People ask me all the time..”Tell me what you do”. Here it is an uncensored version of what I have learned in the past few years. This comes not from a nutritionist or trainer, but as a person who desperately wanted to lose weight and be fit.
1. First and foremost, decide what is it you want the most. For this, there is absolutely no right or wrong answer. You have to decide what is best for you. You decide what makes you feel good, what gives you balance, what meets your needs, and what lifestyle you want to live.
2. The Food Part:
Throw out all past perceptions of “healthy eating”, ignore all the tv commercials about weight loss and “healthy foods”, and know there is no magic bullet.
Do not starve yourself! You must take in enough nutrients and calories for your body to work right. If you want to get very specific, estimate your Basal Metabolic Rate which is how many calories your body burns just to survive. http://www.myfitnesspal.com/tools/bmr-calculator
Eat those calories in the most nutrient dense way possible.
First work to get in your protein and green veggie requirements. These are the most difficult and non-decadent. Good lean protein sources include chicken, fish, real turkey, eggs, etc. I believe, on average, we Americans do not take in enough protein and green veggies. It’s almost work to eat enough and admittedly it is not fun food,
Add the right balance of carbs and fat to your protein and veggies. This takes practice. Some people tolerate fats better than carbs, some carbs better than fats. Build your meals by adding good carbs such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, oat bran, and quinoa. Do not be afraid of good healthy fats, such as coconut oil, olive or flax oil, avocados, and almonds. Carbs and fats are essential. Play with it to determine a good balance.
Eat as clean as possible, meaning avoid processed food, preservatives, and foods with names you can’t pronounce. Your body will thank you when you feed it real food and not things that have been manufactured. It is my promise to you that once you get it out of your system, you feel better, have more energy, food will taste better (really..your taste adapts), and best of all, those cravings decrease or go away. This phase is not without difficulty however. Examples of items to avoid are the frozen dinners (lean cuisines, etc.) and most anything in the cookie and chips section of the store. Shop the parameter of the store. I can literally get by with a simple grocery list of salad, greens, sweet potatoes, fish, chicken, eggs, oatmeal, whey protein, low carb protein bars (quest or think thin), almonds, unsweetened almonds milk, apples, blueberries, peanut butter, and nonfat greek yogurt.
Use exercise, not as a punishment for what you ate and not to negate what you eat, but as an enhancement. It is a fact that you cannot out-train a bad diet. So stick to a good eating plan and exercise to boost the effects of your clean eating and to shape and define your body.
Things that will kill your plan and send you on a roller coaster: simple carbs (sugar, flour, etc.), alcohol, hunger, and lack of sleep.
3. The nuggets:
Get your sleep! Do not underestimate the importance of sleep. It is when all the good things happen..your body resets itself, your mind rejuvenates, the hormone cascade for fat loss and muscle growth takes place. The most important hours for this are the ones prior to midnight.
Be prepared. Take the steps necessary to stay on track. Mine includes preparing my meals for the week, pre-emptively eating, and always having food on me. I am toast if I don’t have healthy options available and easy. I will turn to what is easy and it’s usually not a good choice. I also take food with me wherever I go..and I do mean wherever I go. If I am going to be anywhere for over 2 hours, you can bet I have food stashed (nuts, Quest bar, etc.) My friends can attest to this as I have eaten my bar or nuts at Amos Southend and explained to security at concerts… There is no shame in my game when it comes to this!! 🙂
Learn to politely say “No”. There will never be a shortage of opportunities to stray from your plan. There are always birthdays, dinners, holidays, pot lucks, and well-intended people (and some not so well-intended) to side-track you. Allow yourself to pick and choose where you say “yes” and where you say “no”. One trick I use often is to eat something on my plan or drink a protein shake prior to a social engagement, pot luck, or dessert party. Again, if I hit that point of hungry, I am done.. so I eat to prevent this pitfall.
Enjoy a cheat meal once a week. Use this for those parties, dinner dates, or just to satisfy the cravings for some foods you don’t want to give up. Eat whatever you want for that meal and enjoy the hell out of it!
4. Parting thought:
Be ok with not fitting in because.. you won’t.
Decide to what degree you are comfortable, find your balance, and unapologetically go for it. YOU have the power, the capability, to have the body you desire..now what are you going to do with it??
Me in 2005 and 2013:
(Trust me when I say..I have no freaking clue where those green pants came from or how I could possibly have spent well-earned money on them!”
Eight years older and proof that you can define your version of you.