Friday, December 30, 2016

Worthwhile or Gimmick?

As 2017 is upon us, a lot of people are seriously considering losing weight, eating healthier or getting shape as a "New Year / New Me Resolution" of sorts.  It seems a good time to do it too.  The holidays are over, so excuses for eating everything in sight are gone.  New Years = New Beginnings.  I know a lot people don't even bother because resolutions are so likely to fail.

If you are thinking about making a fitness/weight loss related change...whether it's for the New Year, or maybe just because you need to do something, I want to send out a few cautions for you to consider.  Ask yourself these questions:

1.  Are you hoping to lose weight because you want to be thin or because you want to be healthy?  (Or both?)

There are a lot of weight loss programs that promise quick results.  Be very cautious of these.  When you first start a weight loss regimen, chances are you can lose 5-10 lbs. quickly, regardless of the program.  Drink lots of water, throw your metabolism a change to diet and the scale will move.

Think about the long term health benefits to your program.  If you can't learn how to eat normally on this program, you may lose weight up front, but once you start to "eat" again, you will gain the weight back.

A reasonable weight loss plan is one that promotes approximately 1-2 lbs. per week.  More than that results in loss of muscle mass, not fat.  You need muscle to boost your metabolism.

2.  Does it prohibit entire food groups?

Food is not bad.  Sugar is enemy #1 if you are trying to lose weight.  Since it occurs naturally in most foods, you can't really ban it, but you can limit it.  Limiting your intake of simple carbohydrates (avoiding cookies and sweets) is wise.  But life is life, prohibiting these entirely will make it more difficult to get back on program after a lapse.

You should not make entire food groups off limits.  This is not smart.  If you are trying to lose weight, you must balance each food group.  You have to make sure you eat enough fiber, protein and healthy fats.  Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and nutrients your body needs.

Whatever nutrition plan you choose, it should be one in which you are continually learning.

3. Are you eating real food?  

I know several people who have gone on a cleanse and eaten nothing but smoothies, gradually adding solid foods into their diet.  They have lost a lot of weight.  But they have not kept it off.

A protein shake a few times per week is not a bad thing.  But the majority of your meals should be ones in which to sink your teeth.

4.  Do you have to take lots of supplements?   

Everyone should take a daily vitamin.  Any additional supplements you take, you should research and decide what the health benefits are and if they are necessary.  If your nutritional plan requires you purchase their special products or invest hundreds of dollars in special dietary supplements, don't do it.

Do you hear me?  Don't do it!!!!

The only supplements I take are as follows:
Daily vitamin (I prefer the gummy chews)
Fish oil (there are lots of benefits for this!)
Whey Protein
BCAAs (for muscle recovery)

5.  Does your plan encourage you to make healthy choices?

This pretty much is the bottom line.  The process requires learning.   It's not about eliminating food groups, but which foods work best for you...even at what times of the day!

For example, I have learned:
  • I can eat a multigrain bagel after 11 a.m., but if I eat one in the morning, I'm done for the entire day.  All I want to do is eat all day.  It's like a calorie bomb.  
  • If I buy ice cream, I know I'm putting my diet at risk because one cup of ice cream is NOT ENOUGH!  I have no self-control with ice cream.
  • I have to eat breakfast or I am sick all day.
  • Chicken is life.  Grilled chicken.  Chicken salad.  Chicken thighs in the crockpot with cabbage and brown rice.  Chicken with tomato sauce and spaghetti squash.  CHICKEN...

I recommend using an app to track your calories and macros.  "Macros" is short for "macronutrients," which include carbohydrates, fats and protein.  I use MyFitnessPal and track my food every day.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  When I don't track or am negligent in remembering to track everything, I get sloppy and my body sees the results.

I wrote about how to use MyFitnessPal here:  Flexible Dieting Basics.

So, you decide.  Is the weight loss program you've chosen something you can live with?  If you choose this plan, will you both lose weight and keep it off?

Question for you...(Answer in the comment section below.)
What is your New Year's resolution for 2017?

Are you up to speed on my series on wellness?  Check it out!
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