6 Tough Diet Problems (And My Solutions!)
Over the last few months I’ve managed to lose about 20 lbs of fat. And I’ve learned a lot in the process. So today I’d like to share some of the best things that I’ve figured out that have helped. These are based on my personal experience, not on theories or tips that I found elsewhere.
First of all, I am Personal Trainer certified through ACT as well as a 2-time certified Fitness Boot Camp instructor through Fighting Fit Boot Camp (I ran boot camps there, too, for a few months). I am still fairly new to the whole Fitness Trainer industry and am learning new things every day, so I don’t claim to be an expert. But I share this with you to give you SOME confidence in what I have to say.
I decided I needed to lose weight for 2 reasons.
First of all, I’ve always been a rather physical person (duh–martial arts is rather active). So my weight has never really been an issue. However, now that I am in the position of Trainer I realize my own need to understand the process that others have to go through to lose weight so that I can give them the best help possible.
Second has to do with my growing love of beer and mac & cheese. I said my weight has never been a problem. Well, I lied. That statement was true up until about a year ago. That’s when my vices started to catch up with me. My belly was slowly becoming one of my best sparring defenses against body shots.
One day I realized that I was horribly out of integrity with what I say I stand for when it comes to health and fitness. This wasn’t just about my own physical appearance, this was a matter of integrity. How could I help others reach their fitness goals when I was not really setting and achieving my own?
So I decided it was time to turn things around and to really be an example of what I teach beyond the martial arts realm. I also knew that losing weight would teach me a lot about Personal Training that you can’t learn from books and certifications–things like empathy for the struggle involved in trying to lose weight and the feeling of disappointment when the scale doesn’t quite add up to your efforts on a given week.
Time to get on with the point of today’s article. What follows are some of the problems that came up for me as I honed my dieting as well as the solutions that I found to those problems.
Btw, when I use the word “diet” I mean it in a general sense of “the food you consume”. I am not an advocate of “quick-fix” or “extreme” diet programs any more than I support the notion of “get rich quick” schemes. As the saying goes, the long-cut is often the short-cut in the end.
Problem #1: Eating healthy is too expensive.
This was a big concern for me starting out. It’s amazing how quickly fruits and vegetables can add up. And healthy cuts of meat aren’t cheap.
Yet in the end this problem is more a matter of fiction than anything else.
First of all, there are plenty of cheap healthy foods to buy to offset the cost of the others. I just mix it up. I buy some cheap healthy proteins, carbs, and fats to make up for the really tasty healthy ones that I buy.
Second, when I really faced the facts, I was actually SAVING money by eating healthy. I was doing a lot my of my cooking at home instead of swinging by a restaurant or fast food joint. I spend about $100 a week on groceries now. I’ve spent half that on one night of eating out.
Try it out yourself. Track how much you spend over the next week on food and drink. It’s surprising! Before, I would easily spend at least $5 and tax to get a sandwich. Now I spend an average of $3 per meal when I do the math.
Third, considering the long-term implications of food on my bank account I’d have to give it over to healthy eating again for saving me money. Illness, energy levels, and major medical issues all cost money and are all heavily impacted by one’s diet.
Problem #2: Eating healthy is too time-consuming.
Another excuse that fell apart once I really started testing it. Yeah, at first I found myself in the kitchen ALL THE TIME. But then I got smart.
First of all, I do all of my shopping for the week at one time. Done! No more scrounging around for something. No more waiting in lines at Subway because there’s nothing in the fridge.
Next, as soon as I get home, instead of putting it away, I throw on some music and start cooking. I pre-make everything I can for the week and put it in the fridge for later. Not only does this mean most of my job is done for the week, but I quite enjoy the relaxation of cooking while listening to my jams. It’s CRAZY how much time this saves me each week. I bet in total I spend less time making food than most people do waiting in fast food lines in a week.
Problem #3: I’d rather eat cardboard.
I’m not gonna lie–the thought of eating healthy felt like a death sentence to my taste buds. But MAN was I wrong on this point!
