Published: Jul 26, 2013 8:13 AM EDT
Updated: Jul 26, 2013 9:20 AM EDT

With any of my members or clients, I make it very clear that my role is not to scold,
berate, or act like a food cop. In fact, it's just the opposite, because fostering an open, nonjudgmental dialogue about your relationship with food is the only way to uncover some truths
you may be pushing under the rug. And until they're exposed, they're pretty impossible to
change. Here are five many of my clients reveal, and why coming clean with yourself can be the
answer to finally losing weight, for good.
"I eat when I'm hungry, and stop when I'm full"
When reviewing my clients' food diaries, I often see snacks, driven by hunger, just an hour or
two after fairly substantial meals - generally a sign that something is out of sync. When I ask,
"What did the hunger feel like?" it often turns out to be emotional or social, rather than physical
in nature. In other words, there are no bodily symptoms that signaled a need for energy or
nourishment, and in truth, many clients know this to be true.
The toughest part of recognizing that you want to eat, but not because your body is telling you
to, is acknowledging that what you really need has nothing to do with food. But once you do
just that, and find other healthy ways to cope with what's really going on (anxiety, relationship
issues…), the weight may effortlessly fall off (day after day after day, just 200 surplus calories
can keep you 20 pounds heavier). If you don't keep a food diary already, start one, and include
not just what you eat and how much, but also your hunger level before and after meals, in
addition to your emotions. The revelations may allow you to break the pattern.
"I'm not a big drinker"
I've heard this from many clients who are chronic binge drinkers. For some, the selfcategorization is justified, because they don't drink during the week, have already cut back, or
are comparing themselves to friends who drink a whole lot more. But after some reflection, I
often hear sentiments like, "I know polishing off a bottle of wine by myself isn't good, even if
it's only on the weekends."
For most of my clients, drinking has a domino effect that travels in both directions. Knocking a
few back drinks on Saturday night often leads to eating more at dinner, followed by going out
to brunch on Sunday, skipping the gym Monday morning, and giving into the office candy dish
Monday afternoon. On the flip side, cutting back on booze often leads to feeling "cleaner," more
in control, and motivated to eat healthier and be more active - changes that can be transformative
for both your waistline and health.
"I eat really healthy most of the time"
I often hear this statement right after a client tells me about a vacation, dinner out, or holiday
that involved overeating. And while some believe it to be true, many know that on a day-to-day
basis, while they don't pig out, they're not exactly earning gold stars, especially when it comes
to hitting the mark for veggies, or protein totals.
It's OK to admit that you're not perfect, even if you're not perfect most of the time! You can't
set concrete goals that will improve your eating habits without coming to terms with how you
really eat. For example, if you realize that you eat too much rice and not enough veggies at
dinner, flip-flopping the portions (e.g. a half cup of brown rice and one cup of broccoli, instead
of the reverse) shaves 20 grams of carbs from your meal.
"I eat 5 or 6 small meals a day"
The operative word here is "small." Many of my clients who say this are actually eating five full
meals, which by today's portion distortion standards, may seem small, but are actually far more
than their bodies need.
Long stretches without eating can lead to rebound overeating, so well timed meals are key. But
whether you eat four, five, or six times a day, your body's needs remain the same, which means
if you want to eat more often, you must eat less each time you chow. For example, if you need
1,600 calories a day, you can eat: four 400 calorie meals; five 320 calorie meals; or six 266
calorie meals. The latter is a real challenge, because the meals end up being so mini, they don't
feel like meals, leading to extra nibbles, which wind up feeding your fat cells. I don't advocate
calorie counting, but if you think that too-frequent eating may be an issue, take inventory for a
day or two, to gain some perspective.
"I can eat more because I work out a lot"
Most of my clients work full time, on top of juggling family and social responsibilities, which
often leads to fitting in far fewer workouts than they'd like. When they do hit the gym, they hit
it hard, but many get there three days a week, while continuing to eat as if they're starting every
day with a workout.
Rather than following the same routine every day of the week, establish a "baseline" eating plan,
for non-exercise days, and add to it on the days you workout. Mentally, it's much easier to add to
your plate, rather than take foods away, and with a daily regime that doesn't factor in fitness, if
you just can't make it happen, you won't stick yourself with a surplus.