The human body is a machine. It is designed to do amazing things, but it needs the right fuel to be able to accomplish that. From getting up in the morning, working out to having coffee, all these activities need the right fuel to be able to happen. Once your body is fed correctly, it will work for you in ways you never imagined. For me, the realization of how important nutrition was came when I could spend hours running the trail or in the gym and I would see very little change in my body no matter how hard I worked. I was not feeding it correctly.
Nutrition is one of the least understood things when it comes to how we treat our bodies and it is one of the most important. According to the CDC, more than one third or 34% of American adults are considered obese. So, if you are confused about nutrition, you are not alone. Everyone has some idea as to what the perfect “diet plan” is, but the problem is that “diet plans” don’t work. In order to start to see results and to continue to see results you have to find a healthy way of eating and stick to it. Forever.
Holy Cow, does that sound scary! When my nutritionist first told me that I thought, “Who the hell can make a commitment like that, it sounds so hard?” Then I realized that once you start eating in a way that your body likes and is good for it, it’s not as hard as it sounds. The hardest part was the almost withdrawal-like symptoms that started when I gave up sugar, processed foods, salt and fried foods.
So what did I do to lose 100lbs in a year? I followed a combination Paleo, Clean Eating, and the Zone diets. Do I actually think that the Paleo diet mimics exactly what a caveman eats? No, and that’s good because I am not a caveman. When I actually looked at what all those diets allowed you to eat and what they didn’t, it really made sense to me. Each of them stressed copious amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. Each of them stressed lean meats and healthy fats. Each of them eliminated sugar, processed foods, excess salt, certain types of carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. The more research that I did, the more I came to realize that all the processed foods, sugary foods and bad carbohydrates were empty calories designed to cause me to crave them. There was almost no nutritional value to them. So why did I put them inside my body? I also came to realize that so many of them had ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce and that made me uneasy. Why would I put so many chemicals inside my body, especially when I don’t know what they do?
So I made myself some rules to follow.
1. No Processed Foods
If it was not naturally occurring or if it had anything on its labels that I couldn’t immediately identify then I was not going to eat it. That meant I would have to read labels and be very careful about what I bought at the grocery store.
2. No Sugar
I stopped eating white and brown sugar, and would only get my “sweets” from fruits and occasionally local honey.
3. Limit Carbohydrates.
That meant no breads, no grains and no white potatoes and I limited my carbohydrate intake to the occasional sweet potato and carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables.
4. Eat lots of Fresh Vegetables and Fruits
This meant finding new ways to prepare vegetables and fruits so that they were exciting and fun to eat. Which turned out to be very fun and easy.
5. Eat Lean Protein
This one was simple. Eat lean meats like chicken, fish, eggs, beef, pork and anything animal really. The one thing I made sure of was that they were hormone free. That cost a bit more, but to me it was worth it. It is completely acceptable to not spend the extra money if you don’t have too.
6. Eat Healthy Fats
That meant I would use grass fed butter, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, macadamia oil, and some nuts.
Easy, right? Well, there is something missing. Portion control. Portion control is not stressed in the Paleo Diet, but it is in the Zone and Clean Eating programs. I feel that portion control is one of the biggest things when it comes to weight loss, and it’s not just about how much you eat, but what you eat in each meal.
7. Portion Control
I ate 3 meals and 2 snacks every day, spaced about 3-4 hours apart. Every meal and snack I made sure was 40% good carbohydrates, 30% fat and 30% lean protein. When determining how much of any one thing I should eat, I looked to my hands. The palm of my hand, including the thickness, was the amount of protein I ate. My two hands cupped together was the amount of good carbohydrates I ate. My top knuckle of my finger up or my thumb was the amount of fat that I ate. I ate this at every single meal and snack.
The above rules are the ones that I tried to follow religiously. I was not always good at it. My motto was, “as long as you are good 95% of the time, you can afford to slip up 5% of the time”. A slip didn’t mean it was the end and I didn’t let it spiral me into endless nights of pizza and beer. I have the very occasional glass of wine or beer with friends and I don’t freak out if for one night I can’t 100% follow my plan. As long as I can do it most of the time it all works out.
The diet is one of the most important parts of losing weight. It will dictate how much energy you have and when it is healthy it will make you feel like a million bucks. The downside is, if you can call it a downside, once you stop putting crap into your body you will not crave it, and if you eat it, it will not taste good. I will occasionally have a bit of pizza or some Chinese food and it makes me sick. I instantly know that it is bad for me and I do not want it.
The books that I read that helped me along were:
Clean Eating, by Tosca Reno,
So give it a shot, you never know, it may work for you. If you don’t think what I did will work for you, then I encourage you to look into nutrition on your own. Talk to a nutritionist, talk to a doctor. Find a plan that works for you, because nutrition is vitally important to a healthy body, mind and is a huge step towards changing your life.