Wouldn’t it be nice if you could eat what you wanted and still lose weight or maintain a fit physique? Without sounding too much like an infomercial, I want to show you how that’s not only completely possible, but necessary for long term weight management.
It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way
Losing weight and getting fit is not about giving up everything you love about food. It’s not about eating clean 100% of the time. It’s not about eating flavorless food or about feeling excluded from life events.
You don’t have to feel like the odd ball because your goals don’t mesh with your friends’. You don’t have to beat yourself up for eating an “off-limit” food.
You don’t have to wage an all-out war against food. Your next meal doesn’t have to be on your mind before you even finish your last one. You don’t have to suppress cravings to the point of bingeing.
You don’t have to confront peer pressure every time someone brings food to the office simply because you’re trying to lose weight. You don’t have to explain your choices every time someone questions them.
No – you don’t have to give up the joy of eating for the greater good of fitness. It doesn’t have to be an either/or decision.
Finding Happiness in Moderation
Most of fitness resides in the middle. Whether that be in reference to eating or exercise, the result is still the same – extremes tend to be short-lived and risky.
By pushing to far to one extreme, either by cutting out all sugar or exercising intensely every single day or omitting an entire macronutrient, you risk having quick but short-lasting results. The more to the extreme you go, the more risky the outcome.
Moderation might not get you the super fast results you desire, but it will get you the results you want – in time. By moderating your food restriction and including the foods you enjoy on a frequent basis, you increase your chances of sticking to your program, and that is what ultimately gets you results – adherence.
What Should Your Day Look Like?
Follow the 80/20 principle. That means 80% of your calories come from whole foods, and 20% come from “fun” foods. Most people will actually find that they don’t need the full 20% of calories to be happy, and that a small 200 calorie snack completely satisfies them.
Let’s put this concept into a real life scenario. Let’s say you need 1750 calories per day to lose weight. If you chose to eat 20% of those calories from fun foods, that would be 350 calories. Think about all you could do with 350 calories.
That’s a cup of ice cream, a few cookies, a giant slice of pizza, a few glasses of wine, or a serving of fries. Do you really think that eating one of these items is going to negatively impact your weight loss when you’re eating below maintenance calories and still eating 1400 calories each day of nutritious whole foods?
The answer is no. In fact, there have been stories in the news all the time of people experimenting by eating nothing but garbage and losing weight so long as they maintained a calorie deficit. That is not to say you should fill your calories with garbage (more on that later).
You Can Have What You Want Again Tomorrow
The key to moderation is to manage portions and to stop when you’re supposed to. Many people struggle with this concept because they think just having a little of something will lead to an all-out binge fest.
I completely understand this, but much of this behavior has to do with the idea that you’re not allowed to eat these foods in the first place, so you get your fill before you restrict your behavior again.
You have to change your thinking process. Understand that you can repeat the process of including “fun” foods in moderation again tomorrow and again the next day. The feeling is liberating and really does help you stop eating when you’re supposed to.
Don’t Sacrifice Your Health for Fitness
This article wouldn’t be complete unless I added one huge caveat – don’t sacrifice your health for fitness. What do I mean by that?
I mean don’t fill your calories with a bunch of trans fat, artificial colors and preservatives, and ingredients that harm your body. While the short term goal is to lose weight, the long term and most important goal is to be healthy.
Do your best to limit these kinds of foods and choose “fun” foods that are made without them. A simple trip to a health food store such as Whole Foods will show you all kinds of amazing foods you can eat.
Just about every food you like can be made without harmful chemicals and ingredients. Look at the ingredients section on the food label, choose a food that’s made with non-artificial ingredients, and then include those foods guilt-free and in moderation into your daily lifestyle.
I guarantee your weight loss efforts will be a lot more enjoyable, and you won’t sacrifice your results one single bit.