Thing 1: Feeling Deprived.
I once read that dieting is like holding your breath under water: you can only do it so long before you come up gasping for air. Why? Because breathing is not a luxury. It is not indulgent. It’s necessary for survival, because we were designed to breathe. It’s the same with eating. No matter how much you try NOT to eat, or not to eat food you like, you can’t do it for too long. Why? Because eating is not a luxury and it’s not indulgent. Your body needs food for survival, and God created your five senses so that you could enjoy the journey. If you are depriving your body of food that tastes good to you, it won’t be long before you say “I’m sick of this” and start inhaling all the food you’ve been missing. If you don’t want your healthy food choices to backfire on you, try this:
a. Eat things you like. Take your favorite meals and find ways to make them healthy. If you hate beans, don’t force yourself to eat 3 Bean Stir Fry for dinner. If you only like the taste of 2 fruits and 3 veggies, build your meals around those five things, preparing them the way they taste good to you.
b. Work “treats” into your plan. If you cut out all cake, ice cream and chocolate (or whatever says “treat” to you) for the rest of your life, you will immediately feel like a prisoner in your own kitchen. Allow yourself the occasional piece of pie. Just budget it in with your weekly calorie intake and make the necessary adjustments in the rest of your food.
c. And speaking of “treats,” watch your words. I hear lots of people, even popular fitness/health people who refer to eating treats as “cheating.” I hate that word “cheat.” It immediately connotes that we’re doing something wrong. I prefer to call my splurges “treats” since it implies they are something special. Treats are good. Occasional, but good.
Thing 2: Becoming Overwhelmed
If you are just starting your fitness journey, it can get pretty discouraging when you talk to some nut like me who decides to go vegan on a whim and works out 6 times a week. You think to yourself, “there is no way I can do what she does …I give up.” Don’t do it! First of all, I was not born making healthy decisions. I have been gradually incorporating healthy habits into my life for the last 25 years, little by little. As I learn more about health, I tweak my diet or exercise plan. My diet looks completely different than it did even 5 years ago. If you find yourself wanting to give up before you even start, try this:
a. Take baby steps. Don’t set out to exercise 6 days a week when you currently do not exercise at all. I advise most people to start out walking 30 minutes, 3 times a week. After a few weeks, increase the pace. After a few more weeks, add a day. After a few more weeks, add some time. After a few months, add a day of weight training. Little by little, as you get stronger and establish good habits, you can increase your exercise.
b. Eliminate the bad stuff first, incorporate the healthy stuff second. If you drink sodas, start by cutting down on those and eventually eliminate them completely. Next, eliminate packaged snacks and processed foods, one at a time. Next, start replacing high fat, high sodium, highly processed meals with healthy options, one at a time. Then, maybe think about replacing some of your food with organic options. Little by little, over time.
Thing 3: Getting Bad Information
If you are living in a civilized culture (or if you have access to the internet and can read this post) there is really no excuse for ignorance when it comes to living a healthy life. Google “healthy diet” and you will find 59,900,000 results in .26 seconds. I know, I just did it. The confusion comes when you are flipping through the channels and see an ad for a vibrating dumbbell claiming you can be buff with just 10 minutes of jiggling a day. Or you see a commercial for a powder you can sprinkle on your double bacon cheeseburger claiming you can lose 30 pounds by Christmas without any exercise or diet changes. (Real commercials, both of them!) If you find yourself constantly confused about what is healthy and what is not, try this:
a. Decide today you are done listening to impossible claims about weight loss. You’ve heard it a million times: there are no short cuts. I know we all want to believe there is an easier way, but it just isn’t true. You need to eat healthy food and you need to move. Period.
b. Educate yourself. Pick up a good book on nutrition and start reading. I recommend Master Your Metabolism, by Jillian Michaels and Body for Life for Women by Pam Peeke. There are a ton of good books out there, but these cover the basics I endorse and apply to my own life. The more you read, the more you will find that even though many nutrition books differ in tone or angle, the same basic health information is consistent. Sure, you may find one book or program that recommends cutting out meat while promoting fruit and another book that promotes meat while cutting out high-glycemic foods, including some fruits. But most of them agree that a healthy diet is one rich in fruits, veggies and whole grains and low in saturated fat, sugar and processed foods. That’s because, regardless of the way we behave in this country, we really do know what to feed our bodies.
Come back Friday when I tell you Thing 4 and Thing 5!