For most of the time that the gym was open, I was just “trying to watch what I ate” even though I was ordering out almost all of my meals and that made my portion sizes too large to lose substantial weight. I was also not in control of what went into preparing my food, and there was not a lot of healthy options available to me that also tasted good and satisfied me.
In July 2016, I decided to change my diet. The goal was to minimize the number of times I was ordering out for food. I was having trouble finding the time to cook food, so I began expanding my horizons and eating food that was “ready to eat.” This included greek yogurt, peanut butter, whole wheat bread, pre-made meats (grilled chicken breasts, rotisserie chicken, chicken cutlets, and occasionally cold cuts to switch it up for a day or two), and raw fruits and vegetables. I also started logging all of my food so that I could keep track of the approximate number of calories and servings I was eating.
When I first started eating differently, I was eating at far too steep a caloric deficit. This was leaving me feeling very tired throughout the day even though I wasn’t hungry because I was eating food every few hours. It was an interesting feeling that I wasn’t used to since I normally eat very calorie dense foods – I wasn’t experiencing hunger pangs in my stomach, but I was definitely slow in my actions and thoughts at first. To deal with this, I tried for a slightly increased caloric target each day and logged how I was feeling throughout the day until I found a caloric range that worked well for me.
Another change I’d made to my approach was that I aimed to hit a weekly caloric goal instead of a daily one. My reasoning for this was that I have been trying to control my eating for years, and I found that I am simply not going to be successful seven days per week. I eat very differently on days where I work and days where I don’t. I still drink alcohol a few times per month, and when I do that can be a significant source of calories for the day.
What I have been finding works better for me is to think of my weekly targets. I eat fewer calories on days where I am well rested and in my routine and I may eat at “break even” on an “off day”. By cycling my diet like this, I found that I am never too deep into my diet where I feel like cravings are too strong and my goals are unmanageable. I may eat at a steep caloric deficit for a few days during the week, but that way when I eat at caloric break even for a few days on the weekend I have not lost the progress I’ve made during the week.
So far, this has been a successful strategy for me. Even on my “off days” I don’t go too far off the rails, I just eat like it’s a normal day before I started dieting intensely. As I get to lower weights, I am going to have to be more strict around my dietary strategy, but this is a great beginning step for me that is actually working after years of trying and failing.
I will detail some of the steps I took in helping me get to this point in subsequent blog posts such as: playing the “hunger game”, grocery shopping strategies, cooking (or not cooking!), trying new foods and how to change your tastes over time, eating before you get hungry, and being honest with yourself about your progress. Check in with the blog for weekly updates!
If you are ready to make a change, but know you need some help in getting the process started, you should check out our Complete Nutrition program! If you want to make long term dietary change, working with a coach is a really helpful partful of the process that teaches you the skills you need to tackle these problems on your own going forward. Click here to get started today!