Five Things Every Dieter Should Know
Losing weight is a tough thing to do. It takes patience, commitment, some levels of sacrifice and a little bit of luck. Yes, I said luck. That's because there's so much misinformation about dieting, you'd have to be lucky to get the truth. Here are five truths every dieter needs to know.
First, get rid of the idea that you're going to suddenly start eating perfectly. It's a very rare person that can go from consuming 5,000 calories of donuts, pizza and beer to vegan meals full of kale and broccoli. It's not just unrealistic, it's a setup for failure.
Extreme or overly rigid diets almost always lead to burnout. At some point, those foods you love and crave are going to overwhelm your willpower. Binges happen, depression sets in and dieters quit because they feel helpless against their impulses. Well guess what, nobody's perfect.
The better solution is to look at every day as a new opportunity to improve yourself. Allow yourself occasional cheat meals and learn to make healthier versions of your favorite dishes. A phrase from Alcoholics Anonymous I like to share is, "Progress, not perfection." No diet's going to be perfect and you shouldn't be stressing if yours isn't. If you're using each day as an opportunity to make improvements, you're on the right track.
Second, stop eating the things you hate. A healthy diet can include hundreds of delicious choices. If you wake up each morning, dreading the idea of the food you're facing, dieting becomes a punishment. You start to resent the very idea of a diet and eventually revert to old habits.
Start exploring foods outside your traditional comfort zone. Go through websites with healthy recipes (like ours, WeCookFit.com) and commit to trying one new meal a week. If you like it, add it to your rotation. If you don't, mark it off the list and move on. In one year you'll have tried at least 52 new meals and odds are, you'll have discovered a few you enjoy. Healthy AND tasty, it's a real thing.
Third, portion sizes matter. Healthy foods have calories just like unhealthy ones. Eat too much fruit, nuts or vegetables and you're not going to drop any weight. Good-for-you foods are typically less calorie-dense than regular fare, but it's still possible to overeat.
Measure out a proper serving, set it on a plate and put the rest of the food away. Choose smaller plates so they look more full. Then set a timer and don't get up for more until at least 15 minutes have passed. That'll give your body time to start absorbing the food and reducing your feelings of hunger.
Fourth, everything cannot be fixed by simply working out. That probably sounds strange coming from a personal trainer. But if I've got a client that's trying to lose weight, they've got to do more than just exercise their bad choices away. What you eat matters.
Don't misunderstand me. Muscle-building exercises are a critical component of a long-term healthy life. But someone who's eating just 500 calories a day more than they should, would have to do strength training exercises a full hour a day, every day of the week, just to maintain their current weight. They would need to exercise EVEN MORE before they started dropping pounds.
Fifth, cardio workouts are important, but they shouldn't be the only type of exercise you engage in. Every time I walk into a gym, I see rows of machines filled with people desperately trying to run, row or cycle the pounds off. But just like weight training exercises, you would have to do hours of cardio a day to overcome the calories of just a couple bad eating decisions.
Hours of cardio don't just burn fat, they also burn muscle. It's not uncommon to see people who rely solely on aerobic exercises be skinny, but have high body fat percentages because there's very little muscle holding everything together.
Take one step at a time. Evaluate and moderate the foods you're eating. Add weight training exercises a couple of times a week. Add cardio exercises a couple times a week. It may take a year or more to get everything firing together, but in the end, those slow changes can yield dramatic results.
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