There are so many diets out there - Vegan, KETO, Paleo, counting calories, counting macros, Atkins, Beach Body, Shakeology. Who knows what to do?! That being said, when you begin making dietary decisions I want you to think long term. Is this "diet" something that I am able to realistically maintain the rest of my life? Am I going to be happy not eating meat? Am I going to be happy eating only meat and fat? Am I going to be happy tracking my food the rest of my life?
Typically the answer is “no” to many of these questions. When you have found a way of eating that you enjoy and is also healthy, you have found the right eating style for you. And don't be afraid to make your own way of eating. You don’t have to follow one specific diet to lose weight. Eat what you like and cook what you enjoy cooking. The most important thing to remember is to eat whole foods. Cut out all processed foods (boxed, packaged, canned, frozen (except veggies and fruit), and so on).Cook big batches of beans, rice, quinoa, veggies, and meat (if you eat it) for an entire week.
Focus mainly on veggies; these are so important for getting all the nutrients that your body needs. But most importantly, STAY CONSISTENT in your clean eating!! We are all human and we all make mistakes, but don't let this derail your healthy lifestyle. When you genuinely enjoy healthy eating you are more than capable of maintaining this throughout your entire life.
What should I be eating?...
It’s easy for me to tell you to eat healthy, but for many of us we don’t really know what “healthy” looks like. I remember back in my pre-Custom body Fitness Days I thought that I was eating healthy. But in reality I was 30 pounds overweight. Let me tell you what I would typically be eating. Breakfast I would make protein pancakes. This consisted of banana, oatmeal, eggs, and protein powder. Then I would have an apple and a protein bar for snack.
Lunch would consist of ground turkey, quinoa pasta, and spaghetti sauce. Then I would have another afternoon snack – maybe some crackers and hummus and then dinner would be the same thing I had for lunch. Now, this was if I followed my “meal plan”. Often times there would be a doughnut, cookie, or some other tempting snack readily available at my office.
Also, I ate out for many meals a lot of times as well. If I had documented everything I was eating back then and read it today, I am sure I would be appalled. This is what you should be eating. The number one staple in your diet should be vegetables. Shoot for 50% veggies in all your meals. And by vegetables I don’t mean 50% potatoes, although they are a wonderful food, keep your plate full of veggies like kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, zucchini, squash. and carrots. Now that being said, be conscious of how you are cooking your vegetables.
Raw is always a great option in salads and other dishes. But if you prefer to cook them you should use healthy oils like coconut and avocado oil. You may also steam, bake, and dry sauté them. Another energy source for your body (because food is fuel) is carbohydrates such as fruit and other grains. Some of these carbohydrates are going to keep you fuller longer.
Fruit is a fast acting carbohydrate and is going to burn much more quickly and is going to give you instant energy. Grains are going to metabolize slower than fruits and keep your blood sugar stable for longer. Therefore, it’s important to eat both depending on the situation.
The next energy source for your body is healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, dairy, nuts and seeds. These are going to help keep you fuller longer. It takes the body longer to break down fats than it does carbohydrates. The last energy source to burn is protein. Good sources of protein include organic meat, organic dairy, nuts, and many plants have protein as well. These should be incorporated in your diet as well. As you can see many foods contain a variety of the macro nutrients (proteins, fats, and carbs) usually with one primary macronutrient.
The combination of all these energy sources, or foods, is what you should be consuming. Again, eating a variety of foods but also being conscious of which foods are higher in calories. Also, some people enjoy eating more protein and fat for energy, others enjoy less protein and fat and a higher carb diet. Some like to balance out the macronutrients a little more evenly. The point is again, watch the amount of high calorie foods you are eating and eat foods that grow on a tree or in the ground is a good rule of thumb for the majority of your diet.
Is exercise really that important?...
In addition to eating a clean diet it is also recommended to exercise for weight loss. But what is more important, eating or exercise? Now if you really want to lose weight and tone your body there are three things that you need to be doing. I call it the weight loss triad. You must eat healthy, lift weights, and do cardiovascular exercise. All are very important; however, it is very difficult to out exercise a bad diet.
As I mentioned before, weight loss at it’s most basic level is calories in and calories out. So, if you are eating more calories than you are burning you are not going to lose weight. It’s not that diet is more important than exercise; they both have very important health benefits, it is simply the fact that if you eat too many calories it is impossible for the average person to reach a caloric deficit by going to the gym and exercising for an hour a day. I am going to give you an example of exactly what I mean in the following example.
How much sugar are you drinking?...
For this example we are going to focus on sugar added drinks but this can also apply to processed and packaged foods as well. Make sure to read the label to find out how much sugar and how many calories you are consuming.
