They say the best diet is the one you can stick to, and this is absolutely true...for exercise as well.
I’ve lost about 30 pounds over the last 10 years- yes that’s a long time to lose that much weight but I had no idea how my habits in my teenage years would ruin my metabolism until it was too late. I just wanted to eat mac & cheese, muffins, frappuccinos and cereal all day! Then I started my long learning process on how to be healthy and get back to my old self.
As I went through school in biology/kinesiology and naturopathic medicine, I was constantly being taught the importance of a healthy diet and exercise and the benefits that come from it, so I was always motivated to keep cooking healthy meals and exercising.
Over the years, I would hit plateaus as everyone does, and I would get discouraged.
Nothing was really changing so why should I bother continuing?
I had to look inward and focus on the other important benefits of exercise and a healthy diet, instead of constantly looking for results on the outside.
Here are some of the main benefits of maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regime:
- stress relief (my main reason for continuing- you may not feel like exercising when you are stressed out but you will never regret it)
- better mood/feeling happier
- increased energy
- better sleep
- hiking or playing sports as a way to spend time and connect with your spouse, kids, or friends
- better digestion- less heartburn/bloating/constipation/diarrhea
- less brain fog/better focus and concentration
- lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease
- better cardiovascular health- able to go up stairs without getting winded
- normalizing blood pressure
- lowering blood sugar and preventing diabetes
- preventing Alzheimer’s
- maintaining bone density and muscle strength
- reducing cancer risk
And, by continuing on even when I felt like nothing was happening, I would eventually conquer my plateaus.
I’ve experienced about 3 or 4 “whooshes” in my life which is when, after a period of no visible changes in the mirror, no movement in the scale or your body fat% or whatever you are using to monitor your body composition, you all of a sudden drop 3-5 lbs and you stay there (provided your diet and activity levels remain relatively consistent).
Once you’ve experienced a “whoosh”, it becomes a huge motivator to keep going.
I like to believe that your metabolism needs time to realize that you are not going to need those extra pounds anymore because it realizes you are not going back to your old ways.
My advice is to follow general guidelines for health and weight loss (there are plenty on this site), avoid the more extreme ones, and then look for other sources of validation than changes in the scale, either within yourself (energy, sleep, mood, stress relief), or as preventative measures so you can live a long healthy life free of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and cancer.
If all the information you find seems overwhelming, choose 1-2 changes to make and stick with those for 1 month.
For example, you could start using nut milk instead of dairy milk and having chia seed pudding for breakfast instead of cereal (chia seeds are high in fibre and omega-3 fatty acids- a great replacement for high-sugar cereal and weight-gain-inducing milk).
Then choose another 1-2 changes.
Over time each change will become normal for you, and YOUR TASTES WILL CHANGE, I promise.
You'll soon prefer the sight of a drawer full of veggies than a block of cheese.
Now, this doesn't mean you have to eat healthy and exercise every day of your life!
I sure don't.
It's actually healthy to take a break from exercise once in a while, and the occasional doughnut is not going to kill you.
It's just about being mindful to enjoy your treats when you have them, to not judge yourself harshly, and then to return to your healthy habits.
Don't stop for too long though...muscle mass gains will start to disappear in only 1 week! :O
Of course, sometimes you do need to switch things up and kick your plateau in the pants with additional diet, exercise, or other strategies like nutritional supplementation.
But, ONLY once you have mastered a certain level of healthy eating and exercise should you then move on to bigger and better things.
If you want validation of your diet or exercise plan, need help breaking a plateau, or are just starting your weight loss journey, call 403-995-4640 to book a visit with me now.
Looking to get started right away? Sign up for my free 5-Day Sugar Free Challenge!
- Dr. Annie