Finally, part 3! If you’re just joining, be sure to check out parts 1 and 2 of this series – regarding common gym and kitchen mistakes. With the addition of this last piece, I hope all my readers will feel better educated and well on their way to making positive changes.
Saved the best for last. Why is this the best? Because…
you can’t out-exercise a crappy diet! Not giving your body proper fuel is setting yourself up for failure. It’s tripping over the starting line before giving yourself a chance. This is hands-down the area I’ve become most passionate about because it’s done the most for me. The minute I started treating food as fuel was the beginning of a change that has gotten me in the best shape of my life and feeling better than I ever have before. I used to think the secret to getting toned, losing weight, and feeling good…was in the gym. Although this is an important part of the equation, the first step is in your diet. Abs are built in the gym but unveiled in the kitchen. Which is why things like THIS drive me crazy:
LIES! I don’t care how many sit-ups, crunches, or planks you do…if you’re not taking care of what’s on your PLATE, you’re never going to see results! It’s not the fact that you don’t have abs, or muscles…we all do. It’s the fat over them that’s hiding any such evidence. So get your eating habits in-line by avoiding these 10 common dieting mistakes!
#1. Dieting for the wrong reasons.
I don’t even like the word “diet” because it implies something temporary. When I use the word “diet”, I’m referring to what we eat every day; the range of foods we choose to take in as fuel. So when you start a new routine, make it NOT about a quick fix and more about a lifestyle. Save yourself the agony of going through fad and unrealistic crash-diets and do it the right way. If your goals are more about your health and feeling/looking better in the long run, you will be more motivated to create habits that stick. It will also help you avoid those ridiculous diets. You know, freezer-meals, 500-calories a day, eat-like-a-rabbit plans. With a society surrounded by such lies, it’s no wonder people see eating healthy as such a burden! But it all just comes down to simple changes. Simple changes that last a lifetime will get you much further than drastic changes that last a few weeks! Leading me to #2…
#2. Going cold turkey.
Just like any life-lasting changes, eating right is going to take TIME. Don’t push yourself into unrealistic goals. Start with simple changes. Getting your veggies/fruit in daily, only eating dessert a few times a week, not eating out more than 2x a week. Whatever point you’re at now, set goals with realistic checkpoints. When I started, I just told myself I’d track my calories. That turned into slowly limiting them. After that I focused on weeding out processed food. Next came limiting cheat meals. Which leads me to my other point: part of every healthy diet, believe it or not, includes cheats! One bad meal isn’t going to make you fat just like one good meal isn’t going to make you skinny, so use that meal (or meals) as a great way to curb cravings and give your workouts a boost for the rest of the week. Just don’t get carried away:)
#3. Not giving your kitchen a makeover.
Out of sight, out of mind. The best thing you can do for yourself is clean out the temptations hiding in your fridge, pantry, and other nooks and crannies. Why have things around that are going to do nothing but keep you from your goals? You can do it. I promise. Just be sure to replace the food with better things. Because an EMPTY pantry and fridge sure isn’t the way to go, either!
#4. Failing to plan and think ahead.
We’ve all been in these shoes. You’re stuck out somewhere and it’s past mealtime. You’re STARVING. McDonalds is the only thing available. McNuggets it is.
Planning your meals for the day/week ahead of time is a habit you want to form ASAP! We’re most likely to make bad decisions when we are without a plan. When you’re hungry you’re going to grab the nearest restaurant or nearest bowl of food no matter if it’s Doritos or celery sticks. Have your meals mapped out ahead of time so you don’t have to be in that situation. This is especially important for those of you with hectic schedules – always being on the go rarely allows you time or place to cook. Not only that, but if you don’t have it planned, you can lose track of time and completely forget you haven’t ate in 6 hours. Which, believe it or not, is NOT good! I always plan my day for 3 meals, 2 smaller meals, and a “dessert” or snack just before bed – so I’m eating about every 2/3 hours. Doing so keeps my metabolism going and hunger in-check. You’re much less likely to binge on meals or be tempted by bad food laying around if you’re always satisfied.
