So…I have a point to prove. I have to warn you though, many of you are not going to like it. In fact, there will be some that will deny it outright. Regardless, I still am going to claim it to be true. You ready? Here it is: dieting is simple and easy. That’s right, I said it. Now, let me elaborate a bit and explain the reasoning behind my claim.
Surely, you are probably thinking that I am crazy and have no idea what I am talking about. Well I assure you that I am fully aware that developing healthy eating habits, controlling weight loss or gain, and improving body composition are some of the most challenging changes a person will attempt to make in this day and age.
Despite this, I still stand by the notion that dieting is easy. But if it’s so easy, then why do so many people fail? There are likely multiple factors involved, but I am willing to bet that a good portion of the struggles faced by millions of individuals on a daily basis relate to not having a plan.
The old adage, “failing to plan is planning to fail,” definitely holds true in the realm of proper nutrition. Want proof? Alright, think about what you had to eat yesterday. Was there something you ate that you know you probably should not have? Yet you still ate it. Now, when you woke up yesterday morning, did you plan to eat that “forbidden” food or did it just kind of “happen.” My guess is that, in most cases, it was probably just a spur of the moment occurrence.
I am sure that you can probably come up with some type of excuse: “I was running late; someone brought it in to work; it was so-and-so’s birthday; I was dining out; my kid wanted ________ (insert any junk/fast food item here) and so I had to have it; I am going to start my diet soon, but one more _______ (insert some type of empty calorie food here) probably wouldn’t hurt;” and the list goes on…
Let’s face it, had you have had a nutrition plan in place, there would likely not be a need for excuses similar to the ones listed above; your plan would have allowed you to avoid giving in to moments of nutritional temptation.
Now that we have arrived at this point, I can make my initial claim a bit more specific and a bit more understandable: dieting is simple and easy ….for me. You may be thinking “Oh, great Mike…thanks so much for gloating about your superhuman diet powers…now go walk off a cliff while I eat my bowl of ice cream in peace.” But do I really have superhuman dieting powers? I think not. I attribute much of my success to advanced planning, a skill that any mere mortal can become proficient in.
Take a look at the picture below. In it, you will see the contents of my lunchbox for today.
In the photo, you will notice my lunch: a fresh pear; a salad with chicken and as many raw veggies as I could stuff in the Tupperware container, all topped with 2 tbsp Italian dressing; and a baked sweet potato. You will also see my dinner, turkey on a whole wheat wrap with mustard, lettuce, and tomato. Finally, some bottled water, my beverage of choice for the day (What no lattes, sodas, or beers?!?), and a snack of raw spinach and carrots for the ride home.
My breakfast today consisted of a 3-egg, plus 3-egg white omelet loaded with about 2-3 cups of veggies (no, I am not exaggerating and, yes, it is more veggie than egg). I am also one of those weirdos that likes ketchup on his eggs (hey, I am trying to fess up to everything here), so you can count one strike against me. I also had 1.5 cups of Cracklin’ Oat Bran (again, just confirming that I am also merely human), along with about ¼ cup of walnuts, in ¾ cup of milk.
Aside from this, I had a protein shake after my workout this morning consisting of about 50 grams of protein and 20 grams of simple sugars. When I arrive home this evening, I will finish my day with another protein shake and a serving of nuts before I retire for the night.
“Man you eat like a pig Mike! I don’t know why I would ever turn to you for dieting advice.” Well, as surprised as you might be this is actually my “diet,” and I am actually losing weight as I planned.
Consistency is critical to success and because of this, I follow a similar eating routine just about every day. I do eat a little bit less on non-training days (i.e. no post-workout shake and oatmeal in place of the cereal), but other than that, this is a perfect example of what I eat at the initial stages of my “diet.” Each morning, I get up and prepare all my meals for that day. I am able to save myself some time by eating breakfast while I get everything else prepared.
Now, many will try to argue that they do not have time to prepare foods in advance. What these individuals fail to realize, however, is that a little time invested in preparing your meals in advance will save you a very significant amount of time down the line.
Think about it, how much time do you waste traveling to delis, coffee shops, restaurants, etc? How much time do you waste waiting in line or waiting to be served? By preparing your meals ahead of time, you will avoid all of this wasted time and, more importantly, you will be making it easier for yourself to eat right on a regular basis.
Hopefully, by now, you are starting to see where I am coming from regarding how simple and easy dieting can be. As human beings, we tend to want to complicate things and make them seem difficult to attain. Your job is to break away from this troublesome habit and start to realize that it is simple and easy if you have a plan in place.
For you skeptics out there, I encourage you to give it a shot before you try to convince me I am wrong. For one full week, prepare your meals in advance. Do it in a way that works best for you.
For me, I like to reserve time in the morning to prep everything because I work later in the day and the time also lets me get geared up for the day ahead. Some of you may feel better getting everything ready the night before. For others, you may even use Sunday evenings to get the majority of your food preparation taken care of so you don’t even have to think about it during the work week. The bottom line: choose the strategy that you are most comfortable with and feel will bring you the greatest success.
As far as food choices go, I am going to keep it simple for you with the following tips:
- Eat an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits (locally grown whenever possible)
- Choose lean/high-quality protein based foods (i.e. eggs, poultry, wild fish, lean cuts of beef, low fat dairy, etc)
- Eat a variety of healthy fats (i.e. fatty fish/fish oil, eggs, nuts, avocados, olive oil, etc)
- Choose unprocessed/fibrous starch and/or grain sources (i.e. brown rice, oatmeal, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, quinoa, whole-grain breads/pastas, etc)
- Limit liquid calories (make water your beverage of choice)
- Avoid fast-foods, highly processed foods, and foods loaded with preservatives
- Select foods with short ingredients list (and ingredients that you can understand)
So there you have it. I have given you the secret to superhuman dieting success! Now it’s your turn to put my claims to the test. Plan your meals out in advance for a week, and be sure to let me know how it goes. I am willing to bet that you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.
Good luck and I look forward to hearing about your experiences!