Part #2: Empowered Nutrition
I don’t know about you, but the whole world of nutrition feels like the most frustrating and disempowering part of the health equation.
Between the mixed messages, government food pyramid and fad diets it’s completely confusing.
To compound things, when you try to lose weight or get healthy you almost always start by dieting. It’s basically taken for granted that if you want to lose fat you have to be hungry.
Again, as I said in empowered fitness, fat loss is NOT about calories. There is a hard way and an easy way to lose fat, and starting with calories leads to a frustrating, overly complicated and rigid diet.
Consider this- you hit New Year’s and you plan to lose 10 lbs. You clean out the pantry, buy all these “healthy foods,” and then get started on your new diet.
One week in you’re losing weight and feeling awesome. You feel lighter in your body, less bloated, and you’re even seeing success on the scale. But there is that little thought in the background…”I’m hungry and I don’t know how long I can keep this up.”
But it feels good to be making process so you stay strong for a few weeks. Until you’re tempted at a party. You hang out with your girlfriends and a few bottles of wine are opened. And bam, you’re off the diet.
That moment of indulging feels good, and your willpower for being hungry is drained. You make it a go for a few more days. You have a good day or two and then a bad day. But you’re winding down and giving in.
This is what most people’s attempts to diet looks like. And for this reason and the fact that the information out there is so damn confusing, the process of creating healthy nutrition is the opposite of empowering.
So let’s create a whole new plan and perspective on Empowered Nutrition…and just like before, let’s define what that would look like first.
The core principles of Empowered Nutrition:
Real Food- Not Boxes or Diets- is the Solution
The most important point here is that if you want to be empowered, stop saying you’re going on a diet. Diet is a four letter word for a reason. It means DEPRIVATION.
If you’re going to change your health for the better, burn bodyfat, have more energy and heal symptoms, deprivation is not going to get you there.
There’s a better word, and I teach my clients to say it from the start: Nourishment.
I truly urge you to start saying you’re on a Nourishment Plan.
There are two reasons. One, the focus is on the quality of what you’re putting in, not restricting. Two, we have to break your mental attachment to the idea of “going on a diet.”
That denotes an end point. Something you’ll will through and give up on once you reach the goal or give up. But I know if you’re reading this book, you want more.
You want lasting results, better overall health, and fat loss you can maintain for a lifetime. So if you don’t want an end point on your next quest for health, choose to go on a Nourishment Plan.
The second aspect is core to getting amazing results.
There is a reason that my parent’s generation had fast food, fountain drinks and more…but didn’t nearly have the obesity epidemic of today. It’s not just sugar, although that’s a big one.
It got worse when food became significantly more processed, laden with preservatives and dyes, genetically modified and more.
This is also a reason why we see the French eating wheat with no issue and other examples. If our bread was made with fresh, locally grown grain, made to last one day and consumed immediately, it wouldn’t have the same problems as the bread you get in the grocery store.
You are literally living in a time where, pardon my French, you are exposed to food that is a chemical shit storm. (not my phrase, but I wish it was)
While you can absolutely burn fat a thousand different ways, I will make a case that the healthiest way to live AND burn fat at the same time is through eating the most REAL food possible.
For the most part, eat food that looks like it came from the earth- meat, produce, unprocessed grains, nuts and so on.
And yes, I absolutely added meat to that list. It’s out of the scope of this book, but meat was core to the human diet as long as we have roamed the earth. It is core to building a healthy, strong and energetic body.
So the first principle is to stop eating out of a box, and stop seeing nutrition as going on a diet.
Level of Ease and Practicality
My goal for you is to find a nourishment plan that is easy to follow and practical for your entire life. Something you can maintain for years to come.
The real problem with most diets I see out there, beyond the calorie restriction, is that they are flat out too hard to follow.
You should not need to count calories, points, do elaborate charts or tracking for long. There is absolutely value in doing some tracking for a short term at first. Even check-ins every few months or when you fall off your plan can be valuable.
