I get it. Diet is a four-letter word. And, since the first three letters of this word quite literally spell die, It’s no wonder that most people associate the very idea of dieting with something inarguably unpleasant.
Still, Americans spend upwards of 60 billion dollars annually on diet books, programs, supplements, pills, potions and procedures, with the hope that they can lose some weight. And the average American typically “tries” dieting four to five times a year. (One can safely assume that these attempts are not generally successful and/or permanent.)
So … What gives? Why is “staying on the wagon” so damn difficult?
It’s simple. The wagon sucks. It’s uncomfortable, and boring, and lonely, and there’s probably cheesecake located somewhere outside of said wagon. So, falling off that wagon is way easier than hanging in there. Especially if you’ve been chilling in that wagon for weeks and the scale hasn’t budged.
Here’s a thought. Screw dieting. Screw the concept. Toss it in the trash, along with your fat free mayonnaise … because that shit is gross.
Instead, decide to stick to two small changes per week. Yes, the concept of removing entire food groups, or eating nothing but cabbage and lemon juice for seventeen days sounds entirely overwhelming (and crazy-town unrealistic) — but what about, as an example, drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day and eliminating soda? I don’t know everything — but, to me, the latter idea sounds slightly less insane.
Here are a few changes YOU can make today — ones that won’t flip your life on its ass … and are entirely free. (Hey. Why not try to bring that 60 billion dollar number down just a leeeetle bit? I mean, I feel like we could be putting our hard-earned money elsewhere. I’m just saying.)
Keep snacks handy.
Yeah. It sounds counterintuitive. You’re trying to lose some pounds, and I’m telling you to keep food close. But here’s the thing. Most of us don’t eat often enough. Our bodies are our machines. And food is our fuel. In order for us to function efficiently, we need to be consistently fueling our machines. This doesn’t mean we should be eating more calories, necessarily … But it does mean that, in order for our metabolisms to start moving, we need to break our daily intake into smaller, more frequent mini-meals. I eat six times a day — an average of one mini-meal every 2-4 hours. No, I’m not gorging myself every time. I’m eating just enough to feel satiated. And I’m not letting myself get too hungry. This is why keeping snacks handy makes sense. The harsh reality is that, when we get hungry — or cross into the treacherous land of hangry — our food choices become notoriously unhealthy. We reach for that (donut/candy bar/bag of potato chips/whatever-the-hell-else) because we don’t even care at that point. The key is to not let your body get to that point. Keep almonds in your glove compartment. Have a banana and some peanut butter at your desk. Carry Quest Bars in your purse. Whatever you do, try to make your food choices happen before you’re starving hungry. And don’t forget to eat!
Hungry after dinner? It’s time for an apple.
This, I’m sure, already sounds obnoxious — and suspiciously “diet-like”. But here’s the deal. If you’ve already eaten six mini-meals that day … and it’s evening-time … and you’ve decided that you’re still hungry … you could either be A) still hungry or B) not hungry but wishing you were because you’re actually kinda sorta extremely bored.
This is where the apple test comes in handy. If you are, in fact, truly in need of food, an apple is going to sound appetizing. Buuuut if you find that you’re not really in the mood for an apple and would much rather have a bag of Doritos or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s or a handful of candy– I think you see where I’m heading with this.
That being said, a single piece of fruit is not the most filling food by itself. If you’ve determined that you are absolutely one hundred percent still genuinely hungry, have the apple — with a tablespoon of nut butter or a handful of almonds. Or you could even do a scoop of your choice of protein powder mixed with a cup of almond milk. Whatever you decide, make sure you’re actually checking in with your body. It will tell you what you truly need — if you’re willing to take the time and energy to listen.
Eat more fat.
Now we’re talking. Fat makes things taste better. And it leaves people feeling fuller for longer. In fact, fat is an important macronutrient. (We need a combination of fat, protein, and carbohydrates in order for our bodies and brains to function.) Without fat, our bodies wouldn’t be able to effectively protect our organs, maintain cell membranes, or absorb essential vitamins. Plus they help to keep our hair, skin, and nails healthy. (I know. Fat is kiiiiind of a big deal.)
Of course, there are healthy (and unhealthy) fat choices. Some healthful options include olive oil, avocados, nuts and nut butters, and fattier fishes like salmon. Adding these foods into your day will make it easier to consume a meal — without consuming the entire kitchen. And please — if it says “fat free version” on the label … especially if it’s a food that is known for typically being high in fat … steer clear of it. “Fat-free” and “healthy” are not synonymous. In fact, many fat-free dressings and sauces are loaded with un-pronounceable chemicals, along with added salt, sugar, and whatever-else those evil processed-food ninjas try to stick in there to make it actually taste edible. Don’t fall for it. Eat fat — 20-35% of your daily calorie intake, to be exact.
Want a cookie? Have one!
Humans are difficult creatures. We want what we can’t have.
It’s no wonder, then, that the moment we decide we’re never eating chocolate again, the only thing we can think about is chocolate-covered chocolate on chocolate.
Did I mention that I love chocolate?
I really love chocolate.
So, here’s the thing. Whatever your weakness is — whether it be sweets or an occasional burger and fries — shouldn’t be eliminated entirely from your life. Because, truth be told, it won’t be eliminated. There will come a day when you will have a piece of “forbidden” food. So, make it a choice. Don’t make it a moment of weakness. You’re in charge of you! Decide to have a damn cookie. And then move on.
Of course, this idea can be manipulated — and it’s up to you to be honest with yourself. Deciding to have a cookie once in a while does not equal finishing a box of Oreos every night. Eat healthfully. Choose fruits, vegetables, lean protein, slow-digesting carbohydrates, and healthful fats as the majority of your plan. But don’t eliminate entire foods or food groups. If you need to, go ahead and schedule it. Have a “treat meal” once every couple of weeks. But make it worthwhile!
Cut your alcohol consumption in half.
Yeah, I’m no fun. Sorry.
The reality is that one gram of alcohol has 7 calories — none of which are really doing much for you nutritionally. Sure. It’s fun. And maybe tasty, depending on what you’re drinking. But one 12 oz. beer (depending on the brand) is about 153 calories. If you have one before dinner and one afterwards, that’s 306 unnecessary extra calories. And, if mixed drinks are your thing, you could be looking at far more than that. (A 9 oz. pina colada, on average, boasts almost 500 calories! That’s more hefty, calorically, than a foot long Subway sandwich, in case you were wondering … and I know you were.)
In addition to these staggering numbers, alcohol lowers your inhibitions. (I know. I keep blowing your mind with this revelatory information.) This means that you’re way more likely to grab foods that you might otherwise avoid.
I promised I wouldn’t suggest eliminating anything entirely from your life. But alcohol isn’t a food group — as tragic as that might seem. However — If you do enjoy an occasional drink and would prefer to not completely remove adult beverages, try to cut your consumption in half. Two glasses of wine at dinner before? Try for one now. This will seem far less drastic. And, for those Pina Colada enthusiasts? I would place that into the “splurge” category… or find something else to sip on… because damn.
Well, folks? There you have it. Five things you can start doing today. If you enjoyed my blog post and want to read more, bookmark this website at melaniebrockmann.com. And, if you just can’t get enough of my wise words, you can actually hire me! I love seeing people win.