While this is one of the most important keys to a successful diet – it’s also where people fire the most excuses! Prepping food is much easier than people make it out to be. Make enough dinner to allow leftovers for lunch the next day, throw some almonds in a snack bag, always have an apple on-hand, or use your Sundays to prep food so you don’t have to worry about it the rest of the week! You can always spare time, so kick that excuse. 15-20 minutes at the end of the night to prepare your next day’s food is by no means as impossible as people make it out to be. It will pay off BIG time in your health and fitness goals…and not to mention save you MONEY!
#5. Not tracking what you’re eating.
Since I just told you eating 7+ meals a day is a good idea, I’d better follow up with this one. If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, you’ll have already read that I’m a food tracker. I always have an idea of how many calories and macros I’m taking in. This works well for me because my biggest problem with food has always been just eating way too much of it. I can’t help it; I love to eat…so if I’m not aware of how much I’m taking in I will just continue to do it! Doing so also keeps me on track because it has me paying attention to nutrition labels. You will find yourself eating a lot less “crap” as you track. “Crap” food will not only take up a lot of calories, but will also leave you unsatisfied and miserable! Maybe counting isn’t your thing, but at the end of the day weight loss boils down to calories burned vs. calories consumed. If you don’t think counting is going to work, at least keep a food log. Write down what you ate and how much of it. Then you can track what’s making you feel good and/or bad and see what food groups you need to get more of. For example, I found that limiting breads, starches, and dairy really helped me feel and look better – so I’ve found different ways to get those nutrients in. But most importantly remember it’s different for everyone – find what works for YOU. I use applications on my phone to track these things, but there are lots of Internet resources as well. If all else fails, there’s nothing wrong with an actual pen and paper! Whatever way you choose to track, just make sure you’re doing it. You don’t have to do it forever, but when you’re first starting out it’s important in order to get you better educated on what you’re taking in and help you get into a healthy rhythm. It will also help keep your portions in-check, menu balanced, and weed out the “grazing” we tend to do throughout the day.
#6. Not drinking enough water.
This is probably one of the most common (and crucial!) mistakes people make. Water has so much to offer regardless of what your goals may be. We’ve all heard “8 glasses” a day (8 oz each) but it’s the one thing you can truly never have enough of. Since our own individual needs will vary on numerous factors (exercise, climate, body comp, etc), I suggest just always having a glass or bottle on-hand and sip away during the course of your day. I drink around 2 gallons a day, but I also work out vigorously, live at a high altitude, and reside in a dry climate. Most individuals may not need as much. When it comes to eating, you would be shocked to know that most of the time when your body thinks it’s “hungry” it actually just needs water! A good habit to get into is drinking a glass before you eat. This is especially important in the morning because your body has depleted most of its water supply. Water is also a key component in helping your body run food through its system. Staying hydrated will keep things clickin’ like it’s supposed to – increasing your metabolism and leaving you feeling great.
In summary, you may make a million trips to the bathroom but it’s worth it…you’ll feel so much better, I guarantee it (plus the bathroom trips are extra exercise!). Rumor has it that cold-water helps kick your metabolism over warm – so throw in a few ice cubes while you’re at it!
#7. Not tracking your progress.
As much as you’re not going to want to have anything to do with your first few progress pictures and numbers…make yourself do it! Nothing is more motivating than being able to see your progress. Not only that, it’s great to be able to look back on. A lot of people get sucked into only tracking the number on the scale – I highly discourage you from doing this. Why? Because you’ll look at it and think that if it’s not going down you’re not making progress. Progress is NOT in the numbers! You can weigh the exact same weight and have a completely transformed body. Muscle weighs more than fat so as you lose excess fat and gain muscle, it’s completely normal not to see the scale fluctuating. I don’t care how badly you don’t want to take pictures – it’s a must to keep yourself not only motivated but also accountable. It’s hard to let yourself slip when you can see the progress you’re making.
#8. Hiding your goals.
Sharing your goals will not only hold you accountable, but also those around you. Let them help you by letting them know what your goals are. They will then not only know what to expect, but will also (if they’re good friends/family) avoid providing you with temptations. If you’re family, you’ll end up making changes together because you feed from the same bucket. Even if you don’t live together – those you spend a lot of time with will likely start making healthier choices with you simply because they’re around you so much. Once you get it out there that you’re challenging yourself, let the competitive drive in you take over and prove to yourself and those around you that you can do it. Take pride in the challenge you’re setting out for yourself!
#9. Eating too many processed foods.
