This morning I ran across an impressive article by Psychology Today.
Having studied psychology extensively in college (especially health psychology) and then having spent over a decade of front-lines experience coaching clients, I’ve learned that theories don’t always hold up in the real-world.
But the ones that do can be extremely helpful with navigating lasting transformation.
Anyway, this particular article struck gold in terms of permanent weight-loss insight.
Here’s the story:
One day a physiologist wanted to lose 180lbs using various fasting diets, carefully watching his protein intake and taking a host of supplements to avoid nutrient deficiencies. At first his weight-loss was measurable and people showered him with compliments. But after a few months the compliments and ‘pats on the back’ dwindled and his motivation dried up.
He told the author (who was a grad student at the time):
‘This process seems endless, and I am not sure I have the patience to stick to it long enough to get to my goal’.
In fact, he felt as if he was in a dark tunnel with no end in sight. And that he knew that his weight-loss would slow down as his body adapted to his new lower calorie nutrition.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t psychologically pick himself up from this hang-up and dropped the diet before hitting his weight-loss goal.
From this experience, the author realized that what most diets need to be doing is teaching people to be patient with the process.
It would be no different than learning to play piano, tennis or a new language. There’s a certain expectation that mistakes in those environments will be made and progress will be gradual — but for some reason this perspective is missed in weight-loss.
"Losing weight permanently also requires mastering a new skill. The skill includes making appropriate food choices, maintaining a fitness routine, dealing with stress without overeating, and acceptance of a new body shape and life-style."
— Dr. Judith J. Wurtman
And here’s where most people go wrong:
"But when the focus is only on weight loss and not on acquiring the skills to maintain it, it is understandable why patience is lost."
Boom! This is rock music to my ears. Most people only focus on weight-loss when the only thing in their direct control is their skills. Weight-loss is the result of those skills mastered.
What are those exact skills?
That could very well fill multiple newsletters (and a future MBB might do that) but if we take Dr. Wurtman’s list it gives us a solid start:
For more skills of lasting transformation and permanent weight-loss:
If you look at the majority of packaged foods, they have some claim or some messaging trying to spruce it up and make it seem healthier than it really is.
“Made with real fruit”
“No sugar added”
“No cholesterol” (Even though peanut butter shouldn’t have cholesterol to begin with…)
Anyway, it can be confusing navigating some of these labels — especially when it comes to frozen foods. In an article published on She Finds, nutritionist Lisa Richards and dietician Trista Best share their thoughts on frozen foods to avoid.
#1: Frozen Veggies With Additives
“Frozen produce made with added sugar, oil, dressings and cheeses have added calories that aren’t necessary and will negatively impact your weight loss.”- Lisa Richards
Just the other day, I was searching for cauliflower rice (which is great as a rice substitute that I love tossing into eggs) when I saw bags of frozen broccoli with cheese… sauced veggie mixes… and “veggie tots”. So Lisa is spot on, sometimes healthy these frozen veggies will have extra ingredients that somewhat “spoil” their benefits.
In fact, this is a golden example of Jack Lalanne (the godfather of modern fitness) saying:
“Don’t spoil healthy foods!”
#2: Frozen Vegan Microwavable Meals
“The sodium, fat and calorie content in most of these meals makes them among the worst vegan foods to purchase.”- Trista Best
I’ve personally noticed the selection of frozen vegan meals has slowly grown over the last few years. Vegan chicken filets… vegan Italian sausage… and even vegan ground beef. And while these are convenient, easy to make, sometimes tasty (key word: sometimes) and have the air of ‘healthy’ attached to them many are not.
And like Trista mentioned: the fat, sodium calorie-content and ingredients can be less than desirable. I’m sure there are exceptions to this.
For example, one brand I love is Quorn (not corn) which is made of mushrooms and depending on what you cook with it, you wouldn’t have a clue that you aren’t eating meat.
Here’s one more thought on frozen veggies:
Some people will poo-poo them (that’s the scientific term) and only buy fresh produce. And some people are great at making that work.
