Visually, if my weight history were a roller coaster, there were would only be extreme peaks followed by deep plunges, with short plateaus in between. I know what it is to stagger a bathroom scale. I know what it is to make other’s gasp by a lack of body fat. At long last, I think I’ve found a happy medium.
My current goals in health are by far the most prosperous to date and all down to the fact that my approach is different. I’ve always demanded discipline in the past – constant, unrelenting vigilance in order to successfully lose weight and for a while this strategy worked. Eventually, something comes along to rock my world (not for the better) and the demands I made of myself simply could not be met. Or, I burned myself out.
Thoughts and actions that have made a difference.
1st – Fuck the scale.
The scale is not the alpha and omega. If weight loss is not the end-all and be-all of goals, then neither is that archaic torture device. I’ve only lost about 15 lbs since November 2017 and yet I’m down three dress sizes; 16 to 12 (nearly a 10). Lean muscle mass, baby.
2nd – Advocate health, not weight.
The more I pay attention to my relationship between food and my emotions, or food and my thoughts, the less likely I am to fuck up. So when I say “advocate health,” I mean incorporate the whole of the self and not just the physical mass. Acknowledge the crap going on in your thoughts and feelings and you will get farther in your goals. Trust me, if you’re out of health, it’s beyond a physical issue.
3rd – Granola bars.
I had this awesome thought the other day at the gym. One of the mental health things I addressed was my issue with the word fat. I hate that word. I’ve been tormented with the word since childhood; by others, by myself. I needed to change the concept because while I often enter the gym feeling ready to do battle, I don’t always feel that way. Sometimes I still get down by my past weight, and by the fat I’ve still got to lose. The word fat just hovers around like a damn mosquito I can’t swat away. I thought to myself, ‘change perspective – what’s a positive about body fat? Fat is stored fuel. Maybe I don’t have fat, maybe I’m packed with granola bars? Maybe I got lots of natural granola fuel strapped to my body and I’m going to fly through this fucking workout.’
4th – TDEE and develop a change in taste.
I wouldn’t run out and entirely change my diet and I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone else either – well, unless your diet is fast food and dingdongs on the daily. Figure out your TDEE (calories needed to sustain your current weight, then subtract 500 calories to lose). Here’s a simple TDEE calculator. If I want to maintain my current weight, I would consume 2100 calories, but as I want to lose weight, I stick to 1600 calories daily.
Use your normal foods to meet you caloric goals, then slowly incorporate cleaner, more nutritionally dense foods. This slow incorporation method allows your body to adjust to the changes, and more importantly, allows your body to learn to crave those cleaner foods.
Example: I used to hate avocados. HATE them. However, I concluded mayo was one of the few changes I could make to my daily sandwiches and everyone recommends substituting mayo with avocados. I put on my big girl pants and tried it. Now, I consume about 4 avocados weekly. I love the stuff and put it on everything. I crave it now.
Example: I no longer use traditional bread made with flour. I only make sandwiches, toast, etc. with flour-less, spelt, multigrain bread. You can find this kind of bread that is flour-less, and sans preservatives, in the frozen section of most grocery stores. (Exceptions: on weekends I’ll make French toast with flour-based breads, and pizza dough, etc).
Example: I consume red meat maybe once a week, if that. I used to love red meat but since ramping up my menu with low calorie, high protein meats like turkey, fish, and chicken, I can compare the proteins and I never realized how red meat just sort of sits in my guts, taking a longer time to digest.
5th – Natural carbs vs. processed carbs.
Never give up natural carbs. Carbs are abundant in fruits and veg and ought to be consumed, daily. It’s the processed stuff that’s a problem. So if you count carbs – count the stuff that’s processed, not the natural carbs. Keep the processed stuff to a minimum.
6th – Calories as cash.
An oldie but goodie. Think of spending your calories as you would cash and you will be able to plan your caloric spending very easily. Some nights I want a glass of wine. A 5oz glass of red wine is typically 150 calories so I will go out of my way to ensure that I cut 150 calories from either my dinner or potential snacks between lunch and dinner. An excellent calorie keeper is Lose It!
7th – Breaks
Don’t forget to take breaks. Weekends are good for this. Don’t pig out, but don’t be strict everyday or you’ll burn out and make yourself miserable. As I indicated earlier, I still make things like French toast, pancakes, and burgers but just once or twice a week and within moderation.
Just some things I’ve learned. I hope they help.