For as long as I have been in the fitness industry, the diet culture has been booming. Back in 2003 when I started, it was the Atkins Diet, Hydroxycut, and Androsteine as the quick-fix fads. Almost 20 years later, it’s almost the same stuff just packaged and branded differently. Yet our obesity rate has increased from 30% of adults to 42% of adults in the same time period. What’s more ironic, the weight loss and diet market have grown from $34 Billion that year to more than double in 2019, to a whopping $72 Billion!
The problem is, diets and supplements DO NOT work for long-term success. I have seen a lot of people, including myself, try a fad diet or take a weight loss pill. Occasionally we see temporary weight loss results, but that is not what is going to stick. We did not really change anything. What we needed to change was our habits, not take a quick fix supplement.
Changing our habits is a more realistic approach to losing weight. The only true way to get sustainable results is by deciding to change a habit that is holding you back.
Some habits may include; drinking too many soft drinks, drinking too much alcohol, or my favorite and most difficult to break, binge eating at night. Your habit may not be overconsumption, it may be under consumption of important nutrients. It may be not eating enough fruits and veggies, or not properly hydrating, or not exercising enough. Look at yourself and find the negative habit you want to change, and find something positive to replace it with.
Change Your Habits
Do you want to make a change, but don’t know where to start? Maybe drinking more water is a habit you want to add. Here are some good reasons why hydration is important.
If you live in the desert southwest like myself, you know the havoc our climate does on our bodies. Dehydration is more likely to occur in our climate due to the lack of humidity and elevation. By adding an appropriate amount of water intake to your daily routine you can help yourself in so many ways. Water can also help fill your stomach up so you don’t overeat the next time you sit down for a meal.
Check out the Mayo clinic’s recommendation for water intake daily
What habit could you replace with water? If you’re a soft drink person, try replacing the sugary stuff with water or soda water if you need the carbonation. I personally have a Soda Stream and I frequently have between 24 -36 oz nightly. I drink 12 oz before dinner and another 12 oz with dinner. The carbonation helps me feel full.
The easiest way to monitor your hydration status is to monitor the color of your urine. The chart below gives you a good visual on what your urine should look like.
My Body Fat Loss Journey
On December 21, 2019, I started my body fat loss journey. I was inspired by my friend Jon “Bones” Jones, 15x UFC light-heavyweight champion of the world. Prior to his fight on February 8, 2020, Jon sponsored a 6-week body fat loss contest amongst his coaches, with a nice cash payout to the winner. He wanted to bring the team together and have us go through the same process he was going through as he prepared for his 205 lbs title defense. I fully bought into the contest and I knew I needed a team of coaches to help me get over the hump. The journey began by meeting with my strength and conditioning coach Craig, also my cycling skills coach Damian, and our dietitian Jessika to help create a plan to reach my goal.
On the first day, each of us had our body fat checked on the Inbody Scale at the Performance Ranch. To my surprise, I was at my highest point I had ever measured, 22%! As a professional in the industry, I knew this was too high and I wanted to regain my health. My goals and my why were now established.
I figured I would have to lose ~5% body fat in the six-week contest to have a chance at winning. The coaches I was up against were all well experienced and they all knew how to cut weight.
To have a chance at reaching my goal, I had to make some changes. Nightly I was drinking 2-3 beers. So I decided to drink sparkling water in place of beer. I would put the Bubly can into my Yeti koozie and my mind would still think it was a beer, kind of weird but it worked.
The second thing I added was eating more veggies. I did this by incorporating veggies with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I soon realized, as long as I planned for this new habit and prepared the night before I would easily achieve it. But, I would struggle if I did not prepare my meals or some of the steps in the cooking process. After a couple of weeks, my conscious choices started to make a change in my life.
Steps to Achieve Results
I used the Fuel Plan each day to help guide me in my journey. It was my roadmap for success. If you don’t have a plan, how can you reach your destination? I have included some of my meals I used almost daily to help me lose body fat.
Almost daily I made a breakfast scramble that consisted of 3 eggs, sweet peppers, spinach, and mozzarella cheese, cooked in olive oil. On the side, I would have 2 pieces of sprouted grain toast, and a piece of fruit or real fruit juice. Lunch was typically Greek yogurt with frozen berries and granola. Dinner started with a salad, and for the main course it was always a lean protein and roasted veggies. Due to the need for rapid body fat loss, Jessika and I decided to take out grains in the evenings. This helped cut back on calories and keep my from binge snacking at night. I had a huge problem with raiding the pantry and crushing the potatio chips, or whatever else I could get my hand on.
Jessika created my created my Fuel Plan to help me keep tabs on what I was eating. I also used it to monitor how I felt after I ate. This was a big help to learn why I was eating and what it did for my mind and my body.
I also kept track of everything I ate in the My Fitness Pal app. Although I was inputting daily, I knew that the accuracy may be off. What I really needed was accountability. Not only did the app help me, so did my strength and conditioning coach, my dietitian, and my cycling skills coach Damian Calvert from Trailside Coaching. Every professional athlete I have worked with has a team of experts guiding them along, why should I try to tackle this endeavor by myself.
I have spent many years trying different diets and supplements, yet never had lasting success. In the past, it was paleo, or the latest I tried a fat-based approach. This worked for quick results, but I quickly discovered once my workouts became more intense I needed more energy to sustain my effort. Many times with these fad diets I became irritable, frustrated, and I had a lack of energy.
It took me almost 16 years in the fitness industry to see the light. I think as humans, we overcomplicate nutrition. We think that there has to be a secret way to lose body fat and weight. After my experience with losing 20 lbs of body fat, and nearly 6% in 6 weeks, I can wholeheartedly say that we make it too hard on ourselves. We tend to kick ourselves when we’re down and we don’t give ourselves enough slack to make mistakes.
I discovered that my calories out versus calories in does not have to be higher each day, that’s almost impossible for sustained results. I actually started to add up calories in versus calories out for the week. This gave me a new insight into the total calories I needed weekly, which also allowed for slipups that may arise. I was participating in longer weekend rides that would typically burn 1000 plus calories per session. Fueling this activity as well as recovering from it became a priority. I also learned I cannot diet while on the bike, my energy drastically suffered from trying that tactic. It led to a less intense ride as well as a lack of motivation to ride since I was in a state of fatigue. Basically, the rides were too challenging on limited fuel and I was struggling to keep pace with my buddies.
The contest came to an end and I ended up in second place, not too bad for a 40-year-old. Overall, the body fat loss contest was the kickstart I needed to change my life. It has been nearly 16 months since the contest, and I can honestly say that I am still making progress. As of the beginning of April, I am down ~8% body fat and 20 lbs. My energy levels have increased and my ability to complete big workouts or just have the energy to go all day has improved. I am conscious of when and what I am eating to fuel my workouts and my activities, and I am also aware of how I feel after I eat.
The biggest takeaway I learned is that I don’t look at food as good or bad. If and when I want something sweet or salty, I have it in moderation. My intake is now keyed off of my hunger levels. This took many months to achieve but it eventually came. I also meditated using the calm app following the conscious eating meditation session.
I know this all seems too good to be true, but trust me, it works. Getting in tune with your body will help you make the decisions you need to make the changes you want. If you want to learn more about how changing your habits can change your life, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our nutrition coach Emma Albright, is ready to help you make the right choices. Just email her at email@example.com to book your session with her.
Our Nutrition Kickstart will be launching June 7th. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.