How an empowering mindset can make you leaner.
Are you looking for that key ingredient, that one distinction that will help drive you towards success? To help you stay the course with your nutrition and training and reach that leaner waistline you know you deserve? If so, read on. I may have the answer for you and it’s as simple as a shift in mindset…
According to an Article in the Toronto Star, 68% of Canadians made New Year’s resolutions this year. Among 2015’s top 10 most popular resolutions?
- Eat healthier
- Lose weight
- Get fit
Sound familiar? If you’re reading this and if you’ve made some resolutions this year, chances are they included some fitness and nutrition related goals as well. So how are they coming? That same Toronto Star article states that only 19% of those who’ve made resolutions will adhere to them the full year through. Reality is, many people get sidetracked before they really start to see the big changes they’d hoped for.
So how can we stay the course when there are so many ways to get distracted? It’s actually easier than we think.
Let’s start with a simple but sometimes difficult to accept truth about the human body. About your body.
The human body likes to stay light (I’m referring to body fat levels here) and yes, that’s your body too.
The body’s natural state is to remain in a healthy body fat range. A range that allows us both the benefit of some stored energy to span those times when food is less plentiful but also to allow us relatively free and unencumbered movement. This is where the body is most efficient and is roughly the range where most people would feel comfortable with their bodies, both from a health perspective and an aesthetic one.
Now if you’re shaking your head, saying “No way, not my body. My body just works differently!” Let me ask you a question. What makes you so special? No please don’t take offence, I’m talking on a biological level here. But think about it.
What is it that makes YOU the one person out there whose body defies both human evolution and human biology? The reality is, your body functions on the same principles as everyone else. We all have a measure of uniqueness that is our very own genetic expression, but we all function more or less the same way.
So YOUR body likes to stay light too. Here’s the problem. There are so many things in modern human life that interfere with the body’s natural state. There are so many decidedly unnatural influences that the body’s entire system can get thrown out of whack. The unnatural combination of inactivity, chronic stress, highly processed chemical laden foods, sporadic meal cycles, inadequate amounts of sleep and regeneration (to name just a few) can force the body into an unnatural state. A state where our energy levels dwindle, where our bodies hoard extra fat and retain water, our sleep patterns are disrupted and our health in general is compromised. Some of these unnatural influences we can’t control, but the majority of them we can.
Let’s start with mindset. What’s the underlying theme of most resolutions surrounding health? Terms like “belt tightening”, “restriction” or “self-control” come to mind. We look at all the things we have to cut out, all the things we have to give up and the restrictions that need to be imposed to achieve our resolution. No wonder we avoid it!
But what if there were another way to look at it? A better way and a more empowering way.
What if rather than looking at all the things we have to do to get our body fat down to an ideal level, instead we looked at all the things we’re doing on a daily basis, on an hourly basis just to keep our body fat levels propped up to the unnatural levels many of us struggle with?
Am I talking semantics here? Not really, no. So much of our success or failure in life is dependent upon what we give focus to and if we focus on all the things we have to give up or sacrifice we may defeat ourselves before we even begin.
So what if we instead we focus on this simple fact. Your body likes to stay light. If you’re carrying more than say 10 to 15 lbs of excess body fat, there are probably several things you do daily to drive your body fat levels up from your body’s natural state.
Maybe things like:
- Skipping breakfast, eating only 2-3 times per day and overeating when we do eat as a result.
- Choosing foods that are highly processed and / or laden with empty calories.
- Choosing foods that cause digestive reactions that impede proper digestive function and nutrient absorption. (Bloating = digestive tract reaction = limited digestive function / absorption = metabolic slowdown & fat storage).
- Excessive alcohol consumption (a glass of wine or beer here and there isn’t the problem, I’m talking to excess).
- Allowing excessive amounts of stress into our lives (stress = similar digestive / metabolic reaction to bloating).
- Missing too much sleep (also disruptive to digestion and metabolism).
- Skipping workouts or leading an inactive lifestyle.
These are a few of the bigger influences that we CAN in large part control if we choose to.
Consider that in this moment, your body is attempting to push body fat levels lower. Right now your body fat levels are naturally going to come down. All you have to do is get out of the way. To interfere less with the natural state of your body. If we interfere less with our body’s processes, we can avoid not only elevated body fat levels but many diseases and ailments as well.
When planning / making food choices, you may find it effective and empowering to ask yourself “is this food choice going to push my body fat levels back up? Am I interfering with my body’s ability to achieve my natural / ideal weight?” Most times, you’ll know the answer as soon as you ask the question.
Here’s some easy steps you can take right now that will help your body restore itself to that natural, ideal body fat level and to improved health as well.
- Eat small regular meals throughout the day, 4-6 times ideally. This will naturally help you control portion size as you won’t be overly hungry when going for your next meal.
- Don’t skip breakfast!
- Remove processed foods from your diet. Think about processed foods as interference.
- Choose foods that are in a more natural / original state. They have less calories and more nutrients than their processed counterparts. Think whole organic yams instead of yam fries or fresh organic chicken breast instead of processed alternatives like chicken fingers or nuggets as an easy example.
- Eat lots of fresh, (preferably organic) vegetables and fruits.
- Where possible make your meals at home and bring them with you vs. take out or dining out. You’ll have better control over what goes in your food, portion sizes and macronutrient profile.
- Watch excess alcohol consumption.
- Try to eliminate stress. Deal head on with those stressors that can be dealt with and try to avoid those that cannot. Chronic stress is one of the biggest negative influences to overall health and makes the body susceptible to a myriad of serious health conditions.
- Exercise regularly! Exercise boosts metabolism, expends excess calories, improves mood and dissipates stress hormones!
Trying these simple steps above will have a huge impact on your body fat levels, your energy levels and your overall health and wellbeing.
We don’t have to starve ourselves or eliminate all the things we enjoy just to achieve a healthy body fat level. By simply empowering ourselves to make better choices we can stay out of the way of the progress that will naturally occur. Rather than lament the things we have to give up to get our body fat levels down, let’s simply focus on avoiding those things that force them back up.