Finding a balance can be near impossible in this day and age. Especially when it comes to health and fitness – specifically nutrition. You have so many things and people yelling at you to cut out X and only eat Y. Fad diet after fad diet vying for your attention. But the biggest problem with that is that it’s restricting. It doesn’t account for LIFE. It doesn’t account for going to your kids birthday party. Or to your friends engagement party. Or that cool new restaurant with the chocolate-y goodness dessert. Its just pure food restriction. Which from a psychological perspective doesn’t work for 99.9% of people.
These fitness gurus with 6-pack abs create fear mongering around the foods you enjoy to sell their “perfect fix” that at the end of the day isn’t sustainable for 99% of the population. The thing is though – if you were consistent 90% of the time with eating reasonably, you would be at and maintaining your goals. This obviously doesn’t account for individuals who may have some type of hormone or genetic condition. Everyone is different – but for the majority of people, we just need to practice a few simple things to help bring mindfulness and awareness to our choices.
Here are some strategies you can use to help you ditch any “quick-fix” solution and just make sustainable changes that will last and save you a boat load of headaches.
#1 – Learn a portion control system.
We’ve all been there – early morning cereal calling your name and finding the biggest bowl and pouring half the bag into it. Have you ever actually looked at a nutrition label to find the serving on cereal and poured it out? It’s really not a lot. Same with a lot of things we eat. We’re so unaware of the portions of things we’re eating. We think it’s not a lot because it fits on a plate or in a bowl. And that’s not to say you’ve been lying to yourself. More – society and our food centered culture has.
I challenge you to spend just one week measuring out your food into what the portions actually are. You’ll be surprised at the inaccuracy of it. Now, when it comes to portion control, you don’t need to measure everything forever. Just the one week – use some things like, “a portion of cereal is about the size of a softball”. Start creating some connections between things you know the size of to help you long term. My favorite portion control strategy is a handful guide – Precision Nutrition teaches this and you can read all the ins and outs here.
The gist of is that essentially the hand guide teaches that everyone is different and requires different energy needs. But you can use your hand as a portion guide to help you all of the time.
– Your Palm = 1 serving of protein
– A cupped hand = 1 serving of carbs
– A fist = 1 serving of veggies
– Your thumb = 1 serving of fats
Precision Nutrition has done quite a bit of research around the hand guide and it is about 95% as accurate as tracking macros. Which if you know anything about the fitness world, macros are the friggin bible. But they can be overwhelming. This is a simple solution to help you learn with something you will always have on you.
#2 – Learn moderation
There is zero reason to never have sugar again unless your doctor has told you’re deathly allergic to it. Even then – please get a second opinion as there is sugar in A LOT of things. Now, I could write a whole dang book about sugar and how our bodies process it and what foods contain sugars (hint – it’s almost all of them). As almost everything contains a little bit of carbs and carbs break down into sugars. It’s more complex than that – but you get the gist.
When it comes to moderation we hear it so often. Just moderate it! But what does that actually mean? Well – the answer, like a lot of things, is that it depends. It depends on what you need to moderate. It depends on how you need to do that for your goals and for how you operate. Again – everyone is different. Basically it means don’t make every meal cake. But don’t cut out cake altogether. Going to a party but you’re on a diet? Have a small slice. You are WAY more likely to overindulge if you tell yourself that X food is forbidden. It’s the whole “don’t press the big red button” thing. Because now all you want to do is press the dang button. Allow for indulgences. I’ve worked with so many people that have used this and have found success with it. Here are some of the specific strategies they used:
– Had a serving of ice-cream 3x a week
– Ate 1 – 2 piece of dove chocolate with lunch and dinner
– Had a very small slice of all the pies at thanksgiving, but ate less mashed potatoes
– Had a donut every Wednesday
There are a million different ways to do this. But at the end of the day – pick things that work for you that make your portions significantly less daily, or decreasing the amount of times a week you have something.
#3 – Stop falling for fad diets
I get it – you want a quick fix. We’re an instant gratification society and we just want the weight gone. We want a pill to fix it so we don’t have to work for it. Unfortunately – there are no quick fixes. No matter what your favorite fit-influencer wants you to believe. Change takes time. Change takes consistency. Change takes dedication. The biggest problem with diet culture is the restriction. The whole point of this blog post. Keto wants you to cut out carbs and eat sticks of butter. Whole 30 wants you to only eat “whole foods”. Paleo wants you to eat like a caveman. The thing these diets all have in common, and the reason they work – is because they’re cutting out whole food sections that ultimately reduce the calories you’re intaking. It’s not magic. It’s just calorie math.
But what happens when you go to a friends wedding, or your kids birthday? There will be cake. And. You. Will. Want. To. Eat. It.
AND THAT’S OKAY! Eat the cake! Like I said above – moderation.
These fad diets prey on your insecurities and sell “quick fixes” that have made it a billion dollar industry based off peoples fears. It’s gross, really.
Now – this is not to shame people that really love keto and thrive on it. If you are someone that loves it and can realistically stick to it long-term, go for it.
But most people CAN’T stick to these things long term. That’s why we yo-yo diet. We do really well for a few months, lose weight and then go right back to our old eating habits.
The root of the problem is ultimately your habits. It takes time to change those. And it takes work. You will not always be motivated.
Something I would use with a lot of my clients when they would say the needed motivation was that motivation was like a band-aid. It’s rip and fall off able. But words like consistency, dedication, resiliency. Those words were like cement and glue. They’re still flexible, but solid.
This isnt an exhaustive list – like most topics around fitness and nutrition I could write a whole dang book. But these are steps to help you heal your relationship with food and move forward in a way that actually supports you and your goals.
if you’re interested in learning more and maybe getting some coaching to help you do this with help –> reach out here
I’d love to chat with you about helping you change your habits and get to your goals sustainably.
And if you have a holiday or something coming up – check out this article for some additional ideas.