With the majority of Americans being at least overweight and obesity now dubbed an epidemic and actual disease, eating healthy is more important than ever. Unfortunately, “diet” has become a four-letter-word in more ways than one and the reality is that most “diets” fail. For those who have been doing the same thing over and over expecting different results, whether it’s low carb it or attempts at exercise anorexia (a kind of bulimia), that’s the definition of insanity. Unless you’re at a healthy weight and have the body you want, it’s not working.
A healthy diet and workout regimen is a lifestyle change. Most people won’t go overboard, and that “fear” can be an excuse for failure. However, many people can go overboard at the beginning, which is a set up for failure. If you’re truly ready to make a lifestyle change for the better, from untraditional dietary supplements that really work to working out, you’ll know it in your gut.
Some seemingly quirky foods you might want to add to your diet include:
- Turmeric is a vegan capsule (or sprinkled on food). This powerful antioxidant is a serious immunity booster.
- Wheatgrass. This hippie classic has made a comeback, available in frozen “shots,” and has every single mineral in one little ounce.
- Seaweed. Every mineral in the ocean can be found in these tasty strips, including trace minerals your body is likely lacking.
However, a healthy diet is only part of it. Here’s how to make the most of a health overhaul:
Choose an approach that works for you
The truth is that “fad diets” actually do work for some people and many of them can be healthy. This might include Atkins, intermittent fasting, fasted workouts or The Zone. Do your research and, at least in the beginning, choose a lifestyle that appeals to you. Some people prefer counting calories while others want the freedom of selecting key healthy foods instead of calculating everything.
No matter what, calories count
While many people enjoy success on programs like Weight Watchers, you’ll only get so far if you don’t count calories. It’s not technically as simple as calories in vs. calories burned, it kind of is. You’ll plateau without counting calories, and knowing how many calories are in foods (which you’ll learn quickly) is an important part of making informed decisions.
Exercise is crucial
A good rule of thumb is that your lifestyle should focus 80 percent on diet and 20 percent on exercise. Exercise should be diverse and include cardio, strength training and flexibility/balance training. It won’t just give you the body you’re after (whether you prefer lean, bulked up, toned, etc.) but it’s also paramount to having a healthy body for life. Healthy muscles, organs, and bones matter.
Cheat days are also crucial
It’s unrealistic to commit to a life without doughnuts, birthday cake, French fries or your other indulgences. However, the intermittency of your cheat days may fluctuate based on your goals, where you stand and simply how your body responds. At least once per month (and no more than once per week) allow yourself a cheat day. In the beginning, keep an eye on binging and general caloric intake to control and gauge how often you should “cheat.”
Measure success in numerous ways
There’s no avoiding the scale: It’s a great tool for seeing success. Most people aren’t going to pack on a lot of muscle (and if you are, you’re at a point where you know how to gauge success). Weigh in once per week (no more than that) at the same time each day, but also measure parts of your body, be honest about how your clothes are fitting, and once per month get your body fat checked (preferably via submersion method).
Most importantly, know that at times you’ll fail, your weight will plateau, and you probably won’t ever look like a model or professional athlete. Genetics play a big role, as does the previous damage whether it’s saggy skin from childbirth or big weight loss or stretch marks from that growth spurt as a teen. However, improvement is a big deal and getting healthy is what really matters.