at the table with a nicely arranged plate, I feel I’ve had a lovely meal even if the portions are small.” Halt weight gain before it’s beyond control. Every lean woman I know keeps two numbers engraved in her mind—the weight she considers ideal, and the weight she never lets herself exceed. How far apart are those numbers? About five pounds. “Slim people notice right away when they gain a bit, and immediately cut back,” says Ronette L. Kolotkin of the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, North Carolina. “Losing the weight doesn’t take long, because they never get to where they need to lose much.” So how do slender women moni- for their weight? Some swear by a daily or weekly weigh-in. Others let their clothes perform the fat-patrol function. “If I can button my pants, then I know I haven’t gained,” explains Kelli Kauterman (5’6″, 136 lb), a 34-year-old actress and teacher.
Develop tactics for dining out. Beware the buffet. Try Sherri Atkins’s reconnaissance method: “I check out the entire table before putting one morsel on my plate. That way, I don’t load up on everything along the way.” When ordering, keep in mind the “red sauce rule.” A tomato-based sauce on pasta or chicken is less fattening than a cream-based white one. Take one slice from the breadbasket, then send the basket back with the waiter. Another smart technique is to “divide and conquer.” Eat half your entree and take the rest home. Split dessert with a companion. GIVE THESE think-thin strategies a try. Before long, the inches will melt away, and you’ll be hearing, “You’re so lucky to be naturally thin.”
Energizing, Slenderizing Moves
Does it seem like every morsel of food goes directly from your lips to your hips? To buck that trend, Molly Fox of Equinox Fitness Clubs in New York City designed a spot-targeting program with fast results. The workout consists of four moves. Fox suggests starting with one set of each (ten to 20 repetitions) and working your way up. Perform the routine three to five times a week, adding at least 20 minutes of aerobic activity—walking, jogging, cycling—also three to five times a week. You should see results in about a month. (Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program. While gradual weight loss is best, this regimen can help jump-start your long-term goal.)
■ Stairwalkhig (warm-up). Step up onto a stair; right leg bent so that knee is over the arch of the foot. Follow with your left leg. Then step down, right leg first, left leg second. Don’t stomp. Control the motion so that your foot eases onto the floor. After one set, repeat, starting with left leg.
■ Lunge (targets fronts of thighs and buttocks). Place hands on hips and step forward with the right foot as far as you can without strain, bending right knee, so it is directly over the arch of the foot. Keeping right foot flat, raise the left heel. Slowly drop hips and left knee. Make sure right knee does not go beyond the arch of the foot. Pause, then slowly return to starting position. Repeat for one set, then do a second set lunging with left leg. Keep hips straight, head forward and chest up.
■ Butt Blaster (targets backs of thighs and buttocks). Kneel on a towel and lean forward, placing elbows on the floor. Lace fingers together and rest head on hands. Raise right leg, keeping the knee bent 90 degrees. Press foot toward ceiling until thigh is parallel to the floor. Slowly bring the leg down so that knee almost touches the floor. Continue without pause for one set. Repeat on the left leg.
■ Crunch (targets waist). Lie on back, placing feet against the wall, with knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Place hands behind head for support. Exhale slowly while lifting shoulders and head and drawing abdominal muscles in and down. Keep elbows back. Hold for a few seconds, then lower.
After the workout, remember to stretch gently. “There’s more to this workout than losing inches,” says Fox. “You’ll immediately feel more energetic, and by challenging your body, you can add an Ahal’ moment to your day—that time when you realize you’ve done something you didn’t know you could.”