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Balance… Wait, there is a healthy approach to dieting?


I was talking to a past client yesterday who admitted to struggling to keep balance without me there to guide her. She admitted to bringing her own meal in Tupperware to her family Easter dinner and didn’t touch anything that her family made. She was shocked that her family was upset. My response “Do you blame them!?”. Celebrations are a time to do just that… Celebrate! No one wants to hear you go on about how much fat is in the cheesecake or how eating an Easter dinner will make you fat. I’ve been on both sides of this and let me tell you: it’s annoying. If you are trying to be healthy and you don’t want to partake in the whole eat until you burst aspect of the festivities then learn BALANCE and moderation. Take a serving of your favourite dishes and one serving of your favourite dessert. Eat it and enjoy it without the guilt and WITHOUT adding 2 hours of cardio the next day to “Undo” what you did.
For some reason people have been programmed to believe that they need to eat super low calories and workout for 3 hours a day to get results. Women, in particular, seem to be afraid to go over this magic number of 1200. This arbitrary 1200 number is ridiculous for so many reasons. The main one being you are NOT the same as every single female in this world. NO number will fit everyone. People drive their bodies into the ground, giving it barely enough calories to survive, and over train with endless cardio and wonder why they can’t lose a damn pound. I can’t even tell you the amount of people I have taken from that very situation, added the PROPER amount of calories for their body, cut their cardio out and watched the weight melt off. Their poor body could finally get the nutrients it needed to function properly. It had no use for the extra fat it was storing in the “Starvation” period it was going through.

My clients do a tighter version of the ITFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) approach to dieting. They are given calories, protein, carbs and fat and are allowed to fill in the blanks. Now, I keep a close eye on their journals and make adjustments as needed, for example if they aren’t eating enough veggies, but they can fit their favourite foods in. I have clients with pants falling off while they eat cheese, salmon, white potatoes, and cereal or skinny cow ice cream post workout. Now talk about bliss!!!! If your diet feels like a prison it is NOT sustainable. I don’t care how gung-ho you are out of the gates you cannot feel like you are suffering and maintain it. Now, don’t get me wrong, with a healthy metabolism you WILL be hungry in a deficit but you should never feel like you are suffering. If you have a coach that does not listen to your concerns RUN FOR THE HILLS.

So you want to lose weight and eat skinny cow ice cream. You want to stop being completely obsessed over food and stop the stress over what to eat. Where do you go here.

Here are some tips:

1) Ditch the crap coach having you eat super low calories and do too much cardio and find someone that knows what they are doing. There are even “pro coaches” for physique competitors that prescribe this approach… This does NOT mean it is right. Anyone can starve a person and over cardio them for a couple shows to get them really lean… Then blame the person, and not the program, for rebounding.

2) Don’t have a coach? Start learning about your body. Now a general accepted guideline (again, GENERAL… Every body is different) is 10-12X your body weight for weight loss, 15X your body weight for maintenance and 16X your body weight for any kind of metabolic damage.
Waittt….. Now what is metabolic damage you ask? If you have been at a ridiculously low amount of calories for too long and have done too much damage to your body in the name of being lean your metabolism will slow down and sometimes become damaged. I see this in people that have done every crash diet, too much cardio, etc etc. These people come to me GAINING weight on barely 1000 calories and 3 hours of cardio. GAINING, sometimes at a rate of 2-3 pounds A WEEK. If that is you the answer is NOT to keep dieting. The answer is to fix your metabolism. If that is the case you have to accept the very real reality that you will continue to gain weight until your metabolism is repaired. And no, there is no general timeline for repair.
Now, like I said, these are just guidelines. Always start at the high range of weight loss and only adjust when absolutely necessary.

3) Eat your body weight in grams of protein a day and eat a lot of veggies. Now, I often hear “But I have 150 pounds to lose, should I really be eating 300 grams of protein a day?”. The answer is no, which is why it is most helpful to have a coach guide you through this. In that case eat your goal weight in grams of protein. (Confused yet?? Hire a coach!).

Now if you subscribe to this and you are eating that amount of protein and veggies with all meals there is not a lot of room to add burgers, which is why I don’t even have to say to clients “Don’t go and eat a burger for lunch or nachos”. The diet takes care of itself.

4) Fix the body image issues that got you into this mess in the first place. Rarely do I see a person that has spent 20 years crash dieting with no body image issues. And rarely do I see someone that brings Tupperware to a family celebration have a healthy relationship with food (I guess there are some people that legit love bringing their Tupperware…. Which is fine for you then. OR if someone is close to a show or photo shoot then I can understand… But I am talking about general dieting purposes.).

If you obsess over food all day, worry about your next meal, worry about overall calories, worry that you will get fat eating a healthy amount of calories, etc etc, then that is NOT a healthy relationship with food. If you don’t fix these issues you will never truly be happy with any results.

5) You CANNOT build muscle and lose fat at the same time. It is impossible, unless you are “enhanced”. Building requires a caloric surplus and losing requires a caloric deficit. I Don’t’ care what supplement ad told you “I lost 100 pounds and gained 30 pounds of muscle in 6 months!”. The saying “He who chases two rabbits catches neither” applies here. Pick a goal, follow it through then work on the next goal.

6) Pick a physical goal to keep you occupied. In my last post I talked about motivation. Rarely do I see weight loss itself as a high motivator over a long period of time. This is why I talk to clients about setting a goal of running a 5k, doing an OCR, doing Crossfit, increase their lifts, etc etc. Anything that motivates the person to focus on something other than just weight. I always say once you are having fun the weight will just come off.

7) Set mini goals. Taking on EVERYTHING at once can be overwhelming. Set mini goals such as “Hit overall calories and protein this week”, then the next week build on that with adding more veggies, the week after increasing water intake and taking vitamins daily, etc etc. If you can’t maintain the first mini goal then do NOT move on to the next yet. Make sure you can maintain what you are doing before trying to add more.

The most important thing for me and my clients is making this a LIFESTYLE that you can maintain. It’s about being healthy and living life to the fullest. Enjoying every day, enjoying celebrations with the family guilt free, learning about yourself and what you love, etc.

I hope this helps some people get out of the diet prison they know too well.

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