How to find the perfect diet for you – Part 2
Changing how you eat
The easiest way to start making changes is by ‘adding in’. From your food diary, you should have an idea of which foods make you feel more awesome, so you’re going to use these ideas to kick-start your perfect diet.
You will probably find from your food diary that it tends to be the healthy, whole, nutrient-dense foods that make you feel best. This is because you’re giving your body what it needs and really wants. If you can do this more often, you’ll reduce your cravings for ‘empty calories,’ (those foods which tend to be processed and high in unhealthy sugars and fats).
For example, if you usually have a salad for lunch then you’re going to add in anything that you think might be missing. Try adding some lean protein (chicken, fish) a few fresh vegetables (green beans, peppers), and add some healthy fat (olive oil, avocado).
Why add these things in?
So you're saying I need to eat more?
A good diet isn’t about deprivation. It’s about eating more of the right things.
Quite often, you’re not performing well or feeling your best because the food you’re eating isn’t giving you all the nutrients you need. Within a few weeks of adding in the nutrients you’re missing, you’ll see and feel huge changes.
You’ll also find that adding these extra ingredients will leave you feeling comfortably full and satisfied, as they give you a complete meal. This should mean there’s less temptation to eat something sugary or processed that steals your energy and makes you feel irritable or unhappy.
You should still be mindful of your portion sizes and of course there are lots of other ways you can make changes to what you eat and how you eat to curb cravings, boost your energy and lose weight. But this is a great place to start.
You didn't mention calories yet. Shouldn't I be counting them?
One thing you’ll notice about your perfect diet is that there isn’t a huge focus on counting calories.
Calorie counting has a place if you have very specific requirements (say, you work out a lot and are training for a competition, or have a particular weight loss goal), but if you’re aiming for a long-term way to feel great and energised, you won’t really want to focus on numbers.
Because all calories are not the same (500 calories from a bag of chips is not going to feed your body the same way 500 calories from a mountain of vegetables will), a better way to eat is to make food choices that really nourish your body. When you eat well, you’ll find that you tune into your body’s signals much better – because you’ll feel full and satisfied you’ll be less likely to want to eat more.
If you just count calories, you’re not doing your body (or your sanity) any favours because that number becomes more important than what you’re eating.
Quality (of food) over quantity (of calories) is where you want to focus to see the best results
Should I weigh myself so that I know I'm making progress?
Please don’t. The scale lies. All the damn time.
I know this is difficult. For so long, we’ve been obsessively trained to chase an ideal weight. “I should be X stone.” “I need to lose X amount”.
Here’s the secret… that number you think you want? That’s not what you really want.
I’m guessing what you really want is to look awesome and feel amazing – full of energy and free of food cravings so you can focus entirely on being out there building your business empire. You can get excited about working towards that. Being a magic number on a machine that no one else knows about except you… well that’s not something you’re going to want to waste time and energy on – right?
I want to weigh 10.5 stone
I want to look awesome and feel amazing
Which one sounds better to you?
You are not the number on your scale. The trouble is, we’ve been told for a very long time that it’s important and we should care. I know what it’s like to have a big focus on that, because I’ve been there too.
When I started teaching fitness for a living, I put on a lot of weight over a few months. To start with, the numbers freaked me out. What the hell was happening? I was working out for hours every day, eating well and I felt fantastic, but the scales gave me a dressing-down every time I stepped on them.
Muscle is dense. If you gain muscle, you can look thinner, more toned and more athletic while weighing more than you did when you were carrying fat. That was what happened to me.
I was in the best shape of my life – you could see my muscle definition, my abs were ripped and my clothes looked so great I wore body-con everything. Despite that, the scale stressed me out because I was conditioned to believe that the numbers were somehow more important than the way I felt about myself.
So I threw out my scale. And I’ve never looked back.
If the scale stresses you out, follow my lead and throw the damn thing out. Weight fluctuations are normal – water retention is a biggie and you can fluctuate by 5-10 pounds a day depending on what your body is holding on to. If you exercise a lot, weight gain from building muscle is normal. Tracking your weight too often and putting too much emphasis on those figures will drive you crazy.
Stay sane. Just say no to daily weigh-ins.
So what should I be tracking to measure progress?
It will vary depending on your goals, but usually the most important thing you can measure is how you feel. That said, if your focus is weight loss and you’re a numbers kind of girl, you might want to track your body measurements. Pick areas like your chest, waist, hips, arms and thighs, recording measurements along with the date that you take them. You can take monthly or weekly comparisons.
Another good measure is to look at how your clothes are fitting. Are there areas of your jeans that start gaping? Do your winter boots fit your legs more comfortably?
Finding the perfect diet for you may take a little experimentation, but it will give you a foolproof, long term plan for looking and feeling your best. That means more confidence, more productivity and more income in your business: so it’s well worth the initial investment to get things right.
Always check with your doctor before making changes to your diet and/or exercise program.