As many of you know I have committed to demonstrating my “map” (reference my A Simple 6-Step Plan to Help You Reach All Your Goals post) to success by losing weight. Obviously it is important to eat the right types of fuel, but it is not always easy to make the right food choices. Successful people are careful to watch what they eat and take time each day to exercise because they understand that they must take care of their body. The stress that can come along with living on this rock can be purged by exercise. Plus, exercise and eating properly provides valuable energy needed throughout a very busy and productive day. With that said, is your health important to you?
Eating healthy is very hard in the beginning and takes a lot of preparation and effort. There are no fad “diets” or “plans” that will ever outperform a lifestyle change of eating healthy. Notice I said LIFESTYLE change. To succeed you must have desire and then change your habits, your mind, your thinking and your routines! I believe most people wish to be in good physical shape and I would say most people wish to lose weight. Those that change their lifestyle succeed and those that don’t, don’t. The thing that I wonder sometimes is if we know that eating the wrong types of food and consuming too many calories will cause our bodies to store fat, and being overweight increases your chances of heart attack, heart disease, sugar diabetes and premature death, then why don’t people practice better food habits?
The question is not whether people want to lose weight, rather, what is required for a lifestyle change?? I will use my current food lifestyle changes as an example, after all, you are not trying to reinvent the wheel, just follow what others have done before you. My wife and I decided in November that I needed to slim down. We had friends using a good cookbook and website for low-fat, healthy, tasty cooking so we decided we would do the same (I will pass along the website if you email me). Relying on a healthy cookbook served multiple purposes: first, it ensured we were eating healthy food, second, it controlled what we were buying at the store and third, it provided us with great tasting food. I went online and found a free calorie log app to make sure that I was eating fewer calories than my target. And on the last day of November we went through our pantry and refrigerator and threw away everything that did not conform to our new lifestyle.
YES I SAID THREW IT ALL IN THE TRASH! EMPTY, VOID, CLEAR, EVACUATED, BARREN! I stopped referring to my new eating regimen as a diet and replaced it with the word “lifestyle.” You see eating properly is a lifestyle not a fad or a quick fix! It is difficult. It is hard. It takes time. It tests your will power. But my desire to see lower numbers on the scale surpasses my desire to stuff a donut in my mouth. If you don’t have a true desire to eat healthy in order to be healthy, then you will fail.
I am going to give you 14 key points that I implemented to change my lifestyle:
1. You must be resolute in your decision to change your lifestyle; to start making better food choices. The definition of resolute is to be admirably purposeful, determined and unwavering.
2. You must drop junk food calories from your daily habits. Don’t assume you know what junk food is! Hamburger Helper and frozen dinners are junk food just like Doritos! Educate yourself on how to eat.
3. You need to learn to shop on the exterior part of the grocery store; buying fruits, vegetables, and natural foods. You must stop consuming processed foods. Easy rule: only buy food items that contain one ingredient! A frozen bag of green beans should have “green beans” listed as the only ingredient.
4. You must decide the number of calories that you need to consume each day and develop the habit of logging your caloric intake. There are many calculators online that will help you decide how many calories you must stay under to stabilize your weight.
5. You must assume that you do not know how to cook healthy, and find a cookbook through research that will help you learn to cook healthy meals. The best thing I did was to reach out to friends and find a healthy cookbook. It provided very different and tasty recipes that were also low-fat and had caloric info with serving size. …..Insert sarcasm…I discovered that fried chicken is not very healthy!
6. You need to get out of the habit of consuming fast food products. Do I really need to elaborate?
7. Do not focus on weight loss as your primary motivator. Focus on developing the habit of eating healthy foods and let weight loss be a secondary result. From the beginning change your language and use the phrase “lifestyle change!” Eating healthy, properly portioned foods is diet in its truest sense, but “diet” has been so overused and associated with fads that the word must be eliminated from your vocabulary. I focus on eating healthy, properly portioned meals each day and only weigh once per week. Eventually I will not weigh at all.
8. You must cut all carbonated beverages from your life! When I was in the golf business we used Diet Coke to clean copper golf clubs and to apply to oil covered engines to clean them. If it can clean oil off of a tractor engine, it does not make sense to put that in your body! Drink tons of water!
9. You must begin some type of physical exercise. I can only walk about .10 of a mile, but I make myself do it a couple of times per day. DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING.
10. You must get in the habit of prepping your meals for the week. Eating better foods and eating healthy takes preparation so you need to make a plan to cook your food.
11. You must buy a small food scale and weigh your food. You will be surprised at how small a proper portion really is! We over-eat at nearly every meal, so don’t trust yourself and measure twice eat once!
12. Make sure you develop a plan for healthy, low-calorie snacks!!!! Snacking is a necessity, but grabbing a bag of chips is not! It will be critical to buy the right types of snacks like: fruits, almonds, rice cakes with natural peanut butter, low-fat cottage cheese, etc. Take time to research snacks you will enjoy. Gummie fruit snacks are not fruit and do not count!
13. The day before your new lifestyle begins you must go through your cupboards and throw out all junk and unhealthy food. Then fill your cupboards with all the foods necessary to prepare 2-3 recipes from your cookbook. At this point you should have educated yourself so you understand what foods you need for your new lifestyle and what foods have to go. I recommend making large batches of 3 recipes and rotating leftovers throughout the week.
14. Determine in your mind that this way of eating is forever!! Your lifestyle change must be in your mind at all times, forever and ever and ever!
These 14 points are how I have experienced developing a healthy eating lifestyle. Some are probably thinking that this is a lot to do…YOUR DARN RIGHT IT IS. It’s a pain in the butt a lot of the time. It requires lots of planning. It takes a tremendous effort. And sometimes eating right gets on my nerves!!!! But I keep doing it because I have desire to live a healthy lifestyle! And I promise after a period of time it will become second nature. I have a friend, Ryan McElhinny, that owns Maximum Fitness Systems. He promotes the idea of fitness success through “lifestyle modification. ” I asked him if he had to choose working out for the rest of his life, but eating unhealthy food or eating healthy food with no exercise, which would he chose? “Rule #1, you cannot out exercise a bad diet,” he answered. Meaning you choose eating right every time!
My opinion is that most fail in any attempt because they lack desire and plan poorly; and wishing is not desire! Desire is the power in you that will see you through all the pain, all the cravings, all the difficulties through to goal attainment. You have to want it so bad that you are willing to sacrifice anything to get it. You must develop that burning desire!
Napoleon Hill said it best, “The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat.”