Too many people approach getting into better shape as a daunting, far off goal. The reality is that it’s completely possible to start eating for the body you want right now. Forget fads, starvation diets, pills and expensive programs. If you really want to shed pounds and create a better lifestyle, follow these simple steps for a leaner, happier, healthier you.
1. Set realistic goals
Before you can eat for the body you want, you need to know what that body is. Your goal should not be to quickly shed every scrap of unwanted weight without making any major changes to the way you eat and live. That kind of thinking only sets yourself up for failure. Instead, make a detailed plan of the kind of lean, toned, strong and most of all healthy body you are after.
Then break down that plan into smaller, more manageable steps. You can also set a reward system in place for every time you lose a certain number of pounds or drop a percentage of body fat. Just make sure your rewards aren’t counterproductive. Stop using food and sweets as rewards, and treat yourself to a day at the spa, new clothes, or a day at the beach instead.
2. Cut the excuses
“I don’t have time to make healthy meals!” “Cooking healthy food is just too hard and expensive.” “I’ll start eating better first thing Monday morning.” Whichever your excuse for continuing to eat the way you are now, it’s time to drop it. If you’re really serious about eating for the body you’ve always wanted, then there is no better time than right now. Healthy recipes and meal plans abound online, and nutritional information is readily available for everything you choose to consume. Eat better to look better. Start today. No excuses.
3. Get informed
In order to truly eat for the figure you want, you need a basic understanding of the way different foods affect your body. Depending on your personal goals, you should look into the way different proteins, fats and nutrients perform. For example, someone looking to lose some added pounds and slim down is going to have to eat differently than someone who wants to add muscle and tone a lifeless physique. Inform yourself before you begin making changes, and your metabolism will thank you.
4. Get moving
There’s no getting around it. You can’t change your body without putting it in motion. The right kind of exercise will bolster the effects of your new eating habits, and ensure that you tone and tighten as you shed pounds. Exercise and diet go hand in hand. So get up, and get moving.
5. Eat clean
You already know the basics of eating well: cut out fast food and junk food. But you may just be surprised at how much of your diet qualifies as that “junk food.” Just because you bought it in a grocery store instead of a drive through does not mean it qualifies as healthy eating.
Avoid packaged foods, artificial foods, and processed ingredients. A good rule of thumb? Turn a package around and read the label. If you can’t pronounce more than one of the ingredients, it’s probably bad for you. Instead, make your own meals from healthy, whole ingredients. Limit your use of sugars, fats, and additives, and look to things like spices, herbs, vinegars, agave and fresh fruits to add bold flavors to your meals.
6. Drink cleanly
Eating for the body you want means drinking for it, as well. Sodas, bottled juices and other processed drinks contain untold amounts of calories and additives. Bypass them in favor of lots of water. Water not only keeps you hydrated, but it also keeps your metabolism running the way it should. Having trouble hitting the recommended 8-10 glasses a day? Try adding slices of lemons, limes, oranges and even cucumbers to a pitcher of ice water. The refreshing taste will please your taste buds, and your body will be healthier for it.
7. Eat more
This may come as a surprise to those looking to slim down, but you probably need to eat more often than you are in order to lose weight and increase lean muscle. In order to burn calories and build muscle, your metabolism needs constant fuel. Energize your body with several small meals a day, as opposed to three large ones. Make sure the majority of everything you consume, from snacks to meals, is composed of lean protein and fruits and veggies.
8. Find a buddy
Losing weight is hard. It’s doubly so if you’re doing it all alone. Find a friend who’s willing to change the way they eat as well, and double up. Not only will you not feel like the odd person out when you’re out and about with friends ordering greasy cheeseburgers and fries, but you can also be each other’s support system.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask question
If you see somebody whose body or eating habits inspire you, talk to them. Ask what they eat, how they work out, and if they have any advice for you. You might be surprised at what kind of tips and tricks you can get just by striking up a conversation. Just be wary. If anyone tries to sell you on an unhealthy diet or expensive gimmicks (including “miracle” pills) walk away.
Achieving a dream body is a challenging task, but if you set a really achievable weight loss goal, you will definitely reach it. Believe in yourself, don’t give up if something goes wrong, and you’ll sculpt your body to perfection. If you have any questions or tips, you can always share them in the comments section.