In a world of fast food and drive though windows, getting a meal and feeding ourselves and our families is easier than ever. Finding actual nutrition is a bit more difficult.
Many of us choose or end up at the drive through because it’s convenient. We don’t mind spending five to twenty dollars at a fast food chain that is unlikely to have any health benefits as long as it keeps us out of the kitchen.
After a long day of work, we are starving. We don’t look forward to cooking anything healthy (or cleaning up afterwards.) The food pyramid is exchanged for a drive through menu.
Many of the options at these corporate troughs also receive their ingredients from less than ethical distributors. Some of these distributors use cheap exploitative labor to ship ingredients such as meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and many more.
In addition to the exploitative labor, much of the food we consume is pumped with pesticides and hormones. The goal for these global mass distributors is to fatten their pockets by exploiting labor (while also destroying the environment by their waste methods) and using methods for food production that would shock the average consumer.
I am not here to speak to the tragedy of food production from large corporations, but instead to offer tips to maximize personal health from the meals we eat.
Think of food as fuel for the body. The better the fuel, the better you will feel and operate throughout the day. Having a double cheeseburger from McDonald’s for lunch or dinner will probably make you feel tired and sluggish.
My car, literally and figuratively runs on premium fuel. Anything other than that and not only will it not live up to its performance standards, it will deteriorate the engine.
I can use regular gas if I want, but I want high performance.
I know I want my car to run well and last me a long time; just like my body.
One strategy I use is to make a list of the food I want to eat for every day of the week. I usually make that list on a Friday and begin to implement it on Monday. That also gives me either day over the weekend to go grocery shopping and any necessary food preparation for the upcoming week.
The list works well because I am simply following instructions laid out before me. I do not waste thoughts on my commute home from work about what I am going to eat and how I’m going to prepare it. It’s already been done head of time, and in many cases, I have planed, portioned and prepped ahead of time.
One thing I do happen to leave out is one day of food planning in my week. This one day is a day where I can eat whatever I want. Most of the time I will still opt for sushi or something healthy, but it gives me something to look forward to as a reward for my work and workouts that I do.
Sometimes it’ll even be pizza (carry out; local business) but the point is for one day, there is no pressure to eat healthy on that day I choose if I stick to my plan.
A tip I can offer is to avoid drinking our calories. I am a chronic soda drinker (and I refuse to drink anything diet!) I’ve noticed that eating healthy and exercising vigorously six days a week does not shed the pounds as much as I want if I am mindlessly tossing back soda’s.
While I do not partake in the consumption of alcohol often, moderating the amount of alcohol we consume can make it easier to shed unwanted weight. Alcohol slows the metabolism down and almost all alcoholic beverages contain sugar, so they are not much different than soda consumption when compared to drinking our calories.
I attribute much of this frustration to the liquid calories I consume. Overall, I eat well. I avoid all fast foods and delivery options. I do this because I do not like the bloated feeling of eating at a drive through chain or a corporate delivery conglomerate or even an independent delivery service.
Yet liquid calories and the sugar within cling to fat cells making it harder to shed those unwanted pounds.
As with food, allowing myself one soda a week as a reward (or 2 if I’m being honest and realistic) is a helpful way to manage my liquid calorie intake.
Something fun I just started doing with my girlfriend is having competitions to see who can lose the most percentage of body weight.
We do bi-weekly check ins and we set rewards for each other for the winner. This helps incredibly with motivation to stick to a proper diet. (Our rewards are usually “fun” rewards, so let the imaginations run wild)
Working out has always been the easy part for me. I always have it as a top priority within my day. Very, and I do honestly mean very rarely will I miss a day cardio and lifting weights or just a day of intense cardio. Yet for a long time I saw no results. This was due to my diet.
I’ve said this many times, and it has been proven by numerous people. If we want to shed pounds, the best way to do it is by changing what we put in our body. Certainly exercise in addition to healthy eating will expedite the process, but the overwhelming factor is what we eat.
So much so that a healthy, well balanced and maintained diet alone can get us the results we desire. If we want to build muscle, then our diet must adjust accordingly to meet the demands of muscle growth; for example adding protein and lean meat, fish and cutting back on carbohydrates.
My experience has taught me to take the pressure off of losing weight. Find ways to be organized with our food intake. Find fun ways to include our partners or friends so we have a shoulder to lean on and a support system.
Be ruthless, be relentless, be determined and be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither can our pattern of sustained healthy eating. The most important thing is to be dedicated; yet to not feel the stress and pressure while adding fun, organized and creative ways to maintain our motivation for healthy eating.
Author: Adam Wilkinson
Image: Gary Stevens-flickr