So, you want to ‘tone’ your flabby ass, get rid of stubborn fat yada yada yada. Haven’t we all had enough of this bullshit yet? Jesus Muppet Fucking Christ, it’s time you take action.
If I could wave a wand and make you drop unwanted weight, I would. However, I realize the world doesn’t work that way.
You need to craft your food environment and lifestyle and sort that shit out yourself. Change your environment and the environment will change you.
This article is for creating a situation in which you wouldn’t need to fight temptations to overeat. The following 6 practical steps you can take in your daily life will result in optimal calorie intake to lose weight.
1. Create A Supportive Food Environment
Tempting food cues in your closest environment are powerful drivers of overeating. Luckily, one of the most effective tools to deal with that is to simply reduce your exposure to food cues.
Here are some changes you can implement to modify your nutrition:
- Create effort barriers to eating;
The more hassle you have to obtain and eat a given food, the less of it you’ll stuff into your face hole. Stanley Schachter found1 this back in 1971 (he said ‘the less of it you’ll consume’ but I put ‘the less of it you’ll stuff into your face hole’ because fuck it. Sounds funny).
So, limit the food in your kitchen to items you’d have to cook or reheat to eat. Chances are, if you have to cook something, you’ll bitch about it (which is good) and you won’t eat it between meals unless you really need it.
Buy motherfucking oranges or melons instead of motherfucking pears. If you have to peel an orange to eat it, you probably won’t do it unless you’re genuinely hungry.
The same goes for getting motherfucking nuts & seeds in their motherfucking shells instead of ready-to-eat.
Because I haven’t written motherfucker enough yet. Motherfucker.
- Place hyper-palatable foods like cookies, chocolate bars high up in the pantry and lower-calorie foods like berries, fruits, oats at eye level;
Ever heard about choice architecture2?
Thorndike and colleagues (2012) found that food display in a hospital cafeteria modified people’s eating behavior.
Researchers moved water bottles from just two refrigerators in the cafeteria to every refrigerator at eye level and in baskets near food stations. Guess what? This simple act of having a choice increased water consumption by 25.8% while soda consumption dropped by 11.4%.
37% turnaround. How about we do the same for these crazy suckers in schools?
- Move sodas and hyper-palatable foods to inconvenient, hard-to-get-to locations. Better yet, remove them from your home altogether and save for special occasions when you’re out with your friends and family;
Do you know why the 2012 Thorndike study was so powerful? It’s because once drink placement was modified, reaching for a water bottle rather than a can of soda was the easier choice and required less hassle.
Both you and I, we thrive on convenience. Say, we have an apple 10 feet away and Snickers bar right on the table in front of us. An apple? Pfff, fuck you, gimme that Snickers bar, right?
We’re usually not willing to put in the effort to get something if it requires too much work.
Here are a few extra ways to modify your nutrition:
- Replace the candy/nut jar on your desk with a bowl of fruit or berries;
- Replace clear jars of sweets with colored jars so that you can’t see what’s inside;
- Smarten the fuck up and always have ready-to-eat produce like carrot sticks in your fridge;
A healthy food environment that doesn’t have tempting and calorie-dense foods is the easiest thing you can do. This isn’t the fucking dark ages. Throwing away shit-ton of sweets won’t make you starve to death as if you couldn’t get healthier food.
Walmart is on every corner, you know.
Shape your environment for the better and reaching your fitness goals will get exponentially easier.
2. Beware Of Food Reward
Your brain loves hyper-palatable foods. These are foods that contain calorie-dense, perfect combinations of fat, sugar, and salt and it sets your motivation to eat those foods uncontrollably (kind of). Think ice cream, cheesecake, brownies, chocolate, cookies, pizza, etc.
Beware of these highly rewarding foods as they can easily make your inner foodie monster to come out. In this case, cravings, overeating, binge eating, and eventually, an unhealthy relationship with food is inevitable.
Not everyone finds the same foods intensely rewarding, though. You probably know your trigger foods that result in blizzard binge where you can’t stop once you’ve tasted a small bite. Keep them out of your personal food environment.
You can still eat them occasionally. Simply save them for special occasions.
Base your diet around less calorie-dense foods that are closer to their natural states. Stuff like fruits, veggies, oats, eggs, Greek yogurt, lean meats, potatoes, fish. They aren’t that rewarding, thus, overdoing them is very unlikely.
Now, I’m not saying you should eat 100% “healthy”. You don’t have to stick to a soul-destroying diet consisting of 5 pounds of spinach that tastes like a bag of smashed beaver asses.
Like I said in a healthy eating≠weight loss article, eating “healthy” doesn’t guarantee weight loss. You still need to be aware of your calorie intake because that’s what determines weight loss. Not nutrients in “healthier” foods.
Also, note that I said “beware” of palatable foods. Not “eliminate.”
Moderation is what you want to master because there are no bad foods. Just bad diets. There’s nothing that should be on a banned list of foods except those barring allergies and trigger foods.
And kale. Because fuck kale. It tastes like spinach. And spinach tastes like beaver asses. No kale & no spinach.
3. Manage Your Appetite
If your brain thinks you’re hungry, it’ll eventually wear you down, no matter how much willpower you have. Willpower is a limited resource3. The more you rely on willpower to reach ANY goal, the more likely it is that you’ll eventually succumb.
