I was told recently by a person who is struggling to lose weight that they can’t give up rice and beans because they love them too much. I asked them as gently as I could if they would put rice and beans above their own well-being and health, and they said, “Of course not,” yet that is exactly what they are doing. Our relationship with food is very complicated and deep-seeded, and it’s not easy to evaluate and change. It’s much like a long-term relationship. The longer you’re in it, the harder it is to call it quit even when you find out things are not good for you. Yes, breaking up with pizza and spaghetti and Chicago Dogs was hard for me, but I had to do it. I wanted to live a healthy life.
Cutting sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, grains, dairy, legumes, and soy doesn’t signal the end of good food as you know it. To the contrary, there are many delicious, filling, and healthy foods that you can make and eat. Heck, there are lots of foods that I ate before changing my lifestyle that I can still eat today: steak, sausage, ribs, brisket, lobster, crab, shrimp, fish, chicken, and sweet potatoes! I have found that by focusing on what I can eat instead of what I can’t has greatly influenced my overall happiness with my diet.
Food prep is a key ingredient to success in losing weight, and yes, this takes up a lot of time. There are efficient ways to get through food prep, but the truth is that it takes time and effort eat well. I will go into this in more depth with a later post, but what I will say here is that with food prep, you never have to worry about being tired after work and just wanting something fast and good for you. Cooking Paleo food is typically neither fast nor easy (unless you’re grilling some meat), so having pre-prepared foods in the refrigerator helps keep you on track.
Exercise: not needed until you’re ready for it. If you’re like I was, really obese, then don’t even think about exercise yet. Just change your diet. Change it for the rest of your life. Eat clean and healthy. The weight will come off. Then, when your body is ready for it (and heck, let’s be honest here: when your brain is ready for it, too!), you can start slowly and gently to get your muscles back into the swing of things. That’s what I did, and now, I run three times a week and do 80+ push ups every time!
I love my life. I love being healthy. I love no longer having diabetes. I love dentist appointments where I no longer have new cavities. I love being able to fit in a booth in a restaurant, or in a seat on an airplane. I love not being embarrassed by my size when I try on clothing. I love being able to chase my dog around the house. I love being able to chase my wife around the kitchen! I love all these things more than pasta, pizza, and hot dogs. If you would have asked me two years ago if I love food, I would have told you that I did. I would even have told you that I couldn’t give up those certain foods. Yet here I am. I did it, and I’m happier for it.
Get past your love of short-term gratification of specific foods and fall in love with a life of good health, mobility, flexibility, and a more active life! You can do this!