Eating healthy will come much easier the more you can weed processed foods out of your diet. Stick to the edges of the grocery store and try eating only fresh food and produce for a week. Can’t pronounce an ingredient? Stay away. Don’t fall into the “100 calorie, fat-free, low-calorie” trap. It’s usually processed to become that way and is in-turn, doing less good for you. Try eating less of the real thing, instead of more of the fake stuff. Once you get used to eating real food, your body will reject all the other “crap” you try to feed it. Clean eating is a lifestyle – and just as addicting as junk eating (only much more rewarding)!! Lots of great recipes out there to try – all it takes is a simple “clean eating recipes” google or Pinterest search. A great resource I use is my fooducate app on my phone. By scanning items, it gives a grade for the product and lets you know if it is highly-processed or hiding ingredients. I highly recommend it for anyone, especially those just starting out.
#10. Skipping meals.
I think we’ve all gone for this myth before. Skipping meals in order to indulge in others…or thinking it will somehow benefit us in the long run. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. Skipping any meals, especially breakfast, will send your body into starvation mode. When your body thinks it’s starving, it’s going to hold on to any fat it can and slow your metabolism down as a result. Not to mention it’s a completely unrealistic lifestyle. Who wants to spend half their day starving and the other half stuffed from binging? This doesn’t make for a healthy OR happy person! It’s instead a recipe for one grumpy, hungry, sleepy, and even dizzy person!
These are just a few of many mistakes people make in their diet. There are so many opinions out there about what is and isn’t the right thing to do, it can be confusing and completing frustrating as someone trying to make steps towards losing weight and living healthier. My answer to this is that there is no magic formula. No recipe that fits everyone. So keep it simple, keep it clean, and find what works for YOU. Lucky for us, the produce section is large and colorful so find foods that suite your own taste buds and get creative in the kitchen! Learn to love cooking and the fact you can see what’s going in your body. Love your indulgences, too…because we’re all human and deserve it every once and awhile!
It’s a process and no healthy, long-lasting change will happen quickly. Focus on the progress you’re making instead of the road that’s ahead of you. Like all things you’ll have ups and downs and days that all you want to do is swim in chocolate and give up. Stick with it and focus on small, simple changes. These will take you farther than any drastic, short-term change will. I’ve gained a huge passion for cooking, nutrition, and everything in-between…so if you have questions, comments, ideas, or anything else – please don’t be afraid to reach out!
Okay so now that I’m off my soapbox, I get to share lots of fun recipes that happened since my last post:
Overnight Oat Pancakes
Lemon Vinaigrette Superfood Salad
Sweet Potato/Chicken Quesadilla
Homemade Fish Sticks
Sweet Potato/Eggplant/Blueberry Salad
Meanwhile, this KILLER workout will get your heart pumpin!
In other news the last few weeks:
Splurged on some Arctic Zero, this stuff aint cheap up here but I’ll gladly pay up to be able to down a pint of ice cream guiltlessly! Some people think this stuff is too bland – I usually add dark chocolate, peanut butter, pretzels, fruit, or other yum yum’s to spruce it up. I’ve even mixed it with greek yogurt to get some protein in and give it a thicker consistency.
Like i’ve always said, mistakes are to be embraced in the kitchen! So, *embracing* while also crying because I wasted 1/4 cup precious PB2 (also not cheap) on these bad boys. I tried getting a little too fancy with substitutions and it came back to haunt me. Unfortunately these fell under the category of tasting as bad as they looked.
Channeling my inner-dolphin for an early morning AMRAP! I found this gem (tank top) at Forever 21 of all places…I obviously had to buy it.
Beets made an appearance in my kitchen last week, and not without a trace. (Tyler will say nothing in our kitchen makes an appearance without a trace – I disagree) Nutrition comes at a high price these days!
We always plop by our favorite places when we finally get out into a civilized town – this time it was QDOBA! Nom nom nom my favorite.
Annnnd of course we’ve been hittin the slopes as much as we can while the snow’s still around. We’ve had some awesome snow days and it’s finally starting to warm up so babies like me aren’t freezing their tails off!
Can you believe it’s March already?!! Hope everyone’s doing well and surviving the endless snow storms that seem to be hitting everywhere BUT where they need to be (the mountains). The locals around here do nothing but complain about “bad snow”!