We have all heard that sugar-added drinks are bad for our health and lead to weight gain and even obesity. When I say sugar added drinks I am talking about soda, juice, teas, energy drinks, powdered mixers and even the so-called “healthy drinks” such as Gatorade, Powerade and Vitamin Water. So the question on my mind is “Why do we still drink these beverages that are so bad for our health in the first place?”
The answer is clear to me- addiction. That’s right, we are so addicted to the feelings we get from drinking these sugar laden beverages that we lack the willpower to ditch these dirty drinks once and for all. Or, perhaps we have heard these drinks are bad for our health but we don’t really understand the actual consequences of ingesting them on a daily or frequent basis. So what exactly are the implications of drinking so much sugar?
Well many of you are reading this because you want to lose weight. Therefore, I am going to explain to you just how your sugar consumption is affecting your weight loss or contributing to weight gain. As I mentioned before, weight loss is basically calories in and calories out. All you have to do is burn more calories than you eat and you will lose weight? Well that sounds pretty darn easy to me! I’ll just eat less and run more. Ok, great, we have a plan. Now let’s talk how many calories a typical person will burn each day.
Being a woman of 140 pounds and 5 feet 7 inches tall I will burn about 1200 calories a day without any additional movement. If I have a very active job I will probably burn more, but this is what I would burn if I were rather sedentary.
Earlier we talked about exercise being one of the key to weight loss due to the fact that it helps you burn extra calories as well as provide many other additional benefits. If I run a mile I would burn 100 to 110 calories and weight lifting burns anywhere from 400-500 calories an hour.
If I naturally burn 1,200 calories a day and I exercise for an hour or so I can burn anywhere from 1,600-1,700 calories in a day. This is the amount of calories I would need to consume to maintain my weight. If I want to lose weight then I need to consume less.
Here is what an average American’s day looks like when consuming sugar added drinks:
While at the gym they drink their 12oz Gatorade and that Gatorade is packed with 21 grams of sugar.
Then it’s time to eat breakfast. A meal replacement shake is awesome! For many that is breakfast and it has 7 grams of sugar, but a lot of people are still hungry so they have two eggs and a glass of Juicy Juice. The juice is a is a whopping 27 grams of sugar.
Then a peach tea with lunch because tea is healthy- 26 grams. Three pm crash rolls around and you need a cup of coffee in the afternoon, however, you must have creamer. But you only use a little, so it’s ok. When in reality many people don’t realize that they add around 3-5 table spoons of creamer to their cup of coffee- and this adds up to 15- 25 grams of sugar.
With dinner a nice glass or two of Chardonnay - which adds up to about 3 grams of sugar.
Now, let’s look at the amount of sugar consumed in a day. That totals up to 130 grams of sugar!! Just in what was drank!
The recommended intake of sugar for many people is 25 grams per day. Not to mention that 130 grams of sugar is 520 calories!!
This many grams of sugar would take an hour in the gym to burn off. Why not just ditch the sugary drinks and save some hours in the gym?
Use fear as your motivator...
Emotional eating: We all struggle with it and we all wonder why. What are the some of the reasons that we eat? We are hungry, tired, bored, stressed, celebrating something, sad about something, out with friends, we are being peer pressured by our friends, our beliefs, it’s readily available, or we don’t want to make someone else feel bad. Now, I could stand here all day and give you superficial and silly ideas that will help to stop yourself from eating an entire bag of chocolate M&Ms when you are feeling the slightest bit of stress or sadness.
Here are a few examples I have come across over the years:
1. Pamper yourself: wear soft, comfortable clothes, take bubble baths, read a book with some hot tea.
That’s great and all but I know how busy you all are and when you’re running around during the day the last thing you can do is stop and take a bubble bath.
2. Create a "hunger scale." Now when I saw this I wasn’t sure what that meant exactly.
I’m guessing it’s like a pain scale. You get vicoden if you’re at a certain level, if you’re a certain number on this then you can eat the potato chips.
3. Keep a food journal. I believe this does raise awareness and holds you accountable for what you are eating.
But is it sustainable long term?
4.Snap your wrist with a rubber band.
I have tried this one. I ended up taking the rubber band off of my hand after just one day.
5. Smell the food but don’t eat it. I will do this sometimes. Especially cake and doughnuts!
This is somewhat fulfilling, but it can also make it more tempting for someone who has no reason to not eat it other than weight loss.
