High carb, low carb, intermittent fasting, carb cycling, ketogenic diets, counting macros, Paleo, Plant based eating, detoxes, cleanses…
There’s so much nutrition information out there, and so many products that promise you better results, it can be challenging to ignore the shiny object syndrome and avoid all the latest trends.
It’s easy to get lost in all the details and focused on the wrong things. But, there is an essential missing piece of the puzzle, and without that piece, you’ll stay stuck on the hamster wheel of exercise programs and meal plans that aren’t sustainable. The missing piece is quite simple – you have to start with the basics.
That’s all!?, you say. It can’t be that easy. We often feel like the more complicated the plan, the better the results, But if it worked, you wouldn’t need to keep starting over, right? If the method is not sustainable, you won’t be able to do it for long, no matter how attractive the results are in the short term.
So let’s refocus and review where you should be putting your energy and attention before making any additional changes:
1. Shift Your Mindset
You’re incredibly motivated in the beginning to get an incredible beach body, but results don’t show up fast enough, so you drop the entire idea. To break this cycle, you need to find a different reason for wanting to change. Your intentions for this need to come from the desire to treat your body well, live a healthy, long life and a love for your own body, instead of a hate of it. Hating yourself into change is never the best route. Because you’ll still be the same person once you reach the goal.
Truly loving yourself will motivate you to eat healthily and move to nourish the body you have. Punishing yourself by eating strict foods you don’t enjoy, or working yourself crazy at the gym, is not a healthy or sustainable way of approaching your journey to health.
2. Remove Dietary Deficiencies
Often, people struggle with how they look and feel because their physiology doesn’t work the way it should. This can be hormonal imbalances, but it’s more often dietary deficiency: not getting the right nutrients, in the right amounts, to get the best results.
Are your meals including:
- Lean protein
- Colorful fruits and vegetables
- Slow-digesting, high-fiber carbs
- Healthy fats
- Foods you know you can eat slowly and mindfully, to 80% full
- Foods that feel good to YOU and that YOU enjoy
- Real food instead of diet foods or other processed foods.
3. Train Don’t Strain Your Body
Many women experiencing weight gain increase their frequency and duration of exercise thinking they need to eat less and exercise more. When you burn the candle at both ends at work and home and then torture yourself at the gym or in that cross-fit class, your body responds by flooding your system with the hormone cortisol, which helps you respond to the stress but also increases the storage of fat, especially belly fat.
I was so guilty of this. I NEVER took a rest day. I thought that if I took time off, my results would go away! I put my body through enormous amounts of stress over-exercising, and obsessing about burning off every calorie I consumed (and more!). I couldn’t understand why the scale was going up and I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. There are few things worse than feeling like your body and your fat loss are out of your control, especially when you’re giving it your all and can’t figure out why it’s not working.
Actually it’s in the periods of rest when your body gives you the results. Find the balance. Your efforts in the gym should match your ability to recover. If life is beating you up, don’t continue those beatings in the gym. If you’re relaxed, recovered, and ready to give your all, then go for it!
You need to balance challenge with not killing yourself. Train smart, mix up your physical activities, and recover well.
4. Establish a Sleep Ritual
We often overlook sleep as an important factor in our health and well-being. We may be adopting healthier eating habits and going to the gym a few times a week, but do we really take our sleep seriously? Lack of proper sleep is quite prevalent in today’s society, especially among women.
Sleep restores everything in our bodies: Our immune, nervous, skeletal, hormonal, and muscular systems. We rest and digest. Sleep helps regulate our metabolism, including blood sugar and insulin levels. Eventually, chronically inadequate sleep can actually make us gain fat and develop diabetes. You need good, regular sleep and a good sleep ritual. Yes, we live in a busy world. But, you should prioritize sleep in your life. Make sleep one of the top items on your to do list. A sleep ritual is a set of behaviors that helps you make this transition between being awake and being asleep. These behaviors tell your brain: Hey, it’s time to calm down now. Stop thinking about that to-do list, and focus on shut-eye.
This is important because you can’t control exactly how much sleep you actually get or how well you actually sleep.
Take Away Message
- Eat good quality food, consistently
- Be active
- Eat mindfully and avoid overeating, consistently
- Learn and follow your body cues (like hunger vs cravings or emotions), consistently
- Get your sleep, as well as you can
- Do the right things, consistently
Until you’ve successfully and consistently mastered the basics, avoid the temptation to hop on the latest diet craze. When you are always looking for the latest and greatest thing, you end up giving up too soon on something that may actually have been working. Lastly, start with baby steps. Start with one, small step that you can compound on. Do this for two weeks, then choose another simple step to add.
Before long, you’ll be on your way to lasting results!!!