Just a heads up…this is a BIG topic. Understanding nutrition and eating healthy to lose weight is so important and I wanted to pour every bit of information I could into this. You can be a healthy ninja after reading this and won’t have to be stuck in an endless diet cycle that causes yo-yo weight changes and misery anymore. BUT….that required a longer post than usual, so bookmark this page if you don’t have 15-20 minutes to spend some quality time with me.
Or, you can download this in a FREE PDF book format to take with you on your phone or tablet and keep forever. It’s prettier to look at too, so get your copy here.
Okay, you ready? Read on to learn everything you need to know to (finally) get the body and lifestyle that makes you ridiculously happy. (Spoiler alert: Being in great shape is simpler than you have been told!)
Does your diet suck?
The word ‘diet’ by definition is “the food a person habitually eats”. Well, that doesn’t sound scary at all-
But what is scary is the vast number of diet plans marketed to help you eat better and lose weight. How do you even choose? Plus, most of them involve restrictions you won’t sustain and promise immediate results you’ll never see.
Despite all of the choices out there for you, it is possible to choose a diet that doesn’t suck. It’s just going to take a little self-education and a big dose of reality.
If you are in a place wanting to change but not sure how to go about it, you are in the right place. Maybe you are sick of wanting to lose ‘those last 10 lbs.’ but never doing it. Maybe you woke up today, looked in the mirror, and decided enough is enough, it’s time for a change. Maybe your doctor told you to get healthy or you’re sick of being the big guy/girl in your social circle. Or you just really want to feel good in a bikini (for once).
Whatever your reason for wanting change, you are not alone. Countless people decide to get healthy and make a change every day, and most of them have no idea what they are doing. And the simple fact that getting healthy in today’s world is not simple makes me furious. Which is why I want to help.
I’m not going to tell you THE BEST diet to lose weight or get healthy and I’m not going to tell you ‘my way is the only way’ just because it worked for me. That would make me a hypocrite. If I learned anything on my journey to a fit lifestyle I can maintain and enjoy, it’s that there is not just one way and what works for someone doesn’t work for everyone. So, if you are looking for a magic solution or a quick fix, you can stop reading now. But I will tell you exactly what you need to know to finally have success, like:
• How to PICK A DIET that actually works for you
• How to SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS and understand your personal barriers
• A basic KNOWLEDGE OF NUTRITION so you will be able to question crap that is fed to you through the media, internet and well meaning ‘advice-givers’
• The REAL SIMPLE DIET PHILOSOPHY we believe in at Fitness Life Adventure
• The ACTIONS YOU NEED TO TAKE to create your diet and reach your goals
• How to MAKE IT ALL WORK with your bigger picture (life, work, family, ya know…the important stuff)
Remember, you don’t fail because of your choice of diet, but because of how you approach it. To pick one that actually works for you, you need to limit your choices to ones that fit your needs and also understand your own challenges.
Now, it’s time for a dose of reality so you can get out of your own way.
Getting your mind right
In fitness (and life), your biggest roadblock and greatest weapon is your mind. If you tell yourself something is hard, or make excuses, you can bet it will be near impossible to actually accomplish it. There’s good news though: If you get your mind in the right place before starting out, success is almost guaranteed.
Change means change. Are you committed?
Does this cycle sound familiar? 1. Gradual or sudden displeasure with how you look/feel 2. Think about finally losing weight and scour the web for diet advice or inspiration 3. Get excited about this diet you heard about from so-and-so or that a fitness model swore by for their results 4. You go all out! Workout every day, buy ‘allowed’ food, give up all the food you loved, stop being social etc. 5. Drop a few pounds, but then it stagnates, you lose motivation and miss your old food and old fun (it was just easier). 6. Binge fest- and now you are back to square one or worse.
Most people think they fall victim to the diet cycle because they didn’t have what it took, or they weren’t as committed as the person with the before/afters. And it’s that thinking that leads to failure every subsequent attempt they make.
The truth is, you probably failed because the version of ‘healthy eating’ you tried was not compatible with your lifestyle and was way too different than how you currently eat. True, some people can radically change everything they eat overnight, but for the majority of us, that is not the reality.
