I have been racking my brain trying to come up with the best advice for anyone beginning a new journey, and the truth is there is no single piece of advice that will work for everyone. Everyone is a unique individual, there are no two people exactly the same. A group of 100 people could do everything the same for 100 days, and everyone’s results will vary. You have to figure out what will work for you and your lifestyle. I think you have the greatest chance for success if you pick a journey, you will enjoy and be able to stick to. This is your own journey to wellness, and it should be an awesome experience.
I will begin with what I think is great general advice. Include foods rich in nutrients to provide the body with what it needs and perform at its best. You may also want to consider taking supplements or vitamins for vitamins and minerals you are missing from your meals. You may also consider including nutrients to support a healthy metabolism and a healthy gut, this will help your body get ready to let go of the weight. Eat enough fiber to help clean up your system and improve gut health, you should consume 25-30 grams a day. Not enough fiber can halt weight loss and cause constipation, too much fiber can cause issues too. Many highly processed foods are high in salt for preservation and extending shelf life, and they add sugar to cover up the salt and improve the taste of it. Start eliminating sugar from your diet, it is one of the top addictive substances out there. This is why they put it in everything, the more you eat the more you will want. The average American consumes 150 pounds of sugar per year, and most people are likely unaware of how much sugar they consume as it is hidden in the nutrition labels. Increasing nutrient rich foods and decreasing items not so good for you, is a step in the right direction everyone can benefit from. How far and fast you want to take it is up to you. I don’t recommend going from zero to one hundred right out of the gate, it can be hard to maintain and will be a shock to your system. In fact, I do not recommend trying to achieve 100 at all. By 100, I mean trying to eat perfectly all the time. Trying to do everything perfectly is just a recipe for failure in my opinion. Do the best you can, and it is what it is. If you do not like the way it went do not beat yourself up over it, just try to do better moving forward. We all stumble from time to time. Try and work toward eating how you plan 80% of the time and allow room for error or life to happen. You may walk out the door and forget to grab that prepared meal you made, do not let it ruin your day just make the best choice for an available substitute and move on.
Your body is amazing and will adjust to everything you do to it. If you do a caloric deficit for a length of time, it will lower its metabolism to burn fewer calories. If you do intense workouts, the body slows metabolism while it rests to conserve energy. Intermittent fasting has become increasingly popular, which is going for periods of time without food. The idea is, going without food for periods of time forces your body to use some of its stored energy for fuel. The body will also adjust to intermittent fasting if you do it the same way all the time. If the body thinks food is scarce, it will lower metabolism to conserve fuel. Mix it up and keep your body on its toes. Along the lines of intermittent fasting, I recommend reducing the number of times you eat each day. When I say eat, I mean anytime you put food in your mouth. Eating causes insulin levels to spike, which makes you want to eat more. I recommend eating enough at one meal, you comfortably make it to the next meal without snacking. Try to work your way to eating your last meal of the day as far from your first meal as you are comfortable with. This allows you to tap into some of those stored calories between meals and include sleeping during the fasting period to make it easier to fast for a longer period of time. Many people do OMAD (one meal a day) or two meals a day, to try and maximize that time. You need to mix this up too, the body will adjust and lower metabolism if it thinks food is scarce. Every once in a while, you need to remind your body there is an abundance of food around. I generally eat two meals a day, and about every 4-6 weeks my weight loss will stall. So, every few days I drink a vitamin, mineral, and protein shake as a 3rd meal and on occasion have a snack or treat. I still have to be conscious of the snaking, as just eating a snack makes me want to have another. I find it pretty easy to eat just twice a day once you develop the routine, it can be a bit difficult until you make the adjustment.
Learn about different diets and see what gets you excited, experiment with meals and find what you enjoy eating. Find what works best for you and fits in your lifestyle. I think your diet should consist of foods you get to eat, not what you have to eat. If you enjoy what you are doing, you are more likely to keep doing it. Like I said before, it is a wellness journey, and it should be an awesome experience. Find items that are quick and easy to prepare, and you may consider some frozen or meal delivery options for when you want to eat but don’t feel like making anything.
Sleep is as important as diet and exercise combined. All of the healing that takes place in the body, happens while we sleep. One third of weight loss happens then too. Not getting enough sleep throw all the systems in your body off, nothing will operate at optimal levels and mood can be affected too. You can have a huge health benefits just by developing better sleep habits.
