One of the most common questions people ask me when they want to talk about how I lost weight is when was the moment I decided that I needed to make a change. The simple truth is that I never had a 'light bulb' moment when I decided that I needed to lose weight. For me, the weight-loss was a benefit of choosing to get into an sport which requires lots of training. Many people like to think that when you decide to make a change you are struck by an epiphany like a blot of lightning to the head. A moment of clarity where the clouds part and a ray of sunshine shines upon you. In reality I think the majority of people who need to make changes to their lifestyle probably are not aware of their own situation. I knew I was big and that I wanted to lose weight. I just never realised how big I was and that losing weight for me was actually becoming a necessity. If I did not lose weight when I did I am scared to think of the number of health issues I may have been suffering from now. Basically what I mean is that in hindsight I realise how badly I in fact needed to lose weight. So I want to talk about simple ways that anyone can start to make healthy choices to start living a healthier life. I am going to avoid talking too much about food because every single time I mention it, a bunch of very opinionated people have to try and preach about their particular diet and it pisses me off.f.
The majority of people are unfortunately unhappy with the way their body looks. Most people think that they are too fat or too skinny or less than perfect. We all know that you shouldn't look at pictures in a magazine because they will only make you feel ugly or fat. But despite whatever your body shape or how much you weigh when you step on the scales, there are things that the majority of people can do which will see an improvement in their health. Now yes, I understand that there are some people who are fit and healthy and do not need to make any changes. This post is not for you. This post is for the masses. Those people who can benefit from making some simple changes. I am not talking about ways in which you can drop 20kgs or anything like that. Just simple little tricks which can see you perhaps start on a healthier path.
The first piece of advice I will give and this is something that I have only been doing for about 6 months myself, is to monitor how much you actually eat. I think people are chronic over-eaters. Whether you cook at home or go out, we often eat more than we actually need to. There are all kinds of advice as to the average daily intake for people. This number is exactly that though, an average. There are a number of online tools where you are able to plug in your key metrics like age, levels of physical activity etc and it will tell you exactly how many kilojoules you need to consume every day. If you are inactive and sit at a desk all day your number will likely be low. If you are on your feet for work or train a lot your number is going to be higher. What these sites do that is handy though is they also tell you how many grams of food you need to eat. This is where you can apply your own style of eating to the equation and make the quantities match your lifestyle choices. But if you start to weigh your food before you prepare it and make sure to only cook enough for the amount you require you are likely to reduce your food intake. For me I do not cook to a recipe. I just freestyle and often I make enough food to feed a whole family. If the food is there, I am likely to eat it. But since we have started weighing our food and cooking specifically to our needs I can literally only eat one serving. There are no left overs and the food is not piled up on my plate. I will admit, at first this is difficult. I felt hungry after every meal and never satisfied. But after a few weeks I got used to it.
Eating out makes this more difficult. When you are paying for food there is an expectation that it must taste good and often things will be added to food that you would not use if you are cooking at home. I also find that when I pay for food I want to eat it all. "I paid $20 for this meal I am going to eat it!" Even though I do not need to eat that much. The great things about paying attention to how much you eat is that despite your dietary choice, the rule is applicable to all. The quantities will just vary depending on what you eat. Some nights our meals are huge and I struggle to actually eat the quantity I am required to and other nights the quantities are small. Yes it requires a bit more effort when preparing food. But not only will it impact your body composition, it might also save you money when you do the grocery shopping because you will need to buy much less food.
Another tip that everyone knows but many people ignore is to drink more water. We all know we are meant to drink about 2 litres of water a day. But how many of us really do this? A lot of the time when we feel hungry it is actually thirst. I will often drink a large glass of water when I get hungry mid-morning and mid-afternoon. It is surprising how often after I have a drink of water my hunger goes away. Another tip to not only ensure you drink enough water but also do not over-eat is to drink a large glass of water before every meal. This works in two ways, firstly, you get into a routine of drinking a certain amount of water everyday as we have been told we should AND you cannot physically eat as much. There is only a finite amount of room in the stomach and if a large amount of water is in their you will not need to fill it with food. Please understand I am not suggesting this as a method to starve yourself. But if you are someone who eats more than they actually need to this can be a great way to help overcome your appetite. As I said earlier, the majority of people need to drink more water anyway. While we are on the topic of water, make this your go to drink with your meal. I think many people assume that people put on weight by eating too much. I think what we drink is equally if not more so to blame. If you can reduce or ultimately eliminate sugary, calorie dense drinks from your diet you will see improvements in your health.
The last tip I am going to suggest today will not be a shocker. Get active! Yes this is super obvious and pretty basic. Which is why I want to go further into this. If you are not active at all it is preposterous to expect you to straight away start training like I do. So the tip I want to give is find a fun way to get active. If you can do something which you enjoy that also promotes exercise you are more likely to stick with it. This is where every person is different. If you like dancing take classes or do pole. If you love team sports then start playing soccer. If you love Lord of the Rings then dress up in battle armour and recreate your favourite battle with your friends. Whatever it is that you are into there is a way to have fun and get active at the same time. By starting to get active you may enjoy the post-training endorphins which in turn may lead to you pursuing other forms of training. Who knows you might even give a triathlon a go at some point. But simply by finding something that you enjoy or doing something with people whose company you enjoy you are more likely to be successful. The secret to all of this stuff is to keep going.
How often do you see people whose weight goes up and down over and over again. I will tell anyone who listens to me that the secret to continued health is to make changes that last forever. You may not be able to eat pizza and Maccas for dinner every night anymore but there will be new things that you can do instead. These are fairly basic tips I am giving you but we all have to start somewhere. Remember, you do not need to be overweight or underweight. It does not matter if you are in peak physical condition or a pensioner. Most of us can take a little better care of ourselves. We might not all have that moment where a light bulb flashes above our heads and we realise that we need to make a change. But perhaps if you are reading this and you think "this sounds pretty easy" you might be on your way to improving your own health. We do not need an epiphany to start making healthy choices. Instead we need to make a decision to start doing things the right way instead of the easy way.
Have a great weekend, buy a food scale and remember to TRI!
Perhaps it is the law student in me but I just want to add here that if you are considering making serious changes to your diet or if you are inactive and want to start training you should see a doctor first.
I lost 50kgs though triathlon and completed the 2016 70.3 World Championships. Aiming to hit 4:05 for a 70.3, the same time it took me to complete my first Olympic Distance Triathlon. I want to bring as many new people to the sport as possible. Whether you are fit and active or want to make positive changes to your life.