Step 1 to healthy eating: Forgive yourself for every failed attempt in the past. Seriously, forget about every time you failed or it will hold you back. You are going to do this smarter than ever before and doubts will undermine you.
Step 2: Commit to change. For realsies. You have to want the life and body of your dreams more than you want instant gratification. Eating a donut or slice of pizza will always taste good for a moment, don’t expect that to change, you just need to realize you have a choice. Your current habits have gotten you where you are; it’s time to build new ones. And you need to trust me when I say, reaching your goals or having a six-pack does not require you to give up your favorite foods forever. Trust the process and commit to small, sustainable changes that you can stick to.
Be done with complicated eating.
It doesn’t need to be that way. I’ve studied nutrition for years and even I have gotten turned around a few times. I’ve also tried every popular diet (from clean eating and vegan to intermittent fasting). Take it from me; healthy eating can actually be boiled down to something far more straightforward and manageable. Most of those methods or diets promote different ways to the same thing anyway- improving food choice and quantity.
BOTTOM LINE: food is meant to be enjoyed, and healthy food is no exception. You should want to eat these things that are good for you. And it shouldn’t require intensive study or complicated calculations to figure out what you should and shouldn’t eat. Anyone can make simple strides towards eating better. Don’t embark on complicated strategies if the results you are after can be achieved with much simpler shifts-it could be the difference between success and another failure.
Don’t blame the cookies.
The power is in your hands, and you are not a slave to your taste buds. (Read that again!). You are not giving up junk food because you want to suffer, but because you want an epic life full of fun and adventure in a body you feel amazing in.
Give up instant gratification, and fight the system. The “system” of cheap fatty food, large portions, pervasive food advertising and sedentary lives is a ‘toxic food environment,’ according to Kelly Brownell, a Yale Psychologist. And the food industry spends nearly 10 billion a year advertising unwholesome junk food and fast food, but that doesn’t mean they have to win. Take control of your health and don’t believe everything you see. Food companies design crap food for maximum addictiveness, but you do have a choice.
….With expectations. Pick any diet you like, but if you expect to see significant results in a day, week or month you are setting yourself up for failure. You may feel like you made a bunch of changes and deserve a reward in the form of immediate proof on your body, but it doesn’t work that way. All diets take commitment and time, and if one promises ease and fast results-run away. The reality is, your food habits over the past year or 10 have gotten you where you are and it’s going to take time to change your habits and the scale. But it is going to be oh so worth it, be patient.
….With actions. Small changes will result in big results over time. They are easier to stick to, deliver less of a shock to your current lifestyle and make the whole process more fun. Behavior change isn’t sexy but it is way more important than any diet. Now, if you want big results and can handle drastic changes, or have more of a ‘go cold turkey’ mentality, then by all means, make as much change as you can handle. But if it makes you miserable, it’s not the right way for you.
What do you want?
Do you want abs or that donut? How fast do you want to lose weight? How much weight do you want to lose? You will need to decide how radical of a change you want and how difficult of a change you are up for because different goals require different things. (IE- the lifestyle of someone who wants six pack abs vs. someone who just wants to lose enough weight to get healthy). But if you WANT the change you just thought of, you need to be willing to work for it. Period.
If you want different results, you have to do things differently. But let me put your mind at ease, different doesn’t mean worse/tasteless/boring/restrictive, it just means different. So before you freak out, lets start with the basics and then I’ll show you how to get the results you want without being miserable.
Eating 101: A Nutrition Crash Course
You are ready to make changes now, so let’s look at how that change is made.
How weight loss happens
The body needs a certain number of calories per day to maintain your current weight, known as your calorie maintenance level, that supports basically everything you do (from keeping organs functioning to daily exercise). The most simplified understanding at the cause of weight changes would therefore be:
• Consume more calories than your body needs and you will gain weight
• Consume less calories than your body needs and you will lose weight
Is there a lot more that happens in the body than this simplified view? Yes, and we will get to some of that in a bit. But for now it is important to grasp that the simplest and most important key to getting and staying at a weight that is desirable, is to maintain a balance of calories that fuels your lifestyle and not much more.