I would also encourage you to get some movement and or physical activity as often as you can. It does not have to be a strenuous activity, just move. I started out with walking a mile or so a day and increased at a pace I was comfortable with. I also started tracking my steps, I feel this helped encourage me to try and do just a little more each day or week. Most seem to agree that your 80% of how you look comes from your diet, and that you can not out exercise a bad diet. Getting some physical activity can help reduce insulin sensitivity, reduce stress, and just help you feel better. I really enjoy my walks they are therapeutic allow me to unplug a bit from everything else I have going on and just have some time to myself. Find activities you enjoy this part of your journey should feel awesome too.
Some people may need to prepare mentally for weight loss, due to past failed attempts or struggles they may not believe they can lose weight. Weight loss journeys are not easy, and information on what to do and how to do it can be confusing. Low fat products are misleading and often contain added sugar. 100% fruit drinks are often labeled “No added sugar”, but the sugar from fructose found in fruit juices is about the same as soda. You would be better off eating an apple than drinking apple juice. It is easy to drink the juice of 5 apples but doubt you would eat 5 apples in one sitting. When you eat the fruit, you take in the fiber from the fruit, which helps fill you up and reduce the insulin spike from the fructose. Many highly processed foods contain large amount of hidden salt and sugar, they scientifically engineer those foods to be tasty and trick your body into thinking they are nutritionally rich. This is why you can consume large amounts and never feel full, your body doesn’t receive the nutrients it expects to trigger that full feeling. Try to focus on whole foods or food that has ingredients you can pronounce, the fewer the ingredients the better it will be for you. To help prepare yourself mentally you may need to visualize what your future self will look like, let yourself know you are worthy of weight loss and that you deserve it, or even develop an alter ego that takes on the weight loss journey for you. Athletes and many others often use techniques like this to help them achieve their goals. I read an article where they had a group of kids try and complete an impossible task. The kids they told to imagine they were their favorite superhero did not give up as fast as the other kids. Athletes visualize game moments all the time to be better at what they do. Beyonce used an alter ego to go from singing in her church choir to performing on stage. Do whatever you need to help accomplish what you want.
I also recommend starting a food journal and track what you eat and how you feel daily. How you feel may be related to what you ate the day before or earlier in the day. I try to eat more of the meals that make me feel great and eliminate items which don’t make me feel so good. I just repeat an item at a time to figure out what was messing me up. You may also use an app like carb manager or another meal tracking tool. I do not use carb manager daily I enter my information and my goals to get the recommended macros every few weeks or so and plan meals accordingly. I do not like to track everything I eat every day, just do what works best for you. Some may actually enjoy doing it and may have better results by doing so, its just not for me.
There are many different ways to achieve what you want in life it is up to you to figure out your own path and how you want to go about it. Do not try to be just like someone else or compare yourself to them, your journey will be yours and only yours. You can try things others have had success with or take advice from them but may not end up with the same results. Only you can figure out what works best for you and your body. I suggest starting small and aim for a series of small goals that are achievable and allow you to start stacking up victories. You may start by trying to drink more water, reduce sugar, sleep better, or whatever you think your first step should be. Take one step at a time and keep taking more and more until you reach that goal. Do not get discouraged if something you try does not work out, just keep trying until you find what works. We do not fail when something does not work, we only fail when we stop trying.
When I learn how to improve my health, I don’t focus on nutrition or keto alone. I learn about things like how to improve behavior, eating for mental health, exercise, sleep, and whatever information I come across I find interesting. To truly become healthy requires improving your environment and all phases of your life. I work hard at all of them and think that is why I have been able to lose 60 pounds in less than 4 months. It almost seems to fall off as I am trying to improve everything and not focus on one thing. I hope I was able to touch on a subject that inspired you or think will work for you. If not please keep looking, there has to be some information out there that will spark your new journey.
I know many may have been looking for advice on how to begin a keto journey here. While I think it is a great way to lose weight, it may not be for everyone. I have begun to write that article as well and will link it below once it is published. I am also trying to link related articles to all new articles I publish in an attempt to make information easier to find.
Have a great day and good luck on your journey!