The last ten years have relieved me of the need to torture myself with food. I'm a comfortable size six and have the body of a person perhaps even ten years younger than I am. Better yet, I eat cheesecake (on occasion) and enjoy it. So what's my secret? A few suggestions you've heard before: you probably know the basic rules of nutrition even if you don't follow them; and others that will allow you, in fact, to follow them.
Regardless of whether you have five pounds to lose or three hundred, whether you yo-yo, binge, graze, fast or starve, whether you are a couch potato or a competitive athlete (and I have all types among my clients); this book will give you not just everything you need to know about fitness and nutrition but the will to incorporate that knowledge into your life.
Diets don't work: they're seductive, they're fun, but let's face it, if they worked, a zillion dollar diet industry wouldn't be coaxing people to do ridiculous things of which no ethical doctor would approve. Changes in lifestyle, behaviour and attitude, however, do work. That's why this program (note I don't use the heinous word "diet") is a way of life. It feeds you inside and out. The heart and soul of this book are the 10 Change4Good Principles©. I developed them during the dozen years in which I've been a certified personal trainer and nutritionist as well as a lifestyle and wellness coach.
My approach: Before I explain them to you, I'd like to tell you about the many ways in which my approach differs from the many that take up squander space in magazines and air time on talk shows.
Unlike those diets, my program is not a trend, a fad, or the latest celebrity diet. You won't hear some movie star or celebrity boasting "I lost thirty pounds in thirty days!" and a year later see her thirty pounds heavier; having gained everything back. Instead, the ten principles reflect not only cutting edge science but the combined wisdom of my many years in the field as both a trainer and nutritionist and a (formerly) desperate and chronically unhappy dieter (see My Story). Here is psychology, biology and a little bit of the salve that makes all systems go: a little belief in yourself.
Throughout my years of practice, I've trained a wide variety of clients, among them: Canada's world champion ballroom dancing team, nationally ranked swimmers and marathon runners. I've counseled entire hockey and soccer teams as well as age-ranked gymnasts. In the civilian world, I treat doctors, lawyers and stockbrokers (talk about people under pressure), and brides (people under even more pressure); women who've just given birth, families and dozens of ordinary adults and teens.
In the corporate world, I've worked at AB Sciex, Ceridian, Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada, Mercedes-Benz, YMCA, the Running Room and Texas Instruments, to name just a few. My advice appears in print (magazines like More, iRun and Wedding Bells) and on both radio and television (I've been a featured speaker on both nationally and locally syndicated talk shows). Through all these experiences, the Change4Good program and ten principles evolved.
CRIB SHEET: What Change4Good is and what it isn't:
It's not a fad
It's based on principles that are meant to seep their way into your consciousness and change your ways of eating (and coping) for good. Unlike the chocolate or single-nutrient diet, the program is designed to sustain you over the long haul. Because its premise is based on long-standing principles of science and nutrition, it may evolve, but it won't disappear with tomorrow's headlines.
In my experience as a nutritionist, rigid food plans don't work; flexible principles do. Whether you're a Type A workaholic with no time to reduce a wad of kale into manageable portions or a stay-at-home type with too much time to stare into your soul (and the refrigerator); you can incorporate these principles. They're portable. They go with you on your honeymoon in Paris or your next business trip to Seoul. You won't need to abandon them simply because they don't mesh with your culture, background, weather or even your mood on any particular day. You maintain the ability to "season" them.
No whacky ingredients, complicated rules or food shipments that can take a bigger chunk out of your budget than they take out of you. Anyone, anywhere, can follow it. But just because the program is simple, doesn't mean it's easy. When I first discovered you needed to drink one to two litres of water a day, I thought it was impossible. And for the first week or two, it was. Constantly, I was forgetting to drink my water (Now where did I leave that water bottle?) Also, I was getting annoyed. I had to go to the bathroom constantly.
It wasn't until a few weeks into employing the principle that I realized I wasn't overeating as much as I had been during meals, I wasn't feeling as tired, and my skin was glowing. Suddenly, a simple habit that didn't seem so simple, after while became a much cherished part of my routine.
The beauty of the 10 Change4Good Principles© is that they work, if you work them. You see results. Now, while other people run around with their expensive and caloric frappe drinks, I have my low cost, no calorie water, which I carry in an earth-friendly way.
Old habits are hard to relinquish. You adopted them, at least initially, because they gave you pleasure. To replace them, even with those that you know will serve you better, requires both consistency and a kind of steely determination. That's why the program is holistic. It takes into account the fact that change isn't just physical. It requires cooperation from the mind, the heart and the soul; areas that too many trainers, dieticians, nutritionists and even doctors ignore.
Early in my practice, for example, I learned how ill-prepared people were to handle stress. They'd come in to see me Monday morning always with some excuse: "My mother was ill." "Relatives came to visit." "I was under terrible pressure at work." Well, problems, hardship, stress; they're facts of life. If you decide to abandon your better habits every time a stressful situation emerges, you'll never get rid of your less helpful habits. This is why I also include principles that focus on your entire well-being, not just those that can be weighed and measured. Live well, eat well: the two go hand in hand.
It trades perfectionism for consistency and moderation
The best way to achieve change is reasonably. Focus on small steps. Make one change that you know you can handle and the satisfaction you'll gain from employing it will spur you on to try another and another.
You'll be surprised how quickly small steps add up to large and meaningful change. And don't expect yourself to be perfect. All or nothing attitudes with black and white thinking are lethal. The ten principles coax you to be good, not perfect. They even build into them a little room for "cheating" (see Principle 8). Most importantly, don't beat yourself if you fall short of your desired objective. Instead, ask yourself: where did I mess up? Was there a reason? What can I do to improve? Responsibility is different from guilt. Guilt isn't the way to succeed at healthy eating; at healthy anything.
It's grounded in reality
The program keeps you accountable by giving you tools to measure and monitor your results. Are you in fact losing body fat rather than muscle; real inches and real pounds of body fat? Are you gaining muscle, both physical and mental? You don't want to get too attached to figures and numbers, but then you can't ignore them either. Checking in with reality keeps you moving forward. It gives you cause to examine what is and isn't working and to take the actions you need to bring about the desired results. Fantasy is fine but reality lasts.
Unlike so many of the more bizarre plans out there, this one doesn't demand that you cut yourself off from your social circle. In fact, it works better if you involve your social circle in your program, gently. Few people can achieve anything without support from the people around them. Think of those in your life who will help you; take long walks with you when you're stuck, urge you forward when you fall behind; but choose wisely. Even those we love sometimes have complicated reasons for not wanting us to succeed.
Since we tend to emulate the people around us, surround yourself with people whose qualities you admire. Share what you're doing with them. Ask for their support. And thank them by sharing what they've taught you with others whom you, too, can help. Give love, get love: it's as true as any law of physics.
And now, the principles; discussed at length in subsequent chapters, are listed below, accompanied by a few lines about each. Some are so simple you'll wince at how easy they seem; others may take a lifetime to perfect. Luckily, progress is apparent even from Day One. Remember, with principles instead of specific plans, you have the tools to change your life.