What crosses your mind when you hear the word diet? When I think of diets, I think of restriction followed by hunger and excessive exercise. For the most part, when people hear the word diet they get a little intimidated and far from excited.
Most of the diets advocated for in today’s society are usually focused on fear in one way or another – fear of fat, fear of calories, fear of carbs, etc. *Avoid high GI foods, sugar, anything processed, wrong macro ratios, no carbs after 7*…the list goes on and on! Does any of this sound familiar to you?
To add to the craziness of the diet world, exercise is added to the mix. You are either training, lifting, running, or doing too much or too little of what is recommended for the “perfect” solution to your dream body. So if the exercise isn’t working, you have to revert back to your diet and restrict that even more? No! I know that’s what you may think now, but I am here to tell you differently. Living in this world and abiding by its insane diet and exercise rules will leave you feeling more tired and unmotivated than ever because of malnourishment and extreme fitness recommendations.
I know everyone begins a new diet or fitness regimen with the best of intentions. Even if you are starting off with a well balanced approach of eating and exercising, people often begin to restrict in hopes of faster results which leads to trouble and disappointment in the long run.
Okay, now… let us take a step back and consider everything we’ve just discussed. Let’s ditch the diet fads, lose the fear of every food out there, and establish some healthy ways to nourish our bodies and achieve our fitness aspirations.
To start off, you have to accept that losing 10 pounds of fat or gaining 10 pounds of muscle should not happen in one week. Embrace the idea that you are about to begin a lifelong journey of optimal health for your mind and your body.
Next, find what works for you. Create personal guidelines, not rules that seem reasonable for yourself and your lifestyle. Establish a basic idea of what food and what exercise will make you feel and look your best most of the time, instead of beating yourself up for “cheating” on a strict, unrealistic diet.
Guideline #1: Eat a wide variety of natural and unprocessed foods as often as you can. It is the simplest way to ensure that you are getting lots of vital nutrients into your system. If it grew on a tree or in the ground, chances are high that it’s great for you! If it’s organic and non GMO, even better! It’s okay if you can’t find that or if it’s simply too expensive, remember—these areguidelines, not rules.
#2: Eat according to your energy expenditure and your body! One size does not fit all regarding food and exercise. You have to figure out what works for your body along the way with tweaking and experimenting to find the perfect balance.
#3: Really listen to what your body is telling you, not just what you want to hear! I promise all of your cravings have an underlying meaning. For example, one of the most common cravings people think they are having is for chocolate— this is your body telling you that you are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium can be found in fresh fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds and these health foods will absolutely satisfy those cravings! Check out more about cravings in this article.
#4: For the majority of the time, you should eat to nourish your body and to fuel your athletic performance. I understand that cutting out all processed and cooked foods is not for everyone, and that’s okay! You can eat for pleasure every now and then!
We are all individuals and our bodies are different— for most of us, these four guidelines will not only bring you closer to the body and performance you want, but they will also leave you with a much healthier and happier relationship with food!! Happy eating!