Healthy Choices Aren't Always Easy, No Matter Who You Are

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
9/4/2012 10:00 AM   :  28 comments   :  13,436 Views

I don’t watch much T.V., but I have to admit I’m a big fan of the Olympics.  I love seeing people push themselves to their limits (which is probably why I like running marathons) and reach goals they’ve been working so hard to achieve.  I’m totally in awe of how in-shape these athletes are, and it inspires me to become a little more disciplined and focus on my own goals related to health and fitness.
 
Olympic athletes don’t get these bodies without a lot of hard work, which includes a strict fitness and nutrition plan.  They are closely monitored by nutritionists who make sure they are eating the right amounts of food at the right times for optimum performance.  It’s easy to assume that because they are being told what to eat and when to eat, it’s not as hard for them to stick to the plan.  But is it really that much easier?  Do you think that having access to someone like this would make your weight loss journey that much smoother?  My guess is “no.”
 
I’ve heard people say that if they were wealthy and had a personal chef like Oprah, or even if they just had someone to plan and cook their meals, losing weight would be easy.  Keep in mind that sticking to a healthy diet also takes a lot of willpower, especially when you’re first starting out and healthy eating hasn’t been part of your normal routine.  I think if you asked Oprah, she’d tell you that losing weight can be challenging no matter how much money is in your bank account. 
 
I would love to have someone cook for me.  But that’s not going to make it any less tempting to buy a bag of Tootsie Rolls (my favorite!) at the store, or resist going out for ice cream with my family on a summer evening.  I make choices each day to give my body the foods it needs and deserves because it’s good for me.  I make choices about when I’m going to eat treats in moderation, and when I’m really going to indulge.  I’d love to be more toned, lose the rest of my post-baby weight, and fit into some clothes that are just a little too snug right now.  I’m well-aware that some of my choices have prevented this from happening so far, but it doesn’t mean it never will.   
 
Although most people (including me) don’t set goals to look like a track-and-field or swimming star and don’t need to follow their strict dieting practices, there are some things we can learn from how they eat to fuel their performance.  Jennifer Gibson is a registered dietitian who worked with many of Team USA’s top athletes for the London Olympic Games.  She has suggestions for dealing with the food-related struggles many of the athletes (and everyday people) face, such as how to deal with emotional eating, and planning ahead.  One of the suggestions I’ve been working on in my own diet is eating as much real food as possible.  I’m trying to cut back on or eliminate most of the processed foods from my diet (so long, Tootsie Rolls….) to improve my overall health and my waistline. 
 
In a society surrounded by fast food and junk food, a healthy diet isn’t necessarily simple for anyone.  But if you can focus on why you’re making changes and eliminate the excuses, you’ll be on track to reach your goals and get your own gold medal!
 
What do you think? 


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Comments

  • 28
    This is a great article, and very helpful - it is good to know that even Olympians have to work hard and stay on track. I have a policy that says on the whole, I take care, and eat the things that are good for me, and on the days that I really need to go to the dark side, then, ok, I go. I'll make up for it some other way, but sometimes you just have to take care of that craving! I'm far from being an athlete, but I plan to give myself the healthy living lifestyle I need and want for the rest of my life! - 9/9/2012   4:13:33 PM
  • 27
    I completely agree with you. I don't think it's easy for them to lose weight either - look at how many times Oprah has been up and down in her weight over the years. I do think it may be a little easier because someone can balance their meals for them, but it doesn't take away all of the other treats and indulgences we may want. You still have to make the changes that you want to see in yourself. - 9/9/2012   12:26:05 PM
  • 26
    My favorite is Oreos. I NEVER buy them, or the cookies N creme ice cream that has them in it. I wish I could convince my hubby to never buy that stuff. It would make it much easier. - 9/7/2012   2:23:27 PM
  • 25
    Mmmmm. . . . Tootsie rolls are my favorite, too!
    I never buy them, but they seem to magically appear around here (candy from Halloween, party bags, Easter Egg hunts (add in Christmas stockings and you have a list of where 90% of my kids' candy consumption comes from!))
    Anyways, my kids know that Tootsie Rolls are "Mama's favorite" and always share willingly.
    The great thing about them, to me, is that 3-4 small rolls are a satisfying treat, without too much injury to my calorie count for the day :-D
    - 9/6/2012   3:06:31 PM
  • 24
    If having loads of money made it easier the Oprah would not have the weight struggles she is having. Food is everywhere and it can be a struggle. It taste good, smells good and we just plain like it. It's all about reshaping out lives in such a way that we don't have many failures. - 9/6/2012   2:07:31 PM
  • 23
    If having loads of money made it easier the Oprah would not have the weight struggles she is having. Food is everywhere and it can be a struggle. It taste good, smells good and we just plain like it. It's all about reshaping out lives in such a way that we don't have many failures. - 9/6/2012   2:07:30 PM
  • 22
    Hello! I am new to spark, and this sight is incredible. It has pretty much every tool that one would need to start and complete their weight loss and overall health journey! It is great to see so many success stories, as well as the ups and downs of getting there.

