One topic that can be extremely difficult for people, is nutrition. There's all kinds of fad diets out there, different ways to fast, diet supplements, macro counting- the list goes on and on! It can be overwhelming and frustrating when you are trying to lose weight or keep weight off.
As a fitness coach, this is probably the toughest subject to work through with my clients. For one thing-nutrition is not a one size fits all type of deal. What works for one client, just won't work for another. I will tell you that my best advice when focusing on nutrition is to start with a journal and/or app such as, MyFitnessPal. Write down everything you are consuming in a day. Also writing down how you feel throughout the day-a complete full body assessment. This is very helpful info when meeting with a fitness coach or someone that is helping you with your health goals. Having a baseline to go by when working on new goals is key, so that unrealistic goals are avoided and new goals can be reached.
If meeting with a health coach is not in the budget, here's where you could start if you're really looking to nail down your nutrition. FIRST: Be realistic! Don't hop on the fad diet bandwagon. You may lose weight initially, but you WILL NOT keep it off. I'm all for jump starting with quality supplements to get your motivation going, but relying solely on them will not keep the weight off. SECOND: Make small changes. Making small changes and being consistent with them over time is what will make the biggest difference! If you drink soda every day, try to cut it back to only 3 days a week. That way you're not giving up the soda you love, but you're just cutting back. This brings me to the THIRD topic: Don't deprive yourself-ever! I love craft beer (that's full of empty calories, I know!) and I drink it! I just set aside a day to enjoy them. If we give up everything we love to lose or maintain weight, life would be pretty darn boring!! Right?! FOURTH: If you are an all-or-nothing type of person like me and need some sort of guideline, here's one that's always helped me. If you have some weight to lose, plan one "cheat" meal per week. Use that meal as a time to enjoy yourself and not obsess with the calories. If you're maintaining your weight, take a whole "cheat" day per week. Use the other days during the week to eat clean. I've been using this method for years and it's always worked really well for me. It gives me control with having a plan, let's me consume foods I love at the times I choose, and helps hold me nutritionally accountable. Fifth: I understand the notion, calories in versus calories being burned, etc. BUT- let's be honest here....do we want to spend our life in a mathematical equation (what we ate minus what we burned)? As a mom of 3 kiddos, that seems a little too obsessive and too much work for me! The problem with this is that not every workout is the same effort, not all food is created equal, and our lives are always changing. Some days we are more hungry than others, some days we can't get our workout in, we have hormones that make us crave things (well, women, anyway), and it's just too hard to keep track of it all! WHEW! SO...with all of that being said, my advice would be to map out a general meal guideline. Define your meals-Bfast, snack (around 200 calories), lunch, snack, and dinner. Feed your body with nutritious foods every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism going. This gives your body a constant message throughout the day that you are going to feed it, so it won't go into starvation mode! SIXTH: (Going back to this) Not all food is created equal!!!! A cookie and a half of an avacado may contain the same amount of calories, but your body will perform much better with that avacado (think: good fats help burn bad fats!). Foods that are nutritionally sound will not only make you feel good, but will compliment your physique better too. Some of my favorite snack ideas are- half an avocado on a rice cake with Trader Joe's lime salt, a handful of turkey pepperoni, a green apple with a tbsp of pb, a handful of mixed nuts and dried fruit, Greek yogurt with nut granola, a clean protein bar, and a boiled egg with a piece of Baby Bell cheese. SEVENTH: DO NOT starve yourself to lose weight! This is the worst idea ever. Your body needs fuel to perform, just as a car needs gas to go. Starving yourself is a good way to sabotage your workouts due to no energy, create dips in your mood, and cause you to eventually binge eat (which will in turn, make you gain weight). This is a very unhealthy pattern to get into that can cause depression and maybe even a host of eating disorders.
I am not a certified nutritionist, nor am allowed to give advice for any medical conditions. These are just the things that have worked well for me and continue to do so. I'm certainly not perfect with my nutrition and I have my slumps where my nutrition isn't always the best. Lives are forever evolving and being so rigid just creates extra stress we don't need. Right?! Allowing yourself grace to live your life without punishment when you slip up, but also using each day to up your game to be better, is called BALANCE. And it should be that simple. Because aspects of our lives shouldn't be that hard! AND- life is for living!!! So go ahead and allow yourself an extra glass of wine with your girls tonight, but get your butt up for that scheduled run the next morning and feed your body healthy things. Because that my friends, is living a life in balance.
Until next time,