“Balancing Energy In (food Calories) and Energy Out is what weight loss and weight gain are all about. Tip the seesaw toward Energy In, and you gain weight; tip the seesaw toward Energy Out, and you lose weight.” – The Physicist’s Guide to Weight Loss, Mark Beusing
I love this viewpoint because, in physics, there is no fluff; it’s straight to the point. If you want to lose weight, consume fewer calories than you expend each day. If you want to gain weight, consume more calories than you expend each day. Seems simple, right? Well, it would be if counting calories “worked”, but unfortunately, it doesn’t (the answer as to why is coming soon).
Fitbits, nutrition tracking apps, and other methods exist where you can track how many calories you are burning each day, but their accuracy is not 100%, you can’t live and die by the numbers. But if you look deeper than just the grams of fat, protein, sugars, and calories, what and how you are choosing as your nutrient source may be a more important factor to aid achieving an ideal weight.
If counting calories, restricting foods, and being anal with food logging was a bonafide system, then fad diets would be the best solution and I might as well go kick rocks. But they don’t, and that is why you are reading this article right now.
Short-term fixes do not result in long-term sustainability.
You need a set of principles that will guide your decisions and allow you to enjoy the process while also reaping the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. By establishing principles rather than rules, you are inclined to make decisions, and within those decisions, mistakes will happen. You make the guidelines, and then you make the choices; you are in total control and that is an amazing way to boost success (based on recommendations from articles like this, and other resources geared towards giving you the power to go for it with a plan).
Does that sound like something you’re interested in? Whether your goal is to lose significant weight, simply tone up, or obtain an upsurge of health and vitality, making mindful choices can feel difficult. But it does not have to be. These are not the only successful tips out there, but they have helped me overcome some of my own personal nutrition obstacles in the past and present, and to use them currently as a coach. Take some small notes on each section into your journal, and brainstorm action steps to what is realistic and attainable for what you can do now, and plan for what you want it to progress towards later.
Small Steps Lead to Long Journeys…
Restrictions Do Not Work
If you tell a child you are taking away their favorite anything, what usually happens next is a combination of Godzilla and a howling wolf. At first, they are resentful and upset because they lost something they like; whether it is a good or bad choice (relatively). Then, they begin to accept the fact it is gone, and forget about it even for some while. But man, once they get it back after being on “good behavior”, it is like an addict getting back on a bender, and the vicious cycle can repeat itself over and over again; it is just the “thing” that changes.
If you just took that as, “did he just call my son a crack addict?” as crazy as it sounds, this is exactly how restriction based diets are designed to work…well, how they fail is a better way to put it. You can develop an attachment to certain foods or behaviors from past comfort, trauma, or memories. Abrupt shifts in movement and patterns knock the body out of balance very quickly.
Unless you are in a potentially life-threatening situation, add-on elements that will improve your life before ripping away the bad ones, and take your time. It didn’t take 2 weeks to get into the situation you are in now, so you sure as hell can’t be “optimal” in a month or two; be patient and persistent. By ripping away something you are emotionally and physically attached to, whether it is good or bad, there is now a void that is left to be filled. Set in your new practices before taking away the old ones for a smoother transition into more favorable actions.
Don’t Label Good and Bad Foods
Rather than focusing on what not to consume, shift your attention to what you like to consume that runs in tandem with the goals and outcomes you want to achieve. We like undesirable things. If it is something ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’, our human nature drives to want to explore what makes it so dangerous. The notorious ‘do not enter’ or ‘don’t look at me, I’m naked’ is a dangling carrot on the stick, taunting to peek behind the curtain and see what the fuss is all about.
What you need is a mental shift, avoiding saying Sugar, Pizza, Chinese Food, Soda, and Carbs (the list does not end here) are bad foods. Do they negatively impact your health? For sure! Are they full of important nutrients to supply the body to function optimally? Not a chance! But by saying it is a bad food, your subconscious mind is attracted to it like a flock of seagulls at a beach picnic.
Take a Focus Shift! Dialogue is important, so use words that will uplift and make you feel empowered with your nutrition, rather than a prisoner to what it takes away from you. So with the holidays approaching, it is common to see donuts, pastries, and bagels galore in the office, home, or parties. If you can’t change the temptations around you, just change the internal/external dialogue when you are surrounded by them.
“I Don’t v. I Can’t”
This is a great quote from a fellow Cortland Alumni, Ryan Brennan (you can follow this link to explore his coaching page). Language is a very powerful tool. There is a balance where it can be destructive or constructive in facilitating to make a positive choice.
Rather than saying “I can’t have that because my diet won’t let me”, switch the dialogue to “I don’t eat muffins for breakfast because it does not align with the outcomes I want to achieve for my body”. The same effect happens, but the reasoning behind why is much more different. The first puts you in a position of being powerless, where the latter allows you to choose the decision that will uplift and compound more favorable choices.
Stop Making Math Out of Food
One of the top reasons calorie counting is unsuccessful is it is so damn complex. To make yourself lunch, you need a slew of measuring spoons, food scales, package labels, macronutrient database, and equations to see if your meal has 52g of Protein or 49.5g… By the end of all that, I wouldn’t even be hungry anymore! Serving sizes are great to create awareness on portion control and sizing, but we are put in many situations where you don’t have access to exact portions, carrying around measuring cups, or even knowing what the “right size” is supposed to look like.
Precision Nutrition shares a great method to have consistent portion control regardless of the situation, all you need is your hand. As a general rule of thumb (yes, pun absolutely intended);
- Your palm determines your ideal protein portion.
- Your fist determines your ideal veggie portion.
- Your cupped hand determines ideal carb portion.
- Your thumb determines your ideal fat portion.
The size of your hand will not change, allow them to be used anywhere, anytime, anyplace. If you want more specific nutritional guidance, here at Orca Empire we have a Precision Nutrition Certified coach on staff to guide customized solutions and methods. ==> Click here to learn more <==
To get you started today, here is a PN infographic diving a bit deeper into what I just eluded to;
If you have questions about today’s article, leave them a comment and I’ll be sure to answer it and guide you the best I can. Or, if you want to stay up to date with my coaching, writings, and personal journey, be sure to follow me on social media! Thank you for your support.