Dieting is hard. Consistent dieting is practically impossible. So how do you create/implement a lifestyle that is healthy and consistently enjoyable? Well, educating yourself is a good start. Here’s some of the stuff I’ve found that helps me feel good about being a naughty eater:
Bacon – There are several reasons to eat it: it makes all food taste better, it’s delicious, the fat rendered from it can be re-used for cooking, and it’s delicious! Unfortunately for many, the guilt of indulging in bacon may hamper the experience. Tragic really … until now. Hello clear conscience eating! So bacon can make you a better lover? If you weren’t sold already…
Salt – So I guess salt doesn’t cause heart attacks to anyone/everyone who eats it now? Thought of another way, I guess it makes sense looking back to the pre-fridge era when salt was the meat preservative of choice. To be clear, I’m talking mostly sea salt here and other quality table salt. Stay away from the stuff they use in frozen meals, snack packs, etc. That stuff is typically of low quality and in high doses to mask poor quality and to appeal to our American palate.
Chocolate – Dark chocolate is my favorite food, period. I’m just thankful to justify the 1 or 2 (or 3) oz. I take in daily.
Steak – Beef gets a bad rap. For the most part, for good reason. However, quality grass-fed beef is a totally different story! I try to stock up at local farms as they’re typically a little cheaper than the farmers markets which are typically cheaper than Whole Foods.
Eggs – Originally thought of as nature’s perfect food, then an unfortunate victim of the flawed lipid hypothesis, eggs are trending upward in the health industry! They’re delicious, versatile, and can be extremely convenient. Hard-boiled eggs are like protein shots. For me however, I absolutely love cooking up a mean loaded omelette on the weekends!
Coffee – it works for me. Being a caffeine junky is one thing but having a cup or two daily is totally cool in my opinion. I’ve found personally, and with several clients, that it improves the quality of our sessions. And, since we’re not working out that much, quality is of great importance! I will say however that every now and then I’ll take a few days off from caffeine; to avoid dependency, avoid the possibility of getting headaches, and leading up to an event to reduce the risk of cramping. This is strictly a personal decision based on experience. Overall, I’m a fan!
Booze – this one’s a little harder to sell but here’s my take on it as a 30 y/o male who still likes to party every once in a while without being “that guy.” It’s a part of our culture and to me, a little easier to swallow than the let’s-fatten-each-other-up-by-facilitating-overeating/carb binging aspect of the American get-together. So, consider it a sensible indulgence. Our bodies can handle it every once in a while. In fact, if done in moderation, studies show benefits to overall health from drinking beer, wine, and whiskey! And, thanks to Intermittent Fasting, we can perform damage control before/after a night of less than sensible drinking to serve our penance. This is the main reason behind my weekly Monday Fast. Also, I really like this post about drinking by a extremely ripped and strong dude across the pond.
Butter – There are some really passionate opinions regarding this creamy fat out there! This guy thinks it’s the devil. Frankly, I go with these folks because I like the taste, the way butter makes me feel, and I trust thousands of years of “wise traditions” over modern medicine.
Overeating – for as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a “good eater.” Many moons ago I accepted that I cannot really eat normal, balanced meal portions. For me, it’s all or nothing. So, I’m either fasting or overeating. I’ve felt bad about this before, and have tried to fight it. However, after reading this enabling piece, I feel like I’m doing the right thing for my body. So keep this in mind next time you see me in action ... don’t judge!
Now for the caveats:
When it comes to feasting and famine, you must have balance!
These indulgences are all considered “sensible” and each have some sort of beneficial health properties – you will not see me killing a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, funneling Natty Ices, smoking butts, or dropping 20 bills at Dunkin.
In general, it is much more efficient and effective to use diet as the tool for improving body composition over exercise. Put another way, don’t exercise like a freak so you can eat like a slob (no offense to the endurance sports community) and still look decent. Eat wise for at least for 80 percent of your calorie intake. Be active daily. Exercise hard 1 to 3 times per week. And when you do workout, go absolutely all out! Since you’re not doing it all the time, you’re more likely to get consistently high-quality workouts!
Find out more about my training methods at laidbackfitness.com.