I always find that my clients, friends and people I talk to in general find dieting a much tougher challenge than the actual working out part. Why is that? Probably because training typically only takes about an hour max (unless you are one of those airheads who do cardio three hours a day, lol) whereas you are left the other 23 hours facing the fridge, the cafeteria, the restaurant, bar, deli on the corner, vending machine at work, etc….. temptations everywhere around you.
We are taught that food is “fun”, food is “social” and it’s something to do when we get together in groups, whether it’s meeting friends for a glass of wine, or going to holiday parties, birthday celebrations, weddings… food is everywhere! And the food is never carrots and celery sticks with low fat dips, grilled fish or chicken (with no oil) and salad, but more often fried foods, cakes, desserts, alcohol… well, you get my drift. It’s hard to stand up against peer pressure and not resort to what everyone else is doing. My favorite is “Oh, come on-have a piece of cake, you deserve it!” (what exactly does that mean?) or “you are so fit – one piece won’t hurt!” No, I’m sure one piece won’t hurt, but what if I have to go to another gathering the next night, and then the next night, that won’t be just “one piece”, and why is everyone so preoccupied with what I’m eating? Why can’t get togethers be about having great conversations and doing a fun (non food related) activity?
Of course I’m playing devil’s advocate here. As most of you know, I’m a professional chef and a wine educator, so I live off of people’s desire to eat and drink, in fact I encourage it. And I participate in these events regularly. Where would I be without parties filled with food and wine? I’m certainly not saying that you shouldn’t have a piece of cake at your daughter’s birthday party, or go out to a lavish dinner with your husband or boy friend for your anniversary or have a bottle of wine to celebrate a promotion, enjoy with your Saturday evening meal or even just if you feel like it… Life is more than just a treadmill, some weights and looking good in a two piece. Life has to be enjoyed too. But.. there is also finding that balance, that dreaded, cliche like “B” word…
In my mind, there is nothing admirable in a person who obsesses about her/his workout and diet and isolates him/herself from the rest of the world to avoid temptations in the real world, just to keep that top notch figure. Are you really living the life you want? Miserable, constantly thinking about food and being irritable because you can’t have what you really want? I doubt it. What I find is a successful person, is someone who knows how to balance the two – eating healthy 90% of the time, but will not freak out at the sight of a bowl of ice cream or a slice of pizza and think “thunder thighs!!” but just accept that the choice you make there and then, is quite ok. If you decide to eat it, it’s because it can be a ‘cheat meal’, or a meal you want at that time (sometimes it’s better to have ONE piece of what you crave instead of eating around it – you’ll end up eating more calories in “healthy” food and fool yourself you made the better choice). If you decide not to, it’s because you want to keep your diet in check and you are on a health kick. In the end, you may feel better with that choice. Both options are good, if they make YOU feel good. Don’t feel guilt, shame, regret or anxiousness over food. This is when a problem can occur. Food should be nourishment to your body, yes- but in my opinion, it should also be enjoyable. Food is amazing, it’s part of our culture and it CAN be a positive addition to your life, not just something you have to deal with.
Once you practice trying to have a more relaxed relationship to food, your weight will drop. You will no longer have insane cravings, because as we know – cravings are mental, never physical hunger- and you will start wanting real food to feed your body, to feed your muscles. Cravings are made-up ‘realities’ of what you THINK you want – but when you let go and tell yourself “hey, I can have it if I want to”, it’s amazing how quickly you will turn it down because you’ll find you no longer want it 🙂
Today all I wanted was a grilled piece of chicken with some fresh vegetables, that is when I knew I was HUNGRY, not obsessing about some piece of chocolate or loaf of bread. My body is craving healthy, nourishing foods that contain protein, carbs and fat these days, this is when I feel best; full of energy, light and fit. Try to mentally picture yourself how you’ll feel after you eat a big chocolate or a bowl of ice cream. Will that make you feel better afterwards? Will it help you reach your goal? If the answer is no, turn it down most of the time. Treats like these are called treats for a reason- they are not an every day indulgence, but a piece of food reserved for a special occasion. Treat it as such, and you will appreciate it even more- and your body will be happy too!
Photo Source: itv.com