One of my most despised words is “diet” or “dieting”. Why? Because it means you are depriving yourself of something. You are making it about not being able to get what you want.
There are times when I meet people, or am talking to friends, that I just want to blurt out pieces of knowledge, but I know not everyone will believe, accept, or understand things that I am saying. I have been on a journey for a healthy lifestyle for a few years now. Along the way, I have learned a few things…
- Start off front-loading your calories. This will keep your energy levels up throughout the day, and eliminate making your night time meal (your most inactive time of day) your largest.
- Don’t deprive yourself of something. If you want to have something, have a little bit of it. If you have more than a little bit, ok. Just remind yourself that next time you will do better and have just a few bites.
- You won’t always be losing. Sometimes you might gain, sometimes you might maintain. It all happens with a typical weight loss journey and healthy lifestyle change.
- Exercise. Find something you like and do it. Don’t force yourself to do something that you don’t like or you will find yourself making excuses not to do it. Instead, pick up an old hobby, find a sport to play, or experiment with different types of exercises to find what works for you. If you want to workout at home, great! Beachbody programs are awesome for a variety (especially if you do the On Demand that was recently launched). If you like to play baseball, find a league. If you hate running, don’t do it. Just do what works for you.
- Try not to compare yourself to others. Sure you might have a goal physique, but try not to look around you and compare yourself to other people you see who seem to be perfect. Remember, they most likely work just as hard for how they look as you are working.
- Keep that light at the end of the tunnel. There are days that I just want to quit because I feel I will never get to where I want to be. The truth is, that you will never be able to stop what you are doing if you want to maintain the healthy life. You will need to continue to work and eat right, which is why it is important to remember #4.
- Surround yourself with like-minded people. These people can come in many forms – meeting new friends on a sports league, finding that a colleague has the same goals, meeting people from a gym, chatting up a neighbor, and even finding true friendship with people on fitness websites like myfitnesspal.com or bodybuilding.com. You will have moments that you want to quit or need advice. These individuals will help you.
- Never be afraid to try something new and challenge yourself. Try that new recipe. Take a run thru the mud and climb walls. You might find something new that you really enjoy.
- Eat protein and fats. Changing your lifestyle isn’t about eating just vegetables and fruit, rice cakes, and low fat foods. Eat that beef. Have that egg. Eat that cheese. Get these healthy fats and proteins into your diet – you will feel like you are more satisfied and full than if you just ate “diet” foods.
- Changing your lifestyle isn’t expensive. So many times I hear people around me complain that buying healthy foods is so expensive. Think about it… How much do you spend on take out? How much do you spend on bags of chips? I usually spend about $30 per person for a week of home cooked meals (all meals). If I had more time and was able to make some of the things my family enjoys from scratch – like protein bars, healthy muffins, and fruit salads – it would be even less.
- Water. This is one that I consistently struggle with. Its not that I am drinking other liquids, but merely get so wrapped up in what I am doing that I forget to drink it. The USDA standard is 8 cups of water a day. Honestly, this isn’t really enough for most adults, especially if you are exercising. The rule of thumb that I have consistently heard is 0.5-1 ounce of water for every pound that you weigh. It seems like a lot, but you will find that your body starts to crave it if you aren’t drinking enough.
- Ladies – don’t be afraid to lift weights! I’ve heard numerous girl friends who are cardio bunnies (or don’t even workout) say that they don’t want to get bigger by lifting weights. I could slam my head against a wall. I wish I could show them the picture of 1lb of fat vs 1lb of muscle and have them see how that isn’t true. You will not get larger, you will get thinner and have a better shape. Not all women are bikini models and fitness competitors, but if you want to get rid of your love handles and your thunder thighs… Weights are the way to go, especially when combined with some cardio.
- Eat often. Make sure you don’t let yourself get too hungry. Learn to recognize the signs of your hunger. I usually eat about 5-6 times a day. It is almost a running joke around the office that people always see me with food. So what… let them laugh. I know that my body functions best like this.
- Weigh, measure, and log. Get a cheap scale from the store or from Amazon.com. I’m sure you already have measuring cups. You do this, and you are forced to be honest with how much you eat.
- Eat the right amount of calories. Whether you are just starting out and going with what a fitness site like myfitnesspal.com tells you to do, or you are more involved and eat to your macros (check out this calculator at Scooby’s Workshop), be sure that you are eating enough. I’ve followed numerous programs that have had me on an extremely restrictive calorie count and I can tell you that it never lasts long. I give up, and end up eating way more than I should or “sneak” things into my day just so I can feel satisfied.
- Sleep! Getting the right amount of sleep is imperative for your body to be able to function properly. Most adults need between 6-8 hours of sleep a night. If you feel like you are always waking up tired, go to bed around 30 minutes earlier or get up 30 minutes earlier. You are most likely waking up in the middle of a REM/deep sleep cycle and your body will feel more tired than usual. Adjusting your sleep will help you wake up when your body is in a light sleep cycle and you will feel well rested.
- Set Goals. I’m not just talking about the end goal, because…DUH… We all have them. Set mini goals. Whether it is to be able to fit into that dress that is a size smaller, or to stick to your workout program for a week (sometimes that’s a huge win). Set them. Reward yourself or pat yourself on the back when you do. Brag about it. If other people around you are truly supportive they will be happy and proud of you.
- Be proud of yourself. Seriously! Be proud of yourself – you’ve made the decision to get healthy, not just diet. That is a huge step. You are in this for the long haul. Smile, and be proud of yourself.
Being healthy isn’t just about dieting, it’s about changing your life. If you are interested in learning more about some of the programs I have done or some of the nutrition that has worked for me, please let me know! I would love to help you on your journey.