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Keeping up with the latest health trends is next to impossible. It seems as though as soon as you think you have found the perfect diet, the next new and exciting diet comes along that everyone is talking about. Trying to stay on top of the latest trends is more exhausting than running a marathon (trust me, I have been there). So with a never-ending onslaught of diet trends, how does one find the perfect diet?
Please keep in mind before I share with you my advice that I am not a doctor. I am not a nutritionist. In fact, my only credentials on this particular topic is that I successfully lost almost 14lbs using the method I am going to explain below over a four month period. The best part of this diet? It is neither trendy, flashy, or fly-by-night. This perfect diet, which would better be described as a lifestyle change, is what I will simply call the common sense diet. So are you ready for my ground-breaking weight loss advice?
Nothing in this diet is complicated. No crazy protein shakes or lemonade fasts. No all-kale, all-day meal plan. No depriving yourself completely of your favorite meal. In fact, you can even eat…dare I say it…ice cream on this diet. That’s right, whether you want mint chocolate chip, butter pecan, or even rum raisin, it is not off limits (see update below). All you have to do is use common sense: eat less; move more.
For you to be successful during this lifestyle transition, especially during the first few weeks, it is critical for you to use a food and fitness tracking tool such as MyFitnessPal. I have had incredible success using this tool (see my post about it here), and my favorite part about it (besides its ease of use) is that it is free. Using an online wizard, you set your weight loss goal and it lets you know what your calorie consumption should be, per day, to healthily achieve that goal. As you put in your daily meals and exercise, you quickly learn (in an eye-opening way) the foods to avoid and the foods of which to eat more. The site is also available for smart phones, making it easy to track calories on the go.
As you start to see how many calories you actually consume in a day, you will be able to adjust your daily meals either by scale or content to better fit into your new goals. However, simply eating less will not get you to the finish line…at least not quickly or happily. The key here is to remember there are two parts to this: eat less AND move more.
The benefits of moving more are several fold. By exercising, you are adding consumable calories to your daily goal. So, for instance, if your goal is to net 1300 calories a day, and you walk, run, or cycle a few kilometers, you have just added more consumable calories. Now what seemed to be an impossible 1300 calories is a much more manageable 1500 or 1600 calories (or even more depending on how much you get moving). Now all of the sudden you are able to not only have a fulfilling day of meals, but you might just have calories left over at the end of the day to reward yourself with a sweet treat. Once you realize that exercising gains rewards, you will be more motivated to get moving on a daily basis.
Exercising also has the benefit of increasing your metabolism. Even after you stop exercising, your body continues to burn calories at an increased rate. So while you may only be able quantify the calories burned during exercise towards your daily goal, your body will continue to burn more calories, increasing your rate of weight loss. Your body keeps working even when you think you are resting.
Not only will you burn more calories with exercise, you will, believe it or not, become more energized. Not only will you have the post-workout “high,” you will also have lasting energy throughout your day, and will likely have more quality hours of sleep at night. The more regular your exercise routine, the more you reap the benefits.
I will be honest with you. The first week or so of making this transition will seem tough. You may be irritable, a little hungry, and may even consider giving up. I encourage you to stick with it, because the long-term rewards are well worth the short-term sacrifice. The cravings will subside. The irritation will recede. Feelings of hopelessness will be replaced with feelings of triumph. You will begin to have more energy and a brighter outlook on not only your health, but your life. When you step on the scale for your next weekly weigh-in and see that your weight has dropped, you will gain a new sense of confidence…confidence that will feed your will to march steadfastly towards your ultimate weight goal.
Just remember, the idea behind this is not just a diet but a lifestyle change. Once you cross the finish line, you can go back and adjust calorie goals to those which will help you maintain your new weight and new-found confidence in a healthy way. In the end eating less and moving more will be your new normal, and you will be a new, better version of yourself because of it.
Update: I would also recommend reading The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes. It will transform your thinking on sugar intake.
This post originally appeared on The Dad Network UK. Minor modifications have been made.