In retrospect, this will all seem so easy and natural. Some day, you’ll have trouble remembering why you found eating a new way so perplexing and difficult. Like riding a bike, once you know how to do it, it all flows. That being said, we’re not there yet. For some of you, the training wheels are off but the knee pads are still on. For some, you don’t want to even get on that bike.
I don’t have a few words that will sum it all up for you – so it will require a great deal of focus and submission. Submission has bad connotations in our world, we are supposed to think for ourselves and not be sheep. But when it comes to food, our habits are ingrained – often since an early age – and it will take a great deal of trust on your part to break those patterns. I will give you the steps and tips, but hearing it won’t make the difference. What you do starting now is what will change your life. Own it and ditch the excuses. It’s your life – claim it.
Step One-Sit down with My Fitness Pal and really log a week’s worth of food. Put all of your favorites in there. Go back a month in the MFP calendar and find a day that is empty and go to town. In notes below write NOT REAL so I don’t review it. Experiment with the numbers, watch the fat # go up and down, see where the carbs go with each entry. Get comfortable because it’s a tool that could make or break your ability to control what you eat.
Step Two-clear out all the bad stuff from your kitchen and pantry. If you have to drive a new way to work to avoid popping into McDonalds, do it. Start fresh and rethink everything you do. The first time you do something, it’s a choice. After that, it’s a habit. Break the old habits and start new ones that you can be proud of.
Step Three – Get an accountability partner. If they kick your butt and hold your hand when you need it, they are the real deal. If they don’t, get a new one. This is all for you and if you’re not getting support, you need to fix that. You can have as many as you like, so pick a few who are good at different things.
Step Four – Make a list of all of your favorite healthy foods. These are your go-to foods. Don’t worry about recipes in the beginning unless you need to fill a spot. It can be overwhelming. Just start with the basics. Dark greens in your salad. Oatmeal with egg whites. Banana Pancakes. Egg White Omelets. Almond Butter on Toast with a banana. Cubed Turkey Breast. Olive Oil Popcorn. Raw Almonds. Tuna Fish. Protein Smoothie. Grilled chicken breasts. Open faced turkey and hummus sandwich. You get the drift. Have your go-to foods at the ready so you never put yourself in front of the fridge eyeing foods meant for others in the house and not you. As you get comfortable, start experimenting with recipes and new ideas.
Step Five – Prep Prep Prep. Use your list to make foods available. Make an emergency kit to keep with you at all times that contains a jerky, an unsweetened dried fruit, raw nuts and water. This will keep you from caving into temptation when you’re out and about, or at work.
Lastly, eat eat eat. Every 3 hours, you should be fueling your body. To hit 1600 calories, for example, you have to start early with a big breakfast. Some protein, carbs, and good fat and you’re in business. By mid morning, you’re ready for a smoothie with dark greens, limited sugar and clean protein. You can breathe easier after this strong start. Same breakfast and smoothie every day is fine if that works for you. By lunch and dinner, you can mix it up. The biggest complaint we have heard on the page was that people were TOO FULL. They couldn’t take another bite. But when I asked if they could eat a brownie or a bag of fries, the answer was often yes. You may not be as full as you think you are. It might be that you are starting to eat too late in the day. If you are eating only whole foods, without food additives, your brain may crave the bad stuff for awhile. This will pass and your body will start to crave what it needs, not what the brain says it wants.
Watch for diet log reviews and menu samples, more coming. There are so many pieces of advice I can give you but there are only so many you can hear at once. So, use index cards and record the ones that work for you. Keep them handy or posted and refer to them often. Changing the course of your eating and your life isn’t easy, but it’s the best decision you’ll ever make.