October 25, 2012 by mybattlebuddyfitness
If there is one thing that I know for sure, it is that living healthy can be confusing—especially for those of you who are just getting started. With so many diets and gimmicks and tricks and toys out there, how are you to know which way is your path to wellness? I encourage you to reflect upon the things you have tried in the past to lose weight. Did any of them work? Are you still following that diet, or using those pills today? Without knowing any particulars, I can with almost complete certainty, say that the answer is, “No.” So, why didn’t any of those quick-fixes stick? The answer is not because you aren’t disciplined enough, or because it wasn’t the right diet or the right pill. The truth is that they are all the same—they are unsustainable, empty promises. We have to find what works for YOU. Perhaps the single best piece of advice I can offer for those who are ready, is to stop dieting! Yes, I said stop. We have to re-train your brain and your body. I need you to make a commitment yourself, to your health and wellness, and embark with me on a lifestyle change.
After successfully losing over 60 pounds, and keeping it off for over three years, the question I hear more than all the others is, “So, how did you do it?” Sadly, I know that when most people ask me this question, they are hoping for a different response than the one I give them. Trying to explain to someone who is looking for a quick-fix, that clean eating and consistent exercise is the only guaranteed (and healthiest) way to lose weight, is like telling a small child that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. They know in their hearts that you’re right, but they just don’t want to face the truth. And I get it—trust me, I TOTALLY get it. I was there once too. I’ve tried a ton of those whacky diets and cleanses, hoping that one would stick. I was convinced that I too could lose 20 pounds in two weeks just like Beyonce did—despite my best efforts, it never happened. The Master Cleanse was horrific (for the whole 48 hours that I was able to last); South Beach left me feeling ravenously hungry all the time; after five days of following The Belly Fat Cure, I almost passed out from low blood sugar; the Perricone Diet was too expensive—ummm…15 psyllium husk caps every morning? Between paying for the psyllium husks themselves and all the toilet paper I needed as a result of said psyllium husks (tons of fiber = tons of…well, you know). Ca-ching!
Suffice to say, I was never able to make any of these work for me. I did learn a couple of really valuable lessons though: (1) There is no quick fix! Any of the weight that I took off by following these regimens, was quickly put back on as soon as I resumed a normal diet; and (2) Being on a diet is NOT sustainable and NOT a realistic way to live. By calling it a diet, you are only setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. You berate yourself for not having the discipline to keep within the strict eating parameters, which will likely cause you to give up altogether and turn to food for comfort. I speak from experience here. Every time I failed at a diet, I felt like less worthy of a person, and it made me downright sad. When I am sad, I like to eat—sugar, buttery, fatty, salty, deliciousness…It makes me feel better until my brain registers what I have done, and then I am back at square one, sitting on the couch, planning another dieting adventure. It’s a vicious cycle that (literally) feeds itself until you find yourself buying a larger pair of pants. Does any of this sound familiar? Don’t leave me hanging here people…
I know what you are saying right now, “If it’s not a diet, then what the heck is it?” It’s a lifestyle change that you are seeking. We have to teach you to re-train your brain. Rather than choosing a specific date (it was always Monday for me), start today. Focus on making small changes. You don’t have to head to the supermarket and completely overhaul your refrigerator and cupboards (though for some of you, this might be a good idea J). Instead, find some recipes that are healthy and look tasty, and start there.
Living healthy can seem overwhelming and incredibly daunting at first—especially if you don’t know where to start. Start in your kitchen. Eating wholesome, unprocessed foods will give you the energy to eventually start incorporating some exercise into your routine. You can’t expect your body to function well when you are giving it the wrong fuel. I promise that after just one week of incorporating more *whole foods into your diet, you will feel so much better. Your energy levels will be up, your thinking more clear, and your overall outlook on life will improve. Please, please, please—don’t think of these changes as diet. Eating well doesn’t mean depriving yourself. It’s all about CHOOSING to feel better. You CAN have the corndog and macaroni, but it’s not the best choice if your goal is to start feeling, looking, and living better.
It took me a long time to realize that nutritious foods don’t just keep me fit—they make me feel great! Don’t get me wrong—I am the first one to dive into a slice (okay, maybe two or three) of Neapolitan-style pizza at the end of the week—BUT, I am also the first one out running the next morning, making sure to get myself back on track. When talking about making a lifestyle change, you have to realize that it’s about finding balance and what works for you. Those crazy-strict diets didn’t work for me. What works for me is eating clean 90% of the time, and exercising 6 days per week. The other 10% of the time is reserved for times when my tastebuds and my tummy just won’t say no to the temptations of life. You know what though? Every time I indulge and eat too many gummi bears, or too much pasta, I pay the cost and I am reminded why I eat so well 90% of the time. This is the result of working to re-train my brain and my body to run smoothly on only the most premium fuel. After a weekend of poor eating and multiple glasses of wine, inevitably Monday rolls around and I feel lethargic, bloated, and depressed. So, what do I do? I CHOOSE to resume my normal, healthy eating…and wah-lah! By Wednesday, I am usually feeling great again. I need this balance though—because without it, I would feel restricted and deprived, which are the hallmarks of a diet.
Like I said, start with small changes. Stop drinking soda, juice, and sports drinks—instead, try flavoring your water with a slice of lemon, lime, or orange (my favorite). If you want to get really fancy and feel like you are at the spa, add a couple slices of cucumber—it’s so refreshing, you won’t even miss that soda. Instead of eating a cookie or a candybar for a snack at nighttime, try some grapes, raisins, or medjool dates. They are super sweet and will satisfy your craving for sugar, but they are also natural and your body will thank you for not filling it with processed junk right before you go to sleep. By slowly incorporating small changes like these into your life, it won’t be long before you realize that you have given your lifestyle, and your soul, a complete overhaul.
Please share with me what small changes you are trying to incorporate, and what challenges you are running into. I’m always here to help…