It’s a lifestyle and not a diet

Posted: August 28, 2012 in Health

If you want to look a certain way (lean, defined, in shape) you must adapt new habits as part of the way you live, not as a temporary fix.

It’s interesting that by definition, the word diet as a noun means “The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats”, but as a verb it is defined as “To restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight”. 

The trends and fads over the years that have demonized fat, carbs, dairy, grains, etc. have led people to believe that in order to achieve a better physique, we must give up all the foods that we like and (by definition) “restrict oneself to small amounts or special foods”. Just the thought of having to completely cut out food groups has overwhelmed people, caused a lot of procrastination, and maybe even discouraged people from ever really trying.

The secret is: there is no magic. There is no one right way. There are no magical foods. There are no magical pills. The real secret is learning about nutrition and your body and how to make the “lifestyle” work based on your preferences, tastes, habits, and schedule. 

First, if your goal is to lose fat, you must get your body in a caloric deficit for it to turn to fat stores for energy. You cannot eat whatever you want in whatever amounts all day, but that does not mean you have to starve either. Educate yourself on what’s in the foods that you commonly eat and also educate yourself on the three basic macronutrients: Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat. 

They each have their role in providing energy and you do not have to cut any of them out to lose body fat. Having a basic understanding of each macronutrient will help you make better choices and will help you plan your meals.

Dieting is very much like managing your finances – you have a certain number of calories (in the form of Carbs, Protein, and Fat) and you need to “spend” them wisely on the foods that will give you the most nutrients and keep you full and satisfied. 

Each meal must contain all three macronutrients for sustained energy, and it’s up to you to figure out what ratios make you feel your best and still yield results. 

You must find a way of eating that is sustainable. This means that you can maintain your good eating habits without feeling deprived. If you can’t imagine yourself eating cabbage soup all day everyday or living off of a “liquid diet” then don’t even go there! Don’t set yourself up for failure! Yes, you may have a friend who tried one of these crazy fad diets and lost 10lbs in a week, but did they keep it off? Body change takes time. These new habits that you develop are going to keep you in the shape you desire.

My advice for making your fat loss plan sustainable is very simple: eat what you like! If you happen to especially like foods that are high calorie, such as pizza, pasta, burgers, ice cream and other desserts, you will need to get creative and find ways to satisfy your taste buds with fewer calories. 

Quite simply, eat smaller frequent meals built around lean protein and vegetables. Reduce the amount of starchy and sugary foods you eat and focus on whole grains rather than refined.

Now, this is the fun part- dress up your meals with the flavors you crave! You can make chicken and vegetables with different spices and condiments. Find ways to make pizza with low fat cheese and a “cleaner” crust without refined flour, or lower fat turkey burgers and baked fries. Incorporate one 0r two small “treats” daily, such as a few chips, a mini candy bar, a cookie….whatever you feel is hardest for you to give up. 

Remember, the food will still be there tomorrow and the next day and you are not restricting anything, so don’t eat like the world is going to end! 

You may still be wondering if you ever get to eat your favorite indulgences and the answer is yes! Not every day, and not in crazy amounts, but if you are sticking to your plan and choosing reasonable portions of clean and healthy foods 90% of the time, go ahead and have 1-2 treat meals a week! 

Yes, the full fat, full sugar versions of whatever you like, but keep it to just one meal and stick to your plan the rest of the day and the day after. This should give you something to look forward to and keep you from over-indulging regularly. 

Over time, especially once you have experienced some progress, you will find that this lifestyle gets easier and you no longer crave the foods that were holding you back before! 


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