#1: Meet your Nutrient Needs:
This simply means eating a wide range of colorful fruits and vegetables in order to give the body what it needs to function best.
*Eat high quality lean proteins at each meal (aim for 30g/meal) to fuel your activity and support your muscular system.
*Consume healthy fats rich in Omega 3’s to reduce inflammation in the body (fish, seeds, eggs, fish oil, etc)
*Correct any nutrient deficiencies that you know of. Most Americans are deficient in vitamins such as B12, E, C, and vitamin D as well as minerals such as zinc, iron, and magnesium. Consider a good multivitamin/mineral supplement.
*Eat fibrous starches (oats, sweet potato, root vegetables, quinoa, etc)
#2: Listen to Your Body:
Now this one takes practice. Your body is always “talking” to you. We have to learn to pay attention. One of the best strategies for this is to eliminate distractions when you eat so that you can actually recognize your hunger and fullness cues. Eat slowly. There are apps that can help you with this (watch me eat), or simply put your utensil down between every bite. Chew 30x with each bite. Your body needs time to signal to your brain that you are full.
Observe what “belly hunger” is. This is the hunger you literally feel in your belly. With belly hunger, you will be satisfied with the idea of eating a chicken breast and roasted vegetables. If it’s only pizza that you are “hungry” for, then you are likely not really hungry at all, but experiencing a craving.
Try not to eat while watching TV or distracted so you can recognize these cues.
Listen to your body when it comes to exercise too. Some days your body is “telling” you to take it slower, easier, go for a walk instead of that high intensity interval that’s planned. Some days, your body is “telling” you to push harder…”I’ve got this.” Go with it! Push harder that day and reap the pay off!
Let us help you with specific journaling exercises and worksheets that can help you tune in to your body like never before.
#3: Plan/Prep Daily:
Don’t go into the day and “hope for the best.” We all have a lot to do each day, we all experience “decision fatigue.” Don’t leave your nutrition and exercise up to chance. Make a plan. Also, because you are busy, it’s helpful to prep some basics ahead of time. Here are some examples:
*Grill up a bunch of chicken breasts/steak/shrimp/fish and store in fridge to use in salads, stir fry, etc
*Throw some bone-in chicken breasts or a turkey breast in the crockpot before work so it’s ready at dinner time.
*Use a recipe app like “Yummly” to help with meals and grocery lists
*Chop up a bunch of salad veggies, cover and keep in fridge so you can add your already prepped proteins and VOILA! Lunch/Dinner DONE!
*Make a big pot of chili or healthy soup/stew on weekend and use for lunches
“If you fail to plan, plan to fail.”
#4 Keep Changes Sustainable/Be a Detective:
This is so key! Whatever you decide to start doing or stop doing when it comes to your diet, make sure the change is not SO big that you feel overwhelmed and deprived. Always think about the long term. Growing in grit is an essential element. Grit is passion and perseverance for LONG TERM goals. Making progress in your health and fitness is a lifelong and worthy endeavor.
You will never “arrive.”
When you want to make a change, start small, and pay attention to how the change makes you feel, how it affects other behaviors, and how it affects your hunger, energy, and cravings. You are not a “failure” if someone else’s diet plan doesn’t work for you. You have to become a student of your body and over time you will know what works and what doesn’t.
“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, and add what is uniquely yours.” Bruce Lee
We were born to move. In order to survive as a species, we had to walk. Some scientists estimate that our early ancestors walked an average of 8-20 miles/day!
I’m going to get just a little nerdy for a moment.
Your total energy expenditure each day looks like this:
Energy Expenditure (EE) = Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) + Physical Activity (PA) + Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) + Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)
Turns out, NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) makes up a HUGE part of this equation. What exactly is NEAT? It’s movement. It’s walking the dog, cleaning the house, cooking dinner, gardening, even fidgeting is part of NEAT.
NEAT varies widely from person to person. Research looking at a person who sits all day long and then does a 30 minute workout, compared to a person who moves all day long but does no structured exercise, suggests the mover is far better off health and fitness wise than the exerciser. If you are not taking NEAT into account, then you are missing a huge piece of the puzzle. This is one of the reasons why policy makers suggest walking 10K steps per day. It is a way to make sure we move in more of the way our, naturally thin, ancestors did.
