By Nicole Cress
The Beauty Blog
Have you ever wondered how many times a day you make choices about food?
For some people, the way they eat reflects their way of life. Most people struggle when it comes to dieting because they correlate the word diet with deprivation. Often, they eliminate certain foods because they associate them with being “bad,” especially carbohydrates. When we deprive ourselves of particular foods, we simply crave them more. Deprivation and extremely restrictive diets don’t work because people tend to focus on what they can’t have. That can lead to obsessive-compulsive behavior regarding the “bad” foods, even if they are in fact not good for you.
If you could eat the foods you enjoy in moderation, without the guilt, and still reach your goals, wouldn’t that make “dieting” sustainable for the long term? Most people are looking for fast results and don’t think about the future, but a diet’s sustainability is extremely important for long-term success. There are many fad diets on which you can lose scale weight fast, but they are typically not something you can keep doing for the rest of your life. You have to look past instant gratification to a more balanced approach that will keep you healthy in the long term, not only physically but also mentally and emotionally.
I teach my clients about having a more flexible approach and not being extremely restrictive with their diets. This is where the concept of “being mindful” is very helpful. Whether your goal is to maintain your weight, lose body fat, or gain lean muscle, you have to be mindful of what you are fueling it with. Our rule is to make sure that your meals consist of 85% to 90% nutrient-dense unprocessed foods. For the other 10%, you may have whatever you like, as long as you fit the macros in your plan and control the calories. That way you are fueling your body with the proper nutrients for good health while still controlling your calories. In a calorie-controlled situation, your body is not going to store fat from any particular macro.
The term “if it fits your macros” has become very popular. It refers to the amount of each macronutrient—carb, protein, and fat—you must eat daily to achieve your goal, based on the total of number of calories you take in and the specific percentage of calories assigned to each nutrient. Some people like to take it to extremes and eat anything they want, as long as they reach their macronutrients totals for the day. That will work for scale-weight loss, but in terms of health and fueling the body to maintain muscle, it falls short.
The macronutrients are the fuel you give your body, so it’s important to understand that not all calories are created equal. If you were taking in 2,000 calories, with 1,500 of them coming from processed foods like Pop-Tarts and sugary drinks, your insulin levels would be compromised. Quite possibly you would become insulin resistant and develop diabetes, although you would lose 10 pounds. If your 2,000 calories were coming mostly from natural and unprocessed foods like potatoes, rice, turkey, and coconut oil, your insulin levels would stay under control and your health would improve, plus you would lose the 10 pounds. Always weigh the cost-to-benefit ratio in terms of health and longevity vs. your being able to indulge 24/7.
Remember that it’s an ongoing journey. Be mindful of what you put in your body every single day. Nourish yourself with good, wholesome foods, fit in some treats here and there, and you’ll find yourself on a balanced approach for life!
Nicole Cress is a health and wellness coach and the co-owner (with her husband, Allen Cress) of Maximum Performance Training, where she helps others reach their fitness goals through online coaching. She holds a degree in exercise science from Transylvania University and advocates living a balanced lifestyle, guiding her clients to focus on being whole and well in mind, body, and spirit. A national-level bikini competitor who has been competing since 2010, Nicole is also a Team BeautyFit-sponsored athlete with a mission to help women feel beautiful inside and out.