(with inputs from Mr Siddharth Khare)
Baby Steps to start a New Diet
The main problem with rigorous ‘Dieting’ is that it typically fails within 5 weeks or so, and main reason for the failure is mental fortitude. Your brain and body does not adapt to the random stress put on it and pushes you to break your diet.
If you are on a diet, suddenly you will begin to notice a lot of Cake shops on your drive, mysteriously you will end up in the cookies section of the super mart. Suddenly you will find yourself at too many celebrations, birthday parties, anniversaries, etc. And at such an event invariably you are near the sweets counter. Remember this is the time when your mother will find time to prepare ladoos for you, and give you a couple of kilos of that indulgence in a nice air tight container to be kept at your desk.
Finally, all resolve gives way to temptation and you end up crashing out of the diet. It is time that you recognize -> your body and brain is signaling to you to stop the diet.
There is a lot of science of weight-inertia, metabolism, etc.. for explaining why your body does this to you, however the simplified reason is that you were ‘miserable’ during the diet and by using the signaling mechanism the body puts you out of your misery.
And why were you miserable!
Because you put sudden stress on your body. The designer diets are all good, but if you adopt them suddenly your body is not going to adapt to it. It is analogous to taking your vehicle which has been running on petrol all the while, and suddenly you switch to diesel as a fuel, resulting a complete engine breakdown
Hence, it is important to adapt to a diet, rather than adopt it!.
Exercise or Diet
How to begin your fitness journey -: from diet or with exercise or with both simultaneously?
Many opt for the third option, enroll in a gym and start their diet at the same time. If there can be a superlative for wrong, then this is the most wrong option. Exercise of any form initially is going to increase your calorie requirement, and diet of any kind is going to modify your calorie intake at the same time, a double whammy, and double the misery.
I would suggest to begin with the diet. New exercise regimen gives muscle aches and those aches take you away from fitness. If you want to begin a sustainable fitness journey, then diet is your starting point.
Which diet to follow?
Simple answer: None
Don’t go for designer diets at the start, what I recommend is baby steps towards your diet goals, slide comfortably without stress into your zone, and most importantly without misery.
Step 01: Just Note Down
Before you begin a diet, for 3-5 days just carry a diary, or on your phone, simply record what you are eating. Don’t modify your eating habits while doing this, just create a log of what you are eating. The simplest way is taking a snap before eating. And yes include the snap of your drinks too, that tea/coffee break is also important to note.
While noting down, take a snapshot of the time also. (Important!)
You will get an idea of the portions you are consuming, light snack, heavy, coffee, and at what time you are consuming them
Step 02: Shred the Obvious
After 5 days you will become aware that your body has an eating pattern, a rhythm that it has got into. This rhythm comes naturally, maybe because of the lunch timings at your office/school or maybe it is that 4 O’Clock tea or snack time, when everyone is going and you follow the crowd.
Now this is important, no matter what you do, do not break this rhythm.
The moment you alter this rhythm, the misery we talked about will creep in. So if all your friends/co-workers are taking a snack break, better go along with them, otherwise alone at your desk, you are going to get bored. These breaks are also important for stress relieving and maintaining balance, without breaks your tensions will pile up, and guess what, you will feel miserable.
So the wise thing to do is to tweak what you are consuming.
Common things that people do wrong are: consuming soda/soft drink, cups of coffee, eat a fried snack like Samoa, some even go for a thick milkshake, french fries, burgers etc..
If you have noted down, these obvious things will stand out in your list. Now just substitute them with alternatives.
So, if you have to drink a soft drink use the diet version, better replace it with coconut water,
A nice salad with all exotic toppings for taste is still healthier than burgers and fries
Switch to black coffee!
These little tweaks will go a long way in improving your overall intake.
But remember, it will not be easy, it takes time to acquire the taste of black coffee. Plus some of the foods you are consuming are addictive in nature. Hence focus on taste to tone down the addictive tendencies, diet does not mean bland food. That’s why use all toppings you want to make the salad tastier. Flavored Tea is another great alternative. Carrying tea bags of Strawberry or Blueberry tea is convenient, plus our taste buds are also satisfied.
Second thing is to watch out portion size. For example if you are eating a nice lump of rice, don’t cut down on it just because you are on a diet. Your body rhythm is also in sync with your energy needs, if you cut portions, fatigue and tiredness will set it. So, if you are eating a Jumbo Burger replace it with a Big Salad (Seinfeld reference!!!) not with lemon tea.
This will be your first baby step in diet, try this out, and only when it becomes a routine in 2-3 weeks move to the next step. Remember you are in it for the long term, patience is the key and we want to achieve our goals in a happy way.
Plus, we do have a job or that exam to attend to!
Disclaimer: The points mentioned in this blog are my personal views, and they have worked with me as I tried to juggle professional life and fitness goals. Common sense came to my rescue and I am sharing my experience for the benefit of all. Do not treat this as medical advice, if you have any specific medical condition do consult your doctor, and in general before making any lifestyle changes, it is good practice to check with your doctor