I always thought cardio was the key to weight loss. Sweat is fat crying, right? My first diet strategies consisted of meals I thought were healthy and running 3-5 miles multiple times a week. Looking back, I wish I could slap a little sense into myself—- so much squandered time and effort with little return.
It was not until the past year that I truly understood the key to dieting and weight loss: 80-90% of success is in the food. When I was struggling with my weight, I was trying to outrun the food I was eating. I was not eating poorly; I didn’t buy junk food, drink fruit juice, or eat out often. I thought that I was doing right by my body. But I was falling prey to the biggest obstacle that subtly sabotages any diet effort: portions.
Too much of a good thing is actually a bad thing. I was guesstimating the serving sizes, and doing a poor job of it. There is a misconception in our society when it comes to the quantity of food we need to survive. Restaurants give you 2-3 meals worth in one sitting. A medium popcorn is easily the size of my head. For only 25 cents more you can upgrade to a large! But Commercial food places aren’t the only offenders.
The push to overeat occurs in the home too. A PB&J sandwich might have twice the serving size of peanut butter (or more.. Because I LOVED peanut butter!) Multiple servings fit into a bowl of cereal. How many times were you told to “clear your plate” growing up? Everywhere we turn there is more food than we need, and even though I was trying– I was still overeating.
My first diet strategies consisted of meals I thought were healthy and running 3-5 miles multiple times a week. I was trying to outrun the food I was eating. I was guesstimating the serving sizes, and doing a poor job of it. My diet took a turn when I begin tracking and actively portioning my food.
My diet took a turn when I begin tracking and actively portioning my food. Now I knew exactly how many calories were in my meals, and I learned what is not worth it. I have limited or cut out many food items: bread, pasta, cereal, peanut butter– all gone. When I want popcorn, I plan my day so I stay within my goal. Tracking gave me control over 80% of the weight loss equation.
As far the 10% exercise variable, I completely changed my workouts. Instead of running a 5k every day, I lift 4-5 days a week and do cardio for 10 minutes when I feel like it. Even though it seems wrong, you don’t have to spend hours at the gym to reach your goals. I weigh less now than I ever have AND most days I barely break a sweat.
In the end, what was I doing wrong this whole time? Not tracking and spending wayyy to much time running. Don’t make my mistakes any longer. Lift some weights and cut whatever you are eating in half.