We all know people who have tried diet after diet, with no long-term success. For me, I like to prepare for long-lasting changes. To be honest, I have never actually been on a diet. I’ve bumped out a few meals of Keto, Paleo, and Vegan but they've never lasted more than a few days.
Clearly, the world is addicted to dieting. I consider myself one of the lucky ones since I've never really had to lose weight. But, in my opinion, the biggest flaw in structured diets is that the focus is always weight loss. Yes, healthy eating is part of the conversation, but for most people, not the main goal. Too often people are left still craving the same junk and return to the same old eating habits, full of unhealthy sugars and saturated fats.
As an athlete, longevity is always on my mind. That means I have to find the right fuel for my body, not just now but for the future. These habits aren’t going to stop with my playing career, I'm going to create good habits now, so that when I'm older I live a long, healthy lifestyle.
I have found success in changing my eating habits by in adopting the following Guidelines:
Cutting foods- You have to make some cuts somewhere, but I don’t suggest starting with your favorites -especially the ones you can't resist. I like to think that if you can’t envision life without it, then it is not time to cut it. Be reasonable, every diet calls for cutting out foods, and it's all about making small restrictions. It's like developing a muscle. Think smart, you can’t just go right out and squat 400 pounds, you have to work up to it. Otherwise, it's just another setback.
Timing and Restriction- Most diets incorporate when to consume your food. Setting my own time when I eat my meals/snacks has helped me to manage in a healthy way. I still eat some 'junk food' but setting the time to eat it, has allowed me to practice not giving in to cravings - it puts me in control. I know I'm going to eat it at some point in the day, but by setting a time, I'm consciously training my mind and body with a goal in sight.
Replacements - Change requires doing things differently than before.You have to choose some replacements. People don’t realize that most of your favorite snacks have some healthy alternatives. Being prepared with alternatives that allowfor more success.
Tracking food- If you’re tracking your food, you are aware of what you're putting in your body, and that’s the first step. You’ll learn what’s bad and good for you and even how much you can consume to be satisfied.
Observe - Lastly you have to observe. Allow yourself to be more connected with the food you eat by seeing how you feel after you consume it.
Food has and always will be at the center of our lives. It's naturally about survival. We are always going to be thinking about our next meal.
One of our biggest challenges with food today is that we don’t have to work for that next meal. Wedon’t have to go out on a hunt or fish and for the most part, we aren’t going to pick it out of our garden. If you are doing these things, then I'm not talking to you in this blog.
Our next meal is only a drive away or even as easy as a simple click of a button. We no longer have a connection with our food. Half the time we don’t even know what we are putting in our bodies.
The main thing I wanted to share in this blog is my own experience. I want to support people to get on track by offering some of the lifestyle concepts that have helped me. I'm still learning and have my daily struggles, but for me, it's all about the long -term effect.
My goal is to eat clean, stay strong, and stay physically and mentally healthy. Back in 2015, my senior year at UAlbany. I had to write down my top 5 ‘bad eating habits’. This was my list from top to bottom:
2) Chips, salty carbs.
3) Snacks like cereal (absolutely love cereal)
4) Liquid sugars
5) Fast food
I’ve kept this list since then and have added some of those following Guidelines of positive eating habits and practices that have worked for me.
1) Observe (Candy)
2) Track/Analyze (Chips)
3) Replace (Cereal)
4) Timing and Restriction (Liquid Sugars)
5) Cut (Fast Food)
Over the past 6 years I’ve made drastic changes, without much effort. Fast food or soda aren’t even a thought in my mind anymore. And I know that one day,I will be able to live a lifestyle where I don’t crave any of the things on my list, not even candy!
I know that I can get there with time, slow and steady, and still enjoy the process.
When you want a lifestyle change, it is a practice. And I know I am my own best experiment.