Losing the weight
Let’s do a little math:
1 pound = 3500 calories
Average (and safe) weight loss is about 1-2lbs per week depending on how much you have to lose in total. So…
3500/7= 500 calories per day (deficit needed to lose 1 lb. a week on average)
To create this deficit, you can A) consume fewer calories, B) burn (exercise) more calories, or C) a combination of A and B. In case you were wondering, the recommended method is to combine a diet and exercise program (option C) for long-term success, however, let’s stick to the nutrition part of things to stay on track.
To determine your calorie deficit, you should track what you eat for 3-4 days using a food journal, an app like MyFitnessPal or website like MyPlate. Dealer’s choice on the method, but you need to track EVERY SINGLE CALORIE. Even if you just had a bite or just snagged one mini snickers from the jar at the office, if you ate it, it counts.
The point of this is to see what you have been eating and how many calories you typically consume (which is why the brutal honesty and not eating healthy just because you are tracking is important). To lose a pound a week, just take 500 calories off of that average amount. You can have a smaller lunch or dinner, take out a snack, or skip the 3rd and 4th soda, whatever works for you to create the deficit. (If you are wondering how many calories you should be eating, you can calculate your BMR and then adjust for activity. But if you are way off that ideal amount, it’s best to subtract a couple hundred a week until you reach it instead of jumping from say 4500 to 2000 cals right away.)
Since this method of weight loss requires only eating the right amount of foods and not dictating what kind of food, it is the easiest to implement. You can still eat the same food you’re used to, just change the amount. You will lose weight by getting closer to your optimal calorie level (especially beginners), but if you are after more drastic results then you need to know more….
A Calorie is not a Calorie
When you start to eat the right amount of calories, you will start to see pounds drop off, but that is just part of the story. I’m assuming you have heard that not all calories are created equal, so you know that eating 1000 calories of gummy bears is not the same as eating 1000 calories of meat and vegetables. (Darn)
Our food is made up of three macronutrients: Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats, and they are digested differently in your body. Contrary to what some fad diets recommend, cutting out an entire macronutrient (no carb, no fat etc.) is not ideal and ALL are necessary for certain bodily functions. Here’s what makes up a basic meal:
Protein: has 4 calories per gram and is essential for maintaining lean muscle tissue and rebuilding during recovery from exercise. It should be the main component of every meal and supports weight loss efforts because it helps you feel full longer, has a high thermic effect (takes more calories to digest) and is rarely stored as fat. Aim for 1g per pound of bodyweight (not exceeding 200g if your goal is weight loss). Good sources are chicken, beef, pork, turkey, fish, eggs, nuts, legumes, quinoa, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese.
Carbohydrates: are also 4 calories per gram and are the main source of energy for our body. “Bad” carbs (simple carbs from refined or processed foods) offer little nutritional value and are digested quickly by the body, causing blood sugar spikes/falls and cravings. “Good” carbs (complex carbs from whole grains, legumes, seeds, many fruits and starchy vegetables) are digested more slowly and therefore lower glycemic (more on that in a minute). Chances are, if you have weight loss goals you need way less carbs (or better source of carbs) than you are consuming now.
Fats: dietary fats (the kind you eat) are not the same as body fat (the kind on your hips) so don’t think that fats make you fat. They have 9 calories per gram (so are more filling) and are essential for important functions in the body. Eat things like avocados, olive oil, fish oil, almonds, almond butter, and walnuts for good sources of poly and monounsaturated fats. And limited amounts of saturated fat found in dairy, butter and fatty meats. (Side note: coconut oil is technically a saturated fat but is digested in the body more like a carb and is rarely stored as fat. Plus, it has many amazing health benefits.)
A healthy diet requires balanced consumption of all of the macronutrients. Eating fats or eating carbs has not made people fat, and the popularity of those claims that vilify a macronutrient has led to shelves full of ‘low fat’ or ‘non fat’ food pumped with additives and (usually) sugar to maintain flavor. Want to know what has made you fat? The habitual consumption of simple, refined, and processed carbohydrates. To understand why, we need to look at:
Role of Insulin
Its primary job is to regulate blood-sugar levels. After you eat carbs, they are broken down into sugar molecules and ushered to your bloodstream. Insulin is then secreted by the pancreas, which transports the blood sugar into the muscles and liver as fuel for the next few hours. Once insulin is depleted, the excess blood sugar is stored as fat. When there is a sudden rush of blood sugar (eating “bad” carbs), insulin spikes. The rush of insulin sometimes does too much and leaves blood sugar levels lower than before you ate- so your body thinks you have run out of fuel and the result is hunger and a craving for more carbs.