    I started my journey 8 weeks ago (I am on week 9). I decided for the first time in my life to actually make complete dietary changes, rather than "crash diet", or just eat less calories. I have been obese my whole life, yet have made accomplishments on multiple occasions of losing 50+ lbs in 3 months or less, etc. At one point I made a $700 bet that I could lose 50 lbs in three months, and went from 314 to 244 in that period of time. During those times, I never looked at overall nutrition. I "rewarded" myself with tons of fast food, ice cream, etc, and gained the weight back and then some.

    When I started my recent journey, something hit me. I am not sure if it is that I am now 38 with 3 young boys, or that I felt that I am running out of time, but I now choose daily to consume tons of leafy greens, egg white omlettes loaded with veggies, 30% consumption of protien from chicken, whey protien, tuna - no red meat, fruits, whole grain pasta (limited), and daily chia seeds, flax, and bran. To be honest it has been relatively easy so far, as I have dropped 44 pounds in 8 weeks, and I am losing at a rate of 5 lbs a week. Obviously it is because I started very heavy, and am burning a dramatic amount of calories due to my bodies shock of getting loads of nutrients, nutrition, and simply burning many calories due to my weight.

    8 weeks ago, I could not even stand without pain. I could not walk for 5 minutes without being out of breath. I now can walk 30-45 minutes at a time. I now swim between 20-30 laps a day. I realize that my progress is happening due to the choices that I am making meal by meal, day by day. I did hours of research daily in regard to nutritional benefits of foods, and hidden "junk" in processed foods and many other foods avaliable for convenience. I think that the most shocking thing is what is in foods that seem "healthy" in restaurants, and how terrible 99% of fast food is, much less the 100-400% profit margin that they make on each meal .I have drastically reduced said meals.

    I have started cooking for myself and my family for the first time in my life. As of 8 weeks ago, I did not even know how to cook eggs.

    Anyway, dont mean to ramble on. This sight is great, and those who participate in it! - 9/6/2012   5:23:21 AM
  • WILSON1926
    21
    Good article!!! - 9/6/2012   4:18:58 AM
  • 20
    Agree!!! I could not believe how the lbs fell away when I dropped much of the processed (or as I call them "make believe" foods!!)
    I avoid almost anything in a box except cereals. Got rid of all the white stuff I can live without. I know its quicker and easier to pop something out of a box or bag etc into a pot or pan but is it really worth it? A BIG NO on that one!! Go real!! - 9/5/2012   4:04:24 PM
  • FRABBIT
    19
    Love the tootsie rolls. Don't eliminate them entirely.
    - 9/5/2012   12:38:29 PM
  • 18
    I started my journey back in January and I refused to go on a diet - I was going to make a lifestyle change or nothing at all. The thing that helped me the most was learning portion control (I measure or weight everything until I can recognize a portion) and treating my body as a bank - if I deposit more than I withdraw, nothing will change but if I balance my deposits with my withdrawals, I can achieve my goal. This way of thinking helped me kick a lifelong sugar addiction within about a month (I used to eat handfuls of candy as I watched TV). Since I started, I can honestly say, I have not had a real pigout day - I've gone over my caloric goal but I have never just sat and ate like I used to. My goal means too much to me. Now, have I had bum weeks where I don't workout much? Oh yeah. Right after my 5K when my foot hurt and my goal was gone and the motivation evaporated. But, my food philosphy has stayed the same. And yes, I'd love a personal chef so I wouldn't have to cook or get my family to cook - not for nutrion value but so that I could spend more time fitting in the other things I do in my life. - 9/5/2012   12:02:33 PM
  • NEW_OLD_ERIN
    17
    This is a great post - it makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only one out here struggling to make the right choices. - 9/5/2012   11:57:18 AM
  • MANDELOVICH
    16
    I disagree. Healthy choices are in fact much easier because they make us feel happier and healthier over the long haul. It's about shifting how we view them. We get to take care of ourselves by exercising and eating well. This is a gift we give ourselves! - 9/5/2012   8:28:43 AM
  • 15
    For me, the hardest part is staying motivated. If I am not in a motivated mode, I doubt even a personal chef cooking for me would work.
    After all, there are stores out there with loads of junk food if I want them!

