I don’t pretend to be a nutritional expert but over the last 2 years, I have learned a lot about living a healthy & active lifestyle. I have come to accept that there are some very simple truths about successfully losing weight and getting in shape that I thought I would share with you. It’s not rocket science and some of it is going to seem logical. Hopefully a lot of it will seem like simple common sense. Other truths may surprise you – you may not be ready to hear them. It took me 30 years of yo-yo dieting to accept them all myself. And I am learning more everyday – I am going out of my way to learn more about how to fuel and nourish my body so that it can be as strong and fit as possible.
Truth #1: You need to Fuel – not Starve – your Body for Optimal Weightloss
Let that just sink in for a bit. Yes, I said FUEL your body. Crazy diets where you get between 800 – 1000 calories a day are only setting you up to fail. Seriously. It’s one of the key reasons why so many people just get frustrated and quit. It’s too hard, no one can live that way and ultimately it hurts your body not strengthens it. It’s probably the KEY reason why I quit so many diets in the past. They were restrictive and unrealistic when it came to living that way longterm. It also didn’t help that the more weight you lost, the more restricted your calorie intake became. When that amount was already low to begin with .. well you know how that story ends. For me it ended with binging and quitting.
Think about it this way. If your body was a car and you expected it to run all day at an optimal level for you how can you expect it just to run on fumes? It can’t. It’s going to stall out and quit just when you need it to work the most.
Dieting is very similar to this analogy. They starve your body, make you tired, hungry and angry at everyone so that you – and everyone around you – is miserable. Dieting becomes like this short sprint and you go as fast and as hard as you can but ultimately, it’s not sustainable. Not only does this do harm internally to your body but it also can stall out your metabolism so when you do start eating the way you want to, your body just packs on the fat because it’s system is sluggish and slow. Even if you eat a normal amount after starving your body in a diet, you will gain a lot of weight. Your body doesn’t know what you are doing – it only knows that it is working to protect you as best it can by storing all the food you give it as fat stores.
Fueling your body instead, is the best way to approach fat loss and getting in shape. Consult with a fitness and nutrition expert (my personal trainer is a certified nutritionist) and set a reasonable daily caloric goal for yourself. There are also some good online calculators that can give you a good idea of how many calories you should be eating to fuel your body based on your age, activity levels etc. This means you customize a realistic caloric intake that will enable you to exercise, tone and strengthen your body so that you build muscle – not just lose weight – and support the new changes forever. Yes – forever – it’s not a 30 day thing … more on that later!
I am not pro-diets (if you can’t already tell) and I honestly feel that too many of them are too restrictive when it comes to the amount of food they allow people to eat. If your only goal is short term weight loss there are lots of options you can throw your money away on. If you want to longterm success, that comes from changing your lifestyle and eating to nourish & strengthen your body instead of starving it.
Truth #2: It’s Going to take Time
Yes, I know that kind of truth could get me voted off the island but it’s the truth. You didn’t pack on all those extra pounds in a week or a month so it’s unrealistic to expect them to come off in a short span of time. At least not in a healthy way. Rapid weight loss is a huge shock to your body and often what you are losing is water and muscle mass to start. Not fat. So before you get all excited about losing 20 lbs in 30 days or some other crazy thing, have a clear idea of what it is exactly you are losing. Losing muscle mass is not cause for celebration and should not be a goal. Fat loss on the other hand is something that should be a goal and that comes slowly, over time, with a steady combination of good nutrition and plenty of exercise.
So yes, it’s going to take time. Time is what has helped me create the healthy habits I have today that keep me on track, on a daily basis. There is no finish line either. Living a healthy lifestyle is just that .. a lifestyle. It’s a longterm commitment and its an investment into your body so that it can support you through the rest of your life.
Truth #3: WHAT you Eat is just as Important as how MUCH you Eat
I have tried many of the diets out there. I ate processed ‘diet’ foods in past diets but didn’t realize I wasn’t helping nourish my body. I wondered why I was so hungry all the time and why diet food had to be so .. yucky. I didn’t think of what I ate – it was just a means to an end so I could finish the diet and get back to my life. No wonder I failed. Talk about a recipe for disaster!
