Boost your health by managing your intake. Follow these super easy tips and start improving your lifestyle today.
The year has just started, and everywhere we find miracle diets that promise the shape of your dreams in just a couple of weeks.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could go to bed looking way and woke up fitter than ever?
Of course that it would be great! Is it possible? Well, some people have done it. The tricky question here though is: is it safe?
There is always a lot of talk about signing up to a gym as a new year’s resolution.
Re-evaluating their meals isn’t so frequently mentioned.
When it is, generally is in the form of some ‘incredible’ diet that will get people to their results with the blink of an eye.
I have lost count of how many I have seen come and go from following diet X, Y or Z.
At a certain point, it got boring, and I stopped to care.
Most of the time, the motivation is just wrong, and that is why the effort does not last.
If wearing a certain outfit is all that you want, I am pretty sure it will not be much of a sacrifice falling off the wagon at the first sight of a pizza, some fries or beer.
4 tips to improve your intake
- Assess Your Starting Point
- Play Around With Substitutions
- Evaluate Your Progress Regularly
- Make Adjustments
1. Assess Your Starting Point
Where are you at the moment? What are your current habits: physical and dietary?
Of course that setting up an objective is essential to achieve anything in life, but to be able to set an S.M.A.R.T.* plan you must understand your current situation.
Take some time to:
- List the foods you generally eat (with quantities, if possible).
- How much physical activity you do in a day.
- How much average sleep you get, etc.
Make it your personal file that you’ll be maintaining as you progress.
There is no right or wrong here. You’re simply doing an assessment that will help you define your strategy going forwards.
Finally, take some selfies (or if you have someone to take pictures of you, it is even better) that will help you “see” your evolution.
A lot of people wear bikinis or shorts because they can see their whole body. But it is also a great idea to wear some outfit you can shrink in it, like a pair of jeans, a dress or T-shirt.
2. Play Around With Substitutions
From the items on your list, for what healthier choices we can substitute them?
Let’s say you regularly drink soft drinks.
How many calories a day does it count for in your diet at the moment? How many carbohydrates is that?
I know that it is tempting to say: “stop drinking that thing. Drink only water!”
As noble (and valid) as this gesture may look, you’ll be taking away certain ‘nutrients’ and adding almost nothing to your intake.
No surprise people give up for being tired all the time…
Make small substitutions and choose them wisely.
In the beginning, you don’t need to cut your calories low.
You’ll already make significant improvements just by exchanging part of your current carbohydrate intake by vegetables, for instance.
If sugar is your nemesis, find another energy source that will keep you going.
Remember: starvation is NEVER an option!
3. Evaluate Your Progress Regularly
How do you feel? How are your energy levels? Are you losing weight too fast?
When I was getting ready for Bikini competitions, I used to send weekly status pictures to my coach.
That was ideal for accountability but also allowed both of us to make any necessary adjustments whenever needed.
As I mentioned above, making drastic changes shouldn’t be your objective.
You want the ‘new you’ to last more than a summer or a graduation party.
So there’s no need to set crazy goals. It’s not about the weight on the scale; it is about its quality.
On the internet, you can find lots of comparisons of people with the same weight, but an entirely different body composition (and physique).
So don’t freak out it the numbers are going slightly up as well as don’t start commemorating if you are losing weight too fast.
Think about your mood, your level of energy and your overall state:
- Can you walk for longer or faster without being out of breath?
- Did your clothes start to fit ‘better’?
Set an interval for your assessment being once a week the maximum (no daily checking of the scale, PLEASE!!) to twice a month the minimum (stay focused).
Just observe, do not judge your progress.
4. Make Adjustments
Did you hit a plateau? Are you feeling unwell?
If you hit the point when after 2 check-ins you are stuck on the same look and feel, probably it’s time to take a step further in your habit change.
The reason you should not go all-out is also to give your metabolism the chance to adapt naturally.
Most of those crazy transformations force people into a state when their bodies are taken to extreme situations, which will work regarding granting them fast results. What we frequently see afterwards though is the damage to their health and well-being.
Not everyone is the same.
You shouldn’t force yourself into anything even if it has brought someone else results.
Only make changes in your team when it is not winning anymore.
If you are losing fat (weight should not be your concern) with a 2000-3000 calorie diet, why eating only 1800?!?
You’ll probably be damaging your performance whether in your sport of daily life.
Look at your actual intake, check what substitutions you can still apply and take it to the next level.
With that said, I would still advise you look for professional orientation when putting your training and meal plan together.
Mainly if you have never done it before!
The support provided by qualified Personal Trainers and Nutritionists is priceless. They’ll give you plans to follow.
And if you need guidance to implement and stick to the plan, I can help you!
Use the guidelines above as a reference, but, in no way, they are set in stone.
These tips can also be of use the next time you talk to your coach.
And one thing I can assure you of: if the person you are working with completely ignores the points mentioned above, I wouldn’t know how they can assist you correctly.
* S.M.A.R.T.: is a mnemonic acronym, giving criteria to guide in the setting of objectives, for example in project management, employee performance management, and personal development. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. (source Wikipedia)
Also published on Medium.