How to NOT diet in 10 steps

“I need to lose weight, i am going on a diet from Monday”

“OMG! I have a wedding coming up, i need to lose weight, i am going on a diet tomorrow”

“Summer is here, gotta fit into that bikini, no more rice or bread for me. I will stick to that cabbage soup”

At some point in our lives we have all heard the above phrases, heck, we may have even said them ourselves! Monday never really came or even if it did, it didn’t stick around for long, that cabbage soup?..well it tasted good for a few days but then came out all the cakes, pizza and the oh so delicious ice cream..all in one sitting. And that wedding? well that wedding came and went and so did the kilos.

Before i proceed, let me explain what i mean by DIET as it’s meaning could be confusing.

DIET = “a special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons “.

Now, i am not talking about being on a diet for medical reasons, that’s not what we are discussing today. I am referring to restricting food, foods that you love just to drop that number on the scale.

So here is the thing… diets DO NOT WORK! sure, they may work for a day or two, or a week, heck even for a month but they don’t work long term. Why? well, i won’t get into the technicalities but in short.. well…we have brains, because…psychology. Your brain will LITERALLY fight you to stop dieting. Have you ever told yourself you are going on a diet and at that moment is when you want to consume everything you are not suppose to? that muffin suddenly smells even better than before, that doubly rich chocolate cake somehow looks richer than usual and that cookie? well that cookie is screaming your name.

The story usually goes like this:

Yusra wants to lose weight -> Yusra decides to go on a restrictive diet -> Yusra is happy she lost 3 kilos in one week because she stopped all carbs -> Yusra is thinking this diet is AMAZING -> Yusra misses her usual food -> mhh maybe this diet isn’t so great, she is bored -> Yusra has enough and binge eats everything that comes her way -> Yusra regains the 3 kilos and then some -> Yusra gets frustrated and says THIS diet doesn’t work and attempts to look for another 😕

so what happened there?

Well Yusra stopped eating “Carbs” and in one week she lost 3 kilos, hmm..she didn’t lose fat kilos, all she lost is water weight. You see, for every gram of Carb you consume, you retain 3g of water, so when you stop all carbs, you also stop storing water..this is what’s known as “water weight”. So she is happy she lost 3 kilos and carries on with the diet, but now she starts to get weak, moody, frustrated, misses her usual meals. Of course she is weak, carbs are our MAIN fuel source (yes yes, the Keto team may want to debate here but facts are facts!) and when you stop Carbs fully, where are you getting the energy from? you don’t. Now, Yusra is tired, frustrated and decides to say “Screw this diet, i am done” and starts consuming everything that’s unhealthy coming her way. Diet is over and hops onto another diet and sadly, the cycle continues.

Again, DIETS DO NOT WORK!! want to stick to those fat loss goals and NOT deprive yourself in the process? keep reading!

  1. STOP stressing about losing weight. When you stress about losing weight, when all you think about is losing weight, it becomes even harder to lose weight because your stress hormones fight against you and yes you guessed it, you start comfort eating and overeating, which is NOT what you want when trying to shed some fat.
  2. STOP weighing yourself every hour of the day. This does not help! Your weight can fluctuate 2-4 lbs within 24 hours! it’s down to so many other things than just body fat. So stop weighing yourself daily. Every 6-8 weeks is a good time to get an idea of how you’re doing but then again, the scale isn’t the best indicator to measure fat loss progress. The whole muscle mass vs fat weight scenario..a topic for another time.
  3. DON’T cut out food groups. You like rice? have your rice, you like bread? have your bread! what you do want to do is control your portion size. It’s about sticking to the foods you love but CONTROLLING how you COOK them and how you CONSUME them. Starchy carbs are best metabolized when paired with fiber (think veggies) and protein. So have your rice but have lots of veggies with it and some grilled protein, this will leave you fuller for longer and helps control the rice portion size.
  4. THINK QUANTITY!!!! High Calorie dense foods vs Low Calorie nutrient dense foods. The latter wins! when you are trying to lose fat, the last thing you want is to eat and still feel hungry afterwards. What you want to do is eat foods that are low in calories but very nutritious and filling! this way, you can eat as much of it as you want without going over your calorie limit and staying fuller for longer.
  5. Fruit juice vs fruits?..fruits! every time! juices have more sugar than their fruit counterparts. Think of it this way, a glass of orange juice is squeezed from 4-5 oranges..you wouldn’t sit down to eat 4-5 oranges in one sitting would you? also the fiber leaves you fuller.
  6. WATER! WATER! WATER! A lot of times we think we are hungry but in fact we are just thirsty. Dehydration is the culprit of so many things including mistaken hunger, tiredness, moodiness etc. Stay hydrated! You want to consume at least half an ounce or an ounce of water for each pound you weigh and some extra if you are very active. Example if you weigh 100 lbs, you want to consume between 50 oz – 100 oz of water daily depending on your activity levels.
  7. This is the most IMPORTANT one, ORGANISED EATING! know 24 hrs before what you are going to have for lunch, breakfast, dinner, snack the next day. When you know what you are going to consume, the chances of you grabbing whatever that’s in front of you when you are hungry is slim. It’s all about planning. Going out with friends for dinner? no problem, keep your breakfast healthy, lunch healthy, snack healthy and that little dinner indulgence won’t affect your journey one bit!!
  8. STOP buying junk! You feel for a chocolate cake, plan to go buy just the one piece and not the whole cake. When the things you are trying to limit aren’t in front of you, the likeliness Of you going out and getting them is slim. By the time you go out, you’d have changed your mind about eating it. Out of sight, out of mind!
  9. EAT SLOW!!! DON’t rush through your food. It takes our brain approximately 20 mins to register that we are full. So the slower you eat, the more time you give your brain to communicate with those satiety hormones in your gut telling it that “oi, i am full now, slow down”.
  10. EXERCISE! EXERCISE! EXERCISE!! when you exercise, you somehow automatically will want to eat healthier and also you will burn a lot more calories. This will help you get to that goal a lot faster! plus, exercising does all these other amazing things to you, both physically and mentally 🙂

