Someone wrote a great post last week about mastering the basics, full of hard truths and forcing yourself to take a look inward. At some point, things are not working out and you are partly to blame. It’s time to stop chasing quick fixes and take a hard look at what you are doing daily.
Health is a hard thing to sell. It’s time we had the talk, the lifestyle talk.
Everywhere you look there’s “click-bait” advertisements promising you quick weight loss with minimal effort. Detoxes, diet teas and magic pills are killing this industry. I get it: even though we all know better, it is human nature to want to believe in miracles, to think that there is something magical out there that is going to fix us. The truth is, keeping up these delusions is easier than looking at our lifestyle and giving up the bad habits we have become so accustomed to.
The problem with these quick fixes is that your nutrition should be a lifelong pursuit. A diet is temporary in nature, and it is in itself impossible to have permanent results using temporary measures.
It comes down to understanding the basics. Focusing on building a lifestyle that you can sustain. Your current daily habits brought you where you are now, but they won’t take you where you want to go. Building a lifestyle around healthy habits that you can sustain over time is where the real work is.
What makes this industry even more complicated is that many of us have a long history of dieting, aka losing and gaining the same weight over and over again. You need to be in a place of health to lose weight. Some of you that come to me are so far from this place that losing weight just can’t be an immediate priority.
A female’s maintenance calories should be around 1800-2000 calories, depending on size and activity levels. Yet most women come to me grossly under eating; if you are currently eating 1200 calories, but are not losing weight and are losing your appetite, trust me, you are not in any shape to diet and cut any more calories right now.
This isn’t a reverse dieting post; I’ll save that for a later conversation. For now, let’s just talk about what it looks like to prioritize your health with your lifestyle. Maybe your idea of eating healthy is ordering a salad instead of a burger for lunch at Cactus Club, yet you don’t know the first thing about cooking your own food. Maybe popcorn is the only vegetable you eat. Maybe you think that sleep is for the weak and that rest days are over-rated. Maybe you think the reason you are not losing weight is because you are not working out hard enough. Maybe you think you have not PR-ed in the gym because you don’t have the right pre-workout. If any of these sound like you, then this post is for you. It’s time to take a step back and take a hard look in the mirror.
It’s not about that 1 hour in the gym, nor is it about that perfect post-workout shake. It’s not about cutting out entire food groups and eating “clean” 24/7. It’s not about being super restrictive all week so you can have that epic cheat day every Sunday. It’s about having a lifestyle that supports both your health and your goals. Making daily decisions that contribute to your goals but still allow you to live your life. It’s about letting go of the all-or-nothing mentality, letting go of the number on the scale.
You want to look like a Crossfit Games athlete? Guess what, they don’t go out drinking all weekend, they are in bed 9+ hours a night and they are eating a shit ton of carbs to support their training and recovery. You don’t want to do that? Totally cool, because, let’s face it, most of us are not going to compete in the Crossfit Games. But then, take the next step by unfollowing anyone who makes you feel less-than just because you don’t have a 12 pack and realize that unless you live like a top athlete (and have killer genetics) you won’t look like one! Find a middle ground for yourself. Set goals that are in line with the lifestyle you want and what is realistic for you.
Treat your body like you care. Set some bare minimums.
- Walk 10,000 steps daily. I live in Vancouver and work at my computer 3 days a week; it’s not easy during the rainy months, but I make it happen. Our bodies like to move. Going to the gym is great, but kind of worthless if we sit on our asses all day the rest of the time. 10,000 daily steps should be happening. Why 10,000? most research points to it being the tipping point where all cause mortalities drop, like heart disease and obesity rates.
- Sleep! I can’t stress this enough. Humans need sleep, and you are not super-human. Get to bed. The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep, and if you have a heavy training load you may even need more.
- Hydrate. Our bodies are 95% water, we can live without food easier than we can live without water. Even mild dehydration will have a huge impact on your daily energy and digestion.
- Learn to cook. People who cook and prepare their own food have smaller waistlines and fatter wallets. Who wouldn’t want that?
This is where you create your strong foundation to build on.
- Eat 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables.
- Aim to eat 25g+ of fibre daily.
- Eat protein at every meal.
- Limit alcohol and processed foods.
- Dial in your sleep hygiene. Keep bed time and wake time consistent. Reduce blue light exposures in the evening.
- No coffee after 2pm.
- Manage the stress in your life. And in case you didn’t know, diet and exercise are stressors. If you are in a calorie deficit and exercising hard on top of your already stressful life, you are pretty much setting yourself up for a crash.
- Exercise 3-5 times a week, raise your heart rate, add some resistance training. Find ways to move you enjoy!
- … Just don’t enjoy it too much and forget to rest. Make sure to take 1 or 2 full rest days weekly.
Before and above counting macros, this is where the work needs to be done first. If you are currently unhappy with where you are at, take a good look at your lifestyle and how you have mastered the basics before shelling out more cash and energy on another quick fix, embarking on another restrictive diet that you just can’t maintain. Take a real hard look at yourself, how you treat your body and also how you talk to yourself.
I remember sitting in my doctor’s office back in 2013, frustrated with my head injury and at a very low point when my doctor told me I had to stop working in order to let my head heal. I was shattered and scared. But then he said something that struck a chord: we have nothing without our health. Money, the gym, how I look in a bikini, none of that matters if I don’t have my health. Until I was at this low point in my life, I never truly understood what that meant. Going off work indefinitely was scary and not being able to workout was frustrating. What does it mean for our family’s finance, what about my Crossfit, will I gain a bunch of weight? In the end, none of that mattered, because my health was truly the priority. And so is yours. I think of this daily now and it guides my choices.
Time to treat your body like you care. Time to eat like a grownup. Time to turn off Netflix and go to bed. Time to master the basics and align your lifestyle with the results you want.