I consider myself an average human being, with no different nor more special talent than anyone else. I am exposed to the same temptations everyone else is exposed to. I am not a fitness or nutrition expert nor am I in the fitness or nutrition industry. Yet, because I have consciously made decisions to be healthy and thin my whole life many people believe there is a secret behind it or I have this very regimented dietary schedule I follow. People say to me things like:
- “You are genetically thin and can eat whatever you want. I hate you!”
- “What diet are you on?”
- “You must workout or exercise constantly!”
- “You must eat like a bird to be that thin!”
Nope, nope, nope! There is no “secret” and yet people still think I have one. All I can tell you is what works for me and maybe it will work for you too . . .
Know when you are making lame excuses
Puuuhhhhlease! We all are aware of when we are making lame excuses for our poor eating/exercising habits. “I had a hard day at work, I need a few drinks!”, “I wanted to be good but the donuts were on sale!”, “I didn’t want to be rude and refuse that 3rd piece of cake!”, “I couldn’t POSSIBLY go to the gym, it’s raining now!”. I get it, because I use the same excuses from time to time. But we can’t use them ALL the time. Sooner or later you have to realize that your health is worth investing in for yourself, your relationships, and maybe even your unforeseen future. I understand there are times you cannot deal with something emotionally so you grab your comfort food and/or sit on the couch having a pity party instead of going to the gym. But attempt to lessen these excuses and say “Today (or right now) I will do something different. No matter how small.” Then make a decision to do something… ANYTHING… to be healthy. Maybe eat one less donut, maybe go for a long walk, call a friend instead of eating those potato chips that are calling you from the next room? No matter how small, even adding up small victories will add up and turn into BIG victories!
Learn the Art of Preparation
Until they come out with a magic pill that makes us miraculously thin while eating ice cream all day, success for a healthy life cannot come without a plan or preparation. We learn in school general healthy nutrition like “Eat your fruits and vegetables”, “Too much meat is bad for you”, “Eat in moderation” – and I think without a Nutrition Degree – it’s kinda obvious that eating a whole box of donuts or a whole pizza by yourself is not really a healthy decision. BUT… if you don’t plan on what you will eat and only eat what comes your way, it could be the reason why you are not losing weight - even if you are going to the gym like crazy. I don’t think you need to count calories per se, however, I have found that planning my meals ahead of time definitely helps me to stay on track. For example here are some options:
- Eat 6 small meals throughout the day. If you normally eat 3 meals (breakfast , lunch, dinner) just take the same portions you would normally eat 3 times a day and cut them by half and eat 6 meals a day. Then portion them out throughout the day that add up to 6 meals a day. This way you are not completely starving by the time you are ready for your next meal.
- Learn to cook and prepare your own meals. It is cheaper on your wallet and you are not a slave to what is suddenly available when you get your hunger pains. Prepare snacks, lunches, and even think about what you have for dinner. If you prepare foods with more vegetables, fruits, and low fat meaty meals then you are more inclined to stick to what you prepared.
“Exercise cannot compensate for a poor diet “
This is a great phrase and extremely true. I see people at the gym constantly on cardio machines (treadmills, ellipticals, bicycles, etc) for hours and doing ab exercises until they are ready to fall down with the hopes it will help them with getting a six pax stomach or shed a few pounds. The funny thing is, I sometimes see the same people for years on those cardio machines at the same weight! The only answer is…. They have not changed the way they eat. Although exercise is extremely important, as the saying goes, it will not compensate for a poor diet. If you are on the treadmill for three hours just so you can eat a bag of doritos, your body will not thank you for it. Food is fuel and if you put the wrong type fuel in your body it will perform poorly. Many body builders and fitness nuts will tell you that a flat stomach is all diet. So stop listening to those infomercials on the ab-roller or whatnot. Take a look at what you are eating and how much you are eating first – and then exercise! There is a reason why “Diet and Exercise” work for healthy people.
I don’t know about you, but I find the obsession of counting calories very time consuming and sometimes creates anxiety. Don’t misunderstand. I think it is very helpful to know (or be aware of) the calories you eat but I think most people will not look that up. The next best thing I find is simply to just use small containers. I bought a whole bunch of 1 cup plastic containers and put all my food in them. It’s easier to see how much I’m eating when I use the 1 cup containers and helps you to understand the concept of portion control. It also helps reducing the physical size of your stomach of what you eat at one time. Over a period of time eating this way, you will find that you use to be able to eat a whole bag of pretzels in one sitting, but now after 1 cup you are satisfied!
Also, eating out can always a problem for someone trying to lose weight – especially in America where we have such huge portions at restaurants. You also don’t want to eat salads all the time – boring! My mom always said, “Eat half, and take the rest home”. It is a great strategy. Start by separating your dish into two portions, for example, cut that hamburger in half before you start eating it. After you eat half sit there for a while. If you are still really hungry, then eat it. If you are not, just take the rest home for lunch/dinner the next day. The other day I got Kung Po Chicken for Chinese Take-out. I was able to fill five 1 cup containers with the single meal I purchased and was able to have lunch for the week at work! It saves money and my waistline!
Well, this may not exactly mean what you think it means. What I mean when I say this is . . . if you are not depriving yourself of foods you love, you will not need to go crazy when you see them. I think this is why most diets fail. Most people change their diet drastically and completely. They assume they will only do it for a short time until they get to their “ideal” weight and then they can go back to their bad habits. Sorry, but that isn’t so! Also, they deprive themselves sooo much that on their cheat day – many go so crazy for foods they love that they overeat and ruin all of the progress they did all week. Also not very helpful!
Everything in moderation! If you want a donut, eat a donut, but eat ONE donut not a whole box of donuts. And you probably know that you shouldn’t be eating a donut EVERY day, but every once in a while is fine. Stick to what we learned in High School…. The majority of what you eat to be healthy should be fruits and veggies and a little meat and grain. The more junk food you eat, the more you feel like junk too. It’s not really rocket science!
Ignore the Mirror and Ignore the Scale
Stop with the milestones! Stop comparing yourself with the supermodel on the magazine or your friends or anyone! Just think about how you feel. “Every journey begins with a single step” and “Every step counts”. Just keep going (even slowly) and you will feel more healthy. Celebrate the small victories maybe by putting a star on the calendar to say “Today I did not eat any junk food! HOORAY!” Do what you can to motivate yourself. If you fall back into unhealthy habits, think to yourself “I can start my journey again and at any time.”
I hope you found some of these tips helpful and by no means are the only ones out there. What’s important is finding your Nutritional Rhythm and what works for you and makes you feel good. And if you have any good tips that work for you, please share!