Weight loss is a numbers game. I am sure you have heard this expression before, and if not, there’s a first time for everything. My thoughts on this expression have ebbed and flowed throughout my career.
When I was new to fitness and coaching, I believed it was more important to eliminate the temptations and stick to a rigid plan—technically speaking, you could estimate there are 3,500 calories in 1 pound of fat. So, if you wanted to lose one pound a week, it would require you to consume fewer calories at a deficit of 500 calories per day.
500 Calories X 7 Days = 3,500 calories
Tracking, measuring, and adhering are par for the course; however, it is usually more complicated and not easy.
There are many layers of Diet Culture, and many of them have to do with restriction.
If someone wants to lose weight, it is easy to view it as a subtraction game.
- Subtraction of favorite foods
- Subtraction of favorite restaurants
- Subtraction of free time
- Subtraction of social events
There are so many contradicting diets floating around the internet and bookshelves. A great meme from Dr. Spencer Nadolsky demonstrates you would eat nothing if you tried to follow multiple diets at once.
If you are trying to lose weight, you need to eat.
If you are trying to gain weight, you need to eat.
If you are trying to maintain weight, you need to eat.
The clients I work with who see the most progress are the ones who start practicing addition.
Don’t Skip Practicing Addition.
Look at what you are currently doing and then see what simple things you can add to your daily life. Throwing everything away in an attempt to have rapid results implies that you are doing everything wrong, and that isn’t a recipe for success.
Adding things in allows you to adjust and still enjoy the things you love.
I wouldn’t consider a single slice of pizza a complete meal; however, a piece of pizza with some carrots, cucumbers, and an apple would be a little more balanced. So here’s an opportunity to reframe it. You are adding more nutrients to your meal(s).
Adding protein at every meal
Getting 1,000 extra steps
Drinking an extra glass of water
Getting to bed 30 minutes earlier
Minor adjustments that can help you build momentum are lovely and work better than total elimination.
But, what if I am not eating clean?
Clean eating does more harm than good and usually shifts someone to start categorizing foods as Good vs. Bad. This form of thinking lends itself to disordered eating practices, and the goal is to maintain a healthy relationship with food.
It all boils down to balancing your nutrition practices, regardless of the goal.
I love to teach clients the concept of balancing a plate/meal because it is a nice entry point and teaches someone that every type of food can fit onto your plate.
Most individuals will benefit from protein, carbohydrates, fruit/vegetables, and fat in their diet. You spend days arguing about macronutrient ratios; however, none of it matters if you can’t even build a balanced plate.
It’s like worrying about hitting a home run and having never touched a bat before. Focus on the basics and then expand your skillset. Making contact with the ball is more important than the home run. OK, enough baseball references; the point is that balance is essential.
You need to meet yourself where you are and if that means picking up premade meals from Trader Joe’s, go for it! If it means you eat Wendy’s two times a week, go for it! You can use the balanced plate in both situations.
For instance, you could pick up a nutrient-dense salad from wendy’s and get your favorite Diet soda and small fries. This might be where you start, and that is OK. Protein makes a big difference in satiety and snacking between meals too.
Over time you might add apple slices and find you don’t want fries. Maybe you decide to have a seltzer instead of a Diet Soda. What truly matters is consistency and flexibility.
Build up over time, make numerous mistakes, and learn; it’s is the only way someone can make progress. After all, weight loss is a numbers game.
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