This is an excerpt from my popular book "How to Feel Great Naked"
I have made every mistake imaginable when it comes to wanting to improve my health, body composition and changing my life for the better. When it came to my nutrition, I ate healthy for the most part but binged on the weekend. I half assed training sessions when I was tired and found any reason to justify that I had done enough work for the day. I wasn’t accurate with measuring food and would often leave a little peanut butter on the spoon to snack on during food prep. I would starve myself during the day so I could have anything I wanted that night from the local pizza place (not considering it was still way too much food). I would let social situations dictate how I ate, I was known for eating a copious amount of food so felt I had to do so whenever I went out with family or friends.
Truth is I didn’t respect my journey or take it seriously enough. I wanted to find an easy way and do the bare minimum to change. I realised that the bare minimum just wasn’t enough to elicit any change. I didn’t want to change my behaviour, I loved eating the way I ate. Purely because it was full of the foods I enjoyed but following that pattern it would never have allowed me to achieve my goal.
Inherently human beings are lazy creatures, we want to find the easiest and quickest solution to our problems but forget that we have spent the last 5,10,15 or more years getting into the position where we want to change our bodies. We then expect results to happen overnight, and get unmotivated when they don’t.
Think about setting your car on fire and watching it explode, then expecting 1 mechanic to fix everything overnight. Ridiculous huh? Well that’s what you are expecting from your body.
You might relate to one, more or even all of these experiences and it’s highly likely that they are the main reason why you have failed up until the point of investing in this book. Most people fail because we are naive to think we can outsmart the body and spend years creating an unhealthy environment, then expect to reverse that damage overnight.
Here are a few real world experiences people have grown accustomed to:
Hyper palatable foods
A hyper palatable food is any food that you personally find easy to overeat. Generally these have an emotional trigger that gives you an abnormally high hit of serotonin (feel good hormone) and makes it difficult to consume in small quantities.
You know the ones, it’s probably the one you buy and say oh I’ll just have a little bit, or a few ... 2 hours later you are a bloated mess, have food residue all around your face and struggle to get off the lounge because you ate too much ... no ... guess it’s just me then.
Depending on your taste buds these range from donuts, burgers, cheeses, ice cream, chips. More often than not they have a high sugar or high sodium content.
People often go astray trying to completely cut out these foods from your nutrition plan, but they forget you have been ‘addicted’ to these foods for what feels like a lifetime. This might work in the short term, but eventually you are likely to give in and over consume these foods. Identify what these foods are and progressively reduce the quantity in which you eat them, you might even decide you eat them every second day or just on the weekend. Find a way that works best for you, and progressively filter that food down in quantity. Notice how I said down not completely out? You can still enjoy your hyper palatable food choices as long as you fit it within your macronutrient/caloric breakdown.
The environments we find ourselves in directly influence our food choices. If you come from a large family, you know that family get togethers are infused with delicious dishes usually from your families native country. This of course means foods are full of intense flavours and a ton of calories, I mean nobody really brings grilled chicken breast, and asparagus to these events.
After work drinks might be a weekly ritual in which you blow of some steam from the stressful week you’ve just had. This of course usually ends up with everyone drinking late into the night with a kebab, pizza or takeaway on the ride home. What also makes these events destructive is the next day you wake up, are filled with regret and need something to help you feel better. So you naturally turn to calorically dense foods and binge eat the day away.
Gatherings at your friend groups favourite restaurant are always eventful. Full of laughter, love, happiness and food/ drinks galore. You care little about what calorie content you’re eating and more about what the latest gossip is in your inner circle.
Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with any of these environments. In fact, I 100% recommend you do them all as frequently as possible. Creating long lasting memories with your loved ones is something you should cherish with your time on this earth. That being said you should also be completely aware of the situations you can’t control yourself in, especially now that you have a goal to achieve.
People can be disciplined towards achieving something when they get a rhythm started, but when that gets disrupted they forget everything and give in to temptations.
