Following my post on goal setting and tracking, one thing that’s always on our mind during the weight loss process: food and eating. There is a lot of information out there on what’s good, what’s bad, what’s the next fad, what’s extreme and what’s sustainable… and if you’ve started your journey, you’re probably getting all sorts of advice from those around you. Let’s make this simple: everyone is different. What worked for someone, may not work for you. It’s one of those “that’s obvious” statements however yet so many of us fall for them, buy the books, the meal plans, etc and finally get into that infamous yo-yo dieting pattern. I was no less…
People suggested I cut out carbs, cut out sugar, eat only meats, and even go bulimic (I can assure you I’m no longer friends with that last person!). Even today I get all types of suggestions, which I’m not knocking down, but am the only one who knows my body the best. Needless to say, I did try some of those “diets” because who wouldn’t, especially in the initial stages, try anything and everything to see the weight come off! I will say that weight loss is both a combination of exercise and eating habits, the latter having the bigger impact depending on your goals.
So for some of the ideas above, I felt that you would have to do something that is sustainable as I wasn’t on a diet plan, rather a lifestyle change (see post #1). As an example, unless you’re gluten intolerant or have celiac, why cut out carbs completely? Carbs actually have benefits, we just have to choose the right ones, such as slow-release which keeps us fuller longer and whole grains over refined products. Items with carbs often have good amounts of dietary fiber which can mean a good thing for your waistline. Sugar (which is also a type of carb) on the other hand is the devil! Besides a slight boost of energy (and the satisfaction in eating the oh-so-yummy cakes and cookies it’s a part of), benefits of this item is limited. Unused sugar (and other simple carbs) can just live in you as fat.
Google searches can lead you to the good and bad of any nutrients. A story about a friend’s recent idea. This was to drink a litre of milk a day and use the potassium and calcium to help bulk up. What actually ended up happening was he found no additional strength or energy than prior to this “plan” to workout, ingested an unnecessary number of calories (he was drinking whole milk), and sadly, broke out like a teenager! (Yes, we laughed with him – or was it at him?!). The bottom line is everything in moderation.
Speaking of moderation, there’s the idea of having 3 meals a day vs. 5-6 small meals. Personally I am a fan of the 5-6 meals however reality is that, depending on your lifestyle, this isn’t always possible. I for one did not have a slower metabolism; I didn’t have one at all! (let’s not get technical folks) so having a constant intake of foods keeps your digestive system active. I did have my challenges and downfalls with this also. For one, I have Invisalign®, which meant every meal I had to take out my “teeth” (as I call them), brush every time etc which, for anyone having braces, knows is a pain. What I had to learn the most was to snack wisely. I had to mentally train myself to say that apple on my desk is better than the apple strudel at Tim’s.
I strongly believe that the “cheat day” concept was my bff for me to reach my ultimate goal. For 6 days I would be extra-cautious on what I ate and that one day, I would eat to my desire (note: it wasn’t a free-for-all gluttony, all you can indulge day) but having that chicken burger wouldn’t be the end of me (mentally). On that note, I feel a lot of it is in our heads; that self-control and willingness to stick to your plans, which ranges from mindless snacking to choosing the better foods when at a party. Anyone who knows me knows that my weakness is poutine (shout out to Montreal!) and every time I go home, it’s on my to-do list, to the point where my last visit I went to an all you can eat poutine place (yum) and did not leave with guilt! Why? I ate wisely both the days before and days after to plan for that “cheat day”.
So for those looking to create / start their plan, I would suggest you think about your food intake. Keep a diary for the next 2 weeks of everything you take in, even a piece of gum, and note where and what you can change. I found reading labels really helped get my caloric intake in check, which was key to ensure I was balancing my intake and with my time at the gym or my Infusion dance class. There are apps for this which you can use to keep track on the spot. There are apps that give you nutritional information for items if you’re on the go as well.
I would love to hear your ideas on what you do about your food habits. Feel free to comment below, on the facebook page or inbox me! Keep yourself motivated my friends, it all starts with baby steps.