Every week I receive emails from confused people in this community, asking me what my opinions are on their diet and lifestyle, and what they should do in order to be healthy and to lose weight.
I completely understand that with so much conflicting information that is out there, that it can be really confusing to know what is right and what is wrong.
Unfortunately, as unique beings with our own bio-individuality there isn’t really one perfect way to do anything, and knowing you own body and figuring out what gels well and what doesn’t for you is really the only way to know for sure what will work for you.
That said, I thought I would address some of the common concerns I am questioned about and share my beliefs on each of the choices.
1. Should I count calories or fat grams?
To be honest, I don’t believe in doing either. There was a time when I was in my teens where I was OBSESSED with calorie counting. I literally recorded every calorie I consumed throughout the day, and was petrified of anything with fat.
This was such an unhealthy way to eat and made me get totally out of alignment with my own intuitive eating patterns because everything became centred around keeping my calorie content below whatever amount I had decided was my daily limit (which was undoubtedly way lower than a teenage girl should have been consuming).
This meantI would make choices around calories, and not nutritional content, which is the wrong way to go about eating healthily.
Not to mention that not all calories are the same. A can of Coke and an apple contain the same amount of calories- but they obviously don’t have the same nutritional content. The apple will always be the healthier choice because it is natural, contains fiber, potassium and vitamin C among other micro nutrients. A can of Coke contains nothing but sugar and carbonated water plus who knows what else (that can corrode whatever it touches!).
When it comes to fat, the things is, we actually NEED to have fat in our diet. It is the kind of fat that is important- the healthy fats are those which are polyunsaturated and mono-saturated.You want to eat about 30 grams of good fats every day- this is essential for healthy brain and body function, plus fats help us in feeling more satisfied.
When you choose foods that are “fat-free” more often than not, they are made tasty and flavourful by making them sweet, which means those foods contain excess sugar and that means low-fat is often high calorie (and not so satisfying). Try to limit the amount of saturated fats but don’t avoid fats altogether, your body needs them!
So when it comes to calories or fats, instead I’d suggest just aiming to eat a wide range of whole foods- fresh fruits and vegetables in a variety of colours, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and lean protein- and focusing on the whole diet than just the numbers which can be deceiving and distracting.
2. Should I focus on my exercise or my diet?
Well, the things is, I don’t think you can, or should, focus on one or the other. It is actually a combination of both exercise and good nutrition that are necessary to get healthy and to lose weight.
You need to eat a nutritious diet, AND it is MUCH easier to eat healthy when you exercise.
There are also many other benefits to exercising daily- you can reduce stress, which when isn’t managed well, can cause women especially to gain weight or find it difficult to lose.
Exercising can also help to boost the metabolism which can aid in weight loss. But exercise alone won’t help you to lose weight. If you exercise like crazy and then eat all the donuts and pizza that you like, then you are not going to lose weight or feel good.
But when you exercise moderately, doing a form of movement that you enjoy, you will start to feel better in your body and will then want to nourish it with foods that are healthy and clean, and it is that combination that you want to aim for.
And always exercise for the way it makes you feel- not for the calories you lose.
3. Is it ok to snack or should I just eat three meals a day?
Well, in my opinion it is okay to do both- so long as the meals you are eating are wholesome and nutritious and the snacks you are eating are healthy (and not processed junk).
I think it is important to eat three meals a day to make sure you are getting enough of all the nutrients you need to fuel your body. But if you feel hungry between meals, there is nothing wrong with snacking- reaching a point of being starving can be really counterproductive.
When you are starved, you will end up eating more, and eating way more quickly. Whereas if you have a snack between meals you will eat your meal slowly and mindfully and will really enjoy the meal- and will feel more satisfied at the end of it.
It really all comes down to having smart foods choices. Aim for some kind of lean protein with every meal to help keep you feeling satisfied, and choose fresh and real whole foods as much as you can.
If you want some snack inspiration you can download my free healthy snacks recipe guide, and for some wholesome meal ideas, then download my meal planner– both for free! See, can’t say I don’t look out for you!
4. Is it ok to weight myself every day?
The scales can be a terrible, awful thing. It is way too easy to become obsessed and to be tricked by the numbers on the scale. From day to day, most women will gain and lose weight based on water retention, time of day they are weighing themselves and what they have eaten or drunk before doing so, and any other numbed of factors.
It can be the worst feeling in the world if you weigh yourself daily and notice these ups and downs. It can be demoralizing and is one of the things that I believe causes women to binge and emotionally eat. The number on the scales can be demotivating, and if you have reached a plateau- which happens for most people trying to lose weight- then it can feel like you aren’t making progress.
Rather than judging your success by the numbers on the scale, why not notice the way your body looks instead. Notice things such as how well your clothes fit you, how toned your body is looking, how healthy your skin and hair look, and how you feel inside (energized or not?). This kind of check in is much more realistic, meaningful and motivational.
Throw your scales away, or hide them…or try to limit your checks to once a week maximum.
5. Should I aim to look good or to be healthier?
I believe that all the goals you have, should come from within. These kind of goals are intrinsic, and are the type that will motivate you more than extrinsic ones. Anything related to your self development or well-being is an intrinsic goal, and will be more gratifying than an extrinsic goal such as trying to look attractive.
When you have instrinsic goals, you actually enjoy the process of changing and will be more motivated to stick to your goals than when you are purely preoccupied with simply trying to make a good impression.
That is why I always encourage my clients to think of their big MOFA (Motivating Factor) and to follow that when they are goal setting. When there is a strong reason as to why you want to change then it is more meaningful. And at the end of the day, if you are healthier, you will probably also start to look better too, you will have a glow from the inside out that will automatically make you more attractive.
So that is my two cents, for what it is worth. You will see that there really is no definitive answer or clear wrong or right. I would love it if all my clients stopped stressing so much about following particular rules and actually took stock and started tuning in and listening to their body- this is a much more effective, and not to mention freeing- way of living that will get better long term results anyway.
What are your thoughts? Please share in the comments below!
If the idea of trusting your own intuition and being guided by your own body wisdom seems really difficult, then you might need my help to guide you. As a transformational nutrition coach I can help you to reach your weight loss and health goals without following any particular diet.