Fat loss is simple, yes hard to follow but simple. It’s mostly all down to CALORIES IN Vs CALORIES OUT!

If you consume more than you burn = Weight GAIN

If you consume less than you burn = Weight LOSS

If you consume as much as you burn = Weight MAINTENANCE

You want to lose fat? organise your meals, plan them, learn how to balance what you’re consuming so as to stay within your calorie limit and please please STOP dieting and stop depriving yourselves of the foods you love. Work around them, know what to consume around those foods so as to stick to your calorie intake.

BALANCED NUTRITION + EXERCISE = RESULTS..

EVERY TIME!!!!

Till next time xx

Yusra

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WHY I STOPPED WRITING MEAL PLANS

When i first started, i use to write customized meals plans and they were great ( if i should say so myself). A combination of a well designed meal plan and a tailored workout program lead to some amazing results. However, the more experience i got, the more people i met, the more people i helped, the more i came to the realization that by writing meal plans, by telling my clients what to eat and what not to eat, i was not helping them at all. Sure, meal plans are great short term but what are they actually learning long term? What happens when they wake up one morning, take a look at the plan and not feel for anything that’s on the menu? what then? what do they eat? they wouldn’t know because they become heavily dependent on the plan and can’t really think outside of it.

Being told what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat is great but what purpose does that serve you in the long run? do you actually learn anything when it comes to nutrition? does it actually make you want to put an effort into learning about nutrition so you can equip yourself with knowledge that you can someday pass onto someone else and help them? or even knowledge that will allow you to decide on what to eat for yourself to fuel your health and fitness goals without needing someone like me to hold your hand through the process? sadly, it doesn’t. Meal plans are just that, plans. Plans that some day you may wake up and not want to follow but are then stuck because you don’t have any other back up plan that you could follow.

So one day i decided to stop making meal plans. Instead, I TEACH and COACH my clients on HOW to eat healthy, how to eat to fuel their goals, how to eat intuitively. I teach them how to listen and learn about what their body likes and doesn’t like. I teach them how to help themselves without always needing me, teach them how to eat confidently and make better choices with confidence. You see, the trick isn’t to cut out food groups. NO. It’s never that and if you ever come across a nutritionist who tells you to stop eating carbs or bread or rice or never have that slice of cake, look for another nutritionist!! (unless there is a medical reason behind it)

A sustainable, healthy nutrition isn’t about never having that slice of pizza or never having that cake. It’s about balance, its about organised eating. It’s about sticking to the foods you love but cook them healthier. It’s about learning what your body likes and what it doesn’t and listening to it and responding to it accordingly. It’s about having a healthy relationship with food and not let it prison you. It’s about not feeling guilty for having that piece of cake and knowing it is OKAY to indulge with balance. It’s about spending time to LEARN about what a healthy nutrition is and how to eat for your goals and not about starving yourself just so you can loose a couple of pounds on that scale. It’s about enjoying meals with your family and friends and not about avoiding social gatherings because what may be served may not be in your plan.

I stopped making meal plans because they serve no purpose in the long run. I wanted to give my girls something permanent, i wanted to equip them with nutrition knowledge that they will always have whether i am around or not. I wanted to equip them with the confidence to make the right food choices to fuel their goals without having to depend on some plan.

This journey is hard enough as it is without having to stick to some meal plan that you don’t enjoy. Sure, you will enjoy the meals for a short term but then what happens after 3 months? 4 months? what do you then when you are bored with the meals on there?

I stopped making meal plans and i haven’t looked back because when my girls can still enjoy their cakes, cookies and pizza and still come to tell me “heyyyyyy i am closer to my goals and i didn’t even have to diet and i love my food” that’s all the proof i need that what i do now works!!!

FOOD IS GLORIOUS, FOOD IS WHAT FUELS US, FOOD IS NOT THE ENEMY, FOOD IS LIFE!!!

Till next time xx

Yusra Es-haq