Do you want to change your life? What is that thing you want to do that you are afraid to do?
I have several friends who want to live healthier, but they have obstacles. Some are physical. Some obstacles are psychological. But I can’t think of anyone I know who has an obstacle that cannot be navigated around. How bad do you want change?
OK – so let’s get specific about weight loss because that’s what most people talk to me about. They usually start with a list of reasons why they can’t do it. I used to have that list. I even had health professionals contribute to that list with their opinions about what “women my age” were able to do – or rather NOT do. All bullshit. (Sorry. I spend all day either in a gym or with teenagers. Subtle doesn’t work for me.)
Everyone I know who has lost a lot of weight and kept it off, did it in a very similar way. If you want to consider these “tips”, OK, call them something that doesn’t threaten you. But they aren’t “tips”. This is how you do it. There are no short cuts. This is a to do list if you are serious about making a real and permanent change.
Eat clean. That means real food. A good rule of thumb is that most of your food should not come in packages that have bar codes. If it does have a bar code, read the ingredients. If there are things listed that aren’t food , put it back on the shelf. Avoid putting chemicals and preservatives inside your body.
Keep track of calories in. Make sure you eat enough calories to keep your metabolism from shutting down. Google “online food journal” and you will find several free sites. Some not free. Friends have used http://www.sparkpeople.com/myspark/register.asp and http://www.myfitnesspal.com/. MyFitnessPal has an iPhone app, too. If you are willing to make an investment in your success, I suggest getting a Bodybugg, a Fitbit, or something similar. My Bodybugg comes with an online food journal. Another option is to talk to your doctor about making a referral to a nutritionist if you have a health issue that warrants it. It could be covered by your insurance.
Keep track of calories out. To lose a pound a week, make sure you burn 500 calories a day more than you eat. To lose two pounds a week, burn 1000 calories more a day than you eat. NEVER eat less than 1200 calories a day (1500 for men) to make that deficit – ALWAYS move more. http://www.livestrong.com/article/320586-what-is-the-least-amount-of-calories-i-can-eat-in-a-day/. Devices like the Bodybugg and Fitbit track calories burned, too. Remember – you are burning calories 24/7. It’s not just about what you do during exercise. Assume 1 calorie per minute being alive, even when sleeping. Calorie readouts on cardio machines and heartrate monitors have not been accurate for me. My real burns are always about 50% of whatever those machines tell me.
Eat healthy fats – olive oil, nuts, avocados, etc. Even peanut butter is considered a healthy fat – sort of (see the next point). I say this specifically because people will make the mistake of cutting fats too a level that is unhealthy. Your body needs them.
Cut out sugar. Sugar makes you fat. Yeah – about that peanut butter…there’s sugar in there. Check out the bulk food section at your grocery store to see if they have a peanut grinder to make real peanut butter made out of nothing but peanuts. I love it. I can’t taste the difference.
Do a little research. Find out about the macronutrients (carbs, proteins, and fats) and how much your body needs of each to have energy and be healthy. If you are tracking your food with a program that keeps track of how much of each you are eating, play around with the amounts to see how you feel. Adjust as needed to keep your hunger down and your energy up.
Anyone notice I’ve said very little about exercise?? That’s deliberate. The fuel you put in your body is the most important component of your program. You need to exercise, yes, and I’ll talk about that in a second, but the mistake most people make is that they don’t clean up the food and assume exercise is the key component. It’s not. It’s important, but it’s not as important as what you are eating. EVERYTHING you swallow becomes part of you. It doesn’t disappear. Your body will either use it, discard it, or store it. Sorry – it doesn’t discard that much. And even if you are eating healthy stuff, if you eat more calories than it needs to live, move, or repair itself, it will be stored. That’s why knowing what you consume and what you burn is important.
About exercise – what should you do? Cardio and some kind of resistance training. Both. Another blogger this week put it very nicely…”You can’t tone what you don’t have.” Muscle burns more calories than fat. That means the more muscle you have, the hotter your metabolism runs. Almost all women and many men will look smaller and firmer with muscles. You have to work very, VERY deliberately to get that “bulky” look many people say they don’t want and that I’ve been working my ass off for two years to get. If you know me, you probably wouldn’t call me “bulky” yet – but I will be. JUST WAIT. (Oh – that’s what the rest of my blog posts are about. Not this one.)
Make your exercise time an appointment you KEEP. It’s a meeting you have to go to. It’s not optional. Make your inner grown-up be in charge, because your inner teenager will want to sleep, watch TV, do just about anything else. OK – it’s not your inner teenager – it’s your old self. She’s not going to give up the space easily. She’s invested. She’s going to give you a list of excuses everyday about why you need to sit. If that was your kid and she was pushing back on doing her chores or her homework, do you cave?
There is so much more I could say about goal setting, motivation, the psychological tug-of-war… but it all comes down to the same thing.
HOW BAD DO YOU WANT CHANGE?
I promise you – once you decide to take this path, the details will work themselves out. Just be consistent. FOOD first. Start there.