Why You're Not Losing Weight -- Part Three
On paper, the concept of living a healthy lifestyle sounds really easy and simplistic-- just eat right and exercise. Well, since none of us live on a closed set with a private, state-of-the-art gym, personal trainers, and dietitians at our disposal, just like on The Biggest Loser, the challenge to lead a healthy life is heavily magnified in the real world. In our everyday lives, the average American is bombarded with a slew of advertisements on billboards and TV, as well as entire aisles in the grocery store that are completely dedicated to things like chips, sodas, cereals and other foods that can slow or reverse progress made from working out.
In the third and final part of the Why You Aren’t Losing Weight series, I will be diving into that four-letter word that many fear to utter-- diet. It is unfortunate that diet and exercise have been attached to a perception of intense discomfort and extreme restrictions to the things in life worth enjoying. When done correctly, diet and exercise can be enjoyable and effortless. In the first part of the series, I discussed finding exercise routines that you enjoy doing because individuals are far more likely to stick to a workout program they love, and the same goes with the diet.
When it comes to the kinds of food to eat, judge each item by the quality of nutrition it provides. Think of it this way-- a top-of-the-line Mercedes is capable of producing a much greater amount of power than a 1980 Honda Civic. Both cars require gasoline to run, but the Mercedes must get premium unleaded. Pumping regular unleaded gasoline into the Mercedes one time is not great for the engine, but it’s not likely to create irreversible damage; however, if one was to exclusively pump low grade gasoline into the luxury car, that is where the real damage happens, and the same goes with the human body when junk food is consumed.
The body requires macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat and protein) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to work optimally. A balanced diet and supplementation, if necessary, can easily take care of this part. The main challenge is to stick to a healthy, balanced diet, which means maximum accountability and finding healthy substitutes to the not-so-healthy food items one loves.
Follow these steps and you just might find yourself eating a healthy diet:
Identify your eating habits with a 3-day food diary. Basically, for three days, you will be recording everything you eat and drink, including additives consumed with any item (such as creamer and sugar added to coffee), the quantity consumed for each item and record the times of each meal or snack, WITHOUT making any changes to your diet. It is key to eat and drink exactly how you would had you not been keeping a food diary, and highly recommended to include at least one weekend day in the journal. Most important is to BE HONEST!
A beneficial strategy to minimizing hunger pains and reduce the urge to overeat is to evenly time meals. As recommended by Mike Dolce, a well-known nutritionist in the mixed martial arts community, “eat every 2-4 hours based on what you have done and what you’re about to do”; what this does is keep blood sugar levels at an even keel and overeating is unnecessary because the body is almost in a consistent satiated state.
Identify the not-so-healthy items. This is where it is absolutely crucial that the food diary be completely honest account of the food and drink items consumed.
Make a plan to wean off unhealthy foods and think of healthy substitutes. If you already know, for sure, that going “cold turkey” works for you, and you have done it on several occasions with success, then feel free to skip this one. For the rest, it may be best to wean oneself off; for example, if a person drinks soda every morning and mid-afternoon, to begin by substituting the morning soda with a cup of coffee or tea. If adding creamer or sugar to the coffee/tea is an issue, incrementally reduce the amount used.
Pace thyself. In today’s “on-demand” culture, Americans have become accustomed to getting what they want and when they want it at their convenience. Unfortunately, the human body has not gotten the memo. Depending how long one has been eating unhealthy foods, his/her body may have developed a dependence on those foods, thus a sudden change and/or removal could lead to undesired side effects, such as headaches. By weaning oneself from such foods, these side effects can be minimized or nonexistent.
Ensure all nutrients are being acquired. By replacing junk food with healthy food, chances are that nutrient levels are at a much higher level than before, but there is always the chance that something may be left out. Phone apps, such as Fooducate or MyFitnessPal, are extremely helpful tools in identifying possible shortcomings. If it is discovered that certain nutrients are not sufficiently being consumed, adding foods that are rich with those nutrients to the diet or supplementation can be helpful.
A healthy diet can go a long way in maximizing the potential of living a healthy lifestyle. It is important to take into consideration that each person is unique, therefore, a template “cure-all” is hardly feasible.
While quite a bit of information was shared in the Why You're Not Losing Weight series, it is but a quick overview of the steps to healthy living. Feel free to check out Why You're Not Losing Weight Part One and Why You're Not Losing Weight Part Two to refresh your memory. For more information and advice for your own fitness goals, feel free to reach out to me via email at email@example.com or ask me in person at Revolution Fitness.