Are you a number cruncher??
Whether it’s the number on the scales, number of calories you can eat, clothing size, your number out of 10 or macro’s, number crunching is probably the barrier between you and your goals. At both ends of the spectrum whether you’re primarily focusing to keep under a number or getting down to a number its placing a negative emphasis on your self-worth.
Don’t get this confused with goal setting. Setting goals that are SMART; Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time specific is important for keeping yourself accountable to yourself but it’s when these become one dimensional we run into problems. After all your health is 3D. You should be refocusing on multiple aspects and the ‘numbers’ are just one facet of this.
it is important to create strategies (such as goals) to keep yourself accountable but it shouldn’t be controlling, restrictive or singular. Clients are often concerned at fluctuations in both their diet and training and subsequent number on the scale. If your goal is to lose weight yes we want to work towards this but it needs to match your unique life, meaning weight loss often comes in cycles. Every day, week, month comes with new challenges meaning it isn’t possible to do the same thing every day therefore we aren’t going to eat and train the same. Our health is similar to stocks we need to look at trends. Your stock may not go up every day, it may drop 3 points today, stable tomorrow then go up again on Friday but over the month it still heads up; you haven’t panicked and you have sold it off because it’s useless after one bad day. This same principle applies to your health. You may not necessarily lose weight every week but if we look at the it over the month and there has been weight loss then that’s actually a successful month.
This principle applies to maintaining our weight and losing weight. If you move the emphasis from the ‘number’ and apply it to a variety of health markers you will start to create a positive relationship with yourself, food and your image. The Important ones I focus on are:
What are your Energy levels doing:
Quite frequently I see clients who have not lost weight after initiating positive lifestyle changes but are feeling fantastic. Getting through the day isn’t quite so challenging. Alternatively, I also see clients who control their intake and weight so much that although they’re maintaining their weight or calorie goal they feel lethargic, tired and exhausted. Holistic health is feeling good inside and out, if you are feeling tired and energy levels have dropped this is your body telling you something isn’t right, that there is a deficit somewhere, most commonly it’s in the quality of food or the amount of food.
Your anxiety associated with food choices:
The reason I don’t often use calorie counting as weight management tool as I see it as quiet pointless. Fresh foods (fruit, vegetables, meat, diary) simply don’t often have nutritional labels or secondly I’ve never seen anyone use them. You generally know if you’re making a good food decision without the validation of a number. Chocolate is a not ideal food choice and vegetables are a great choice (see you knew that without knowing the calories). Most commonly clients use it as a way to compare 2 not ideal food choices and validate their decision to have it. Hmm well these biscuits have half as many calories as those chocolate ones so I’ll get those; “great healthy decision” by me. Additionally, what does that number even mean. Most people have no idea how many calories they should be eating a day so what are you comparing the label to. Healthy food doesn’t necessarily mean low calorie. Yes an apple has less calories than a bowel of ice-cream but we also need to look at the quality, quantity and nutritional value. Half an avocado has approx. 1034kj the same as a mars bar but is packed with healthy fats, protein, low sugar, vitamin and minerals not to mention is double the weight (meaning more food for same calories).
How you look:
This doesn’t mean looking in the mirror “I look great in these pants” or “why do I look terrible in everything” but looking at you skin tone, fleshiness, whites of the eyes and gums. When you start to provide your body with nutritionally jam packed foods your body will respond. Generally clients report looking brighter, there skin tone is a warm and pinkish not grey, pink tinge to their cheeks, less obvious wrinkles and their whites of eyes and gums more natural colour. By overhauling your eating you can achieve an instant face lift.
How your clothes fit:
The old muscle vs fat debate. 1kg of muscle is the exact same as 1kg fat but its space is somewhat different. It’s like comparing apples to marshmallows. By integrating exercise and strength training you activate and develop more lean muscle which is responsible not only for movement and posture but is where we burn stored fat. So although the scales stay the same you can have gone down a belt size. For the same weight muscle takes up 20% less space (who doesn’t love 20% off anything). This also breaks the myths that weight training makes you big. Appropriate weight/strength training for your goals will actually make you smaller and stronger.
My tips to end your days as a health accountant:
- Eat your diet rules: Stop over thinking it and listen to your body. Eat when hungry, stop when full, drink water when thirsty, eat in moderation and most importantly enjoy your food. Health is eating and training not dieting and exercising. It should bring you happiness not grumpiness.
- Do it for yourself: If you are losing weight or staying underweight so people notice, to make someone else happy (partner, parent or friends) you are creating a negative space. The moment you don’t receive validation from that person/people you negatively criticize yourself “must work harder” or “what’s the point he/she didn’t notice” or “I’m still too big”. Yes it’s nice to be complimented but make the change for you so the only person your accountable to is yourself.
- Quality not quality: Instead of counting how many calories count nutrients or colours. Nutrient dense food will not only make your body run better but you’ll feel better by not over analysing every food choice. Look at how the variety in whole food groups; try and achieve your 5 vegetables and 2 fruits, choose low GI products and complex carbs, whole foods and grains, create a plant based approach (fruit/vegetable/salad with each meal).
- Take life daily not weekly/monthly: Make the decision based on what you’re doing right now. Can I exercise today, is a healthier food option available. If you always aim for 5 sessions a week often you say you can do it tomorrow then its Friday and the week is nearly over. With food; generally breakfast and lunch are in controlled spaces (home/work) so a good option is available. If you’re out for a work dinner/birthday you can’t control what’s available so if a parma is the choice, then take a deep breath, choose it and enjoy don’t guilt yourself. Your other healthy options have balanced it out.
- Eat in moderation: Life is balance that means good food and bad but don’t cheat day because that creates a negative approach that’s about bribing yourself to be strict everyday so you have that big splurge.