There are two things we all need in order to achieve weight loss:
- Exercise (to burn calories and improve overall health)
- Proper nutrition (to ingest less calories and consume the proper nutrients your body needs to function)
That very short list may make it sound easy, but as we all know, it’s not. When contemplating beginning a routine and deciding what your goals are, hardest part is knowing where to begin. So, where to begin with your nutrition? Well, my biggest suggestion is start off with where you are currently. Keep a food journal for three to five days tracking your current normal food and eating behaviors. What do you eat? How much of it do you eat? When do you eat? Why do you eat? Are you completely stuffed when you’re done eating, or just satisfied?
By tracking your food and answering these questions, you’re giving yourself a good idea of the current situation. Honestly, food is going to make the biggest impact on your weight loss goals, so it should be a huge part of your game plan. Track the contents of your diet and the above questions just to get an idea of where you are currently. After those three to five days of tracking your food, analyze it. Do you notice any trends? Do you eat vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy carbs? How many of your meals are prepared outside of the house (i.e. fast food, frozen dinners, etc.)? Are you drinking enough water?
Now that you’ve tracked and analyzed your food there are a couple approaches you can take to improving your nutrition. Either pick the smallest, easiest thing to change, or, pick the thing you can change that will make the most impact. Personally, I like picking the smallest and easiest things to work on first, because that feeling of success when you achieve your goals is incredibly motivating in working towards the larger goals. Don’t feel like you need to totally change your nutrition. Pick one thing, just ONE THING, and work on that until it becomes a habit.
For example you notice from your food journal that you eat out at restaurants 5-6 meals/per week, you only eat about 1 serving of vegetables and no fruit on a weekly basis, and your water is a little lacking. After seeing this in your journal, you know there are a lot of things that can be changed. It will be tempting to change everything. DON’T!!! To reach your weight loss goals, you want to create sustainable change. Maybe, instead of eating one serving of veggies per week, increase it to three to five servings of veggies per week.
I know it’s tempting to follow the latest diet trend. I know the attractive model on the magazine cover touting the latest superfood to lose belly fat is going to luring. Don’t fall for it. The key to reaching your weight loss goals with nutrition is creating small changes that will build up to create long lasting results. The changes you create using the method above will NOT be quick, nor will it be easy. They WILL be worth it, though, and you will no longer have to worry about the scale yo-yoing.
Once you’ve picked the change that you want to make with your nutrition, work on establishing those habits until they become second nature. Do not move on until you’ve achieved your goals. If you’re finding that your not achieving success with your initial goal. Break it down even more. Going back to the example of eating 3-5 servings of veggies per week. If you’re having difficulties achieving that goal, try to eat 2-3 servings of veggies per week. Start small, and keep building. It will take time, but the results will be worth it.