For fat loss, balanced nutrition and smart exercise go hand in hand, but I want to break this up into parts and talk about nutrition first (probably because it's one of my own demons). This is geared to those who are just beginning, but most of us can benefit from thinking through this again.
In my opinion, diets don't work. I have yet to see a diet translate into permanent fat loss. Either the diets are unsustainable from the beginning or they leave people with the thought that they can go back to eating the way they previously ate. I believe in informed, deliberate every day choices related to sound nutrition. Once you start, you have to commit if you want real change. There is no going back. The good part of this is that you're in control, not slave to some unreasonable diet system. The bad part is that if you're in control you have to take responsibility. That means celebrating your progress with gusto but also owning up to your bad choices.
Great, so where do you start?
Your next meal. This means you have a few hours at most to decide what to eat next. If you read my blog you know I believe in short and long term goals, but they will remain unmet if the next choice you make isn't one that takes you a step closer to them. I can vouch for this personally! It doesn't matter if you're a newbie or seasoned, this is true for all of us.
When we first started making changes in our eating habits, they were simple ones, like eating mustard, not mayonnaise. Sounds kind of silly, but the point is you have to start somewhere, as soon as possible. It may take a while to learn what substitutions to make. I'll give you a few suggestions here and you can decide which ones you'd like to do first. It's important to not try everything you hear at once. When my husband started making changes, he did it very slowly and consequently has had a very good success rate. Changing everything overnight is a dieting mentality that sets you up for failure. Choose one or two positive changes a week in your eating habits, do them without fail and never turn back. When you're feeling good about those, tackle the next two. A few suggestions for you!
- To eat a real breakfast every day
- To replace one soft drink a day with a tall glass of water
- Grilled meat, not fried
- Mustard, not mayonnaise
- Less fat in your next carton of milk
- A potato instead of french fries
- To eat at least one meal a day sitting down at a table, not in the car or on the run
- Something green, every day
- To skip the bread basket if it's not your very favorite kind
- Salsa, not cheese dip
I'm sure you get the picture! There are many other choices that may be more meaningful to you. I love to hear comments about simple adjustments that can end up having tremendous impact. The point is to move off of point A in order to make progress toward point B. Next thing you know you'll eat something you loved in the past and it won't even taste good to you anymore. The healthier you eat, the more your body responds and the tempting things lose their enticement.
As someone still working on my own nutritional compliance, I can say that you just have to jump in and make that first change. Once you tackle it, the small victory will push you forward. I think especially if you have dieted before you may find yourself having spurts of momentum (willpower!) and moments of discouragement (complacency or defeat). Stay in the moment, keep steady and take it a meal at a time when necessary. Even after all the changes I have made I still have to employ this strategy so I can keep making better decisions. Educate yourself on healthier eating options, talk with people you see that truly eat healthy, build your list of choices and don't wait another meal to get started!