Hey Folks! We're excited to welcome back Certified 21DSD Coach Stefanie Bonastia. Stefanie's article is part of a series contributed by our Certified 21DSD Coaches. Enjoy! – Diane and Team
One of the reasons I love the 21-Day Sugar Detox is because it focuses on getting your body to a place where it just feels better. Happier moods, fewer headaches and achy joints, improved sleep, better digestion…the list goes on. The desire to feel better is what made me try this detox in the first place, and the results are what made me become a coach.
But let’s face it—a lot of people sign up for this detox to lose weight.
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing! Losing weight is an important piece of overall health. A healthier mind and body go hand-in-hand with a healthier weight. It does feel good.
While many people lose weight with ease on the 21DSD, there are some people who find themselves stalling or not losing as much weight as they expected. Which can be kind of disappointing, despite the other life-enhancing results they may be experiencing aside from weight loss. (Which are equally, if not more important, in my opinion). But still—it can be disappointing.
I know because I was one of them.
Weight had always been an issue for me, and I can’t say that I didn’t enter into my first detox hoping to drop a size or two. I even completed the detox for a second time after a few months. While I appreciated the reduction in mood swings (and wouldn’t trade it for any amount of weight loss!), the fact remained that I wanted to lose weight but found myself staying still around my I-can-sort-of-wear-these-jeans-but-I-hate-when-they-come-out-of-the-dryer setpoint.
So I started to consider why this was happening. Why I wasn’t losing weight when I felt that I should be, especially because I had continued with the clean-eating lifestyle even between detoxes.
It came down to TWO major things.
#1: Emotional Eating
Even though the 21DSD greatly reduced my mood swings, and therefore my need to eat emotionally, it didn’t eliminate it 100%. My emotional eating had developed over years and years of stuffing feelings into food binges, and unfortunately our brains begin to habituate to these patterns even when moods are more stable.
If you have a history of emotional eating, the #1 thing you must confront to lose weight is your mindfulness around—you guessed it—emotional eating.
There are many strategies to gain control over your emotional eating patterns, and I used them all: mindfulness, meditation, food and mood journaling, and repeating mantras aloud to tell my brain when I was eating from stress, loneliness, worry, or frustration versus hunger. The more I did this, the easier it got. (Note: this takes a lot of commitment and dedication on your part. It is a long-term job and not meant to be a quick-fix. That doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight in the interim, but it is something you have to practice over time to set yourself up for maximum success).
I never liked food journaling. I don’t know why. Even though it has always helped me, I tended to think of it as a chore.
Then I discovered an online app that practically did all the work for me. I just plugged the foods I was eating into a database and it magically calculated the macro and micronutrients in my foods so I could see, objectively, what I was eating every day.
It is very important to note here that counting calories is NOT a principle I subscribe to in general. The 21DSD is about focusing on foods that nourish our bodies and should not be seen as another version of calories-in, calories-out. It is So. Much. More. Than. That.
That said, the fact remained that I had been emotionally eating my way through 21DSD-compliant foods like avocados and nuts and coconut milk without stopping to realize that these foods, while extremely nutritious and nourishing, are very calorie-dense. Food is only nourishing in appropriate amounts. So even if you’re overeating “healthy” foods, you are still overeating. And overeating is not a form of nourishment, any way you slice it.
The 21DSD does a great job of cutting away all the extra, “outside-of-you” complications that induce overeating in the first place, i.e. inflammatory foods like gluten, sugar, and processed junk. But the “inside-of-you” complications still lurk inside somewhere, for some people. Only you can truly get rid of that.
If you are still working on the “inside-of-you” stuff (see #1), you may need a tool to help you re-learn what qualifies as an appropriate amount of food to respect your body, and really yourself. This is something that trips up many well-intentioned emotional eaters who have lost track of what it means to “eat normally.” Luckily, it can be relearned by logging your meals into an online food journal so you can see where you stand (there are a variety of apps for this—just do a Google or app search for “online food diary”).
When I first did this, I realized that I was eating a hefty amount of food and computing it in my mind as appropriate simply because it was “healthy.” Since tracking my intake, I have re-learned what a healthy portion really looks like and I have no trouble sticking to my daily intake goals while still feeling full and nourished. In fact, I feel even more in touch with my body and my food. I am so incredibly grateful for this practice within my 21DSD experience. I encourage you to try it – you may find yourself very surprised!
So for anyone out there who find themselves loving the 21-Day Sugar Detox but still struggling with weight loss, my suggestion is to examine your emotional eating patterns and begin practicing mindfulness strategies around them, and to start food tracking to keep foods within a healthy daily intake. It is really that simple! (Not easy, but simple.) This is how I shed my extra weight while maintaining all of the principles of the 21DSD.
Which means that I now have the best of both worlds: health AND my just-out-of-the-dryer-and-still-feels-good jeans.
Yes, you can.
Stefanie Bonastia is a 21-Day Sugar Detox Certified Coach and an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach based in Morristown, NJ. The founder of Evolve Well with Stefanie, she is a mother by day (and night) and a healthy lifestyle renegade in all the hours between. Stefanie’s passion for health coaching is fueled by her own personal evolution from “living” to “thriving,” and the desire to help anyone with an open mind & heart to do the same.
For more information about Stefanie or to enroll in her 21-Day Sugar Detox Coaching group (online programs available), please visit www.evolvewellwithstefanie.com/21dsd.