Monday, 5 January 2015

The official new year: a guide to the new you.

As many others, I determined that today, Monday, January 5, 2015 was the official start of the New Year. The first official day of reality, clothes, underwear, and leaving your home. No longer will we be subsisting off leftovers, booze, and delivery.

With this, everyone's resolutions rev up, going strong the first week or two until they slowly start to falter; the doughnuts look too good, you'd rather sleep-in than ice-pick your way to your car for an early gym session, you'd rather watch all the Seinfeld reruns than read. There is even a day dedicated to the demise of the resolution that I'm sure was selected based on careful data analysis: January 17 - ditch your New Year's resolution day.

I am not unlike every other person that would like to be thinner, stronger, smarter, and an overall better version of their 2014 self. On Sunday, January 4, 2015 (the eve of the real New Year), I sat with French toast and a bag of pretzels already in my belly and only three waking hours to speak for.

While lounging on the couch, still in pyjamas, I began speculating what this year's diet would be with my boyfriend. He told me about the 4 Hour Body. You can Google it if you want more information, but basically you eat protein, veggies, and legumes for 6 of 7 days, with one no-limits cheat day per week.

Excited, we planned our grocery list for the following day and, most importantly, all the yummy things we would eat for dinner that night.

*side note* shopping for diet foods with your significant other whilst discussing all the amazing things you're going to eat on your first cheat day is probably one of the cutest things you can ever do.

We enjoyed all-we-could-eat Chinese food (Vietnamese food? God I'm sorry for my ignorance) followed by two-bite brownies, ice cream, and Chicago mix popcorn. I went to bed painfully full and excited to start a new day, year, and diet.

When we awoke this morning we started the day off with our allowed foods like good New Year people. But as the day continued on, the anxieties started sneaking in.

So, no dates? No figs? No almond butter-up-to-my-elbow? I tried to console myself by thinking about my cheat day and how f*cking glorious it would be, but no such luck.

Then I started to think about what I wanted and what I was (and wasn't willing) to do for it.

1) I want to lose a healthy amount of weight.
2) I don't want to give up my favourite foods.
3) I want to eat mostly "clean" foods, but I don't want to feel like an asshole if I eat a SuzyQ doughnut.
4) I don't really want a massive no-holds-barred cheat day because then I'll feel like shit.
5) I don't want to feel like I have to go to the gym if I don't want to.

Basically I want to eat everything and still look good.

But, if there's one thing I'm good at (other than list-making), it's pulling and organizing information. As a proprietor of fad diets, I've tried a lot. I've liked some and hated others, but I think I learned enough from each to make myself a plan I can stick to.

1) protein is important.
2) carbs and fats are also important.
3) calories do matter, some people are just better at using their internal counters than others.

But with all three, where they come from is a huge determining factor of your health. I, personally, feel better when I'm eating whole foods, when my proteins are from animals, my carbs from veggies and fruits, and my fats from nuts, avocados, and the good oils. Unfortunately, I am not one of those internal calorie counting people and I can eat almond-butter and dates until I throw up. Actually, I probably wouldn't even throw up.

So, taking this all into account, I've already given up on the original New Year's diet (sorry boyfriend) and have devised one specifically for me:

1) Keep an eye on your calories, on paper (apps make me anxious).
2) Eat whole foods 80% of the time - but don't just eat almond butter.
3) The other 20% - don't feel like an asshole if you eat SuzyQ doughnut. Just don't inevitably binge eat because the day is "ruined".
4) Alcohol calories do count. #sorry.
5) Eat out less.
6) One day a week, don't think about calories at all (not a free-for-all, just no tracking)
7) I don't HAVE to go to the gym, I'm busy, I serve part-time, and play soccer twice a week.
8) Don't stress - whatever you're doing today is better than yesterday. And when in doubt, eat a square of dark chocolate.

So, after that plethora of information, all I really want you to take away is that some diets work for lots of people, maybe even you, but they might make you miserable. There's at least five (and probably more) months until we can consistently walk around in public in our shortest shorts so find something that will work long term even if whittles away at your waist rather more slowly than another diet would.

That and use the stepper.


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