5. Play with your dog.
I do love to play with my dog, but I found out that she enjoys potato chips just as much as I do! And she would probably encourage me to buy them! Alright, back to emotional eating. We have six primary emotions:
Out of these six emotions, which do you think is the strongest? Any marketing executive today will tell you that it is fear; fear is the most motivating emotion. Fear trumps all other emotions and when we are feeling fear our other emotions are no longer as powerful.
Fear is an emotion that has a bad reputation. We think fear and we automatically assume something negative, but do we ever consider that we can use fear constructively within ourselves?
Let me tell you my story. I was diagnosed with hypothyroid disease over ten years ago. I had an enlarged thyroid and my Mother noticed one day. She was concerned so I went to the doctor to get it checked out. I went in and the doctor told me that it was my thyroid. We ran some tests and I had an ultrasound done to confirm that it was not cancer. Turns out it was not cancer which is a blessing.
However, I did have a very significant case of hypothyroidism. He gave me a pill and told me that I would have to be on this thyroid hormone the rest of my life. I wasn’t upset at all. You see, I had a very different mindset back then. It was, “oh poor me, I have this disease and there is nothing I can do about it” I’ll just get progressively worse. I will just have to live with these symptoms, and I did. Eating the Standard American Diet and continuing blindly on this path to self destruction. I figured I was just going to have to live with acne, weight gain, hair loss, mood swings, exhaustion, and brain fog. The majority of my early twenties were spent this way. I never once tied all my symptoms or my disease to the lifestyle that I was living.
Effective weight loss...
If you remember earlier I told you I used to be 30 pounds overweight. I really began my health journey three years ago when I joined Custom Body Fitness. I call it my health journey because it has not been just about weight loss for me. I look back now and realize that I was a miserable shell of a human being and when I came to Sandro (the owner of Custom Body Fitness) he challenged my beliefs and he really pushed me to find a better solution and to improve my health, not just with exercise but with lifestyle changes. At first I was resistant and even angry with him for questioning something that I thought he knew absolutely nothing about. But slowly I came around. I started doing my own research and little by little I changed my own way of thinking. I began realizing that when you accept something the way that it is, you have given up. Given up on yourself and the people that you love and who love you.
I began researching and finding alternative treatments. It wasn’t more than a year after I began my healing journey that I was diagnosed with Hashimotos, which is the autoimmune thyroid condition. I believe I had this condition all along but was never diagnosed. This was a huge setback for me! All of my effort and I get more bad news. I could have rolled over and given up right then, but no. Something inside of me wanted to fight. I knew there was a way to heal and improve my health. So I researched more and more. I became obsessed about my health. I finally found a hormone specialist who did IGG food sensitivity testing. I found out 35 foods including dairy, wheat, soy ,and corn were exactly what was causing all of my symptoms. I cut out all of these foods and started to feel much better. But then much to my dismay my symptoms started to reappear, so I did more research and tweaked my diet even more.
My diet is very restrictive, and it is difficult at times, but I always remember my motivation. My point here is that I have motivation to eat healthy due to all of my intolerances, but more than that what drives me is fear. What will my future look like concerning my thyroid if I don’t do the best I can every single time I chose to eat something?
We all fear something whether we like to admit it or not. What I have found to be the most powerful influence to make better choices is living through fear-at least in the beginning. Allowing the fear to consume you to the point that no other emotion is capable of taking it’s place in the arena of healthy eating. If we allow our fears to surface and use them as or reasons for wanting a healthier lifestyle then maybe we can consistently make better decisions.
Perhaps you have a health condition and you have never really thought about the implications or what you are consuming. Or maybe you have and are simply choosing to ignore that fear until you have to face it. Maybe you have a family member who is suffering from an illness, or maybe a friend. Maybe your fear is that you won’t be able to physically do the things you want to do. I focus these fears on health because ultimately that is what a poor diet and excess weight leads to, health issues. You’re probably thinking, wait a minute this is about weight loss not disease prevention. Well I think that we all know that obesity and poor health usually go hand in hand. Also, once you find the motivation to eat healthier for whatever your reason is, weight loss will automatically become a part of that.
I know this works because I have lived it and it has taken me many years. I was never able to make a permanent change until I allowed myself to want to be better and at first that was driven by fear. It is interesting though, sometime our fear can turn to hope and that is just as powerful. If you have found yourself in a situation similar to my own I want tell you right now that I live in one of the two places at all times. Fear or hope, fear for what could happen if I make the wrong choices and hope for what will happen if I continue to make the right choices. Our mind is amazingly powerful and the things that we choose to focus on are the things that we can control.
Weight loss is about knowing the best actions you can take for your health, caring enough to contemplate those actions, and controlling yourself enough to take those actions.
Custom Body Fitness is located in Glenwood Springs CO and Carbondale CO