Do you want to look and feel your best?
Simply put – Eating healthy is the most powerful way to accomplish looking and feeling your best. When I say eating healthy I mean eating little to none processed sugar and processed foods, drinking lots of water, limiting alcohol and dairy, eating lots of whole foods like vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, and some quality meat.
Some side effects to eating healthy are, losing excess fat, better sleep, improved skin, mental clarity, more energy, less cravings, better mood, strength gains and more motivation.
In addition, your immune system will be stronger, your hormones more balanced and your digestive system will run smoother.
Sounds pretty great, right?
Well, the New Year is arriving soon and one of the top resolutions people make every year is focused on health and fitness.
However, researchers found the rate at which people actually stick to their health goals drastically drops 25% at the one-week mark, 33% by February, and 50% by June.
So maybe it’s not as simple as it sounds?
I will break it down in 5 steps, so that you can be successful and make this year your healthiest and strongest yet. And, feel free to skip a step to get to the right place for you since you know your body and your goals best.
Here are 5 simple steps to looking and feeling your best:
- Step 1. Write down your “Why”
- Step 2. Eat healthy
- Step 3. Experiment
- Step 4. Track calories
- Step 5. Track macros
Now, let’s take a closer look at each step.
Step 1. Write down your “Why”
One of the first things I talk to my clients about is their “why”. No matter what their health and fitness goals are, I want to know what their driving force is. What breathes fire in their soul and what makes them feel alive?
Simon Sinek, one of my favorite authors, wrote a book called Start With Why.
Knowing your “Why” will make your days feel more purposeful and help you stick to your goals on the days where it feels more challenging. Maybe you work in an office or from home, maybe you are a stay at home parent or maybe you do it all. No matter what your days are filled with, keeping your “why” at the forefront of your mind will light a fire in you that nothing can extinguish.
So, what is a “Why”?
Simon Sinek talks about the “Golden Circle.” Imagin a bulls eye and in the center is the word “Why” and next is the word “How” and on the outer circle is the word “What”.
“Why” is your purpose: Why do you do what you do? What’s your purpose and motivation?
“How” is your process: How do you do what you do? What specific actions do you take to realize your why?
“What” is the result: What do you do? It’s the proof of your why.
Simon Sinek also wrote, “What good is it having a belly if there’s no fire in it? Wake up, drink your passion, light a match and get to work.”
Maybe your answer is quick to your tongue or maybe you need delve deep and allow these questions to simmer. I challenge you to unearth the fire in your heart and live out of that passion. Allow it to motivate you and push you forward.
Step 2. Eat healthy.
Dr. Axe wrote, “Food is medicine. Pick up your prescription in the kitchen.”
It seems like the benefits to eating healthy would be enough of a motivator for people, but when it comes down to it, it’s just not that easy.
We have to force ourselves to slow down, savor each bite, put down our fork, and let the meal last. To be successful, we also need to be prepared with a shopping list when we go out and have prepped meals and snacks in the fridge. Snacking is a slippery slope and the more prepared we are with healthy foods on hand, the less likely we will grab something processed or sweet.
We need to cook and eat at home more, which is fairly easy to do right now! However, when we do go out to eat, we need to pay attention to the quality of foods we are consuming.
It can feel overwhelming, but if you focus on the basics which are eating whole foods, drinking lots of water, and having a special treat here and there to maintain sanity, it isn’t so bad at all. I promise!
So, keep it simple, fill your plate with vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes like beans and lentils, unrefined whole grains like brown rice, and delicious herbs like cilantro or basil. And don’t forget you can spice up your dishes with health-boosting spices like ginger, turmeric, and garlic.
Step 3. Try a new way of eating.
I try to stay away from the word diet, however when you are talking about nutrition, there really isn’t any way to avoid it. The definition of diet is “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.” That being said, there are so many diets out there that it can be hard to chose which one is right for you.
Since there is no “one size fits all” for heath and nutrition you have to experiment a little to find a way of eating that allows your body to thrive. Some popular lifestyle diets are Paleo, Mediterranean, Keto, Vegetarian, and intermittent fasting. To learn more about the current trending diets check out my latest post!
