So many times I’ve heard people say I really want to lose some weight and/or get fit, I work out and eat healthy, but nothing happens. If this is you, this post will help you get brutally honest with yourself and figure out why what you’re doing isn’t working.
Of course, working out is awesome: it puts you in a better mood, tones muscles, burns fat and so much more. I highly recommend getting a challenging workout in almost every day – a large part of my career has to do with making people sweat.
But... yep, you knew it was coming... If you are interested in losing some extra weight now, a huge part of your success (some say up to 80 per cent) is all about what you put in your mouth.
So let’s talk about eating ‘healthy’ or ‘clean’.
Everyone has a different idea of what this means, so often when people say they eat healthy yet they’re still 20 pounds overweight. I have to wonder what their concept of healthy eating is. A few things may be going on here:
• You eat healthy most of the time, but you binge on bad foods on the weekend or have a treat here and there through the week and conveniently forget you ate those items when saying you have no idea why you can’t lose weight.
This is most people, including me often, but if I notice my jeans getting tighter or I have a bikini photo shoot coming up, the first thing I do is immediately cut out all unhealthy treats. It’s fine to have a little something out of the ordinary one meal a week, but a whole weekend of splurges or a few late-night snack sessions can easily undo a whole lot of progress.
Keeping a food journal can help you get honest with yourself – either write it all down in a special notebook or check out a handy app like fitday or myfitnesspal where you can track everything you eat daily.
• You eat healthy foods, but serving sizes are too large/you eat too many calories.
Avocados are healthy, but a medium avocado packs 240 calories. Just because you’re eating healthy foods, you don’t have an all-you-can-eat license. The only foods I feel you can go wild with and have as much as you like of are greens like lettuce, spinach, broccoli, kale, asparagus and so on.
I usually prescribe eating four or five small meals throughout the day, each about 300 to 400 calories with a good balance of lean protein (fish, chicken, turkey, lean beef, eggs/egg whites), healthy fats (nuts, avocados, good oils), greens and healthy carbs (brown rice, sweet potatoes, ezekiel bread, Greek yogurt, fruit).
• You think you’re eating healthy, but you’re really not.
Everyone’s definition of ‘healthy’ is different. You may be eating healthy in your mind, but if you’re serious about making real changes to your body, you may need to change your approach.
Start by educating yourself: read up on nutrition, take a course, hire a nutrition counsellor to devise a personalized meal plan and teach you new ways of eating.
It’s important to understand what you’re eating and how it affects your body. People are often so desperate to lose weight that if they hear they should eat watermelon all day while standing on their head, they’ll try that unquestioningly without any back-up or knowledge about what they’re doing.
Everyone’s systems react differently to different foods (some people don’t do well with dairy, others can’t eat nuts), so you really need to listen to the cues your body is giving you – things like feeling super-bloated after a meal of pasta or feeling like you badly need a nap after that helping of ice cream.
If a certain food always makes you feel bad, stop eating it. A food journal can help here, too, if you jot down how you feel after each meal. You can also get tested for food sensitivities to see what you might need to avoid.
Below is a sample day of super-clean/healthy eating for weight loss. Try it out, mix it up, make it your own and let me know how your hot summer bod is coming along in a month or two.
1 whole egg plus 1/2 cup egg whites
1/2 cup slow-cooked oats with cinnamon
Snack No. 1
1 medium chicken breast
Snack No. 2
1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
4 to 5 oz white fish
1 medium sweet potato