Like most people, for the longest time I thought all I needed to do to lose fat was to exercise my little heart out. I can’t even begin to tell you the countless, unstructured machine exercise days I’ve done in addition to hours spent on the “Fat Loss” setting of the elliptical. The truth is you can’t outwork a bad diet. Even if your training is optimal (my example was not) if you eat like crap your body will feel like crap and you will be unlikely to shed those extra pounds.
Does this mean you should go on a diet? Maybe if you cleanse out your intestines you can “jump-start” your way to fat loss success? (Hey, I’ve tried it.) You’re friend lost 15 pound on Whole30/ South Beach/Keto/Whatever. Maybe you should try it? I’m here to tell you that “Abs are made in the kitchen” does not mean “jump on the newest fad diet trend.” Believe it or not, you can have abs without ever dieting again. You just have to change your life.
If you want to maintain a healthy weight, you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. While that includes exercise, eating nutrient dense foods will better fuel your workouts and leave you feeling more energized and the ever elusive “healthy.” It is not an 8 week plan. It is not an “eat this food and drop 10 lbs.” kind of thing. It is a complete and total lifestyle change. Sound scary? It shouldn’t be.
Especially if you are already working out, amping up your nutrition game is just a piece of the puzzle. You don’t have to eat salads for every meal or even count your calories. The best nutrition plan is one you will stick to. If that means you prefer to count your calories or your macros then so be it. Conversely, you could just reduce your portion sizes, be mindful about your eating (am I hungry or bored?), and pay attention to what you’re putting in your mouth. Again, this is a change for the rest of your life. Make sure it’s something you can stick with.
Another disclaimer: everyone deserves treats. A good rule of thumb is to follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of diet should consist of nutrient dense, filling meals and 20% you eat ice cream and beer (or whatever your weakness is). If that doesn’t work for you, set aside one meal a week/two weeks to treat yo’ self. Don’t deprive yourself or you will be more likely to slump back into your McDonald’s eating ways.
If this still sounds difficult, ASK FOR HELP. It is almost impossible to live a completely healthy lifestyle without a support system. Ask your significant other, friends, or family to join you in your quest to eat better and live well. It is so much easier to have one person you can hang with who also isn’t down to drink overpriced cocktails every Friday night.
You can make the changes in your life you need to reach your goals. It may sound hard, but once you begin the lifestyle, it will be hard to quit.