Diets are always trending, and trendsetters are usually skinny dudes or dudettes who are fit and don’t need to be on a diet. Diets don’t work just because X or Y tells you they do, somewhere on Instagram. You cannot hold on to a diet for a lifetime, regardless of how great it works for the first couple of weeks. Eventually, you will find the Oreos in your cupboard and leave nothing behind. I should know.
Over the past two years, I’ve been on and off 100 diets. Now while I don’t know if there were 100 or more like 10, it makes for a great title! They sure felt like they were 100. I tried to eat more proteins and let out carbs. I then let go of sugar entirely and ate just fruits and yoghurt. I tried to leave all of the carbs behind me, and start a new life of eating greens, white meat, fish and nuts. Without going nuts, you know. Best part? None of these diets have worked for me. And that’s great!
What’s the best diet in the word?
Diets are restrictive by default, which makes our brains believe we should have EXACTLY the things we shouldn’t be eating. When you’re on a low-carb diet, every morning you’ll be craving nothing but pretzels dipped in a garlicky sauce, or croissants served with a little yoghurt drink. When you let go of sugar, every night you’ll want to have those peanut butter cups.
Besides running and a little weight training at my home gym, I’ve done more in my plate for my weight loss over the past two years than I’d have ever been able to do on a treadmill. How? By combining all of these “diets” into a new lifestyle, one that is easy to implement and can truthfully be followed for years on end. I followed two rules and everything came together.
RULE #1: No sugar and no bread for 6 days a week
This is the first rule that works for me. I’ve restricted my intake of sugar and bread for 6 of the 7 days of the week. From Monday until Saturday, I only get my sugars from fruits, yoghurts (not the fruity kind) and other natural sources. I use honey, peanut butter and sweeteners for coffee and tea, as well as for my oatmeal and even for dishes that need a pinch of sugar. But no actual sugar.
Also, I never have bread made out of white flour for 6 days in a week. In the mornings, I have my eggs with a little good quality bacon and some avocado, for example. When I want bread, I make my own out of chickpeas or rice flour. They’re crunchy, flavorful and delicious with eggs, butter and jam, anything. It makes my craving for pastries go away until I can have some.
RULE #2: No-diet Sundays
On Sundays, I let it all go and can have anything. And when I say “anything”, I mean “ANYTHING”. Whatever floats my boat, I’ll go and grab it, and then eat it. No matter how unhealthy it is. Why? Because nothing bad will happen if you only splurge for 1 out of 7 days in a week. Do you know how they say that fitness is 70% nutrition and 30% exercise?
Well, if out of that 70% nutrition, you go ahead and only mess up 10%, and then be very strict about the rest of the 60%, the damage you’re making is repairable. You can just turn your motors higher and work out double the regular time one day of the week. Instead of a 3k run, you do a 5k run and you’re all forgiven. It works if you can hold on to your restrictions for the rest of the week.
Exercise, without overdoing it
If fitness is 70% diet and 30% exercise, unless you’re training for a marathon, you should really listen to these numbers and try your best to not overdo it. While nutrition is easy to manage and balance out, exercise is always going to be fluctuating based on your fitness levels, the weather, moods, injuries, and so on. Don’t give me the “I don’t care, I just do it” crap. I know it to be false.
After two years of regular exercise, the best advice that I can give you, and myself, is to be enjoying every single run or weightlifting session that you do. Don’t exercise so that you can lose that damn belly fat. Exercise as a means to appreciate just how amazing of a body you have. To show it to yourself just what an incredible machine you are. Be grateful for it.
My first injury after two years of running
I’m saying be grateful for every run and training session because, inevitably, one day you’ll succumb to injury. Just like I did about a month ago. And now, during recovery from my ITBS, I’m killing myself over not being able to run, although I can, while trying to keep up my fitness level by walking two 5k’s every single day. It was bound to happen, and I kind of overdone it, but it’s still hard.
Running and exercise are like the fries to your burger. Like the amazing garlic sauce to your meat lovers pizza. Personal pizza, not those “kids size” or “family size” nonsense. Staying active is the cherry on top of your chocolate tart. You get it. It’s not the most important, as we’ve discussed, but it is the way to go for long-term health and balance for your mind and body.
Why restrictive diets don’t work
Diets are usually restrictive eating schedules. Our minds don’t like restrictions which makes it difficult for us to stick to a certain diet. It’s not that we’re not willing, no. It’s just that you can’t argue with the most advanced supercomputer on the planet for more than a few weeks or months. Which means whatever diet you’ll try, you will eventually fail on it by nature.
A diet that works is one that would allow you to eat what you want while still keeping you fit or allowing you to lose those extra kilos you’ve been piling up for some time now. But how are you supposed to do that if you’re a food lover? It’s a mix really, a combination of science and logic, that helped me come up with the best diet in the world, as previously described above. At least for me. It works for me.
What humans should eat
Humans are designed to eat fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy fats and oils. If you eat meat, especially fatty meat, you’ll feel it for days literally. Why? Because while a fruit or a vegetable needs 10 to 30 minutes to pass through the stomach, a piece of meat needs up to 5 hours to do the same thing. Now if you leave a piece of meat on a cardboard box outside, when the temperatures are warm, what happens?
The piece of meat goes bad in about 4-5 hours. Giving the fact that the stomach is much hotter than the outside, the meat gets to that level of deterioration much faster inside the body, regardless if it was cooked or served raw (think “sushi” or “tartare”) or cooked before being served. Vegetables cannot go bad because the system processes them much faster.
What happens when you eat bad
When you eat bad, you feel bad. There’s no way you’re not feeling it when you’ve overindulged at the BBQ party. Or when “Pizza Wednesday” comes and you give in to a few slices, just so that you’re not excluded from your group at work. Social pressure is real! You’re bloated, achy, coming down with a migraine and a sore, and aren’t able to even walk for 10 meters.
What I eat in a day
I start my days with either an omelette, which can be simple or with a little cheese or good quality ham (think Italian prosciutto or Spanish jamon) and a few slices of fruit, or some oats made with peanut butter, milk, berries and some cinnamon. At lunch, I take in my protein, white meat, fish or even soy-based products (I love soy meatballs and schnitzels) with rice or a salad.
Dinners usually consist of whatever the ladies of the house have been cooking for the day. Which is mostly a hearty soup or something baked or boiled, like oven-baked potatoes or vegetable curry. We do eat curry in my family, and we love it. Or, we can decide on the spot to stir-fry some greens with some hot sauce and throw in a handful of rice noodles. House smells like the bottom of the wok? Perfect!
Why I exercise 4-6 days a week
I exercise 4-6 days a week out of 7 because the body has memory as does the mind. If you skip too many days, your body will “forget” how to be strong. It’s an actual problem and I’m not going to bother you with the scientific business. When you go even one day without doing your routine, you get out of it. And then it becomes harder to get back to it the day you go back to it.
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