Eating too much sugar and refined carbs over time will not only make you fatter, but you will develop insulin resistance, in which your cells are less affected by insulin, so you will have high levels of blood sugar AND insulin circulating. This combo triggers cortisol production (stress hormone) that can increase fat storage, typically in the belly region.
The cliff notes version of the glycemic-index is that the longer it takes the carbs to be digested, the lower the impact on blood sugar levels and insulin release, and the healthier the food. Foods with the highest rating (and quickest to digest=bad) are simple sugars, starches and anything made from flour. The foods at the low end of the index (slowest to digest=good) are green vegetables, beans, whole grains and this is mainly because they have fiber, an indigestible carb that slows digestion. The glycemic load factors in the serving size of the food along with the index rating of it. To keep it simple, you can focus on eating low glycemic load foods throughout the day and limit high glycemic load foods before/after a workout when your body is most efficient at using for fuel.
Connect the dots…
By now you should start to see how some popular diets justify their philosophy (clean eating, high protein/low carb, etc.) and are essentially based on manipulating/controlling macronutrients, timing/quality of carbs and limiting processed foods. This way of eating takes a little more effort than simple calorie control (because you also need to change food choice) but is a huge step towards healthy eating and will be more efficient at losing the right type of weight (fat).
When you start to understand the role that food plays in your body and the domino effect that your eating habits have, you can look at food and diets a whole new way. Here’s my take after years of trial and error, personal guinea pig experiments and clients’ success:
My Diet Philosophy: Real Food. Real Simple
If someone asked me to sum up my diet philosophy in one sentence it would be this:
“Eat more real food, and less crap food, most of the time.”
Let’s break that down.
Eat more real food: Come on, you know what real food is…if it grew from the earth, lived on it (land or sea) or is consumed close to its’ natural state it is probably real food. Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and nuts are all examples of real food.
Eat less crap food: Was there a donut bush or an ice-cream tree? (I didn’t think so). If it comes in a box, bag or can, has an ingredient list longer than…well, something long, or has gone through many steps from its natural state to your plate then it is probably crap.
Most of the time: This is where I put a unique spin on things and it takes influence from a few popular diets all mashed up in a way that works for me (and a lot of people I have worked with). Ever heard of the 80/20 rule? I wrote about it here, but also it’s part of our diet philosophy. It basically means you eat healthy 80% of the time and the other 20% you eat foods you enjoy (that might not be ‘healthy’). But we use it here more as a guideline than a hard rule, because the ratio is flexible. If you want to get lean or have a wedding coming up etc., it might look more like 90/10. Now if you are on vacation or over the holidays, let’s be real, it will be more like 60/40. AND THAT’S OKAY.
Why? Because, another part of the philosophy is to listen to your body’s natural hunger cues. Sound too simple to be effective? Not so, my friend.
When’s the last time you had a planned a cheat meal and it turned into an epic feast that left you uncomfortably full? Or maybe you had to force down your 6th or 7th meal of the day because that’s how many you were told to eat?
The truth is most people are too focused on hitting a certain macro/calorie level for a meal, fitting in x number of meals, OR are so used to clearing their huge plates, and consuming a ton of processed food with sugar substitutes that actually override your natural cues that listening to what your body says it needs is completely ignored. If you eat when you feel a slight feeling of hunger and stop when satisfied (not full), you will effortlessly consume your ideal calorie level. Even though you will eat mostly healthy foods, it’s more important that your meal is the right size here. Also, if you pigged out the night before and aren’t hungry first thing in the morning, it’s okay to wait a bit. (The whole ‘you have to eat breakfast to lose weight and stoke your metabolism’ is a myth, by the way)
It does take time to learn to listen to your body again, but the freedom you feel when not obsessing over what to eat, when your next meal is or how much you should eat is the healthiest relationship with food I have found. If you find yourself obsessing over your meals or looking forward to your ‘cheat day’ 10 days out, it might be time to do less to get more results.
