I wish I had some magical secret plan that would help all of my clients be successful and reach their goals in 90 days. Rest assured, I do not. So if you’re reading this post looking for a quick fix for weight loss, you’re looking at the wrong blog post. You see, my focus as a nutrition coach is largely on building healthier habits around food and eating. It’s not about cutting out entire food groups or eliminating certain “bad” foods. It’s about learning your food and beginning to form a base knowledge of what balanced and “healthy” eating looks and feels like for you. To be honest, the most important piece needed to achieve lasting weight loss is determination and persistence. See, I told you it wasn’t easy.
The bottom line is that you likely don’t know how to eat. It’s true. Who can blame you? There are so many conflicting messages about how and what we should eat that it’s nearly impossible to find one thing that works long term.
Just eat clean foods. Eating clean foods is great but you can overeat clean foods just like you can overeat processed junk. And we’ve actually succeeded at turning some “clean foods” into junk foods.
Just eat paleo! It’s great. It’ll change your body for a while but then results will taper and you’ll start to gain again. Why? Your body will adjust to the high fat levels of a Paleo diet with the restriction of carbs for long periods of time and progress will stall. Plus, the whole premise of paleo has shifted with the creation of “paleo brownies” and “paleo pancakes” – we like to be able to fit the foods we love into whatever “plan” we’re following in order to keep us sane. But with approaches like Paleo that don’t look at caloric intake, it becomes a problem when the intent of the approach gets twisted into something it was never meant to be.
You should try Whole 30! Great program! The whole premise is to eat whole foods systematically over 30 days. You’ll likely learn how your body responds to certain foods and will gain discipline if you’re able to execute the program as it’s written. You’ll lose weight but your body composition likely won’t change much (meaning you’ll be smaller/lighter but not firmer/tighter).
Just stop eating carbs! Well, this is one I just don’t get (but have fallen victim to in the past). Carbs don’t make you fat. Don’t get me wrong - consuming tons of carbs coupled with marginal amounts of protein will make you fluffy and inflamed. But your body needs carbs in order to work efficiently and effectively.
These are currently some of the most popular eating trends. Again, these aren’t bad. I’ve tried them all. They just aren’t optimal. And they’re difficult because they teach restriction! It’s hard to maintain any of these lifestyles successfully for the long term.
I am a firm believer in balance. I believe that eating should be enjoyed and that eating should accommodate for real life! If you’re unable to eat out with friends except for “off plan days” or on “cheat days”, then you’re not following an approach that is realistic long term. It’s scientifically proven that the body performs and burns calories optimally if you eat a certain balance of protein, carb and fat (macronutrients). These levels are not universal – they’re levels specifically set for you based on your age, height, weight, activity level, and current body composition (how much muscle vs. fat you carry). Initially, when I set goals for my clients they are a bit overwhelmed by learning their food and the breakdown of protein, carbs, and fat in the foods they eat and love. But after a couple weeks of effort, they find the journey becomes much easier.
Being able to successfully lose weight and maintain it for the long haul means that you have to look at your habits. It requires the hard work of learning about the nutritional breakdown of the foods you eat. It involves identifying what foods tempt you and what emotions you tie to foods. It involves prioritizing your overall health and well-being over impulse and desire. It is all about habit change and learning how to eat to achieve sustainable balance in your eating. It requires you to stop dieting and start eating. It requires commitment and persistence until eating in a balance changes from something you do to just who you are.
Here’s the truth: If you achieve a healthy macronutrient balance and eat in a caloric deficit, I promise you’ll burn fat and likely maintain/build muscle. Eating to specific protein, carbohydrate and fat goals is the most simplistic way I’ve found to achieve a realistic balance when it comes to eating. And I believe any approach you use towards eating needs to be realistic to be sustainable. Want fries? Eat fries. Just make sure you balance the rest of your day with adequate protein and lower fat intake. I don’t believe in telling my clients what they can and cannot eat. The food you eat should be up to you. Is eating “real food” preferable? Absolutely! We all know eating real food is best. The fact of the matter is that sometimes we just don’t want real food or we are busy shuffling kids to and from practices, staying at work late for meetings, or fail to plan and have to eat on the go. It happens. It’s life.
Losing weight is hard. There is no super secret way to lose weight fast and to keep it off. It requires an investment of your time. It requires you to learn your food and how to eat in a balance. It requires choosing what you ate based upon intentionality and not emotion. The truth about losing weight is “it isn’t easy.” But it is worth the time and effort.
If you’d like to lose weight and learn what balance looks and feels like for you, reach out and join my next group of new clients that will officially launch on April 2nd. I’d love to help you learn your food and be set free!