How are those new year’s resolutions coming?
We’re almost into March. The health clubs are starting to empty out. Like clockwork, most people are sweeping those January 1st promises under the rug until the next new year rolls around. But not us Gearheads! We are focused on results. In the short term, we want to begin the 2017 outdoor cycling season at race weight. In the long term, we want to avoid the weight gain that creeps up on most people year after year, so we can always be within easy distance of race weight in the spring. Right? Right!
So, here’s the deal. Keep up the work in the gym. Don’t neglect your cardio, whether you’re riding indoors with us this winter, on your trainer at home or doing some cross-training this season. But all your training is for naught if you’re not paying attention to what goes in your mouth.
Garbage In, Garbage Out
It’s true that we get out of something what we put into it. If we feed our bodies garbage, we’ll get garbage results.
To get the most out of your body, feed it premium fuel – just like you would if it were a race car. Eat consciously, which means to be consciously aware of everything you ingest. Think before putting food in your mouth. Are you really hungry? Or would a glass of water suffice? The body often confuses the signals between hunger and thirst. And often, we eat out of sheer boredom.
I’m not saying, “Don’t eat.” Gracious, no! I’d NEVER say that! Eating consciously is just being aware of what you’re eating and why you’re eating it.
Calories Count – So Count Your Calories
The best way to know if you’re eating too many or too few calories is to actually have a handle on how many calories you are consuming. Otherwise, it’s just guesswork.
And some of us can’t rely on feeling full to know when to say when. After a century ride or a hard day’s training, we may struggle to swallow down enough calories to recover. And then there’s the flip side of that: many of us have learned to ignore the body’s cues for feeling full.
Don’t feel burdened down by the thought of having to count calories for the rest of your life. Do it for a few days. Do it for a week. Do it just long enough to get a handle on how much you’re eating on how that fits with what you should be eating. Do it long enough to adjust your eating habits. Come back to it every now and then, maybe every other month, to check up on how your habits have changed.
Carbs Are Not the Problem
Did you know that our brains run on carbohydrates? Restricting carbohydrate consumption leads to major brain fog.
The point is, there are no good or bad foods. There are no healthy foods. There are, however, foods that give you maximum bang for your buck when it comes to nutrients.
Stick to whole foods – as close to the source as possible – when you can. Some clues as to foods to stay away from are foods that bill themselves as fortified. My favorite saying: avoid any food that has a commercial or its own mascot. Unsure of what whole foods are? Check out your local farmers market. In the grocery store, stick to the perimeter of the store.
Eat the Rainbow
To make counting calories easier, there are great apps available. (A super easy and free one I’ve used and recommended to clients is MyFitnessPal, but there are others out there, too.) Those apps can also help you get a handle on the breakdown of calories you’re consuming – for example, if you’re perhaps getting too many of your calories from carbohydrates.
But doing a whole lot of calculating is unnecessary. A quick and easy tip is to “eat the rainbow” at every meal. Strive to make your plate colorful – as in naturally colorful. (Eating Lucky Charms at every meal is not advised.) Add dark, leafy greens to your plate. Try the numerous vegetables out there in an array of colors. Have you had a purple carrot yet? How about a purple sweet potato?
The more fruits and vegetables you add to your plate, the less room there is for the bland, boring colors and foods with fewer nutrients. You’ll also be filling up on water and fiber.
Eat at Home
If you want to take charge of your weight loss – and your health – your best bet is to prepare your meals at home. The more you eat out, the less control you have. Restaurants add salt and fats to add flavor more cheaply. At home, you know exactly what is in your food.
Another reason to eat at home is that portion sizes are typically out of control at restaurants. A portion large enough for a family – or at least for two – is served to each person.
To make sure you’re not eating too much, automatically prepare to bring half of your meal home. Divide your food in half and ask for a to-go box. And keep in mind that all the extras – the appetizers, the dessert, the drinks and the bread on the table – all count towards your caloric intake. The more of those you consume, the more of your main course should come home with you.
Whether we’re talking about a meal or a weight loss plan, take your time.
Part of the reason we overeat is that it takes twenty minutes for the signal from the stomach that it’s full to reach the brain. Do you remember life before anti-lock brakes? Remember how we were instructed to stay back one car length for every ten miles per hour of driving speed? That was to give our cars more time to come to a full stop. Our brains require more time to know when it’s time to stop eating. By eating slowly and deliberately, we approach fullness more cautiously.
As for overall weight loss, deliberate is also best. The more slowly we take the weight off, the better chance we have of keeping it off. We’re teaching our bodies new eating patterns. Remember: baby steps can help us make big changes when we keep at it.
So, keep at it. Take your time. Go slowly. And, remember, we’ve got your back.
Catch up on this series:
If you’re on a weight loss journey this winter, kick start your metabolism by training with us indoors >>
Years spent working in health clubs, our resident fitness guru, Joy Sherrick, shares with us the wisdom of her years of experience working with people to meet their fitness goals.