    So, for me, it's working at motivation (not easy, and hardly perfection on my part) -- and I cook for myself, which I love!

    Ahh if only someone could bottle motivation, huh? If *I* could, I would give it away for free.. I know how tough it can be.

    Debb
    :) - 9/5/2012   6:41:41 AM
  • 14
    I agree that having a personal chef wouldn't take those cravings for "the bad stuff" away. We need to learn to eat healthier! - 9/5/2012   6:15:42 AM
  • 13
    Eating only real foods - with no additives like HFCS, preservatives, chemicals/ enhancers/ colors/ sweeteners/ artificial substitutes etc. - does take more planning and TIME. More time to learn some different ways to approach food & eating, more time to shop, more time to cook. And the hardest part seems to be those emotional "just gotta EAT" days -- without falling into any of the usual "go-to" triggers. Some days I do quite well, other days.... I just don't. :( And it seems to take me several days to get fully back on track after either a"fall off the wagon" with binge/ excess eating or even a planned break from our tighter eating guidelines. Sigh. - Maryjean - 9/4/2012   11:43:27 PM
  • 12
    I agree with you totally...my husband does most of the cooking now and he is a good cook! He has also been a junk food fan and loves the rich foods...so at times it has been tough. Since I started SparkPeople and have been taking responsibility for what and especially how much goes into my mouth...no matter what he cooks...I have made strides. The best part is that he has slowly adopted some of my habits and has also lost weight...which has made him more supportive. I think athletes have a tough time sometimes too...I suspect they do a fair amount of denying themselves what doesn't work for their goals. Thanks for the insights... - 9/4/2012   9:41:29 PM
  • 11
    Thought provoking, and good. The only time I had no trouble losing weight was over 30 years ago when I lived with a financially challenged Mexican family in Mexico. Eating more than 'my share' would mean, literally, someone else got less than her/his share, so I learned a lot about portion control. I also learned the difference between "enough" and 'what I want.' Back here, however, with food (and food-like substances) so always-there, it's much harder.

    When I was a kid, my grandmother used the "think of the starving children in Africa and finish your helping" strategy. Although that's a hype (for so many reasons) when you encounter the real thing, it DOES make a difference. - 9/4/2012   3:29:39 PM
  • 10
    It was interesting how MANY of the athletes "splurged" with McDonald's food after their Olympic competition (Gabrielle's Egg McMuffin and others in interviews on the late night circuit). It would be easy for them to gain weight once they are no longer training so hard. - 9/4/2012   1:45:50 PM
  • PJF1957
    9
    I agree. processed foods are killing us all! recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and really starting to look at labels. It's really scarry!! - 9/4/2012   1:42:01 PM
  • 8
    Great article !! I'm trying to stay away from ice cream and only have it once in awhile. I really don't crave sweets anymore so something is working.
    - 9/4/2012   1:30:21 PM
  • 7
    Interesting points, you've given me something to think about! - 9/4/2012   1:21:44 PM
  • 6
    Having someone mind my cooking and nutrition would sure make it easier. For example most of August was so hot, I didn't cook. I would not have eaten out as much if I had an alternative. I'm sure my numbers would reflect it. - 9/4/2012   1:12:13 PM
  • 5
    Interesting thought process. I ABSOLUTELY loved watching the Olympics for the very same reason. I've worked so hard for so many other things. I have yet to achieve a physical goal and I'm sure that just as proud as I was to watch the gold medalist cry and listen to their national anthem I will be just as emotional. I hope that I can continue to set goals that will be as rewarding to reach...but for now. Job #1 is to reach the first set of goals. January 1st, 2013 Here I come! - 9/4/2012   11:41:22 AM
  • 4
    It's interesting you mention Oprah. I read an article she wrote a few years ago after she had regained 40 pounds after very publicly losing weight and getting to her target. Like all of us, she ran into common life issues (health issues, busy work schedule, lack of motivation) that derailed her. Having lots of money still doesn't change the fact that like every single one of us, ultimately *she* has to do the work to eat right and exercise. - 9/4/2012   11:23:36 AM
  • 3
    I could not agree more about the processed foods. I think that added sugars and portion control are keys to managing your weight. - 9/4/2012   11:06:57 AM
  • GBIBBERO
    2
    It may not make losing the weight that much easier but it sure would be nice to have someone else searching for the healthy recipes and then whipping them up for you! Don't you agree? - 9/4/2012   10:48:34 AM
  • NEWHOMEOWNER
    1
    I'm with you 100% on the Tootsie Rolls. - 9/4/2012   10:24:29 AM

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