The “facts” on nutrition and weight loss seem to change nearly biweekly. I don’t need to repeat the thousand and one new bits of conflicting “science” related to weight loss, one or two have probably already popped into your head. Although we seem to be getting close to an idea of what is actually healthy food and what isn’t (and in what form) there is a new battle raging on about how to best exercise to lose weight. For those just starting out (me), it’s almost enough to make them throw up their hands and give up, almost.
For someone like me, this was a dangerous distraction. I wanted facts and data and to know exactly what the best process was for weight loss. When I looked for it all I could find was charlatans pitching their own diet plan, diet bar, miracle powder, secret berry, metabolic tea, fat blasting exercise, etc. Ugh, the noise of it!
I tried to research proper nutrition (while trying to practice none of it) and didn’t come out knowing much more. I remember one article saying that it doesn’t matter what you eat, only how much. Blue berries or nachos… it’s all the same. Just a matter of calories. Woman’s World magazine is maybe not the best source.
We can’t even really trust the “authorities” because most are politically motivated. I mean, the food pyramid? What a mess. In college I decided to actually take a nutrition class and got a real foundation for what all this stuff means and could start to connect all the little tidbits (the real ones) I had picked up over the years. Vitamins and minerals? Ohhh… Got it! Trans Fats? That stuff’s bad, right? Sugar does WHAT?!? Shit.
So what’s a chubby chick to do when she wants to lose some weight and she doesn’t know to whom to turn? Well, I admit that I am no authority but I can talk about what works for me (and I won’t try to sell you any berry metabolic tea laxatives).
Start with Vegetables: There is no disagreement here, I can’t think of any diet that tells you to nix the veggies. This one is always safe.
Trial and Error: I’ve been conducting my weight loss like a science experiment. I neurotically track my results and try to pin point which variables cause what results. Because of this, I can tell pretty well which foods work best for me and which to avoid. Trial and error also works with picking a plan. I decided to use the South Beach Diet because of other blogs I had read and because when I read it, it seemed to jive with things I had learned in my nutrition class. I more or less stick to it but I have found points on which I do not agree with Dr. Agatston. I’ve also taken advice from other diets, especially concerning artificial sugars. Aspartame gives me headaches and Splenda makes me want to rob a bakery.
Listen to Your Body: I went against Dr. Agatston’s wisdom and chose to allow some things with real sugar (very little) and I have more fat in my diet than he thinks I should. I made these choices because it makes me feel like I can keep doing this permanently. If salami were off limits I would have quit within a month. I also learned very quickly that whole foods and unprocessed foods were what made me feel the best. 95% of what I eat is unprocessed and it makes a huge difference. For the most part, though, I stick to what I learned from him because it makes me feel good and because I’ve lost (almost) 30lbs.
Familiarize yourself with the Glycemic Index: Corn used to be one of my favorite foods. I ate it almost everyday. Incidentally, corn is ridiculously high on the Glycemic Index and makes me hungry too soon after eating and elevates my blood sugar too much. Learning about how much sugar is in food and how sugar effects the body was one of the most useful things I’ve learned in my weight loss process.
Take Advantage of the Blogosphere: There are hundreds of weight loss bloggers who have come before us and have found what works for them. Listen to their wisdom and ask for advice. We love that! I want to know that my blog is helping someone.
The bottom line, your body will tell you what it likes and doesn’t like if you know how to listen. Pain and tiredness are two ways my body tells me it doesn’t like what I am eating or how much I am eating. Energy, great skin and hair, and clarity of mind are a few ways it tells me the opposite. You’ll learn to discern these things. I’m not giving a diet plan here or guidelines for how I think you should eat; just a few tips on how to figure out how you should eat.