As a personal trainer, the only diet I will ever suggest is this: a healthy lifestyle. Yep, that’s what I prescribe. I don’t believe in diets. Your health should never be about something you are on or off. Gimmicks, fads, or quick fixes are dead-end roads (some are just longer than others). If you are tired of the weight loss roller coaster and you want to lose weight for good, here’s the real secret: edit your daily choices. Rearrange those letters in the word “diet” and “edit” what you eat instead. Editing means deciding what you will eat, what you will eat less of, and what you might cut out altogether (like soda!). Now don’t panic; you don’t have to become a different person overnight. To help you shift away from diets and into your wonderful healthy lifestyle, I’ve created a game plan for you. So get ready to hit the reset button and restart with a #BodyReset! Yes. You. Can.
Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle Mindset
A healthy lifestyle is a work in progress, something you aspire to each day. Thinking long-term may not sound as sexy as the latest quick-fix diet, but I am here to tell you a lifestyle plan works. You don’t have to go extreme to see results. I know you’d like to hit fast forward and get to your “after” picture sooner, but it’s healthier and lasting when you focus on daily decisions and make small changes to your overall lifestyle. Some days you will do better than other days, and that’s perfectly okay. You don’t have to become the perfect clean-eating human. Lean your life toward healthier choices. Be compassionate and kind to yourself when you make less than stellar choices.
Accept that successful weight loss takes time, so remember it’s a process, and you’ll need to have patience. Patience isn’t something we naturally value in today’s world—myself included—but lasting change takes time and consistency. I’m all about clean eating, progress over perfection, and doing better today than you did yesterday. But I’m also about reality. I am not anti-sugar or anti-dessert; I encourage people to make healthy choices 80 percent of the time. Let’s get you started with a few quick tips:
QUICK TIPS FOR A HEALTHY MIND:
- Realize your health starts with the power of your mind.
- See if you can make today healthier than yesterday.
- Don’t label days or yourself as good or bad. Give up the vicious cycle of TRY, FAIL, SHAME! Let go of food shame and guilt for skipped workouts and focus on making your next choice a better, healthier option.
- Focus on creating small healthy habits until they become automatic.
Watch Your Portions
Weight gain and weight loss is an energy equation. Yes, that’s simplified, but if you take in too many calories—more than your body needs or can burn—you will gain weight. To lose weight steadily and keep it off, watch those portions.
A portion is how much food you choose to eat. A serving is a standard amount (or guideline) used by food companies to identify how much to eat, as well as the calories and nutritional content in your food. Most restaurants serve up big platefuls of portion distortion—a mega plateful of pasta or a steak the size of your dinner plate. More accurately, size up your portions with these guidelines:
The size of your fist = A medium fruit, one cup of rice or pasta
The size of your thumb = One ounce of cheese
The tip of your thumb = One teaspoon of butter, oil, or nut butter
A deck of cards = One serving of meat, poultry, or fish
One cupped handful = One serving of cereal
Two golf balls = one serving mashed potato or ice-cream
You can easily cut back on hundreds of calories a day when you watch your portions. Your portions can be the make or break of your weight loss efforts. Remember, you can overeat on healthy foods, so reduce your portion if you think you are filling. As you readjust your portions, soon, you will be able to identify a healthy portion better.
Related: Do You Have Portion Distortion?
QUICK TIPS FOR PORTION CONTROL
- Pour your cereal into a bowl and then pour it into a measuring cup. How many cups of cereal are you eating? (And if you want some healthier breakfast options, I have all sorts of breakfast recipes for you here at Get Healthy U)
- Eat slowly. Stop eating when you begin to feel satiated.
- If you want more food on your plate, make it veggies.
- Don’t drink your calories. They don’t make you feel full and sugary drinks can be a caloric mocha frappe nightmare! Hint Hint.
Eat Clean and Edit Your Choices
Clean eating is a lifestyle. You will find that your relationship with food and your choices become a lot easier when you eat clean. You see, a calorie isn’t always a calorie. When you overeat sugar, take in too many chemicals, artificial colors, and flavors, your body reacts a lot differently than a handful of raw almonds. It’s easy to filter your decisions with the question: Is this clean eating? Trip through the drive-through? Nope. Microwaved frozen dinner? Nope. Macaroni and cheese out of a box? Nope. Cereal? Nope. A fresh bowl of steel-cut oats with berries? Yes! Shrimp with broccoli? Yes! Salmon and sweet potatoes? Yes! Chicken Tortilla Soup with fresh ingredients? Yes! Guacamole? Yes! See how it gets simpler to know what choices are right for your body?
To eat clean means to choose whole grains that are minimally processed, to choose lean proteins, and to load up on veggies and fruits.
QUICK TIPS FOR CLEAN EATING:
- Eat foods free of heavy sauces and sweeteners.
- Eat five or more servings of fruits and veggies a day.
- Eat whole fruit rather than fruit juice.
- Avoid processed and packaged foods.
- Set an example by bringing a healthy dish to a party.
- Politely but firmly decline food pushers.
- Drink plenty of water!
Decide what you will omit and what you will allow. Go for broiled or grilled instead of fried. Swap out white potatoes, pasta, and rice for extra vegetables. Eat a small serving or scoop of a favorite indulgence instead of feeling deprived.
Make exercise appointments
While this game plan is more about clean eating than exercise, I can’t leave out exercise because you can’t have a healthy lifestyle without pairing the two. Weight loss and a healthy lifestyle aren’t only won in your kitchen; it’s also about how often you move your body. For best health, you have to eat clean and move.
We all have 24 hours in a day. What you choose to do with your 24 hours can make all the difference. Everyone can easily say “I don’t have time” or “I will exercise when I have time,” but those excuses put your health on the back burner, and you don’t want your health on the bottom of your To-Do list, do you? Take ownership of your choices and time by scheduling exercises like an appointment you never miss. Remember, at this appointment, you will gain confidence, energy, a healthier body, a better outlook, and you will be investing in your long-term health for your sake and the sake of your family. You are worth it, so make and keep that appointment for exercise.
Related: How To Manage Your Time
QUICK EXERCISE TIPS:
- Partner up with a friend or family member and keep each other accountable.
- Remind yourself of how good you feel after you finish a workout.
- Self-discipline is like a muscle. You can build up your commitment to exercise (and your health) every time you keep your appointment.
Move Your Body More
Even people who devote an hour a day to some type of workout sometimes forget to move the rest of the day. Sitting for long periods is never good for your body—even if you get that hour of scheduled exercise each day. Yep, that’s right; your workout does not permit you to slip into the land of the sedentary until your next workout.
The more you move each day, the better (just another reason why activity trackers are all the rage—because they encourage you to get more steps in and move more).
QUICK TIPS FOR MORE MOVEMENT:
- Do some squats, lunges, or planks when you have some downtime.
- Pace or do some calf raises.
- Try a walking meeting or stand up when you are on the phone.
- Don’t take shortcuts when walking (skip that perfect parking spot and walk instead).
Make sure you aim for seven hours of sleep each night as adequate sleep keeps your stress down, your appetite down, and your body functioning at its best. The better you sleep, the easier it will be for you to create and stick to your healthy lifestyle! Oh, and here are some helpful freebies for you too!
Eating a well-balanced diet of real foods is what our bodies crave. You can satisfy your hunger with delicious and nutritious foods (and you no longer have to starve yourself!). Okay, there you have it. This is your game plan so you can hit reset and get started with your healthier lifestyle. Your body will thank you.