I had a friend recently come to me with a few nutrition questions.
She was starting a new nutrition plan and wanted some advice on type of diet. First, let me say when I use the term “diet,” I mean the actual foods a person consumes. I am not implying someone limits their caloric intake by “going on a diet.” I don’t advocate “going on a diet” because it usually implies negative feelings and short-term benefits that are usually not maintainable.
It’s not a short-term diet. It’s a long-term lifestyle change.
I’m sure we have all had that friend or relative who has suffered through some crazy “diet” or juice “cleanse” so they can lose 10 lbs before their reunion only to gain it all back and then some the week after. Are these people fun to be around when they are “dieting?”
I’d rather watch an all-day marathon of “The Beautician and the Beast” than spend an hour with someone who has been eating twigs and berries and drinking kale juice for a week straight.
The point we make with our members is eating clean and healthy is a lifestyle change. Eating clean doesn’t have to be a struggle. Healthy food doesn’t have to taste bad. Change can be hard, but with support systems in place and attainable goals anyone can adopt new healthy habits.
One size does not fit all when it comes to nutrition.
First you have to be kind to yourself. Accept the fact that fitness and clean eating are journeys and not destinations. Success is rarely a straight line. There will be setbacks along your journey so often you must forgive yourself and move on. Eating clean is a process, but one that needs to be individualized and experimented with to find what best suits you.
As a personal trainer and fitness coach I have to be flexible with the members of my studio. I can't be too ridged and group them all into the same nutritional plan. They all have different considerations I have to take into account such as; everyday environment, family and customs, budget, their unique body type and how it responds to nutrients, their personality and communication style.
I have several consultants who travel for work during the week. What works for them will be different than the married vegetarian couple with two kids. They all have different barriers they have to work through. The changes occur when we develop strategies to overcome these barriers and build habits that turn into lifestyle changes when applied overtime.
I don’t diet. I just eat according to my goals.
Regardless of what your overall individual goal is it is also important to have process goals to help keep you moving forward along the way. The goals should be challenging but also attainable.
If my goal were set so high that I could never accomplish it (which is the case with most people who say they are “going on a diet”), the result will likely end in frustration. It’s important to look at your current situation and decide what is reasonably challenging and still able to maintain sanity.
It usually takes 2-4 weeks to build a habit.
Take control of your habits; take control of your diet.
Incremental changes are suitable for most people. It is hard to adapt even one new habit at a time, and the chances of you successfully adopting two or more concurrently drastically decreases with the more habits you try to adopt.
So, try taking on one new healthy habit every couple of weeks. At the end of the period, reevaluate and see where you stand.
It is important to have an accurate way of measuring progress. If you are trying to lose body fat, how will you track if the things you are doing will work? Tracking progress is not something to obsess over, it is just a way to measure how well the steps you are taking are working.
Measurements, body fat analysis, and clothing fit are all great ways to measure if what you are doing is working. The scale CAN be another way, but it is not always the best. You can lose body fat, go down two jeans sizes and gain 10 lbs on the scale.
So, remember its not always about the scale!
Ready to change? Stick to these 4 universal guidelines.
I recently attended a speech by Dr John Berardi, founder of Precision Nutrition. The topic was: “What is the best diet?” During the lecture, he pointed out how different types of people can be successful on very different diet plans and focused not on how the plans were different but on the similarities between them.
When deciding to make changes in your diet, there are universal guidelines to follow.
1. Care about the food you eat and focus on food quality.
Pay attention to what you are putting in your body and how it affects you. Try to eat whole, minimally processed, nutrient rich foods.
2. Eliminate nutrient deficiencies.
Instead of cutting out certain foods, look instead at what you are not getting. Am I drinking enough water? Do I eat enough protein and essential fatty acids? It’s easier to take a fish oil in the morning (which helps absorb more nutrients and give you more energy from the foods you are eating), than it is to skip the FROYO you eat after jiu jitsu class.
3. Control your appetite.
This is kind of a combo of the first two. If you are eating whole nutrient rich foods and getting adequate amounts of nutrients, you will have an easier time controlling appetite. This will help regulate insulin levels which in turn helps with energy and weight management.
4. Get regular exercise and activity.
If you are starving yourself, you won’t have very much energy to workout and your arms and legs can turn into twigs while your gut stays the same size. When we exercise regularly we improve the ability to turn the food we eat into functional muscle instead of extra fat.
To recap, consider this:
Most people admit they feel better, move better, and look better when they are exercising and eating clean. It can be a challenge to change unhealthy habits, but by following these simple guidelines, you can get a leg up.
The key is finding that balance of living a healthy lifestyle and enjoying your life. When’s the last time you heard someone say, “I regret that workout and the nutritious meal I had afterward.”
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