Experiment with what works well for you and try a new way of eating – discover the foods that make you want to climb a mountain, dance all night, race your kids to the park or travel the world! You were born to do great things, to feel strong and powerful and to live a long and healthy life. Not to sound dramatic but you have one life to live, why not live it feeling your absolute best?
It is as Dr. Seuss wrote, ”You’ll never get bored when you try something new. There’s really no limit to what you can do.”
Step 4. Track calories.
I can hear the groans from across the city! Tracking your food is admittedly not fun and it can be time consuming but it is SO worth it. You may have no idea how much and exactly what you are eating throughout the day and this is the only way to truly see what your diet consists of.
I am all for intuitive eating and some may say that tracking calories goes against nature. However, not to sound like Yogi Berra, but you don’t know what you don’t know. If you have no idea how much you are eating, the only way to find out is by tracking your food for a couple days. Tracking calories is a helpful tool, butt don’t worry, it is not something you need to do forever. (Unless you want to!)
How do you track your food?
You can absolutely use a pen and paper but there are also some great apps out there that do much of the thinking for you. MyFitnessPal is one of my favorite food tracking apps. It is easy to use and it is free!
One important aspect of tracking calories is knowing what your daily caloric expenditure is. That number is your BMR or your Basil Metabolic Rate – this can be used as a guideline. The exact number will depend on how active you are throughout the day.
There are a couple ways to figure out your BMR. MyFitnessPal will calculate your BMR for you, you can also google BMR calculators, or if you’re feeling confident, you can do the calculations yourself.
My favorite one is the Harris Benedict Equation. It is a formula that uses your BMR and then applies an activity factor to determine your total daily energy expenditure which is how many calories you need.
For men: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5
For women: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161
Once you have that number you now have a goal or at least a healthy range to shoot for. It gives you an idea of how much food you need in order to feel great. It’s important that those calories are of quality and that you are not solely focused on quantity of food, which leads me to our next step!
Step 5. Track macro nutrients.
Not all calories are created equal. Counting macros helps you understand where your calories are coming from and how they affect your body.
What are macros?
The three macros are carbohydrate, fat, and protein. Carbohydrates are found in foods like grains, starchy vegetables, dairy products, fruits and beans. Macros typically make up the largest portion of your calorie intake. Fats like oils, nuts, fatty fish, butter, avocado, and meat are the most dense in calories compared to the other macro nutrients. Your body needs fat for energy and critical functions like hormone production, nutrient absorption, and maintaining body temperature. Protein like eggs, chicken, tofu, fish, and lentils are vital for processes like immune function and the building of tissues, hormones, and enzymes.
Now that you know how many calories you need daily, you can get down to the nitty gritty and chose a macronutrient breakdown that is right for you. A typical recommendation is a ratio of 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat. Those percentages will need to change depending on your health and fitness goals however, that is a great place to start.
So why count macros?
It comes down to the quality of the calories you are consuming. It is not always enough to track calories especially if they are not from healthy sources. Tracking macros will help you make smart and healthy food choices. It helps you understand exactly where those calories are coming from and how they make you feel.
If you are doing everything right but still not getting results or not able to lose that last 5-10 pounds, then tracking your macros might be for you. There is not depravation involved, instead it is simply balancing your plate and filling your body with the right amount of nutrients and calories to help your body thrive.
As the New Year approaches, dare to dream, immerse yourself in the hope and freedom of what can be.
It’s as C.S Lewis once said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
Sometimes it helps to work your way backwards. Think big. Use all five of your senses. Think about where you would like to be in 6 months, a year, 5 years, or even in 10 years. Think about what it will feel like, what it will look like, taste like, smell like, and sound like when you reach your goals. Then come back to the present and write down your S.M.A.R.T goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound).
Germany Kent said, “Never underestimate the power you have to take your life in a new direction.”
This New Year, let your “why” light your path, nourish your body with whole foods, and hold yourself accountable by tracking your food. Be consistent, hold your head up high and forge your own path into 2021.
You’ve got this! Cheers to our healthiest, happiest, best selves!