Part III: The MEDS…Just Start With These Small Changes.
“No disease that can be treated by diet should be treated with any other means.”
― Moses Maimonides
As we shared in the last installment of The MEDS, exercising is an important part of being able to see the physical change outside to represent the emotional and psychological change internally.
While exercising is a big part of being able to see that change, the more important part (and, for many, the more difficult) is making sure that one changes their diet to ensure all of their hard work doesn’t go to waste.
I remember when I first started working out, how confused I was when comparing some of the results I was having at the gym with others.
They were either pretty skinny or a bit overweight and would be in there as much as I was. For this reason, I couldn’t quite understand why I was making progress, while it appeared they were not losing any weight or gaining any muscle at all.
They were in there as much as I was and appeared to be working out very hard, so I couldn’t quite understand why this person appeared to be staying in the same place.
What I realized over time, as I became more mature in my weight loss, muscle building journey, the reality was that this person was putting in the work in the gym to lose the weight but was probably not putting in as equal work in the kitchen to keep it off.
To prevent that from happening to you, as you continue on your alcohol-conscious journey and work to create the best you possible, there are three simple rules that will allow you to see the results of your efforts and not feel like you are giving up your right to enjoy life completely.
NO FRIED FOODS
I think that most people inherently know that fried food cannot be good for you. Let’s be for real, anything that can make just about anything taste good (deep-fried okra comes to mind) can’t be the healthiest for you.
The reason behind this relates to how fried foods are prepared in a manner that causes hydrogenation. This is the process that many food manufacturers also use to increase the shelf-life and stability of a product.
The other major problem is how this process makes the food lose water and absorb fat, changing its caloric composition to have more fat calories than it would had it been prepared in another way.
With calories from fat coming in at 9 calories per gram as opposed to calories from carbs and protein being 4 calories per gram, eating foods that are fat-laden almost increases your caloric intake by double.
By making this one simple change, you can almost eat the same volume of food and consume half the calories. A simple change that could yield huge results.
NO HIGH-FAT CONTENT FOODS
Continuing with this mode of thinking, you can now extrapolate it to other aspects of your diet to make another small needed change.
As shared, fat-laden foods are the kryptonite to any good diet/workout plan, and fried food isn’t the only item that would fall into this category.
That is true for ANY high-fat-laden food product.
This one should be rather easy to follow with the fight on fat that has been waged over recent years. Over the past 20 years, the world has been so concerned with how fat is killing people that low-fat or no-fat branding is everywhere.
For this reason, you should be able to find many items that have this label. This was the second major change to my diet, and I began to drop weight immediately because of it and replace that excess fat with muscle.
To implement this, I just began looking at every nutrition label on an item to decide to try it. My simple rule of thumb was if the fat percentage in one serving of that item was 10% or more of the daily recommended intake for fat, I just wouldn’t consume it.
That’s all. Nothing more complicated than that.
What this translated into was me giving up chips, regular ice cream, whole milk, most salad dressings, and lots of desserts. I would substitute many of the dairy products with skim or low-fat variations and would look for vinaigrette dressing for my salads.
Back when I first did this, there was a bit of discomfort, as some of the foods were not the best tasting in the world. Now, however, since the world has embraced the low-fat/fat-free diet, you’ll have a much higher chance of finding something low in fat without sacrificing taste.
The trick is to find you a few go-to items that you really like and stay committed to eating those consistently to ensure you can control the number of calories you consume each day.
While it may not seem overly exciting to have to eat so many foods that are considered “healthy” for you, when you start out, it is important to not put too much variety in your diet, so you will be able to monitor the number of calories you are consuming each day and week to lose weight.
Too much variability usually leads to overeating, which leads to wasted effort in the gym because you’re not seeing results.
Fear not, however, as this daily commitment to abstaining will give you the freedom to do implement the third part of this plan.
CHEAT MEAL ONCE PER WEEK
Eating almost the same thing every day and week can be hard. To mentally give yourself a break, it is important to have one meal (mine is Saturday for dinner) in which you can eat absolutely anything you want.
To stay committed to something for the long term, you often need to give yourself some reprieve to be able to feel like you have something to look forward to each week.
You have already given up alcohol, for God’s sake, so being able to indulge in some “good eats” every so often should be allowed.
For this meal, I would choose a meal that you would eat over and over again if given the opportunity. For me, it’s pie and ice cream – Dutch apple pie and Halo ice cream to be specific.
You can choose whatever meal you desire that tickles your fancy, but the most important part is making sure that it is only one MEAL. Some people try to turn the cheat meal into a cheat day or a cheat weekend, and it inevitably destroys any progress they might have made that week.
If you stay committed to working out five or six days per week and eating a regimented diet that is low in fat with no fried foods, you should probably be in a deficit of anywhere from 2000–4000 calories by the time you get to your cheat meal for the week.
If you go on a weekend bender, you could easily consume 3000–6000 calories in one day/weekend and not only negate the weight that you did lose but you could actually gain weight at the end of the week.
It’s for this reason, that you have to be extremely disciplined during the week to stay on the diet and only allow that one meal to be your vice.
Now, in that one meal, you should be able to be very aggressive in what you eat, but once that meal is over, you need to get right back to focusing on next week’s commitment so it doesn’t spill over into your daily habits.
Typically, if you let loose the way you should because it’s only one meal, you will be so full of that particular item that you are going to crave getting back to your healthy portions to help your body purge the food that it’s not used to anymore.
While initially doing all three of these may seem a bit hard starting out, with a little bit of time and effort, these habits will become as natural as eating a lot of the unhealthy food used to be.
As you begin, you’ll just need to find healthy alternatives to offset your body desires to have something filled with fat, but if you are successful in committing to this for at least 3–4 weeks, you’ll begin to notice a major difference in how you feel and look.
It’s this feeling of liveliness and health that will be the positive reinforcement that will make you want to do more and more with time.
It becomes a virtuous cycle — the better you adhere to these rules, the better you look and feel, and the more you want to do to feel and look better.
And this will take you ever closer to becoming the ideal you that you always knew you could be, and how exciting is that?
WRITER’S NOTE: I’ve really been fortunate to get into some of the best shape of my life during the quarantine because of a buckling down of my diet and commitment to a calisthenics workout regiment that I can do anywhere at any time.
If interested in getting a copy of my diet and workout plan to see if it could work for you, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll email you a copy to check it out.