Diet and Exercise go hand in hand, right?
Yes, but If you look at the majority of the American diet, you would think otherwise. We as a whole eat too much, and eat too much of things we shouldn’t be eating. Too much fast food, too many prepackaged foods, and too many sugary beverages.
Recently the CBSNEWS posted an article about this Editorial from the British Medical Journal . “You Can’t Outrun a Bad Diet,” is not a new saying by any means, but it is one I am happy to see getting some press. When getting healthy the first thing you need to do, I repeat, FIRST THING YOU NEED TO DO is evaluate your diet. Take a real look at the food you are putting in your body. While diet and exercise are the cornerstone to any healthy lifestyle. Diet needs to come first.
If you want to follow the USDA Guidelines go for it. I think they are too broad and generic to actually be beneficial. For starters the USDA should not be the branch of the government giving dietary advice as it is counterproductive to their industry. It would not benefit the Agriculture industry if Americans stepped back their consumption of grains, and sugars.
When focusing on weight loss, you need to ignore a lot of the marketing that happens around food. “Fat Free, “Low Fat,” “Reduced,” and “Healthy” along with tons of other buzzwords should just be ignored. Just look at the nutrition label on the back. When they reduce the fat, chances are they are bumping the sugar, they want you to find that flavor in their somewhere. When something claims that it is “high protein,” make sure you actually look at the label.
Take “Cheerios Protein,” for example 11g of protein. This bad for many reasons. It includes the protein from milk. So it’s really only 7g of protein, and it almost doubles the portion size. It’s 210 calories with only 28 calories coming from protein. In no way is 13% protein “high protein”. Read labels.
Everyone is different, your dietary needs are going to be different from mine. Mike Vacanti over at On the Regimen has written a great post about macros, and how to start to figure out what you should be taking in.
My Life and Food
When I decided my life was worth living, and I couldn’t live the life I wanted to live in the body I was in, I started to evaluate what I was putting in my body. I was 387 lbs, and I ate like it. It was not unusual to grab a burger and fries on the way home from work, and eat a bag of potato chips while I sat on the couch watching “The Biggest Loser” wishing I could change my life. (TV shows like “The Biggest Loser,” and “Extreme Weight Loss,” while motivation material are horrible depictions of what it takes to take control of your health. I will hopefully cover this in a future post). I knew that wasn’t going to happen with what I was doing. It took a while to actually decide that I was going to do something about it.
When you are as big as I was losing weight is both incredibly easy, and incredibly difficult. I used MyFitnessPal to start tracking my calories, and macros. It is easy to lie to yourself and cheat, you really have to commit that you will be 100% honest in your food logging. I set a my daily calories to 2000 knowing that at my size that was a large deficit and while I struggled to maintain that restriction for the first two weeks, it eventually became very easy and manageable. While it was hard, I did see progress as it was a big change for my body to work on a calorie restriction so even though I wasn’t perfect I was able to lose weight.
That first month the weight fell off pretty quick. By the end of the second month I was down about 33lbs.
Chances are if you have come to this site, you are looking for information about losing weight and living a healthier life. I am a big proponent of making small incremental changes to your life that you can maintain over the long term.
There are a few things that you should really start doing right away that will make everything weight loss more realistic.
- Cook at home, stop eating out. If you are buying groceries and making your own meals they will be leaps and bounds better than what you get at the drive-thru.
- Weigh all of your food. Don’t eyeball it. You can’t. You will be wrong.
- Don’t drink sugary beverages. If you need that soda fix, switch to diet. It will be better than the regular stuff. Even then start to wean yourself down. Try sparkling flavored water. I really dig crystal light myself.
- Don’t buy any pills… they don’t work.
These are good places to start. If you don’t know how many calories you need to take in don’t fret there are some good tools for that. Check out these calculators. They will help you know what your resting metabolic rate is (meaning how many calories you burn doing all day just by being alive). It’s a good place to start. You can also let MyFitnessPal guide you through it. I would not take their default suggestions on macros, as they tend to follow the USDA guidelines.