We also suggest doing at least 2- 30 min full body strength workouts/week to stimulate and grow that all important muscle tissue!
#6 Manage Sleep/Stress:
This one is so much more important than most of us realize. If you have elevated stress hormones in your body, losing weight will not be your body’s priority no matter how much you restrict, exercise, etc. In fact, over restricting and over exercising will make this much worse.
*One great way to manage stress is to walk. Walking reduces the body’s production of stress hormones.
*Unplug: Take time away from media consumption. You’ll be amazed at how rejuvenating this can be.
*Breathe: seriously, take 5 deep breaths every couple of hours.
*Do activities you enjoy as often as you can, read a book, get a massage, go outside, use a foam roller, take a nap!
*Your body needs recovery from the day’s (and the brain’s) activities and sleep is THE time your body utilizes for repairing, restoring, and building.
*Aim for 7-8 hours/night. Create a night-time ritual, turn off the screens, and wind down 30-60 min before bedtime.
#7 Decrease Processed Foods:
What are we talking about here? The cookies, chips, snack cakes, crackers, and bars, as well as sugar-sweetened beverages and highly processed meats.
The problem with highly processed foods is they are usually loaded with sodium for shelf stabilization, sugar for taste, and added fats, including trans fats, for “mouth feel.” Research has linked all of these ingredients to chronic health problems, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and some types of cancer.
These are the foods that send you into a spiral of increased cravings and appetite hijacking. You have trouble eating just 1 serving. They are not satisfying, but rather send you on a tailspin of overeating/eating foods that are not beneficial for you. Keep these foods out of reach and reduce how much you are eating out of a bag or box.
*Eat foods that satisfy: (ex: 6 donut holes or 4 apples, 1 slice of pizza or 3 chicken breasts)
Foods/meals that satisfy are rich in 3 things: Water content, Fiber, and Protein. (salad with steak, apple and turkey slices, carrots with hummus)
When you do eat processed foods (and we all do) try to follow the label rule.
Label Rule: Total Carbs (minus) – Fiber (minus) – Protein should not = more than 5-10g.
#8 Recognize Unhealthy Mindsets:
This is so important for sustainable fat loss. You have to know when you have slipped into a destructive mindset pattern.
* “All or nothing” approach to eating/exercise
* Overly restricting or “punishing” yourself for overindulging
* Using food to manage feelings like loneliness, sadness, stress, anxiety.
* Slipping or living in “victim mode.” “It’s not fair” “I’ll never be better” “This is because so and so did or didn’t do such and such”
* Disparaging self-talk: “you’re so fat” “you are so undisciplined” “What’s wrong with you?”
Showing yourself compassion when you “mess up” does not, contrary to how we might think, cause you to “fail” more and more. In fact, it is THE best strategy for continued long-term results. Recognize when you fall into these mindset traps and talk to someone. Remember what is true and that you CAN overcome this negativity with awareness and an action plan.
#9 Drink Mostly Water:
Your liquid consumption should be MOSTLY water. Sure, coffee, tea, protein shakes, and the occasional glass of alcohol is ok, but steer clear of sodas and sugar laden juices and sports drinks.
*Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning (yes, before the coffee)
*Experiment with citrus and sparkling water if you get bored.
*Save alcohol for social gatherings/outings and not as an everyday occurance.
#10 Be Consistent 80-85% of the Time:
Consistency is the difference maker. Try not to treat Saturday different from Monday. Sure, there are times when you will “relax” your diet. There are times when you will pull back from your normal exercise routine, but 80-85% of the time, you are consistent. 8 out of 10 meals you are choosing well. 8 out of 10 days you are exercising or doing some kind of planned movement (even just a walk will do). This goes back to making sustainable, small steps toward your goals. Doing it this way increases your ability to maintain focus and stay the course! Set habit goals and find ways to track your progress and consistency. We can help you with this.
That’s it! Sounds really simple, and it is! It’s not always easy, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle