Whatever your reason is for wanting to make a change, you’re not alone! Every day, thousands of people make the decision to start eating better and losing weight…and every day those thousands of people don’t really have any plan or idea what they’re doing. Everyone has to start from somewhere.

After all, there are so many questions and diets to ask or follow:

Should I be counting all of my calories?What about “heart healthy” whole grains?Should I do this juice diet all of my co-workers are on?How many Marshmallows can I fit in my mouth?

Today you’re going to learn the basics of a healthy diet so you can stop feeling miserable and start living better. This is a relatively long article (apologies), so feel free to wait until you’re on you’re lunch break to really dig in…or just shun your work for the next 30 minutes and enjoy.

So, I will start with the basics.

What real food is? They are things that grew in the ground, on a tree, came out of the sea, ran on the land, or flew through the air. Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts are all great examples of REAL food.

On top of that, you know what crap food is: food that comes from a drive-thru window, a vending machine, box, bag, or wrapper. If it has an enormous ingredient list, it’s probably not good for you. If it started out as real food and then went through fourteen steps to get to the point where you’re about to eat it, it’s probably not good for you.

Mental Preparation

I realize this concept is nothing new or revolutionary, but up until now the ability to actually DO IT has eluded you for some reason – your heart wasn’t in it, you got sick, went on vacation, got bored, or just decided that you couldn’t live without certain foods (Well guess what? you can).

The first thing that you need to determine for yourself is how likely you are to succeed depending on how many changes at once you can deal with: Some people can radically adjust everything they eat overnight and have no adverse effects. Other people wouldn’t dream of giving up certain foods and the second they go more than a few days without it they become very very hangry.

Like playing a game of Fifa, you need to determine what level of difficulty you’re up for. Sure playing on Difficult gives you less room for error, but it also hones your skills far more quickly and produces more impressive results. Or maybe you’re cool with playing on easy, because you don’t have to be as neurotic and can have more fun with it.

Committing to change If you are just eating better because somebody told you to or because you think you should (but don’t really have a real reason)…every day that you deprive yourself of your favorite foods will seem like torture – you’re going to fail miserably. Instead, look at the changes you’re making to your diet as small steps on the path to a levelled up live. You’re not depriving yourself of junk food because you want to suffer, but rather because you want a better life, a happier existence, and/or because you want to set a good example for your children.

Eating for dummies

Ok! You’re finally ready to start making some changes, but you’re not quite sure what you’re going to change or how you’re going to change it. Hopefully you passed basic math back in the day; if you didn’t and you made it this far in life..so here we go.

One pound of fat = 3500 calories If we do some complex algebra here, we can determine that 3500/7 = 500.

That means that if you are interested in losing ONE pound per week, you need to be eating 500 less calories per day (or burning 500 calories more per day). Optimally, your 500 calorie deficit per day would come from a combination of increased exercise and decreased calorie intake, but lets just say for today that you’re going to focus on eating 500 less calories per day.

The way I recommend that people do this is that you spend the next three to four days tracking your calorie intake using MYFitness Pal on your phone (it’s a free app). And when I say track them, I mean track EVERY FREAKING THING YOU EAT AND DRINK. Yeah, those handful of cake you you had at Marys leaving party count.

Now, once you have a few days under your belt, take a look back and determine an average for what you’ve been eating and how many total calories you’ve been eating daily.

To lose a pound a week, knock 500 calories out of that diet per day. If you want to lose half a pound a week, knock 250 calories out of your diet per day, its that simple. I have not reinvented the wheel. A lot of people just make it very complicated.

A quick warning: if you are used to eating 4,000 calories a day, switching to 2,000 per day will probably make you want to gnaw your arm off – instead, slowly decrease your calorie intake by a few hundred calories each week. This way you wont give up and you will enjoy food a lot more.

Quality of Calories Once you’ve learned how many calories you’re consuming, you might start to see a few pounds disappear, but it’s just a step in the right direction. Remember it’s a marathon not a sprint.

Calories are created differently!

Your body digests certain types of nutrients differently, using them for all sorts of bodily functions: building muscle, transporting nutrients, fuelling various organs or muscles, or storing energy as fat for later use. Let’s take a look at how to compose a basic meal:

Protein

When you exercise, your muscles are broken down and then use protein to rebuild themselves stronger while recovering. Protein absolutely NEEDS to be a main component of every meal. Aim for one gram per pound (two grams per KG) of lean body weight, or just do one gram per pound of body weight if you don’t want to do the math – with an upper limit of 200 grams. Sources of protein include chicken, eggs, beef, pork, fish, nuts, legumes, quinoa, and most dairy products.

Carbohydrates

When you eat carbohydrates, they get converted to glucose (sugar) in your system, which is then used to provide energy for all sorts of body functions to take place. Vegetables and/or fresh fruit are quality sources of carbohydrates, with grains being less so in my opinion…but we’ll get to more grains later. There are certainly bad carbohydrates (processed carbs, refined grains, and more), and those are the ones we want to avoid. Unless you’re a marathon runner, you can function with WAY less carbs than you’re probably consuming now.

Fat

Fat is a dirty word to a lot of people and is easily the most misunderstood macro-nutrient in your diet; long story short: fat is absolutely critical to your body and should make up a BIG portion of your daily calories. Things like avocados, almonds, olive oil, walnuts, and almond butter are great sources of healthy fat (polyunsaturatured and monounsaturated). If you take this stance on saturated fat (personally, I do), then full fat milk, coconut milk, and fatty cuts of meat will provide you with sources of saturated fat.

The first thing I want to make sure you know is that the fat in your food is not what made you fat. It’s the over eating and binging that has made you put on the extra weight that you are now trying to get rid of.

So please remember being healthy is not about crash diets. Its not about being all-or-nothing. Its not about feeling guilty for eating that extra square of chocolate.

For that reason, I recommend that people start slow at the easy level until they have a good level of knowledge about how their body adjusts and what portion sizes are. At that point, they can determine how invested they are in making changes: Determine what level of commitment you are comfortable with, and then make adjustments based on that. Before you discredit or dismiss any of the advice above, I recommend you spend 30 days trying it out for yourself before passing judgment – question everything, and come to your own conclusions.

Shane Walsh Fitness Can Help Why not start today? Clear the junk food out of your cabinets. Take the sweets jar off your desk. Remove the temptation, and pick one habit or two to remove from your diet. Start making changes.

The more drastic the change, the higher the possibility for drastic results, but the higher likelihood that you’ll fail as soon as you hit a bump in the road…so balance these changes with your personality. You might stumble a few times before you find your stride or you find a method that works for you.

Failing or stumbling is okay, as long as you get back up and try something new. Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you are interested in an Online Training Plan or face to face personal training feel free to contact Shanewalshfitness@gmail.com and we can start your journey from there.