While calories are important, they’re not everything.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: time and time again, when I see an individual who focuses solely on calories in their diet, I see a diet devoid of nutrition. Those nutrient deficiencies, in turn, then contribute to weight gain and/or weight stagnation. With a ton of emphasis by fad diets, news media and everywhere in between to focus on calories, nutrition has been lost in the fine print. Look beyond calories to what a food can offer you.
An example many can understand: pain sucks. Headaches, migraines, joint pain, muscle pain, abdominal pain, you name it and it sucks. Did you know that nutrients like vitamin D, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids can significantly reduce pain? Did you know that the majority of Americans are deficient in all three nutrients? Seeing calorie dense avocados, nuts and healthy oils in a whole new light?
Another pitfall of only focusing on calories: eating too much processed foods. Since the invention of the nutrition facts panel a lot has happened. The good news, people started taking a closer look at what’s in their food and using actual facts to make food choices with. The bad news, nutrition fact panels are not naturally occurring. Peaches don’t come with their calorie content imprinted on their peel. Broccoli can’t tell you that it only contains about 40 calories per cup and is loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, B vitamins, fiber, calcium, iron, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.
If you’re only looking at the caloric value of a food you’re missing 90% of the show. You’re not looking at what else is or is not in the food. After the nutrition facts panel comes the list of ingredients. Grab any 5 products out of your cabinet and scroll the ingredient list. Do you know what everything in the food is, how that ingredient is made and where/what it is derived?
While I do not label foods as good or bad, there are clearly some that are better choices than others. Processed foods can make life easier. However, a diet that is primarily composed of processed foods in order to cut calories can cause nutritional problems. Every time you eat is an opportunity for nutrition. Ask yourself what your food as to offer each time you eat and you will soon see your health and weight improve. It's not the calories in food, but the nutrition within those calories.
How to Improve Your Chances of Weight Loss Success
It’s no secret that more individuals fail at their weight loss attempts than succeed. However, that is something that can change.
"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right." Henry Ford.
The fact of the matter is, the biggest determinate in weight loss success is the person believing they will reach their goal. If you set out to lose weight assuming you will fail, you will fail. If you jump in without a plan and hope that weight loss will just magically happen, again failure. The two most important steps to losing weight: believe in yourself and make a plan.
Believe in yourself
If you’re having trouble believing you’ll ever succeed in your weight loss goal, take the time to ask yourself why you think that. Write out or talk about past failures that are discouraging your current goals. Write out 3 to 5 of your personal strengths and how they’re going to help you reach your goal.
Make a plan
A goal without a plan is just a wish. Waking up and wishing the pounds away doesn’t work. Just saying or thinking you’re going to work on losing weight also doesn’t work. Individuals who have found success in weight loss are the ones who made a plan and took action. Write out your goals. Make them specific, measurable, challenging and realistic.
First question to tackle, how much weight do you want to lose and why. Then grab a calendar and find realistic dates you might reach this goal at the healthy rate of weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week. Next question to answer, what habits or lifestyle factors are contributing to your current weight? Make a list and see what factors you can change. Next question, where do I start? See the doc for a physical? Call a nutritionist? Join a gym? Walk to work? Drink more water?
Write it out
Take the time to write out where you are now and where you would like to be. Then create a map, a plan, of how you’re going to get from point A to point B. For one reason or another, we humans are more likely to accomplish our goals if we write them down.
Check your vitamin D
Studies have shown that your vitamin D status is directly related to your ability to lose weight and your overall health. Vitamin D is fat soluble and thus when a person has excess fat tissue, vitamin D is absorbed into the tissue rather than utilized for the 200 functions it’s needed for in the human body, including all the processes that related to weight loss. Have your vitamin D checked as soon as possible.
Pack your lunch and snacks
Packing your lunch not only saves you money, it saves you calories. When you pack your lunch you’re in control of the contents, the calories and the nutrients. Pack a lunch you look forward to and that nourishes your body.
Don’t forget to pack your snacks! Snacks are simple: generally one or two items. People who eat healthy snacks eat less at their next meal. Plus, healthy snacks can help a person reach their nutrition goals.
Schedule in physical activity
Schedule in your workout time and you’re more likely to make it happen. Put it in your planner, write it on the calendar or put it in your phone. However you track your time, make sure to put your physical activity time down. So it shall be written, so it’s more likely to be done. Remember to pack your workout bag!
Track your progress and reward yourself
Whether it’s once a week or once a month, tracking and evaluating your progress is going to help you reach your overall goal. You’ll know if you’re on track or need to adjust and get back to your goal. Most importantly, don’t forget to reward yourself for meeting your goals. You’re much more likely to reach your goals and continue onward if you reward yourself. Make sure your rewards don’t detract you from meeting your next goal.
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