This also implies that you know what you’re checking your food log against, and I’ll give you a solid plan to follow in the tools section next.
Preparation should also not be too challenging. If you’re a mom with kids at home or busy with work and life in general, you need your nutrition to be practical. Easy to shop, plan and prepare.
I’d say one of the biggest reasons people are derailed from their plan is that it’s just not workable. It takes too much planning, complicated prep or too much counting.
It’s NOT About Willpower
So if it’s not willpower, what is it–> Habits!!!
Willpower is useful for only one part of your quest for health or fat loss, the first two weeks. Getting off your butt and taking action.
After that, it’s an exhaustible resource. You will run out of energy if you’re trying to grin and bear it. This is another reason diets do not work. You cannot have enough energy to resist temptation forever.
Willpower can absolutely get you off your butt. It can get you to that gym and looking at a new diet.
Willpower is also useful with the first stage of detox. When you come off processed carbs and sugar you will experience some real body withdrawal, and willpower will be useful during this stage.
BUT…after the first push, you need to rely on habits.
If you study change, there is a reason why habits are more useful. Once you burn in a habit, you’re giving your mind a new practice to follow. Follow that long enough until it’s a habit and you don’t have to think or try anymore. It’s just the way you do things.
Take this example when I gave up coffee last year. I love coffee about as much as you can imagine. Since I run my own business and I’m an extrovert, I spend a lot of time working at Starbucks. I mean I’m literally there so much that my 3 year old asked my wife which job daddy was working at today!
So you can imagine how hard it was when I chose to give up coffee. Now if I had tried to give up coffee with willpower, which I did on hundreds of occasions for about 8 years, I would go anywhere from 1 day to 3 months and then slip right back.
But when I was truly ready to give it up, when I decided that I hated how I felt, hated my attitude and lack of energy, and didn’t have any other reason to drink it except I like the taste, I had to build new habits.
The simple habit change was a mental one. I had to find tea that I enjoyed and work with my internal dialogue. I had to stop saying I love coffee and feeling like I was giving something up.
To this day, almost 9 months later, I haven’t had a sip of coffee, and I’m sitting in Starbucks as I write this book. I built the habit of being a tea drinker so strong that I do not have to will myself to avoid coffee every time I come here.
That’s exactly what you need too, and I’m going to give you the four most powerful habits for changing your diet…and you’re going to think they’re too simple!
The Empowered Nutrition Techniques
The first principle I’m going to teach you here is the holy grail of health and fat loss…and as I just told you, I’ll bet you think it’s too simple at first. But it happens to be the habits I have successfully taught to thousands of people who have had amazing results.
The second principle is more of a concept to understand. When you get this one, you’ll see why calories are the wrong thing to measure. You won’t need to count points ever again. You won’t need to be hungry to lose fat.
The Four Rules of Nutrition
ONE- H20. Drink it.
What’s my rule on water? It’s deeply scientific. Drink enough water in the morning to pee clearly by 10am and 2pm. That’s it.
When I hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 2001, I learned a hard lesson early on.
If I left the shelter and didn’t drink enough before I got a few miles in, I literally couldn’t get hydrated the rest of the day.
Although your life is not as extreme as hiking the A.T., you should follow the same rules. Don’t worry about 8 glasses, half your bodyweight in ounces or any other tool. Just focus on having enough water to pee clearly after your two main meals.
Of course this doesn’t mean you should skip out on water at other times of day. But if you make sure you’re good after the first two main meals, it’s easy to stay hydrated.
If you don’t like water, I have some clear advice. Get over it. You are a human and you need water.
I am not kidding when I say this. Every person I’ve ever compelled to drink water and give up other junk- soda, juice or sweet tea- has thanked me for it.
Within a few weeks of drinking enough water for your body I’ll guarantee a few things. One, you’ll feel more thirsty, because you’ve been used to being dehydrated. Two, you will feel more energy. Three, although you won’t necessarily know it, your organs will function better.
