“You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” How many times have we heard this? Countless, I’m sure. So it should come as no surprise that when I began my journey to a healthier me, my starting line was in the kitchen. It wasn’t until I changed my entire way of thinking about food and its purpose that I was able to achieve my goals. I was in a nutrition class a few months back when a light bulb went off. Your body is a machine. If you want it to function properly, you need to fuel it properly. If food is your fuel, you need to make sure that you are providing the necessary elements that will allow your “machine” to perform at the best of its abilities. Similarly, avoid the useless junk that will just muck up your machine’s system.
It will likely take some tinkering to figure out how to execute, but it really is a simple concept at the core. Once you understand and truly believe in the concept, you can use it to get through the early cravings (which I promise you will go away) and decide what to eat and when. I’ll dive into specifics as this adventure continues, but in the meantime, here are 5 easy changes that I made in my own life and produced noticeable results.
Most people think that you need to deprive yourself to lose weight. This is so far from the truth! You should be fueling your body every 2-3 hours. I had heard this so many times before, but it wasn’t until I put it into practice that I believed it. When you continue to feed your body every few hours, your metabolism is forced to keep running in order to process the food it is being given. When you go long periods of time without eating, your body goes into survival mode. Your metabolism slows down and your body holds on to everything it can. At first it is going to feel like you’re eating all of the time. But the good news is that before you know it, your body will be hungry every few hours and that means that your metabolism is functioning optimally. I don’t know about you, but this 20-something will take as much help as I can in the metabolism department.
Balance Your Macros
What does that even mean? Simply put, you need to be sure that your body is getting the right amount of each macronutrient. Did you know that half of everything that you eat should be vegetables? Most people don’t. Knowing is the first step and then comes the implementation. There are plenty of calculators out there (I used http://iifym.com/iifym-calculator/) that will take your weight, activity level, and goals, and generate exactly how much fat, protein, and carbs you should be getting each day. Again, if your body is a machine, you can’t just be throwing anything into it and expecting positive results. Back in the day, I would have suggested keeping a food diary to make sure you’re executing the macro balance correctly. Today, we have the convenience of food tracking apps and I highly suggest downloading one immediately. I’ve tried several, but have found the most success with Lose It. It’s super easy to use and helps to ensure that your daily intake is balanced.
Drink Lemon Water
Start and finish every day with a glass of lemon water. Lemon water provides multiple benefits to your body, but for all intents and purposes, drinking a glass is like pressing the reset button on your digestive system. I noticed a difference within 24 hours of my first glass. When it’s as simple as squeezing a half of a lemon into a glass of water and drinking it, there’s no excuse not to.
On our very first date, my husband pointed out that in the time he had eaten a half of a slice of pizza, I had finished two. That paints a pretty clear picture of my natural eating speed. We’ve all been told a million times that if you eat slower, you’ll discover that you’re full before you’ve consumed more than you actually need. This is true and a big reason why you should eat slowly. However, another reason that I suggest it is for processing purposes. After meeting with a nutritionist, I learned that digestions actually begins before food has even touched your lips. When you simply think about food, your body reacts and starts to move. If you want your body to process food most easily and effectively, chew your food into as small of pieces as you can. Take your time and not only enjoy the food, but break it down so that your machine can too. Consider putting your utensil down between bites. When I started to really slow down, yes, I ate less, but I also found that I was far less bloated. My digestive system appreciated the assistance in processing its fuel. Yours will too.
Meal prep is far more than taking impressive photos to post to Instagram. Preparation is key to having a healthy relationship with food. Don’t ever put yourself in a position to fail. When your meals and snacks are planned out, you’ll never find yourself hungry and reaching for something that you shouldn’t out of desperation. This is an easy thing to do when life is as busy as it has become for most of us. I do my meal prep on Sunday nights. I honestly look forward to it. I feel like I’m going into the week with all of the tools that I need to succeed. I also do meal prep every morning. With the premium version of the Lose It app, you can enter your foods the day before you eat them. Because I’m frugal, I have to do it the day of. Every morning, I wake up and enter each meal and snack to ensure that I have a balanced day ahead of me. Sometimes I need to adjust, but it is better that I find that out at the beginning of the day than at the end. I’d be lying if I said that this doesn’t take work, but I’d also be lying if I told you it wasn’t worth it. It totally is.