I’ve maintained my 158 pound weight loss for 12 years, and throughout those years I’ve been asked a lot of interesting questions regarding my experience. I’ve been asked questions that are way too personal in nature. I’ve also been asked a lot of very technical questions regarding diet and exercise, and I’ve been asked many questions in between.
One question that I don’t think gets asked enough is: “Does it really matter what you eat?”
The reason I don’t think this question is asked enough is because the answer to this question goes beyond just losing pounds on the scale, and heads right to the heart of your long-term health.
What do I mean? Well, certainly you can lose weight by eating chocolate cookies all day long provided you keep the calorie count low enough. And yes, you can lose weight by drinking some of those diet shakes that are advertised all the time. But what are you really accomplishing and learning by losing weight using those unhealthy methods?
Nothing. Yes, you may lose some unwanted pounds but at the same time, you may be missing a very important lesson. When you have the desire to lose weight, it’s important to not just focus on the numbers on the scale, but also to focus on your overall health, habits, and nutritional well-being. If you just focus on the scale numbers without learning how to eat in a healthy manner, you may have a hard time maintaining your weight loss for the long term.
I personally knew one woman who told me that she had recently lost 65 pounds. I congratulated her on her great success and asked her what she enjoyed about her new life. She said, “Well, I like that I can fit into smaller sized clothes.” She then proceeded to tell me, “You know what? All I eat all day is junk. As long as I watch my calories for the day, I literally eat chips, cookies, and drink Coke most of the day. I never eat anything green.” I was shocked. I wasn’t shocked when I ran into her about 14 months after our initial meeting and saw that she had gained most of her “lost” weight back.
She’s not alone in her methods. I have met many people who feel the same way she did. I want to encourage you to go beyond the calories on the back of the packages and begin paying attention to the nutrient content in the foods you are eating.
Remember that food is the fuel for your body and if you are regularly putting in high-fat, high-sugar, high-sodium fuel into your body system, you are missing out. I’d encourage you to spend some time researching what foods are good for you and in what quantities.
Personally, I make sure to eat a well-balanced diet of lean meats, vegetables, whole grain breads, fruits, and low-fat calcium-fortified choices. I’d encourage you to do the same, whether you are trying to lose weight or maintain your weight. The difference in my energy level when I eat the right foods and when I do not is measureable.
As you work on getting healthier, don’t just count calories and fat grams. Instead, look at your diet as fuel for a healthier body from the inside out.