TO SUM IT UP: Strategic moderation results in effortlessly maintaining your ideal weight and limits feelings of restriction or boredom with your diet. Eat real food most of the time, make healthier substitutions often, break addictions to crap food, and allow yourself to enjoy treats in moderation. Okay, you want a name for it? You are a flexitarian: eat healthy most of the time, but you’re flexible.
Eating for aesthetics: “I want a six-pack!”
Okay, maybe our philosophy sounds too simple and you are skeptical. (First, I would say, have you tried it? Like for more than a few weeks? Try it before you sign up to a complicated diet camp just because it’s popular. Just saying)
However, if you really want to know about more complicated eating strategies (because they do work if you have specific goals), let’s talk about how you can use these strategies successfully. One important thing to consider: Don’t take your nutrition to extremes unless you have extreme goals. If you want to compete, get supper ripped or some other physique-based goals, you will need to have more discipline and adherence to have success on diets like these:
This diet has become extremely popular thanks to CrossFit and has proven to get lots of people really, really lean. THE BASICS: Channel your inner caveman and only consume foods that existed back in those days: meat, fowl, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils and NOTHING ELSE. No counting calories or macronutrients and you can eat as much as you want of approved foods. THE TAKEAWAY: This diet is extremely hard to stick to unless you are really good at saying no to a lot of food throughout the day. If you can stick to it, eating this way will produce drastic results. Can you guess why, now that you passed Nutrition 101? Because it essentially cuts out all processed or unnatural foods, limits sugar (bad carbs) and is high in protein; all strategies you already learned will help get you lean, wrapped up in a flinstone-esque presentation.
I would argue that this is the most popular and ‘mainstream’ healthy diet that is not a fad or marketed as a magic pill. THE BASICS:Consume whole, natural foods, lots of greens, lean proteins, whole grains (and other complex carbs), healthy fats, foods that have fewer (3-6) ingredients on the label and eat 5-6 small meals spaced throughout the day. THE TAKEAWAY:This diet promotes real food and substituting favorite foods for ‘cleaner’ options (so far so good) but the rule surrounding how many meals and how often you eat is limiting and a roadblock for many people. They get lost in meal prep and Tupperware land trying to make it fit their schedule when the real focus should be on the choice of foods. There is some truth to more frequent, smaller meals benefiting weight loss efforts but not the benefits they claim. Consuming your food in 5 meals instead of 3 will not ‘boost the metabolism’ and make you burn more fat, but it does help some people feel less hungry as they adjust to clean foods by eating more often.
TIP: Don’t be afraid to make your own rules when following any diet to make it work for you (I know plenty of people that are 90% paleo and have some rice or sweet potatoes or who ‘eat clean’ but have 3 larger meals a day because it works better with their schedule-guess what, they are still lean) Break the rules, I won’t tell anyone.
Going low carb will get you lean but it’s not healthy nor is it a good idea over the long haul. Enter: carb cycling. THE BASICS: This is an aggressive and advanced nutrition strategy that is a planned manipulation of carb intake in order to prevent a fat loss plateau while maintaining a healthy (high) metabolism. THE TAKEAWAY: This should only be followed by advanced dieters (like physique athletes) who have a high nutritional adherence and is to be used only for short-term goals. The science behind why it works is essentially because you get to take advantage of the benefits of low calorie/carb days with higher carb days (known as refeed days) frequent enough to avoid the negative metabolic effects of restriction.
If you want to give carb cycling a try, just remember it is very important to be accurate with your high/low/no carb days and therefore this method takes a lot of effort. You will essentially have high carb days (2-3 grams per lb of bodyweight), low carb days (.5-1g per lb) and no carb days (carbs only come from veggies and fruit) that are alternated throughout the week like this: Low, Low, High, No, Low, High, No. There are many variations of this method depending on your goal and a simple Google search can tell you about this super technical dieting technique.
