When we hear the word diet, a couple of things automatically come to our mind. Restrictions, portions, stomach growling, among others, and there’s a negative connotation associated with the whole experience. Believe me when I tell you, I know exactly what this word means and all it entails, I’ve been dieting since I’m like 12. I was always the chubby, large boned, not-quite-there-yet girl in school, even though I was always very active – went from ballet lessons, to tennis, to swimming, to running. But something always felt kind of off with what I was doing. Yes, I was practicing sports but the effects weren’t really ever showing.
The thing with diets is, you don’t actually have to be on one and you should not, ever, restrain groups of food (like no carbs, or no sugar, or no fruit). A diet should be based, firstly, on your daily calorie intake needs, your activity level, your goal, your health and your attitude. Follow me as I explain each and every one of these categories.
Daily calorie intake.
A diet only works if you know how many calories you need to go through the day. If you’re trying to lose weight, of course that number has to be slightly decreased, but there are a lot of formulas to know your daily calorie intake needs (here and here). My honest advice, to be safe and do this the right way, always go to a nutritionist or a diet specialist. They will tell you the numbers according to your height, weight, age, activity level and so on.
This is directly related to the calorie intake, because if you’re like me and spend most of your day working in a desk, sitting in a chair and only exercise a few hours a day, the calories you ingest have to be adjusted. If, like M, you have a highly physical job, then that number has to increase. But, as always, don’t forget that everything counts, if I’m working at a desk all day, I try to get up every other hour, work in a standing desk and go up and down the stairs.
Everything in a diet depends on what your goals are. If you want to lose or gain weight, if you want to lose or gain muscle, if you want to be healthy, if you want to attain a certain shape or muscle definition. Set yourself up with a few goals to guide you through the process, but most importantly, make it a lifestyle!
I’m not a diet specialist, not even close, but I’ve read a lot about the subject, been to many nutritionists and have done my homework. Again, if you want to do this right, go to the right doctors and they surely know better than anyone. You have to pay attention to your body and what it needs, if something isn’t working for you, find out why. In my case, it was the portions, I was eating large portions that were too much for my daily needs and, sometimes, I was even out of control, eating frantically. Make sure to figure what works best for you.
And, of course, your attitude, if you have the right attitude towards the whole process and, as I said before, transform this into a lifestyle and make sure one of your goals is to be healthy. I don’t aim to be very skinny, and I’m never going to have those types of slim bodies, but I want to be, look and feel healthy and comfortable with my skin.
For the last two years or so, I feel like I’m finally reaching a balance and getting to know my body’s needs. I think it’s something that comes well into your late twenties because it’s also related with feeling confident in your own skin. Balancing food, exercise and self-esteem can be tricky, but just take the time to figure that out as you go.