If you live in America, you’ve seen it: The note on nutrition labels that states “Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.” But what does it mean? It means that the Food and Drug Administration or FDA, needed some way to express average calorie consumption, and it decided going low was better than going high. The FDA was going to list 2,350 calories as “average,” but rounded down for a few reasons. America’s not the only country that settled on that number, as Australians are used to seeing a benchmark of 8,7000 kilojoules, which equals 2,000 calories. In reality, though, 2,000 calories is not a magic number. We have to take into account factors like our age, height, weight, and the amount of exercise we get. Only then can we come up with a diet plan that makes sense.
Be wary of fad diets
Your cousin lost 40 pounds by completely eliminating dairy and wheat from their diet. Your sister-in-law goes on “cleanses” where she drinks nothing but water made with lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup. When it comes to dieting, less is more. People are eager to remove entire food groups from their daily life, and they’ll even go on a liquid fast for a few days because they heard it “resets” their metabolism. There are several problems with that, though. One of the biggest issues? The more drastic the diet, the harder it is for the results to stick. Most of us would lose weight if we lived on pressed juice for a few days. But once we can go back to eating regular food, the feeling of deprivation we’ve been living with is more likely to send us running to the nearest greasy spoon diner to order a half-pound cheeseburger with curly fries. Cleanses can also wreck your metabolism by convincing your body that you’re starving.
That’s why it’s much better to talk to a reputable nutritionist, one who wants you to feel good more than they want you to look good. Looking great in a swimsuit won’t mean nearly as much if you’re constantly tired and cranky. Instead of spending money on fancy juices, go buy wholesale fruits and vegetables in Melbourne. Your metabolism will thank you later.
There’s an idea that we have to be a little miserable in order to achieve anything that’s truly noteworthy. But that’s simply not the case. Sure, you may have to push yourself outside your comfort zone to do something like train for a half-marathon, but that doesn’t mean running even when you’re in pain. Feeling a little uncomfortable is one thing; feeling unsafe is another. Don’t push yourself to unsafe levels. There’s a difference between “feeling the burn” and just plain setting yourself on fire (in a metaphorical sense, although you shouldn’t do it in a literal sense either).
If you wake up craving goat cheese, then look up where to buy goat cheese, and maybe get some crackers as well after you go on your evening run. It doesn’t mean you should eat goat cheese every single day, but an occasional indulgence is the difference between creating a long-term plan that’s sustainable and burning out quickly after a couple of weeks. You have to work with a solid foundation in order to build something that will stand the test of time. Give yourself room to breathe and room to grow. Ignore the magazine covers with stories of people who lost 100 pounds in a year, because there’s a decent chance they’ll gain all that weight back relatively quickly. Losing weight is the easy part; keeping it off is hard.