Sustainability. Sustainability. Sustainability.
(Let me repeat. SUSTAINABILITY.)
That's the magic word when it comes to success with your nutrition.
You all know the routine, because the majority of us have been there, done that, many times before. The newest, greatest, fad diet comes out that promises insane life changing results in a short period of time. You go online and read reviews about how people have been on this diet and lost four hundred and two pounds, feel the greatest they've ever felt, suddenly sleep through the night, have no stress, want to have sex 24/7 because their libido has magically come back, have watched their skin suddenly clear up and all of their wrinkles go away...all in 3 weeks time. They swear by this diet. It has worked for them. They are this diet's biggest fans.
So you go and join the Facebook groups. You buy the products. You wear a shirt that proclaims, "INSERT-NAME-OF-FAD-DIET AF".
(For those of you old folks who didn't understand that AF doesn't mean as fast, or a fire, or amazingly fancy, it means as f*ck. It's the new fangled way of saying as hell.)
You buy a ticket to the fad diet express and you jump on board with off-the-charts enthusiasm. It's amazing. You're following that schedule they sent for you, you're highlighting your book, you don't lose four hundred pounds in 3 weeks but man...you feel amazing because you lost 10, you're feeling empowered, and everyone is telling you how great you look.
The end of that book/program comes and there's no information on what to do to keep things going, so you say, "Well hell. I've lost 10 pounds. So now I'm going to take this opportunity to eat that cheeseburger that I've been banned from eating with the bun that I've been shamed for even thinking about eating because I deserve it."
And then guess what. When you wake up the next morning and weigh yourself, because let's be honest - your obsession with your new fad diet was so intense that you weighed in a few times a day to track your changes - you're two to three pounds heavier than you were the day before.
"OH MY F*CKING GOD!" you scream, "I'VE GONE AND DONE IT NOW! I RUINED IT ALL! I'M OFF OF THE WAGON!"
And then that cheeseburger turns into something else, which turns into something else, which turns into a few meals a week where it's been something naughty, and those weeks turn into a month or two and then you're done. You've gained it all back, and usually then some. You're feeling sluggish. Your bathroom habits have changed. Maybe some headaches have come back and you're nowhere near as thrilled about eating a salad made with green leafy things when you could eat a salad made out of a donut or four.
What was that? Not sustainable.
When you're considering a weight loss solution, here's how you can measure the sustainability:
Is this new diet telling you to cut out an entire macronutrient that you normally eat?
Are you suddenly restricting your carbs? Your fats? Your protein? If the answer is yes, and you find yourself barely eating certain things that you love to eat (sugar NOT included in this), that may not be sustainable for you.
Is this new diet telling you to drastically restrict your calorie intake?
And by drastically, are you eating the diet of a small child? Are you eating 1/2 of an apple for breakfast with two flakes of Grape Nuts cereal, a bowl of kale with 1/6th of a teaspoon of oil and vinegar with a slice of carrot, and that's about it? In all seriousness, you know when you're eating under a certain amount of food. Guidelines state that the average woman needs about 1,500 calories per day and the average man needs approximately 2,000 calories daily to lose weight. Obviously, there are many factors that influence those numbers including age, activity level, height, etc.
Is this new diet telling you to fast for any portion of your plan?
If the answer is yes, and you're jumping into a nutritional program that involves intermittent fasting right out of the gates, you might want to consider something else.
Is this new diet dependent upon supplements, shakes, vitamins, bars, or other things that you have to purchase from one specific manufacturer?
If the answer is yes, and you've spent hundreds upon hundreds of dollars on products to chase after a weight loss goal, chances are your bank account is going to kindly request that you stop spending that money at some point...but more importantly, sustaining yourself on pre-packaged shakes, bars, and capsules may be convenient but it is NOT sustainable.
SO HOW DO WE CHANGE THIS?
Well, here's what we do. We make small nutritional changes in our daily lives, reteaching our body those habits. Practicing healthy habits on a daily basis will reinforce those lifestyle changes that we're making and, voila! That magic key! That solution you've been looking for! Yep. It's been right there all along.
STEP 1: Try to have one meal of your day be something that isn't super processed.
So think of it this way. Whole ingredients. If you're looking at the nutritional information on the package, the less ingredients listed, the better. Or, how about something with no ingredients list? Chicken...with spices. A vegetable, that you cook fresh. Maybe some rice without flavoring?
STEP 2: Eat a side salad with your lunch and dinner.
You don't have to eat the exact same side salad with each meal, but add them. And eat them first, before you hit the rest of that meal.
STEP 3: Meal prep your breakfast on Sunday for Monday-Friday.
Not a joke. Pre-portion out oatmeal into little containers. Pre-portion out some sliced strawberries to go on top of that. Maybe you don't like oatmeal? How about some hard-boiled eggs and a slice of toast? Start your day with no excuses. Don't skip that breakfast.
STEP 4: Do you eat out at restaurants for lunch or dinner multiple times per week?
Cut that in half. If you normally go out to eat for lunch 5x per week, go only 3x this week. If you normally order takeout every single night? Start by only ordering it 3x. You see where we're going for this.
STEP 5: Meal plan your protein portions for dinners on Sunday for Monday-Friday.
Just like meal prepping your breakfast, meal plan out those protein portions for dinner. On Sunday, decide on a few dinners for the week, go out and buy your proteins, and pre-weigh them. Put them back in your fridge. This way, when it's time to cook yourself dinner, you know what you're cooking and how much you're getting!
One step at a time.
And practice, practice, practice. The longer you hold onto those daily habits, the more permanent they'll become in your lives. Right when you get all five of the above steps nailed down? You'll be on your way to a sustainable and healthy relationship with your food.
(Have no idea where to start with your nutrition? Need help? Our triple-certified nutrition coach, soon-to-be fully insured Nutritionist in the State of California, can help you out whether you're local or thousands of miles away. Get in touch with us today!)