The journey to a fitter, healthier you is definitely not for the faint of heart! If there is any industry filled with more conflicting information than the diet and health industry I don’t know what it is. For the last thirty years give or take, I have been laboring to make my body smaller, leaner, tighter, more muscular. It’s only the last five years that I have been at a level of comfort with my body that has been anywhere close to freedom, and that’s because I have finally been training in a way that has driven my performance to a level that even the mirror can’t take away from me. I don’t think it’s an accident that I also haven’t really had cable tv for the last five years either, and suspect that hasn’t done my self-esteem any harm. When I was in this to ‘lose weight’ I really realized just how baffling the information is out there. I was first introduced to dieting it was in the height of the low fat craze. I went months without eating any fat. Meals consisted of carrots, apples, dry white bread and maybe dry rice. And diet pepsi, of course. Lots of that. I actually lost weight but I kind of think it ruined my metabolism. I also did Atkins, Suzanne Sommers, Dr. Schwartzbein, Eating for my Blood Type, the Jillian Michaels Shed and Shred etc etc etc. I believe I have read and studied nutrition to the point where I just may have as much knowledge as a nutritionist and it doesn’t always make sense. I can tell you the science of food metabolism at the cellular level. So here, free of charge, is my distillation of years of study, knowledge and unsubstantiated belief regarding health and nutrition into what’s really important and how to have the most serenity on your health and fitness journey.
1) Don’t eat processed foods. Don’t eat them at all if you can help it. Mostly, we eat them because they’re convenient. Even if you have to take one day a month just for cooking and freezing foods it better (and probably cheaper) than processed foods.
2) Understand addiction. I think more people suffer from addictions than know or understand. Sugar and other foods (usually simple carbs) have been scientifically proven to be addictive – as addictive as cocaine or heroin. If you resolve to give up a certain food repeatedly and find yourself eating it, you might be fighting a genuine addiction. It’s not the end of the world but it does mean you will need to add tools to your toolbox beyond ‘willpower’.
3) Don’t rely on exercise to make up for your diet. It won’t happen. You can’t do it.
4) Study food and your body. Make notes. Learn what the macronutrients are and how your particular body responds to them. Everyone is different and you are too (just like everyone else).
5) Focus on the inside out. Really, this is hard if you are inundated with pictures of photo-shopped hard bodies, but try to remember that fitness and healthy eating, properly introduced to your life, are vehicles of freedom, not bondage. You will feel better, have more energy, be able to do more, be less lethargic have better cholesterol and blood pressure. You may be able to get off medication (with a doctor’s authorization, please) and avoid all the accompanying side effects. You will also look your personal best. Maybe it won’t be photo-shopped perfection, but you know what? That’s okay!
So there you go. The sum total of my years of reading, angsting and trial and error. Good luck!