When I worked as a personal trainer for a large University, 90% of my clients were 20-27 year old females. Each client had the same requests; loose the belly and tighten the thighs. Sounds easy enough for one-on-one training sessions three times a week, right? Wrong.
Keep Your Kitchen Healthy
Everyone has heard the phrase, “abs are made in the kitchen”, but not everyone’s kitchen is stocked with healthy eats. So when my clients became frustrated that their spring break bodies were anything but, we would sit down and discuss their habits outside of the fitness studio walls. It didn’t take long to determine the cause of their weight loss resistance. The answers were usually the same, a lot of meals were eaten at restaurants or the school food court, at least three nights a week were spent drinking at a house party or local bar, and their grocery lists were feeble attempts at clean eating.
Unfortunately, you cannot workout and then proceed to eat whatever you like. No amount of time spent at the gym can cancel out unhealthy foods and excess alcohol. In order to see results, you have to make sacrifices. That is not to be confused with becoming, ‘that girl who only eats salad’. You can still eat your favorite foods and enjoy life; it’s called moderation. If you want that Chewy Peanut Butter Cup Chips Ahoy cookie, you eat that cookie! Just don’t eat the sleeve of cookies.
Give Your Grocery List a Healthy Make-Over
Aside from moderation, the next step is to give your grocery list a make-over. I have seen grocery lists from people who genuinely thought they were choosing healthy options based on misleading TV commercials and food packaging. The one thing I tell these clients is, if the food can go bad – it’s good for you! Always stick to fresh fruits and vegetables, probiotics such as yogurts and soft cheeses, nuts, and seeds. Steer clear of packaged food such as chips, cereal bars, granola bars, and boxed dinner kits, which have little to no benefit for your body. The easiest way to determine whether to buy it or put it back on the shelf, is to turn it over and check out the ingredient list. If the list is long or contains multiple unpronounceable words, put it back.
Next time you make your grocery list, try to make produce the most prevalent on the list, with dairy and bulk or raw trailing close behind. Push your cart right past the aisles that might tempt you, and stick to the list. But don’t leave the store without a treat. If you want a bag of licorice, treat yourself! Use it to practice moderation and see how long that bag of licorice can last. Maybe you have one a night, or maybe you have a couple every other day. Reward yourself if you deserve it, while still rewarding your body with the healthy fuel it needs.
Cut Liquid Calories
The last tip I suggest is to cut out liquid calories. Most of these specific clients were in college so their liquid calories consisted of alcoholic beverages. But this also refers to sports drinks, which should only be consumed by ultra-athletes who need the sugar and sodium, coffee drinks, and of course, sodas. These are all examples of wasted calories. Make it a conscious effort to reach for a bottle of water instead of a soda, or stick with a glass of water instead of ordering something from the beer menu. Just by eliminating these beverages, you will see drastic changes in your mood and overall health.
Transitioning from a life of little eating restraints to a life of clean eating is not easy. The good news is, once the old habits are broken and you no longer see that chocolate doughnut as a suitable breakfast, but as a sporadic treat, you will begin to look and feel better.
So, if you find yourself working out but not losing weight, consider stepping back and taking a look at your life in big picture. What habits can you change? What food can you remove from your home? Everyone deserves to love their body and feel great, and it all starts with fueling it right. And the occasional chocolate bar.