If there is one single piece of information you can take away from particular blog post it would be-don’t start at the top because then you have no where to go.
It’s gotten really easy for me to spot the moment in the conversation when I’ve lost the person I am talking to. Their eyes glaze over, the head tilts slightly to one side and I can tell that my words have little meaning at this point. As soon as they hear that actual WORK has to be put in to “losing all that weight”- that’s it. They’ve checked out. I think sometimes they would prefer to hear that I did actually have super powers, or that there is a magical fruit that grows on the weight loss tree of miracles and I have the map to get to it. Sadly, not the case. The short of it is to get your diet in check and add in exercise. Then they all want specifics. But you see when I am approached by near strangers, which happens more than I like to admit (they either overheard my conversation with someone else or they see me walking dogs past their house everyday and notice I look different) I know that I would be standing there explaining my new lifestyle for about an hour. And that “check out point” comes at about the 3 minute mark. So maybe I’ll just point them all to this post.
I don’t want this to be some great debate about which is healthier – vegan, vegetarian or omnivore. Let’s be respectful and play nice. As well, diet is just a brick in the weight loss pyramid – a big brick – but still just a part.
I can tell you that if you are starting out from a very poor diet and little to no exercise, that 85% of your “hard work” is going to stem from what you put in your mouth. I lost the first 100 lbs with mostly changing my diet. The major key with any lifestyle change is to start slow. If you make a bunch of changes right away 2 things may happen. First, you might become so overwhelmed you can’t keep it up or feel deprived that you simply give up. Second is perhaps you do get some results – yea! But then you have no idea which of the changes you made is affecting you, so tweaking what you did when you hit a plateau will be extremely difficult and again overwhelming. Pick a couple things to start changing and add in more as your confidence grows and your waistline shrinks.
If you are excited, like I was, about the prospect of changing your life, you might want to jump in head first. Don’t. Best to start from the beginning. Understanding what food is. The following is going to be a far cry from a science lesson here and I am by no means a dietitian. But if you get the basics of nutrition down, then you have a solid foundation and that is exactly where you need to start.
If you are aiming for optimum nutrition and in turn fat loss, almost all your meals should have a healthy balance of macro nutrients. If you are eating whole foods, from as close to nature as possible ( no white pasta/potatoes/rice/breads, highly processed foods or refined sugars) then the micro nutrients will automatically be there for you ( ie. minerals, vitamins etc..)
So, what are macro nutrients?
These little guys are not the enemy! (at least the “good” ones aren’t) The role of carbs is to be your energy source. You are going to need good sources of it for everyday function but especially if you are adding in exercise! The body will take a carbohydrate and turn it into glucose ( blood sugar). Too much of this and your body will store it as fat. There are 2 types of carbs – sugars and starches. Sugars are simple carbohydrates like cake, soda, candy, and even fruits. Starches are complex carbohydrates that take longer to be digested (keep you fuller!) and include foods such as breads, grains, pasta, and vegetables. The idea when it comes to weight loss is to really limit the sugary carbs and focus on whole grain options for your starches. Really read labels! You’d be surprised how many “enriched whole wheat” breads just have caramel food colouring and that’s it! Companies can get away with so much! Some of my favourites from this category include sprouted wheat bread ( Ezekiel bread), ALL veggies, whole grain quinoa, oatmeal and brown rice.
Please don’t mistake proteins as only coming from meat sources. Not the case at all. And also a macro group that you do not want to put on the back shelf. Proteins are the building blocks of our muscles. They are considered to be thermogenic, which means that your body actually uses energy to break them down, more than any of the other macro nutrients. It helps you feel satiated and it aids in the production of hormones and enzymes. Every cell in your body uses it! Examples of this macro include meats, fish, protein bars/powders, eggs, soy, legumes, beans and nut butters. Important to be sure you have lots of fiber rich foods in your diet when consuming a good deal of protein – helps keep things… “moving”. As well, if you do consume meat, get lean cuts or trim off excess fat. The animal fat is really no good for you.
You do not get fat by eating fat, lets dispel that myth right now. Excess stored fat comes primarily from sugar and it’s many evil forms. You need fats to live, plain and simple. They provide essential fatty acids which our bodies cannot make on their own and must be obtained from foods. They also help the body absorb specific vitamins. However, there are a few kinds of fat. The unsaturated fats are the ok ones. Now these little guys can help lower bad cholesterol if used in place of the other type of fat – saturated fat. Keep in mind they do pack a punch when it comes to calories. So don’t be going nuts with your oils and dressings! And it goes without saying that you should be staying away from fried foods. Good sources of healthy unsaturated fats include extra virgin olive oils, coconut oils, avocados, natural peanut butter, nuts, tofu, seeds and salmon.
Everyone’s goals are going to be different. For myself, I had a lot of weight to lose – over 100 lbs and I knew if I lost too quickly I would look like a deflated balloon. Since I am not one to be happily signing up for skin removal surgery, my plan was to go slow and steady and build lean muscle as I lost fat. Not the whole lose one pound a day crap either. I aimed for 2 to 4 lbs a week at the beginning. My food for the day consists of a ratio of about 40% proteins, 40% carbohydrates and 20% fat. My final meal of the day is always just pure protein, like a shake or egg whites.I treat fruit as a treat and cut out dairy as it is not essential to live. Calcium can be found in plenty of the natural foods I was eating so there is no concern there. I enjoy a square of dark chocolate every once in a while too.
The key if you have a horrible metabolism (like me!) is to eat smaller more frequent meals (4-6x day) to keep your body at a rate where it will burn stored fat. I never have cheat DAYS, maybe a cheat meal once every couple weeks. Holidays are still celebrated but I don’t over do it. I am very consistent and practice self control. I don’t think too much about future events like “Oh no, what will I do at Uncle Fred’s backyard BBQ in 3 weeks?” I stay focused on the day in front of me. I will never sit out of these functions either just because I am conscious of what I’m eating. You need to seriously re evaluate your plan if you are letting food come between you and seeing family. You CAN do both! Before you know it, it’s the end of a month and you’ve got real results. That high will keep you motivated along with how great you are going to feel. AND YOU DO FEEL FANTASTIC. It isn’t a bullshit line that people use, you really do!
I have slowly introduced new types of macro nutrients, re evaluated my portions (like how much salad dressing I was really using) and introduced protein powders and bars. Again, I made these adjustments over time. And if you ask me 6 months from now what my diet looks like, it will probably be slightly different from today. But that’s a good thing. My diet should be constantly evolving. I should be trying new foods, recipes, and getting excited about the yummy concoctions I create and the continued success of this way of life!
Week to week, my results vary and that is to be expected. Many factors can alter the number on the scale. The important thing is to NOT STOP. Major change won’t happen overnight, but it WILL happen. I am living proof.
If anyone has any questions about even more specifics to my diet, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send me a personal email.