It’s not that drinking water will make you burn fat. But it will do all of the above, which will lead to less cravings. You’ll also see in my next tool how it will help manage the wave- a key to burning fat.
TWO- Reduce damp foods
Damp food is a principle from acupuncture and oriental medicine. When you get this concept you’ll probably see why fat loss has been so difficult with modern food.
Damp food is food that creates stress on your digestive organs. Since your stomach struggles to digest it correctly, largely from over processing and over eating, it creates a nasty byproduct called dampness.
This shows up in many forms, but the most common are lack of energy, phlegm and mucous, puffy skin, bloating, feeling heavy after you eat and so on.
What are the most damp foods? The list is long, but the worst offenders are sugar, processed food like wheat, alcohol and dairy.
What do most people eat when they go on a diet? They eat tons of “light yogurt” and other dairy, they go with low calorie processed foods, and they cut back on meat and eat more wheat.
Even when you focus on calories, if you’re consuming a diet full of milk, juice, cereal, bread and pasta for example, you’re making fat gain and flabbiness a real issue.
If you want to lose fat the easy way, cut down on damp foods. Eat more real food, unprocessed food, and easily digestible food (ie. Soups, stews, steamed veggies, etc.). Don’t eat like a rabbit and go for tons of cold salad.
Too much is put into frequency, and this one is highly individual. It may be right for you to eat 3 meals a day. It may be right to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks. I do not believe that you should “graze” all day as some have suggested.
There is reason to believe that it’s important to fat loss, blood sugar and energy that you are not digesting food all waking hours.
On the flip side, it’s also very important that you don’t wait to eat until you are ravenous.
To find your sweet spot with frequency, ask yourself this one question. When I get to the next meal am I appropriately hungry, or am I starving?
If you are starving before dinner every day, have a snack while you’re preparing, and then keep snacking all night, chances are that your gap from lunch to dinner was too long. Add a snack around 3 pm and see how that works.
The right balance of frequency means that you are hungry for your next meal but you don’t feel the need to gorge. So play with this over the next few weeks and find your frequency.
Expect this to change with the seasons too. It’s not likely to have the same needs all year.
This one’s pretty basic. Eat protein in every meal or snack. I added this one when I started looking at women’s food logs years ago. I noticed the trend to have no real protein until lunch or even dinner.
If you’re not eating protein and good fat, you’re eating carbs. Carbs are not the demon like people are suggesting now (you have to get protein, fat and carbs), it’s just that carbs tend to be the blood sugar spiking, processed foods that have made us fat and unhealthy.
When you’re looking at protein, stop being scared of meat. Buy it from good sources, buy organic when you can, get to know your local CSA or farms and eat meat. You can also get peanut or other nut butter, beans, eggs and more. Just get protein in every meal or snack.
Tame the Wave
The real key to fat loss and health is taming the wave. The wave of blood sugar, and the wave of energy.
Following the 4 Rules of Nutrition will go a long way to taming the wave. The whole purpose behind each of the four rules is to do just that. But it’s important that you understand why.
When blood sugar goes up rapidly- think the standard American breakfast of juice, cereal and low-fat milk- you feel full, spike blood sugar, and store up fat.
Your body does not have any use for all this sugar, so it has to pump out insulin to get rid of it. It’s stressful, inflammatory, and creates a nasty cycle of hunger and cravings.
You tame the wave of blood sugar with the four rules. If you avoid damp foods (or strongly limit them), eat protein, drink water and get food at the right frequency, the wave stays more level. The highs aren’t as high, so your body doesn’t have to store fat. Your lows aren’t as low, so you don’t feel the strong cravings and fake hunger.
The amazing side benefit is that this has universal benefits to your health too. You are not equipped to deal with high blood sugar, creating massive amounts of insulin every day to handle it, inflammation that ensues from the spikes, and on and on.
This cycle not only put on fat, it also wreaks havoc on your health.
The second wave is about energy/emotions. We’ll discuss this more in the next part of the book…The Empowered Mindset.
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