My mother used to say: “You can have anything you want but you can’t have everything you want.” She was talking about material possessions but I have applied her philosophy to diet. You can have anything you want, but you most assuredly cannot have everything you want. Losing weight and keeping it off requires understanding your individual metabolism and learning how to operate within your unique boundaries.
My life is an example of this — I’m a personal trainer, but I am not perfect (but I work on it every single day). I love chocolate cake and pizza. Those are my two biggest diet challenges. However, because I make choices and constantly think about balancing my “nutritional checkbook,” I am able to enjoy these foods on occasion and keep my weight at a “shirts off” level.
If you were to see a Financial Advisor the first thing he or she would tell you is to record your expenses. That way you both can see where the money is going and how best to meet your goals. The first step in balancing your own nutritional checkbook is to do just that. If you want to lose weight, keep it off and be happy doing it, you start by recording calories. I recommend online calorie tracking as opposed to writing it down (although you can do both). My favorite calorie tracking website is www.livestrong.com. The free calorie tracker is called MyPlate and there is also a smart phone app. Programs like these take into account your activity level, age, height, current weight, weight loss goals and help calculate your ideal calorie intake. These programs are great because they also “add” calories when you exercise, so you can balance that occasional slice of pizza with a long run or a vigorous workout.
We all understand that not everyone has the same tolerance for alcohol. A roomful of adults knows that not everyone can do tequila shots all night long – we all process alcohol differently, and behave differently when drinking. The same is true about food, but most people don’t make the connection. If you eat something and it makes you tired – that is NOT a good thing. Food it supposed to give you energy and if something makes you tired, you’ve either eaten too much or the wrong thing. Listen to your body, and that will also help you customize your diet. Start at home – if you keep good food in your fridge, you will eat good food. (MyPlate also has a feature called “Food Diary” that can help you track your moods so that you can see if you felt awful and if it relates to bad food, too much food and/or lack of exercise…)
Since today is Valentine’s Day, this is especially important. Holidays bring sugary treat, parties with drinks and snacks and lots of temptations to that will put our nutritional checkbook in the red. We have a dysfunctional relationship with food; we see food that clearly is bad for us and/or makes us feel tired, grumpy or irritable as “treats.” Don’t reward yourself with something “bad” – unless you are prepared to work off the excess calories in order to get back to balance. As I said before, no one is perfect, but you have to understand your boundaries and work within your limits to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”