Drinks after work might make you feel pressured to consume alcohol or food you might not necessarily want to. Your bosses and colleagues might put a ‘playful’ pressure on you to get wasted or to drink, the reality is you have a choice. You can either avoid the situation altogether by not going, or you can practice self-control by setting yourself an alcohol target and sticking to it. You might start with 1-2 drinks less than normal and progressively decrease that number. Nobody can put pressure on you, except you.
Eating out with friends who have known you for a long time can be a challenge. Certain friends can make you feel embarrassed about wanting to lose fat or improve your health by making fun of you as a joke but in reality it actually gets to you. So you decide it’s easier to just eat whatever everyone else is eating. Don’t allow someone else to dictate how you live your life, because
you will be consumed by other people’s opinions for the rest of it. That person might make fun of you because they failed at losing fat, or could never do what you are doing and to protect their own ego they put you down. You have the power of choice, and that choice can direct you towards choosing smarter foods, or not surrounding yourself with those so called ‘friends. A true friend is one who supports your goal, regardless of how crazy it might sound. For every person you have talking you down, you will have double that encouraging you to succeed. So ditch the A**hole friend and surround yourself with the positive ones.
Family events are possibly the most challenging as you are surrounded by people who have known you your whole life and expect certain things from you. I myself was known for wanting the chocolate gateau cake container and eating out of it once everyone had been served because I knew I would be left with the most. The moment I stopped that I was questioned with, ‘what’s wrong?’ Family have experienced your habits so much it’s like those habits are their very own. So you have to be courageous and let them know you are doing something to benefit your health and happiness. Yes you will have some of them take the piss out of you, but it’s family they would do that regardless of if you had a goal or not. Difference is now they have some ammunition. You will however have members of your family that will support you from the start, which is amazing so confide in those people when things start to get a little difficult.
As you progress through your journey, something interesting will happen, the people who laughed at you will likely end up being your biggest supporters. They will be inspired by what you have done and say ‘Damn you look great, I might try that’, or ‘Wow, how did you get into such great shape, I want to look like that’. So take the initial humour as your own ammunition to keep fighting for the goals you have set, and don’t you dare stop until you get there. You never know who you are going to inspire.
Throughout my health and fitness career I’ve not met many people that blatantly say yeah ... my diet is horrendous. It’s mostly ‘I don’t eat too bad’ or ‘It’s just the weekends where I struggle’ or ‘I eat healthy’. The last one being the most popular.
NEWSFLASH! ‘Healthy’ foods still contain calories. Just because a food has a good nutrient profile doesn’t mean you can eat as much of it as you want. Being aware of how many calories the food contains will give you the self-awareness of how much you can consume of that food.
Imagine you’re at a family BBQ and it’s full of all your favourite foods. You arrive and are immediately smacked in the nostrils with the most mouthwatering foods you’ve ever been in contact with. You know these foods are high in calories but you want to eat something relatively low in calories to stay on track. The uneducated you would try a little of everything and gravitate towards the foods you find hyper palatable, therefore consuming far too much food. As you become educated you decide to choose a high quality protein source as you know it will help satiate you - choices are steak, chicken thigh and chicken breast. You know now that chicken breast is the leanest source so you opt for that. Then you do the same with your carbohydrate source. Sweet potato, fried rice, and pumpkin are on the menu, so you choose the pumpkin as you can consume more volume than a smaller portion of fried rice. Finally you load up on salad and voilà you’ve made a smarter, lower caloric dense, satiating option.
If you aren’t aware of what’s going into your mouth it’s extremely difficult to know if you are over consuming food. In truth with apps such as MFP (My Fitness Pal), Chronometer, and Easy diet diary things are quite easy to at least know roughly how many calories are in food, so you really have no excuse.
Not Moving Enough
Human beings are part of the animal kingdom and as animals we should move and move a lot. There’s been a ton of positives with evolution but also some negatives have been created as part of it. With the rise of entertainment and things becoming easier/more efficient to do such as cooking, manual labour, I mean you don’t even have to leave the house to go do your groceries anymore. This has made us lazy and subsequently holding on to a little more body fat than we want. If you work a sedentary job then you really need to put the effort in to get up out of your chair frequently and just move. If you don’t move, your body has no reason to use a lot of energy so will likely never tap into your stored energy reserves (fat).