The solution is to simply give it the cues it needs to realize you aren’t hungry or starving.
Choose foods that send strong satiety signals to the brain and also have lower calorie density, higher fiber content and are water-rich. Think fruits, veggies, potatoes, dairy, whole grains, lentils, oatmeal.
Evidence also suggests that protein provides the most satiety of all the macronutrients4. Thus, incorporating more lean meats, seafood, eggs, plain/Greek yogurt, dairy products into your diet would be sort of a Jedi mind trick or something.
Long story short, live by the rule of “when calories go down, food volume goes up.”
4. Make Sleep A Priority #2 (calorie deficit is #1)
Sleep is not for the weaklings. Sleep is for the happy and lean, m’kay? It’s a major cue for your nonconscious brain that has a major impact on your eating behaviors. It impacts your food choices and, thus, affects fat loss5.
Gajillion studies are showing insufficient sleep resulting in weight loss plateau and even weight gain9.
So, get some heavenly sleep, maybe?
The first step to restorative sleep is simply being in bed enough. Duh. Most people find seven to eight hours of rest sufficient. Start with that.
If you have trouble sleeping, try these:
- Download F.lux;
It’s a freakn’ awesome software for your computer that reduces ‘blue light’ exposure. Blue light prevents your brain from secreting melatonin – a hormone that regulates your sleep/wake cycles.
- Optimize the sleeping environment;
Make your room completely dark and, if possible, allow it to cool down in the evening. 65°F (~18°C) is optimal for good nighttime sleep.
- Become a master of timing;
Try to go to bed and wake up at about the same time each day.
- Stop watching Netflix for fuck sakes;
Yeah, I know, it’s so much more alluring than reading a book but it has to be done. Ditch electronics at least an hour before bed. Get a book. Play chess. Like, real fucking chess.
- Try melatonin and magnesium supplements;
Melatonin regulates your sleep/wake cycle, is non-toxic, not addictive and is not associated with any side effects10.
Magnesium helps with calming your nerves and muscles. It’s also the second most deficient vitamin in the world in humans.
So, you know, get some, maybe?
5. Manage Food-Related Stress
“But, Egis, my house mortgage is killing me. How can I deal with such stress?”
Dafuq you’re reading my blog then? You’re not in the right place to lose weight. Sort that shit out first. Those who aren’t about to get kicked off your homes, keep reading.
The fight or flight response system evolved to protect your ass. Nowadays, however, it can fuck up your efforts to eat the right amount of food. Stress is a major reason why you end up eating even when you’re not hungry. So, managing it is key to avoiding binging or overeating episodes where you can’t stop.
Here are 5 steps to manage stress:
- Identify if you’re a stress eater;
If that’s the case, you know what to do – keep trigger foods out of your food environment and save them only for special occasions. Don’t put yourself in situations where you’d need to fight temptations.
- Identify the stressor(s);
We’re talking about stressors you don’t feel you have control over. Stress at work? Money, health issues? Dig deep and find what makes you lose your head.
- Mitigate the stressor;
Found your stressor? Now, ask yourself what can you do about it. Can you fix it or should you avoid it entirely?
Say, you have health problems. Create an exact plan on how can you manage your condition. Then, execute the shit out of that plan and move on.
- Replace stress eating habit with another habit;
As you probably know, ditching an old habit without changing it with a new one is a losing strategy.
If you feel the urge to eat even if you aren’t hungry, find another enjoyable thing to do instead. How about calling a friend, reading a book, taking a hot bath, walking a dog?
- Throw calorie-dense comfort foods the fuck out;
I’m about to blow your mind, so take a seat.
Ready? Alrighty, here it goes:
If your kitchen is stacked with calorie-dense, highly palatable foods, there’s a very good fucking chance you’re going to eat them. Clean up your personal surroundings. If you don’t have highly rewarding foods around you, there’s less of a stimulus to self-medicate your stress with food.
6. Move Your Body
Our distant ancestors had a word for exercise: life. Now, we have a different one: calories.
Stop viewing exercise as a tool to burn calories. Sure, burning calories is helpful, but it’s a distant second to the psychological, hormonal and chemical changes that exercise starts—changes that allow you to gain control over what you eat.
Ideally, I would want you to dive into resistance training. However, it’s important to pick activities that fit into your schedule and that you enjoy or else, they may be unsustainable. If you can’t lift weights, do some walking, gardening, riding a bicycle. It all counts.
The key to remember here is simply to do it. Every day.
Oh! Don’t underestimate walking.
It can be a crucial component of a well-rounded weight loss program. Unless you’re Frodo Baggins, schlepping the One Ring to Mordor with the fate of humankind on your shoulders, walking is easy.
So, just do it.
If weight loss is your goal, think about how you can implement these six steps in a sustainable way. All six strategies are going to help you stay mindful, stay active, and move you closer to the healthy and lean body you want.
So, stop whining, wheedling, complaining, and take the freakn’ action to get closer to your dream body.
And if you want to avoid the scams, pitfalls, and problems that most people fall into, hire me to guide you, maybe? (I promise to swear less, okay?)