I’ve learned so much over my journey in fitness, from training my clients, multiple fitness certifications, workshops, reading and from trial and error, that I could be a decent wellness coach myself. I don’t know if it’s something I’ll really pursue, but I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned.
Today I’ll look at the first part of getting healthier and fitter — eating healthy.
Rules for Eating Healthy
Eating healthy is something a lot of us want to do, but we have such a hard time because of temptations at home and work and on the road. I won’t lie and say that making changes in your diet is easy, but I will advise against making drastic changes and in favor of making gradual changes.
Healthy Eating Rule #1: Pick one or two things to change about your diet, and start simply with those. Every week or two, try something healthy and incorporate it into your daily or weekly menu.
For example, I eat pretty healthy right now, but my current diet is a cumulation of small changes I made over time. I was a vegetarian for years, and decided to re-introduce eating meat, and trying to incorporate more fresh fruits and veggies. Then I switched to healthier breakfast cereals, oatmeal, whole grain breads. I ate more nuts, and tried things like wheat germ and flax seeds. Eventually I had a fairly healthy diet (except for the dairy and the sweets), but then I stepped into a BodPod and got a true measurement of my body composition, which sparked intense determination. I cut out dairy completely (except for organic half & half for my morning coffee!), including all cheese and yogurt. Eventually I started to phase out wheat and grains, and started using almond meal and coconut flour instead of wheat or corn. I slowly tried out gluten-free/ paleo recipes, to the point that I am now nearly 100% paleo, and loving every minute of it. Lately I’ve been trying to cut down on caffeine and sweets, but gradually. If you try cutting one little thing out at a time, eventually you will get used to the change and it will become normal for you. Then repeat the process.
Healthy Eating Rule #2: When cutting out something bad from your diet, replace it with something healthier and tasty.
Another thing I’ve learned is that when I am trying to cut out something bad, it helps to replace it with something healthy and tasty that I come to enjoy. Like caffeine — I am cutting out coffee and replacing it with water. I did that before with sodas (although I’ll have an occasional soda now, but not nearly as often). Now I love drinking water instead of the more sugary stuff. I replaced milk with the much healthier almond milk, and now I love almond milk. Same thing with burgers (no bun required), healthy toppings for eggs (instead of piling with cheese), paleo bread and more. Find healthy options that you love — make a list and keep them close by.
Healthy Eating Rule #3: The first things to cut out are fried, fatty foods (like McDonald’s) and stuff that’s too sugary (donuts, sodas, candy) and other junk food. Don’t cut it out completely, but start to phase it out gradually and replace it with healthier, tasty stuff (see first two rules).
I’ve also learned to incorporate a variety of not only fruits and vegetables, but calcium-rich foods (like almond milk, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cashews, hazelnuts, asparagus and leafy greens), foods with good fats (like coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, cashews, etc), high protein but lean foods (like wild-caught seafood, pastured eggs, and organic poultry), and high-fiber foods. What I avoid, like the plague, are things high in processed ingredients or too sugary (like I said, I’m cutting this out more and more now).
Healthy Eating Rule #4: Eat smaller portions and more often during the day.
Another important concept is to eat smaller portions. I used to pile my plate full, but that’s a sure way to fatness. I slowly cut back on my portions by adding healthy snacks in between meals. The key here is to plan it out so that you not only have your three squares, but maybe a veggie/ protein snack in between, or instead of having a large lunch, do what I do and have two portions spaced out a short distance from each other to prevent uber-hunger.
Healthy Eating Rule #5: Pack healthy snacks to take with you, and plan for meals when you go on the road.
If you wait until you’re really hungry, you’ll pig out.
This leads me to another great concept: if you’re going to be on the road, you have to plan ahead, or you’ll end up eating something convenient (read: fast food) which won’t be as healthy and will definitely be more expensive. When you go grocery shopping, look for healthy snacks that you like and then pack them when you go to work or on the road. Sweet potato chips, hard-boiled eggs, baby carrots with cashew butter, fruit, veggies, and the like are good things to pack and easily portable.
Healthy Eating Rule #6: Set long-term goals, and don’t expect quick results.
Yet another important point: these things won’t make a noticeable difference right away, at least not on your waistline. Losing weight — especially fat — shouldn’t happen overnight, or you will easily gain it back. Be patient, and think long term. Don’t look for quick fixes.
There are many more tips, but these are the basic rules for eating healthy, which is the foundation for getting fit. Incorporate these rules one at a time, slowly, and you’ll see a big change over time. You’ll love yourself for it!
Get healthy & fit. Dwellness.