Intermittent Fasting (IF)
Saved the most controversial (two) for last! Intermittent fasting is a diet that people either love or hate, mainly because it goes against commonly held beliefs about eating healthy (never skip a meal, always eat breakfast, etc.). THE BASICS: IF means alternating intervals of not eating (fasting) and times of eating (feeding). The fasting and feeding windows vary based on which type of protocol you follow, and can range from 14 hours to 36 hours. THE TAKEAWAY:Don’t freak out, it sounds more extreme than it is. Everyone already fasts (like when you sleep) and most IF’ers just extend that fasting period and have a smaller feeding window (like eating from 12pm to 8pm on a 16 hr. fast/8hr feed schedule) It works because we have more time to reap the benefits of what our bodies already do while we fast (hint: supports fat burning) AND it naturally controls calorie intake without measuring and counting. IF is too complex to do it justice right now but I will say that I apply IF principals in my daily diet with great success. Think of it this way, it’s normal to starve occasionally, its not normal to have a cafe and McDonalds on every corner.
If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM)
This diet has very loyal followers and was created by bodybuilders who were tired of the bland ‘competition food’ and found a way to eat ‘dirty’ foods as long as they stay within calorie intake for the day. THE BASICS: Learn your TDEE (how many calories your body burns a day) and consume 10-20% less than that per day, while getting adequate protein, carbs, fat and fiber, and you can eat whatever else you want IIFYM. (Get it? :p) The takeaway: This takes calorie control (the basic diet you learned first) a step further by setting macronutrient goals, so you can imagine adhering to this diet requires careful tracking of everything you eat. Also, because it is basically a rebellion diet from clean eating, some people take the ‘eat whatever you want IIFYM’ mentality to the extreme and focus on eating as much ‘dirty’ food as they can squeeze in (which is obviously not ideal). However, if you like the idea of having a structured diet, this protocol will surely get you lean as it promotes a calorie deficit and balanced macronutrient intake. But be aware of the same limitations that the calorie control method possesses: success is based on compliance, perfect (and honest) calorie tracking, and the accuracy of BMR calculators and nutrition labels.
What’s the best one for me?
You still with me? Good, because this is where we put it all together. You have the knowledge, you have the tools and now all you need is to TAKE ACTION.
It’s time to stop thinking about it…It’s time to stop researching it…It’s time to stop wishing…It’s just time to start.
The best diet for you is the one you will actually stick to! (Darn that sounding too simple to be true thing again…)The most important factor when evaluating any diet is if you can actually see yourself eating that way for the long term. As long as you don’t go for any quick fixes or fad diets, it’s hard to go wrong if you follow the guidelines outlined above. Whether you choose counting calories, glycemic load, paleo, or clean eating, you are going to have the most success with the one you can stick with. Period.
That’s why a lot of people have had success following my program 30 Days To Lean– not because it was based on some magic secret, but because it is a blue print for establishing healthy habits and people can stick to it. Simple as that.
What now? Well, if you are new to eating healthy it is best to make small, incremental changes and start at the simplest level (calorie control) so you can see how your body adjusts and re-learn portion sizes. Then, you can commit to more change later, based on your goals:
• If you want to get to a HEALTHY WEIGHT: You should work your way towards glycemic load and the flexitarian type of eating. Focus on adding in more real food and eating less crap. If you drink soda, lots of alcohol, candy/desserts, and fast food, you know where to start eating less (that alone will get you farther than you think).
• If you want to look like a FITNESS MODEL: You can graduate to more advanced methods of eating (clean eating, IIFYM, IF, or paleo). 90% of your food should be healthy until you reach your goal weight. And crap food is no longer a habit or a craving, but a once-in-a-while treat. Once you do the hard work, maintenance is SO much easier and you just have to keep a balance (circle back to our philosophy). But don’t give in to temptation to crash diet (starvation level calories) to try and lose weight fast, that type of loss is not sustainable and you will rebound.
But don’t take it from me. Decide how committed you are to change and make the necessary adjustments. Give it 30 days and try it for yourself, be your own guinea pig and make your own conclusions.
Eating in Real Life: Making it all work
If I haven’t convinced you by now, I’ll plead one more time: Stop searching for the perfect diet that requires no real work on your part, fits perfectly in your life and makes weight fall off. It doesn’t exist and you are wasting time in a body you are not totally happy with. No one has time to be miserable about something they can change. It’s time to ditch the excuses and put your knowledge to work.
You know what you need to do; you just need to do it.
