If you have read my earlier blog, I’m on a mission to build a better me in 2020. This is not by choice but something that I have to do for myself and my family. There are two very important persons (my wife and my daughter) in my life who I adore dearly and I made personal commitment that I will be there for them whenever they need me.
One of my goals to achieve that is eat healthy. However, that is not an easy feat consider that we are inundated with fast and convenient food. And both of these food are neither healthy nor beneficial to us if we want to eat healthy. While most packaging would state the fact that they contain the necessary nutrients and minerals for our healthy lifestyle they are just of part of their marketing efforts. Of course all of us will continue to consume these food because they are “convenient” and I’m no different.
The big question is how do we maintain a healthy diet and keep it that way? Many people have tried but most have failed to maintain the diet. Hence, big companies that are in the dietary industry understand this and will continue to use this weakness to benefit from us. These companies are not interested in getting any of us thin and healthy; they are only interested in the bottom line of the company.
I have my own successes and failures. Thus, I am not in the position to tell everyone that my methods will guarantee that you will lose weight. Most of these are common sense and you may have already read about them. This blog is just to reiterate and reemphasize some of the key points.
Set Achievable SMART Goals
Don’t set goals that are so far that you will not be able to reach. Or don’t set a goal that is so vague that there is no way for you to measure if you are successful. I highly recommend that you set a SMART goal that continue to update as you go along. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. Many people have a new year resolution to lose weight. To achieve that goal they commit to join a gym and at least go there once a week. While these goals seem appropriate, there is nothing to measure if it is successful. I suggest the following goal: lose 5 pounds in the first month and commit to have active workout for 5 hours the first week. As you completed the first goal, set the next goal by increasing the difficulty gradually.
Commitment is required to ensure that you are on track to meet the SMART goal. It is easy to set a goal and then forget about it. Many of us (including myself) tend to find excuses not to make the commitment. Similar to setting a SMART goal, you need to keep reminding yourself the importance to stick to the goal. There are several ways that I find work really well for me:
- Look at the mirror everyday – Some people are conscious of how they look and stop using the mirror. This actually has a negative impact on how we feel about ourselves. Use a full size mirror to gauge your progress. A mirror can determine if there are any changes in your body and if there are any areas that you will need to target.
- Think about someone you care – Dieting is not only for yourself, you need to remind yourself who you are dieting for. Thinking about other than yourself will help you prioritize your goals. As an example, I always think of my daughter because I keep reminding myself that I want to look at my best when I hand her to her future husband when she gets married. And I want to be there for her when she needs me.
Food is a necessary evil. We require food to sustain our well-being. At the same time food can also kill us if we have too much of it. Caveman in the pre-historic age only knew how to hunt and eat. Cooking was never in the vocabulary. However, over the last several century human became curious with the food and start experimenting different kind of food and taste. Instead of calling it food we began to call it cuisine. Chef became a profession and his main job is to make the food tasty and enticing. Before heart disease became a number one killer, no one thought that food could kill.
When food is tasty we could never get too much of it. To maintain a healthy diet we need to be able to resist the temptation of eating it. If you are allowed to eat one slice of bacon, can you resist yourself from eating the second slice? How do you control how much you can eat? One of the best ways that I find work really well for me is to remind myself how bad the food is if I eat it. Eating the bacon is great but I would tell myself how much salt and fat in that slice and if I continue to eat it I will need go to the gym for another extra two hours to burn it off.
Eat Small Portion
All-you-can-eat buffet is perhaps one of the worst restaurant that was ever invented. When you go into one of these buffets you are encourage to gorge yourself because you already paid of the meal. Our natural response is we want to get our money worth by eating as much as possible. Unfortunately, our body is a machine that can only synthesize that much food and convert it into energy that our body requires to function. When we take in too much food, our body will continue to break down the food and will store the energy as fat when the energy is no longer required. To top it off we as human has become less active and we use less energy. This compound the problem as more fat continue to be stored.
The better option is to eat less but more often. One way to do it is use smaller plate during meal. This will trick our sense to eat certain portion instead of filling a large plate. We need to have strong will to keep our appetite in check instead of continue to satiate our desire for more food. Sometimes I find this very hard to do especially when I am having a good meal with my family.
There are certain food that tastes bad but it is good for our overall health. And there are those food that is so good that you cannot eat just one, but you know that eating more could have detrimental health issue. For example, eating steamed vegetables is not the most exciting food to eat when compared to eating 5 sticks of bacon. Obesity has become a number one problem in the US is because of this reason. People tend to choose something that they like instead of something that is good for them.
This is perhaps one of the most difficult things to do when you are on a diet. The sacrifice I am referring to is you can look at the food but you can’t touch it. I remember very well that when I went on a cruise with my family there was so much good food on the cruise. I kept reminding myself that I had to eat healthy and did not eat the food my kids were eating. Instead of choosing the steak, I opt for the fish. Now I learn to look at my kids enjoying the food while I stick with greens and fish.
Avoid Certain Food at All Cost
Nowadays you can see all kinds of warning labels on our food. Not only that many food companies started to add all kinds of food preservatives and chemicals that were intended to preserve the food but became a toxin to us. Food can be tasty but they contains compounds that could cause problems to our health and kill us.
Another type of food that everyone should avoid is food laden with sugar. Sugar is perhaps one of the greatest discovery of mankind. It was originally discovered that sugar can make disgusting food palatable. However, overtime sugar became the main ingredient to make food tasty and appealing. Soon doctors and nutritionists found that sugar is the main cause of diabetes and obesity in America.
I can’t stress this enough. Preparing a meal requires a lot of planning; we should use this opportunity to plan what we want to eat. Instead of eating the fatty or calories loaded food, plan to include vegetables in the meal. If you plan to go on a vacation, plan ahead of what type of meals you want to eat. Can you afford to eat Bar-B-Que restaurants or would it better to eat something light at a Sushi restaurant? All these planning will help us to choose better without any regrets. Whenever I cook for the family I make sure there are greens on our dinner table and chicken white meat. If there is no chicken, I always replace it with fish instead of red meat.
Dieting is hard. What I suggest above have work well for myself and family. There is no magic bullet when it comes to successful dieting. If you have to ask me what is the key to success I have to say commitment is key. Without commitment all the planning and goals you set for yourself will be for nothing.