In my experience, when people start getting serious about cleaning up their nutrition they initially struggle with fresh produce — largely because they aren’t used to preparing it, eating it and cooking regular meals with it.
That’s where frozen veggies are a great way to stock up on veggies without the urgency of devouring them before they go bad (and mushy). Plus, veggies that are frozen lock in their nutrient content. Fresh produce is a different story. As soon as it’s harvested it starts losing its nutrients and continues to do so as it sits on the shelves.
So ultimately find out what works for you (and avoid the pitfalls above)
For my most in-depth training on mastering your nutrition, workout habits and mindset check out a free issue of Mind-Body Breakthroughs.
One diet that frequently gets the buzz is the ‘raw food diet.’
Basically it entails only eating raw food
Meaning: uncooked vegetables, fruits, unprocessed nuts, dried meats, nut butters, sprouted grains or legumes, fermented foods (such as sauerkraut or kimchi).
Like many diets, they usually have some positive qualities (along with some not so good qualities). And while it’s extremely difficult to find the pur-fect diet, you can always find aspects to adopt into your nutrition.
It’s like Bruce Lee’s famous quote:
‘Accept what’s useful, reject what’s useless’
Find what’s useful out of any diet and you can’t help but improve your skills at mastering nutrition and finding a plan that works for you.
With that said, here are some thoughts about the raw food diet and what you can take away from it:
#1: Minimal Processed Foods
Look at the average meal in America and you’ll find TV dinners, packaged snacks or cereals (which in some cases are broken down so much they are almost considered pre-digested). Many of these go beyond just processed and are ultra-processed foods. These abominations are linked to increased cancer, type-2 diabetes, obesity, depression, IBS, damage to the heart and early death and much more.
Here’s what researchers have said about these Franken Food’s:
“Typically contain little or no whole foods. Durable, convenient, accessible, highly or ultra-palatable, often habit-forming. Typically not recognizable as versions of foods although may imitate the appearance, shape and sensory qualities of foods.”
Scary stuff. That means the further we run from these the better.
#2: Boosts Your Nutrient Consumption
As a general rule, the more that foods are processed the less nutrients they contain (in a moment I’ll share the exception). That’s one reason extra virgin olive oil beats regular olive oil. The processing of regular olive oil strips away many of the beneficial micronutrients (aka polyphenols). With that said, consuming more unprocessed foods (like the raw food diet suggests) would do most people a ton of good because they would consume a heck of a lot more nutrients than from their microwavable dinners.
#3: Some Vegetables Release More Nutrients When Cooked
While processing can breakdown nutrients, there are some vegetables that actually have higher nutrient-density when they are cooked. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that cooking made the following foods more nutritious: broccoli, tomatoes, carrots and pumpkin. Interestingly, cooking also releases more sugar-content from carrots.
#4: Feeds Your ‘Gut Buddies’
When you consume more vegetables (raw or cooked) you are helping your gut microbiome in a big way. One reason is because of the increased consumption of fiber is just what your good bacteria loves to chow down on. The better you take care of these ‘gut buddies’ the better they take care of you.
#5: Beware of Digestive Distress
Here’s where raw veggies can go bad. I’ve had many clients over the years who can only handle so many raw vegetables. They can handle it in small doses but if they overload their system with bowls of uncooked broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage they are in for gas, bloating and abdominal discomfort. Because of this, they do better incorporating some raw and cooked vegetables in their diet instead of jumping into the deep end.
Like many diets, they each have their limits.
But if you can grab ahold of the positive qualities and incorporate it into your nutrition plan — you can’t help but improve and find more ways of eating that support your health and your weight-loss goals.
For my most advanced monthly training on the mindset and skillset of getting into the best shape of your life — grab a free issue of my Mind-Body Breakthroughs newsletter.
Get Serious About Fitness Again
For taking your fitness journey further, faster and achieving lasting transformation - grab a free issue of the Mind-Body Breakthroughs newsletter.