And don’t be discouraged, it is not clear cut or effortless for everyone. It took me years to find healthy eating habits that make me feel good and look good. I started counting calories, then went to clean eating, then a version of IIFYM, then gained all the weight back that I lost after I stopped competing, then went vegan, paleo and now eat mostly real food about 80% of the time and listen to my body with a little intermittent fasting thrown in. Does that sound effortless to you? No…I think I lost myself just typing it, but it was all a part of my journey.
Every day is new. Every month I know more, fall in love with new healthy dishes, and adjust my diet as my life adjusts. I do the best I can, as often as I can, and my body reflects that.
All you need to do is do the best you can. Start making small changes that you can stick to. The momentum will turn into motivation as the pounds drop off and you will be excited to make more healthy choices. Remember that you want to feel HOT more than you want whatever crap food you are trying to give up. Oh, but if you do eat crap or have a bad week (you will) don’t worry about it and just do better the next day/week. Getting healthy is not about intentionally making yourself miserable, it is about changing your priorities (and maybe your perspective).
YOLO. It’s cheesy, but I have to say it. We only get one life on this planet and I don’t know about you, but I am trying to have as much fun and adventure as I can. Being healthy complements that life.
I can hear the questions “But what about…?” and because I know some of you need detail, I will address common ‘road blocks’ you experience in real life. To make it fun for me AND save you even more reading time, I will try and do it in one (run-on) sentence each:
I’m eating healthy, but I’m still hungry! If you are still hungry add a serving (or two) of protein because no one gets fat off lean protein AND channel your inner bunny and munch on as many vegetables as you like (especially raw).
My roommates/boyfriend/family don’t eat healthy! Having tempting food in the house is a challenge, but no one forces you to eat it, so don’t; when you eat meals together focus on protein/veggies and skip the rest-when they see you looking amazeballs they will become curious instead of resistant.
I have a social life, what about alcohol? If you want to drink when you go out, go ahead (just be aware that it will hold you back) and focus on red wine and clear alcohols; and if you don’t want to drink (but don’t want to be hassled) always hold a decoy drink-my fav is sparkling water with a lime in it (‘vodka soda’ anyone?)
Weird work hours make it hard to eat healthy. Eat a real meal at home before work, bring a low sugar protein bar, nuts/fresh fruit/raw veggie snack, a pre-made protein shake and when ordering out get a salad or meal with protein/veggies as main component-it is possible!
What supplements do I need to take? None-if you want to take supplements you can but most people don’t need anything to help lose weight except healthy food and exercise (athletes, bodybuilders, people with health issues are the exception).
Eating healthy is expensive. Just because you can’t buy organic on everything- don’t give up and buy junk- buy what you can in bulk and freeze extras and don’t shop at small specialty health food stores (Trader Joes or regular grocery stores are cheapest).
How Else Can I help?
Believe me when I say, you know everything you need to know to start making positive changes to change your body and your life.
If you feel a bit nervous or have a tiny voice saying, “Is this it? Will this be the last time I have to start trying to lose weight? I’ve tried so many things before-and I’m still stuck!” I urge you to answer back, and kindly remind yourself that this is the time. The time for different. And better.
I know that if you trust you now have enough knowledge to take control of your eating habits for good and TAKE ACTION, you will fall in love with your life and body in no time.
One last thing- it’s important, so pay attention:
Life is too short to have a relationship with food that is holding you back and making you miserable.
Remember, to start making steps to repair that relationship, you need to:
- Understand which habits serve your goals and change your perspective on the ones that don’t
- Adapt your diet to your lifestyle and needs, and stop searching for the perfect one
- Discover the foods that are the best for your body and health (hint: how does it make you feel?)
- Eat simply and avoid complicated strategies that set you up for failure or misery
- Focus on balance and living your life they way you want-no more obsessive eating
If you enjoyed this guide, then you will love my program, 30 Days to Lean. If you have great intentions but know you need some help with follow-through, this program gives you the direction and butt-kicking you need to reach your goals.
I believe in you and I’m here to help every step of your adventure.
Phew…that was a lot of reading, but hopefully it’s the last thing you will have to read about healthy eating and can focus on taking action towards your goals right now! BUT…in case some of you like to geek out on this stuff like me, here is some further reading that I recommend/find interesting:
What If It’s All Been A Big Fat Lie by Gary Taubes
The Slow Carb Diet by Tim Ferriss
Best Diet by John Berardi