Trying to go from zero to hero
This is a high percentage of people. They think that the way to get to their goal is through the most extreme measures, the last time I checked most people weren’t Navy Seals so would be completely untrained for that level of discipline. They completely change everything in their lifestyle including eliminating all the foods they love, and expect to reverse years of damage in less than 12 weeks. More than likely that isn’t going to happen. Going from being in a negative place in your life to training like an Olympic athlete won’t give you long and sustainable results. Firstly you aren’t an Olympic athlete and secondly you can’t reach your long term goal overnight, make a couple of changes and progress from there.
Following a nutrition plan you don’t enjoy
If I was to say to you here’s $1 million, all you have to do is live on an island for the next 12 months with no communication to the outside world, and I surrounded you with everything you hate in life, the people, the pet peeves you have, the music you hate played constantly, would you do it ... chances are no. So why do something you don’t enjoy?
The whole point of food is to fuel the body with good quality nutrients and those nutrients should be enjoyed, otherwise why would we have taste buds on our tongues.
Find the foods you love, and adjust them to fit your macronutrient/caloric breakdown.
Sacrificing everything in life
No social life, no family movie trips, no enjoyment, no fun, no f***ing way! You don’t have to give everything up, you just have to be smarter about your approaches and your choices to reach your goal. The journey is more important than the destination, so it should be enjoyable and if you do it right, you might only have to do it once.
You don’t want to look back and think ‘that was the worst thing, I’ve ever done’ because that sets in the rebound effect. This can make things extremely difficult to want to start again after you go backwards, and leave you in a worse place than when you started.
Eating foods that don’t agree with you
People tend to think there are ‘superfoods’ as in these foods will make you stronger, faster and healthier than you have ever been. This is usually a study funded by the very people who want to sell you something or consume more of that food to fill their own pockets. There are no ‘magic’ foods, each food is a unique structure and has a variety of bacteria in them. Some of these bacteria won’t be absorbed by your body and can create digestive discomfort, and some will make you feel great. Your job is to eat more of what makes you feel good and less of what makes you feel bad.
Don’t get me confused here, yes there are more nutrient dense beneficial foods but don’t think that you have to eat any particular foods if it makes you feel digestive discomfort.
A magic eye
I cannot even begin to explain the amount of people that say ‘I started weighing my food and now I just eyeball things’ as if their eyes have scales in them. Let me be clear, you do not have some magic capability to eyeball foods and are able to calculate the weight!
There are people that can stay lean, lose weight, put on weight by eyeballing things but they are in no way exact and these people have been doing this for a long time. Even so, to get to a specific goal, they too have to weigh foods at some point.
Trying every new fad diet
Going back to human beings becoming lazier, we are always in search of a shortcut. How do we get to our goal faster, and easier. Don’t get me wrong I am all for improving efficiency but that shouldn’t come at the expense of hard work. As we all know nothing worthwhile comes without sacrifice and hard work, and getting to your goal is no different. So stop wasting your money, create a healthy, sustainable lifestyle and educate yourself on what you are putting into your mouth.
Buying every new fat loss tea, or supplement
‘Magic potions’ ‘Fat loss teas’ and supplements that will literally see the fat fall from you are all money making scams to empty your bank account. Stop looking for the easy answer, and start making smarter choices for your health.
Education is one of the key fundamentals to every successful health and fitness journey. Once you understand what you are doing, you are more likely to adhere to a plan for long enough to change your life.
How many of you have purchased a bullsh*t magic fat loss tea and looked into the ingredients, or the effects on your cellular function, brain function and gut health? My guess is not many. You care more about the before/after shot and the crazy deal they have for you. You have to care more about what you are putting into your body and what the effects are going to be.
You don’t need a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, or a masters in exercise science you just need to understand what is going on inside your body, and what impact your food and training are having on you.
That’s what I aimed for by writing my book. To give you all the facts, and from there you can make your own educated decisions