How do you lose weight? We all know the answer to that – diet and exercise. There’s no secret, no magic pill, no cure for being overweight. Change your diet, change the amount you exercise, and voila! Hello weight-loss. But in reality, it’s not quite that simple.
So much of life is mentality. That damn brain calls all the shots. It decides if you’re happy, scared, motivated, and decides if you have the will power to choose cucumbers over crackers.
Somewhere along in life our perception towards food got complicated. Once upon a time there weren’t so many choices. We had to hunt, gather, and go out fishing for our food. (I wonder if the toddlers of those people ever said, “that’s yucky, I don’t want it” to parents of that time?) I don’t know for certain, but do you think back hundreds of years ago, people were concerned about eating too much bread and overloading on carbohydrates? “If you keep all that bread, you’ll be too fat to walk to the water well!”
Diets, though often laid out well for people to follow, can get complicated. Why on one diet is beans okay, and on another they are shunned? Why is corn healthy, but it’ll cause you to bloat? Why are some anti red meat, while others think of it as a good source of protein? All that information coming at you from different sources, all with different opinions, can leave you standing in front of the refrigerator door thinking, “Ahhhh! I don’t know!” I get it. It can be serious mental overload when you’re just trying to make the right decision but you’re not sure what actually is right.
Here’s my advice for any of you who are looking to change your dietary ways:
- Be realistic. If you eat heavy carbs almost daily, dessert on a regular basis, love sodas and processed snacks, then take your time easing into a new diet. If you decide “Come Monday, I’m not eating pasta, cookies, snacks, or drinking soda again” do you really think you’ll stick to it? Going “cold turkey” on so many items at one time is not going to go well. You’ll be angry. Frustrated. You’ll give up. Take it slow – cut out the soda one week. Then the next week, cut out pasta, or cut out carbs from lunch every day, and eat them during dinner. Or vise versa. (Note: I’m not anti carbs, you need carbs in your life, but the healthy kind that come from fruits and vegetables.)
- Be honest with yourself. We all think we eat healthy. No one wants to admit they’re putting a bunch of crap into their bodies every single day. Take a good look at your diet. At the end of the day, write down everything you ate. You don’t have to share it with anyone and fear being embarrassed. Be truthful with yourself – did you eat more than you needed? Are the amounts of fruits and veggies too low?
- Don’t make excuses, just find the source of the problem. Are you overfilling your plate at dinner and just finishing those last few bites you don’t really need because it’s easier than throwing it away, or saving it? Are you filling your plate as much as your husband’s, but he’s 50 lbs heavier than you, so really you shouldn’t be having equal shares? Are you afraid of saying no when people ask you to go out to eat with them? So then you go out, and because you don’t want to get into a long, inwardly frustrating discussion about trying to eat healthier, you order the burger instead of the fish? Find the source of the problem – why can’t you stick to a diet? Why can’t you change your habits. Then fix it.
- Eating anything better than what you currently do, is “right”. After you’ve figured out the source of your problem, were honest with yourself, and have made the decision to be realistic with changing your dietary habits, you are now faced with the “Okay, so what do I eat”. If you didn’t have enough vegetables in your life before, start there. Even if the corn or the beans make you a little bloated or gassy, it’s still better than munching on a bag of chips. Increase the veggies and fruit, decrease the amount of boxed stuff, and you will see progress.
For the month of July I am trying out the Paleo Diet. It is popular amongst many Crossfit athletes (I don’t do crossfit), and is thought of as the “Cave Man” diet. Basically, if you can’t hunt or gather it, it’s not to be eaten. There’s a lot of common household foods that are on the do-not-eat list, but truthfully it’s pretty simple to follow, just not all that culinarily exciting. Because I previously did the Zone Diet for a month, my will power is quite strong right now. My mentality towards certain foods – pasta, rice, boxed snacks, sugar – has changed. I don’t crave those items. My body has done well without them, thus my brain has rewired itself to not want to gravitate towards those items at all.
Time and patience is critical. I did the Zone Diet for a month. We can do ANYTHING for one month. No seriously, you can. It’s 30 days, not 30 years. That is all the time you need to rewire your brain, change your mentality, and gain the will power to make dietary changes.
And remember, that bad food had to get into your kitchen somehow. If you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it.
Good luck in the kitchen my friends, you can do this!