Taking an interest in your health is such a fun journey. Once you start to feel at peace and in charge of your body, you start learning and exploring different things. However there is SO much information out there, it can be hard to navigate when you're first starting out. You may be hearing about all of these different styles of eating, like the "bro-diet", IIFYM, carb cycling, the Ketogenic diet, plant-based diet, vegan, paleo.. (the list goes on and on!) and thinking "where do I even start?". I can say I've dabbled in all of these ways of eating at one time or another to try to find the fit that is best for me; the truth is, I'm still experimenting! The great thing about being in control of your health is feeling empowered to try new things. A few years ago, if I found something that helped me lose 5 pounds, I would be terrified to try anything different, thinking that I would lose all of my progress. Now that I truly feel in control of my health, I look forward switching things up.
But often times, I forget how overwhelming it was when I was first starting out. Every week there are new articles coming out that glorify one food and demonize another. Just when you think you are making some good choices, a new study comes out and tells you you should be doing the opposite. I'm learning to ignore these articles, because I feel that food science and nutritionism is hurting our culture more than it's helping.. I will save that rant for a later blog post. But think about it, we are only of the only countries obsessed with our health but becoming less healthy. Does that make any sense?! There are few other cultures that have anxiety about eating in the way the Western culture does - that's crazy!
So tonight we're going to break it down. We're going to simplify things. We're going to go over some small changes you can make gradually, instead of trying to change your whole lifestyle overnight. I'd recommend implementing a new change every week. In a month or so, after slowly adjusting, everything will seem a lot more manageable and you should be feeling a heck of a lot better. Because what's the fastest way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
1. Get the junk food out of the house - Trust me, I know it's hard. But if it's around, you will eat it. If you come to our house, the worst thing you're going to find are some Kettle chips, bacon and a pretty impressive variety of cheeses (and also Cam's alcohol, but that doesn't tempt me). The reason I don't keep junk food in the house? I don't need the temptation. Often there are times after dinner when I'm craving something sweet like a cookie or ice cream. I think to myself "I could run to the grocery store real quick", but the truth is 99% of the time I don't want it enough to put on shoes and a jacket and drive 3 minutes to the grocery store. If I'm not willing to go through the 5 minute ordeal, I definitely didn't need it in the first place. This buffer helps keep me on track.
2. Start your version of cardio - I'm not saying you have to start running 5 miles every day. Do whatever challenges you. Maybe that's a 15 minute walk. Maybe it's a 30 min jog. Maybe you like doing 15 minutes of sprints to get it over with. Maybe you're a rower, a stair climber, an aerobics class attender, a spin bike queen, an outside leisurely bike rider. Pick your poison, and start doing it. The weather is getting better every day - you have no excuse now :)
3. Cut the fat - Don't get me wrong, we need fat in our diet. Fats from nuts, avocados, flaxseed olive, extra virgin olive oil, and natural peanut butter are great. High amounts of saturated and trans fats... not so great. Start familiarizing yourself with food labels. Switch from frying your foods to steaming or broiling them. Substitute the ranch dressing for olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or opt for a low fat option. Start purchasing lean cuts of meat; anywhere from 90-99% lean is great.
4. Track your sugar intake - I preach a lot about added sugar, because it's sneaky and it's EVERYWHERE. If you haven't watched the documentary Fed Up yet, do yourself a favor and watch it. It's very eye opening. The World Health Organization recently came out with guidelines recommending that adults get no more than 25-50 grams of added sugar per day. I'm not talking about natural sugar from fruits here. I'm talking about added sugar.. in ketchup, pasta, bread, salad dressings, candy, breakfast muffins, yogurts, poptarts, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. Make an effort to seriously track your sugar for a few days and see where you're at. You can either read labels and jot the amounts down on a piece of paper (and make sure you're being honest with yourself about serving sizes!) or you can check out some apps like Myfitnesspal, Lose it, Fat Secret, or Macros+.
5. Up your water intake and kick the sodas and juices - I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but water is the way to go when it comes to making healthy choices regarding beverages. I'm not going to sit here and write my feelings about soda, because the whole industry disgusts me and I could go on for days. And most fruit juices and drinks advertised as "health drinks" are just as bad. This is a tough one, I know. Try flavoring water with cucumber and mint, or lemons and limes. And drink a lot of it. When you're properly hydrated you will feel better overall, and you will notice other things improving (hint: being properly hydrated helps keep the bowels moving along..) You should be drinking half your body weight in ounces - so drink up, people!
6. Control your overall caloric intake and manage your macro ratios - This is where we really narrow it down, now that you've been making healthy changes gradually for several weeks. I'm not saying you have to be crazy obsessive and count your macronutrients every day for the rest of your life; in fact, I go through periods where I track consistently and periods were I allow myself to not track at all. I haven't tracked in a few weeks and instead have been eating intuitively. But you should definitely have an idea of some goals to hit until you get to that point. Once you have your numbers, track for a few days until you start to understand what nutrients certain food combinations will provide your body. It makes a difference!
If you're interested in hearing more about macros or looking for some help getting started, feel free to shoot me an email. I'd be more than happy to help!