Nearly everyone at some point in their lives has tried to diet. Some enjoy a modest amount of success in the short run, while others struggle to make it past the first week. Worse still, some find themselves tumbling down the rabbit hole of dangerously ineffective fad diets and ‘Get Thin Quick’ scams. These pitfalls are typical within the fitness community, and remedying them requires moving away from diets and towards lifestyles instead. With a lifestyle approach, the goal is less about losing the most amount of fat possible in the shortest period and more about building healthy eating habits that are successful at achieving weight loss milestones and sustainable in the long run. An Atlanta personal trainer, David Reagan, explains four steps for cultivating an effective and enjoyable nutritional lifestyle.
Step #1. Create an Attainable Plan
The first and arguably most crucial step in putting together a solid plan is to include foods that one genuinely likes to eat. For decades, the mainstream health and fitness industry has peddled the same bland and uninspired ‘boiled chicken and broccoli’ style diets that offer little in the way of flavor and next to nothing in the diversity of food options. Thankfully nowadays, the internet is rife with hundreds of delicious, easy-to-make recipes tailored to all sorts of individual health goals and lifestyles. Thousands of affordable, high-quality cookbooks offer a wide array of healthy options to suit everyone’s specific dietary needs (i.e., vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, etc.). Consider taking a few minutes to jot down a list of enjoyable foods and begin looking for ways to incorporate them into your daily meal prep.
Step #2. Eat Low-Calorie Foods
The second step towards creating a sustainable dietary lifestyle involves eating low-calorie foods that are both satiating and packed with essential nutrients. Some notable examples include oats, Greek yogurt, mixed berries, salmon, quinoa, arugula, spinach, and eggs. These foods are satisfying and filled with healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, including Omega-3, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and calcium. Most fruits, vegetables, and whole-wheat carbohydrates are highly satiating and dense with vital macro and micronutrients. Several safe, low-calorie sweeteners such as stevia, yacon syrup, or good old-fashioned organic honey are also widely available for those with a sweet tooth. The options above are only a handful of several food sources that help keep the body happy, healthy, and satisfied.
Step #3. Track Your Calories
Tracking daily caloric intake is another important method for maintaining a healthy dietary lifestyle and achieving weight loss goals. Historically, the process of calorie counting was, frankly, a pain in the neck. One would often spend a good chunk of time reading undersized nutrition labels on the back of food packages and flipping through several search result pages to get a rough estimate of the number of Kcals consumed. Nowadays, many free and easy-to-use calorie tracking applications exist to help automate the process. Many of these apps contain massive databases filled with thousands of food items/meals, along with their respective macronutrient, mineral, vitamin, and caloric contents. Calorie tracking can allow one to further optimize their meal plans to suit their needs or wants. Counting calories is especially useful during nights out, family dinners, special events, or satisfying those pesky cravings. Simply save or bank calories during earlier meals to be enjoyed later in the day.
Step #4. Be Patient
The final step to transforming short-term diets into sustainable long-term lifestyles is to be patient. Healthy habits take time to nurture before they become second nature. While discipline and consistency are necessary, setbacks often occur. Setbacks are as much a part of the process of developing healthy lifestyles as successes. The issue arises when individuals take these failures to heart, as though they are somehow a sign of a deeper flaw or imperfection. This negative or demeaning self-talk, however, only leads to further disillusionment. Patience and self-compassion are essential during these moments. They help foster a positive mindset and encourage one to push past these fallbacks to continue pursuing their lifestyle goals. Eventually, these goals become actionable lifestyle changes with enough patience, self-care, and effort.
The four tips outlined above serve as a solid starting block for the journey from inconsistent diet windows to meaningful lifestyle gains. It is essential to experiment with these various methods to see which strategies best suit specific targets. Ultimately, regardless of the particular strategy one might employ, the pathway to success involves a hefty serving of hard work, consistency, moderation, and above all, patience.
About David Reagan
David Reagan is a NASM Certified personal trainer from Atlanta, GA, who specializes in weight loss, personalized workout plans, bodybuilding, and nutrition. He caters to high-end clients and executives, helping them achieve their fitness goals by accommodating their busy schedules. The client’s needs come first, and David’s fitness plan will set you up on the path to success.