My roommate is usually jealous of what I’m eating because while he’s heating up some boxed whatever in the microwave I’m eating a roasted chicken breast coated in spices and topped with an avocado cilantro sauce.
I have always been anything but savvy the kitchen. I grew up knowing how to make only one dish–macaroni and cheese (and I love the stuff). That’s it. So I decided that this would be a great time to develop some sense of culinary skills as well.
Luckily I’m not a very picky eater. So I have no problem eating the same meals a few times a week. So here’s what I do:
Every week I pick out a couple of breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes that I find online that look delicious. I write down the ingredients and buy it all on shopping day. Then I just alternate them throughout the week. The next week I find new recipes.
I try to eat 5-6 meals a day, so I make something basic like eggs for the remaining meals. You’ll figure out your own “staples”.
Problem #4: I’ll never feel satisfied again.
I hate feeling hungry. Eating is a passion and stuffing myself full is a pleasure. When I lived in Australia they called me the white Samoan because I could shovel down food with the best of them.
However, there is a lot of truth to the saying, “Calories in, calories out.” No matter what you eat, when you eat, or what diet strategy you ascribe to, in the end if you eat more calories than you use you’re gonna start packing on the pounds.
The way that I solved this problem was to pick some “healthy fillers” to go with my more calorie-dense meals and to also just act as snack food whenever I get the craving. For me this is a giant bag of mixed vegetables that I keep in the fridge. Every week I buy a new one. And throughout the week I snack on it whenever I want.
Yeah, they don’t taste amazing. But they’re not bad either. And when you eat them alongside one of your delicious meals you don’t even notice.
Problem #5: The diet world is too confusing. What do I eat?
The answer that I’ve found is, it doesn’t really matter. At least not as much as I thought it did. When I started I was eating a fairly high carb diet like most athletes do. Then I started studying something I learned about during my Boot Camp certification–Carb Cycling.
Although I now follow Carb Cycling principles because of the variety this allows me and I like it, I lost weight doing both. And all of my research points to the same conclusion–in the end it comes back to how many calories you’re putting into your body versus how many calories you’re using.
I think most of the fuss and confusion over what to eat is really just a clever way of avoiding the actual process of eating healthy. I mean, we all KNOW what we need to be eating and what we need to avoid. It’s not rocket science.
You don’t even have to count calories. Just write down what you know are healthy foods and go buy those. Then eat regular portions throughout your day. Viola!
There are definitely ways to speed up the weight loss process, but just get started. You’ll figure it out as you go. Any progress is good progress, so don’t worry about having the BEST way. Just have A way–SOME plan. Then adjust as you go along and learn new things to test out.
Problem #6: How can I ever give up some of my favorite foods?
No matter how good healthy eating can be I can’t help but feel a twinge of pain when I think about writing off mac & cheese or Half Baked ice cream forever.
But I’ve found that I haven’t had to do that. And I’ve still lost weight. And fast. All while still enjoying the foods I love.
Let me introduce you to two concepts: Cheat Meals & Calorie Cycling.
Many dieters have a cheat meal once or twice a week in order to keep from feeling like they’re depriving themselves for good. We subconsciously resist anything that deprives us, especially if it’s tied to a biological need such as food.
So by agreeing to 1 or 2 cheat meals a week you can keep focused and treat the cheat meals as rewards for eating healthy on the other days.
Calorie Cycling (different than Carb Cycling which I mentioned earlier) is the idea of varying the amount of calories you eat every day, only making sure that the total for the week is low enough to promote weight loss. The rationale for this is that the higher calorie days keep your metabolism from slowing down.
This is the process I use. I have 2 days a week where I up my calories by about 500-1000. I also make those my heavier workout days. On those days I’m a little more lenient with what I allow myself to eat. And if I’m craving it I’ll usually eat it. And so far it’s worked just fine for me.
So, here are the best solutions I’ve found to the most common problems I’ve faced with my diet while losing weight. They may or may not work for you, but I hope that they at least get you thinking and coming up with your own strategies for reaching your health goals.