Updated: Oct 20, 2020
Over the past 10 years as a personal trainer I've experienced a broad range of clients from all backgrounds, shapes, sizes and age. During this time I have discovered that nobody really knows how to actually diet to lose weight, or even maintain a healthy body after they have lost the weight. I am writing this post to hopefully educate you on this problem and hopefully, give you a kind of an 'AH HA' moment. Nothing fullfills me more in my career than people finally acknowledging their problems and taking action towards a healthier lifestyle
Reason 1. Dieting as a chore
This is the first step to failure. I've been there and have seen it first hand too many times. People honestly believe they have to go cold turkey - restrict foods, alcohol and that they have to bust their ass in the gym to be healthy, so they see it as more of a chore than anything because they don't want to give up their lifestyle. I get it, it's easier to sit in front of the TV than it is to go and clean your room, just like it's easier to sit on the couch as it is to go to the gym, which involves effort. Your mindset is wrong! You don't have to bust your ass to be healthy and you don't have to give up your lifestyle either. Yeah you may have to limit some of the bad shit, but it will benefit you in the long run. My advice? Build on it. A negative approach to dieting is thinking you have to give up foods to be healthy, that's not the case. A positive approach to dieting is including healthier foods weekly but still keeping your regular lifestyle, until, eventually, 80% of your diet is: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, butters, legumes, fruits and veg and 20% of your diet is pizza, beers, sweets, candy, baked goods, fried and processed foods (if that's what you're into, of course). The same goes with exercise. Introduce walking as your exercise to start off and work from there, then run, and then join the gym to lift weights and participate in fitness classes. Build healthy habits!
Reason 2. Food Restriction
I touched on this a small bit already, but let's dive a little deeper. When I sit down with my clients for their consultations they always seem to mention that they have tried this diet, that diet, and gave up eating certain foods and drinking because they were told the foods they were eating were bad for them or believed alcohol was the issue. I want to let you in on an unbelievable secret that not many people know about; there is no such thing as unhealthy food, not even an unhealthy meal, there is only an unhealthy diet.
That maybe a lot for you to take in right now, but it's true, and people don't understand this, this is why half the population fail on their diets. We all have different lives. There are 7 billion people on this planet and each day is different for us all, so how the fuck are we all supposed to think there is one magical diet for everyone? There's not.
Calories are the most important factor for weight loss. To lose weight we must consume fewer calories in a day than we burn, this is not rocket science, but because of all the misinformation out in the world right now people are literally terrified and have anxiety around eating certain foods because they listen to their favourite influencer rather than actual science. So, I'm here to tell you, you do not have to completely restrict any of your favourite foods to lose weight. As long as you are in a calorie deficit you will lose fat. Enjoy savoury foods, junk foods or whatever you like to call them once or twice a week and incorporate healthier foods around them.
Reason 3. Choosing the WRONG Diet
If you're starting your fitness journey on a diet please make sure you ask yourself this one question, "Can I stick to this for the rest of my life?". If the answer is no, don't fucking touch it.
Fad diets such as: keto, carnivore, atkins, paleo, and any other bollocks plan that RESTRICTS a shit ton of food, but also DEMONIZES food you need to run a mile from because you will fail. Especially if it demonizes the food that you like to normally eat. Yeah you might lose weight simply because you were in a massive deficit, but, once you stop that diet and go back to your regular lifestyle, you will gain the weight back. It's infuriating I know. Fad diets work in the short-term, but they will haunt you in the long-term.
Let me finish with this, anyone who just got offended by this because they themselves are on one of the plans that I mentioned, move on, this post is not for you, this post is for the people who enjoy carbs, a few beers and junk foods every now and then. If it suits you, awesome, but that doesn't mean it's gonna suit everyone.
I make it sound so horrible, but the scales can be horrible, why? because of.........YOU! That sounds mean, but it's not the scales fault that it increases and decreases like a mad man trying to ruin your progress. I hate to break it to you, but it's your fault.
I hate to see it, people give up all the time because they don't understand the scales and why it fluctuates or stalls. I have a whole blog post written (here) about this if you want to go and have a look as I'm not going into it too much here.
Anyway, don't let an electronic device determine your progress, you're better than that. It will always fluctuate up and down due to how much food is still in your stomach, glycogen stored and water retention. Water retention is more than likely the biggest factor due to increased calories, stress, lack of sleep, menstrual cycle (for women), agressive training sessions and, in some cases, acute sodium intake. Always use other tools when dieting like: progress photos, skinfold measurements and waist and hip measurements.
I'll conclude with this. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to lose weight. The most important thing you need to take from all of this is that how much you consume is more important that what you consume. You also have to build a better relationship with food. Right now, if you think there are bad foods out in the world I want you to do me a favor; write out a list of the foods that you think are bad for you on a piece of paper, get a lighter and burn the fucking list.
"I'm going to treat myself this weekend with a couple of slices of pizza, and maybe a couple of glasses of wine, but I'm going to make sure it's within my calorie range so i'm not over doing it, and tomorrow, when I wake up and step on the scales, if it's a little higher than expected, I know it's not fat, it's just water retention." Now that's how you should ALWAYS look at it! Stop doing fad diets, and build healthy habits every week by setting achievable goals e.g. "I'm going to eat more vegetables each day this week". That's an achievable goal, now go from there.
I hope this has helped you come to terms with what you can do to lose weight in the safest and healthiest way possible for your body and mind. My 12 week Strong and Lean program will be starting in, January, and this is exactly the kind of stuff I'm going to teach everyone who joins.
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