Food for Thought
Why changing your eating habits should be the first step in transitioning to a healthy lifestyle
If your fitness goals include weight loss, the very first thing to look at is your eating habits. Yes, forget the treadmill for a minute because the majority of your weight loss is not going to come from burning calories through exercise—it’s going to come from changing your diet. Notice I did not say “going on a diet.” Nobody wants to go on a diet; diets aren’t fun, and they connote the idea that you’re giving up a bunch of things you love in order to lose weight. If you want to successfully shed excess pounds and maintain a healthy weight throughout your life, you have to change your perspective on what you eat and, perhaps even more importantly, why.
Too often I hear people say things like, “I did such a rough workout today. Time to reward myself at Olive Garden!” This concept is totally counter-productive to losing weight and becoming healthier. Fattening foods should not be your reward for a hard workout. Rather, your food should fuel you for your workouts and help you to recover from them afterward. This requires a change in your perspective of the purpose of eating. You are not eating just to feel full or because you are craving a specific food. You are eating to give your body the essential nutrients it needs to function properly, as well as the fuel it needs to perform during your workouts. Giving your food a specific, very important purpose is the best way to change your attitude about eating.
Great exercise habits are certainly important in losing weight and leading a healthy lifestyle, but they are almost completely futile if you don’t change your eating habits. Looking at it by the numbers might help get this point across. To lose weight you need to burn more calories than you consume. One pound of fat is about the equivalent of 3,500 calories, so that is the amount of calories you would need to burn in order to lose one pound. Depending on your speed, it would take anywhere from 10 to 12 hours of running to burn those calories and lose one pound. That’s a lot of running. Or you could cut 500 calories from your diet everyday and lose it in one week. (Source: Donald Hensrud, M.D.)
Clearly, evaluating food intake is critically important to achieving your weight loss goals. The first step is changing your outlook on what the purpose of your food is and what it means to your overall health and wellness. If you can think about your food not as something to just fill you up but instead as an essential asset to your weight loss and maintenance, it will be much easier to make good decisions about your food and change your eating habits for the better.