This time around, I have made some pretty significant changes to the quality of food I eat. This goes back to fueling my body and I have worked hard to create an eating style that is both healthy and delicious. I meal plan, I food prep every Sunday and I make sure that I have healthy options to eat every day. I have cut back or cut out much of the following:
- sugars (refined mostly)
- processed foods
- fast food
I do indulge once in awhile in some of the above, but I can tell you once I cut those things from what I ate on a regular basis the change in how my body functioned was amazing. From an absence of the daily pounding headaches I would get from sugar lows or the lack of heartburn and tummy upset after meals … I could tell physically that I was on the right track. Now when I do indulge, its in small quantities and it’s just the odd time or meal. And my body does not like it when I indulge so I don’t do it often. When you change how you eat and really pay attention to how your body feels, you will be much better able to fuel and nourish it.
The other big change I made was to start tracking not just calories, but my macros. Of the food I eat everyday, 25% comes from carbohydrates, 35% comes from protein and 40% comes from fats. This helps me ensure that nutritionally, the food I am eating is helping me build lean muscle mass and keep my energy levels up so that I can get through my days without the crazy sugar crashes I used to have (mid afternoon munchies sound familiar?) and workout consistently four to five times a week. When I want to really focus on losing weight I don’t cut my calories – I adjust my macros and increase my activity. I want to say that again – I don’t cut my calories. I NEED them. My body needs them. Cutting back on calories, unless you are totally inactive, is not the right choice.
If you want some information on macros and how they can help you change your approach to food, check out:
Truth #4: Exercise to Strengthen your Body
People groan when I say this but exercise – consistentexercise – is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestle. I used to think I was too busy to exercise, I was afraid people would judge me cause everything jiggled when I ran and I thought I was as un-athletic as they came. These are all excuses, and they are all getting in the way of what a healthy lifestyle needs to include. Namely you getting good and sweaty 3+ times a week. So accept that you are going to jiggle. So are a lot of other people out there doing the same thing and trust me, no one is paying that much attention to what you are doing. They are focused on themselves, on not jiggling or screwing something up. So relax, the EFFORT is what matters to start. Build your fitness level from the basics and set reasonable, attainable goals .. and then achieve the hell out of them. Repeat. It’s a cycle that fuels & empowers you to be the best possible version of yourself.
There are a ton of articles on the health benefits or working out – just google it and I am sure billions will come up. The core of it is this: reglar exercise keeps your body working at an optimal level. Exercise builds lean muscle mass and lean muscle is what is going to help you lose fat over time. The more lean muscle mass you have, the more efficiently your body will work and the better chance that you will burn fat even when you are NOT exercising.
Beyond that, regular exercise is a great stress reliever and an excellent way to bolster your self esteem and self image. It makes you feel great. Like warrior princess great. I go to my kickboxing classes and come home feeling like I can take on the world. It’s empowering. It’s that period of time during which I put down all my stresses from work, home etc and just focus on me. On improving my body’s endurance and testing it’s capabilities. When you do that regularly, you see amazing progress and your whole self image can drastically change – for the better.
And trust me, no one is judging you when you go to the gym or you are struggling to make it through your first boot camp. No one is laughing at you. So don’t be embarassed and don’t let a fear of exercising in public stop you. Own your body, own where you are at and do your best. People will be impressed at your efforts, at your ability to get back up when you fall and to lend a hand when you need help. Trust me, I learned this at my own gym. I was terrified to work out but I did it. And I have met some amazing people there who encourage me, cheer me on and push me to try new things. It’s a great community and one that will support your healthy lifestyle and become a part of your life.
Truth #5: Look for Healthy Supplements and Healthy Products to Help you Reach your Goals
I will be honest, when I first started my journey I was inclined to do so without any kinds of supplements or products that would assist me in getting healthier and stronger. I equated them to my days on Herbal Magic where all they did was push pills at me and made me feel like the only reason I was successful was because of their products. It just really left a bad taste in my mouth and I ended up quitting the program not long after.
Over the past two years I have come to realize that quality supplements and products can really boost my efforts and help me reach my goals. I love protein shakes and quality protein powder is something that I use on almost a daily basis to help me hit my macro goals each day. I use that same protein powder in muffins, pancakes and more to give my meals a boost and help me stay fuller, longer. Beyond that, I do take natural vitamin supplements and a quality probiotic which ensure my body gets all the nutrients it needs every day. In my opinion, this is very important if you are editing foods out of your diet and workout out consistently. Again, it’s a tool that helps me reach my goals and keeps me healthy at the same time.
My newest thing is going to be trying a supplement that is going to help me with post-workout pain, alleviate joint discomfort and as a side benefit make my skin, hair and nails look awesome. I am pretty stoked about this folks – I work out a lot and I am looking forward to easing some of that discomfort after hitting the gym hard during a week.
If you would like information on this product or any of the health products I use, send me a message. I am more than happy to help you reach your goals!