What does the word restriction actually mean? To restrict something means that you are controlling or limiting something. In this case I like to talk about limiting or controlling our food intake and limiting and controlling the amount of complacency that inhibits fitness growth.
Many want to believe that simply eating healthy is the key to weight loss. Explain that to someone that is eating healthy yet the weight won't budge. Explain that to someone that has 200lbs to lose or has lost that much and can't seem to push past a plateau helping them to hit a comfortable state of being. The cold hard truth is one that urks me time and time again in the weight loss world "eat healthy- lose weight" and I beg to differ with anyone that this is the true key to weight loss. Eating healthy is apart of being healthy. One can get skinny from eating crap (want to try the twinkie diet?) One can gain weight from eating healthy (I can attest to that!) It's going to come down to metabolism and what affects metabolism largely is quantity (calories) coming in and quantity (calories) going out. You can restrict your indulgences and food intake without counting calories. It's about passing the dish when you are not hungry and skipping out on all the treats/snacks. Even if you count calories don't let the industry make you feel bad for learning self control! This irritates me and hardens the heart for anyone that is truly trying to lose weight. I want to mention not only is important to monitor quantity of foods but also the quality. Yes it's important to eat nutrient dense healthy food options. Yet I go further and tell you that restricting your refined sugars, alcoholic beverages, poly fats, saturated fats, salt and excess carbs are ways to restrict yourself as well.
There are wrong ways to do everything in life! Over train your body and run the risk for injury. Undermine the calories coming in and you will only hurt your metabolism and not help it. So I will say there has to be measure of restriction that is going to prosper controlled results that will allow you to lose and transition smoothly into maintaining. It's called a balanced lifestyle. I would never want to myself or a client/follower to restrict themselves to the point that they don't listen to their body. That restriction is often defined by culture, society and the Biggest of all "Apps" and "calculators" that claim to scientifically prove to know what you should be restricting to to lose weight.Truth is these are best guesses at best for how your body's metabolism will operate. I have discussed in length about the factors that affect your metabolism and real quickly they include (hormones, age, water, sleep, calories, exercise, sugar, stress etc)
Either Way- Don't restrict yourself to the point of self harm. Avoid going under 1200 calories and always listen to the cues in your body that it's time to eat. I've talked before the difference between emotionally eating and truly being hungry. Those feelings include headache, nausea, stomach growling, shakes, fatigue, grumpy mood, mood swings and the onset is usually gradual. Where as emotionally eating people can often ask themselves "am I hungry" and really be able to tell. The onset is quick and impulsive and they often 'crave' something to the point of mental obsession (back and forth to the fridge, standing at the pantry door wandering the shelves for something to eat). Trust yourself if you are truly hungry you'll grab and apple or fresh veggie without a second thought! If you are emotionally hungry you are apt to grab the chocolate bar over the eggs.
You really need to learn self control and limiting yourself to food that are not healthy or too bountiful for your goals for weight loss or maintenance. Self control is something that we don't want to have (food is often meant to make us feel good!) if we limit that we often limit how content and happy we are. If you are one of those people you have fallen into the trap of emotional/comfort eating and I ask you the Dr. Phil question "how is that working for you?" If you don't learn to control your food/fitness then perpetually you will cycle up/down the scale and in/out of healthier living.
Balance yourself for every upside there is a downside. Over restricting yourself is incredible counter productive. If you never indulge in a treat or a not so healthy food choice then you will feel deprived. That deprivation scratches at the obsessed part of most people that really need those "comforts" from food.
Deprivation is a powerful word and I adventure to say that most that hop on the path to total transformation go into extremist views about restriction that actually border on deprivation. Are you giving yourself anything? Are you never having occasional snacks or indulgences?
There are three types of weight loss people (IMO)
1) All in- they are IN IT- they want this so bad and for the first time in their life they are so ready for change that they are Not even willing for a second to consider trusting themselves with snacks or occasional indulgences. Others view them as being too restrictive and will scorn you for "depriving yourself"
2) They are half in- they want it- they see it- they are working toward it but they find themselves not willing to give up total control to balance between having the comfort food once in a while vs all the time. They are losing weight for a while and then they fall off track because they just can't seem to handle the restrictions they have set up for themselves.
3) The last person has balance- they are committed and they are willing to start restricting themselves and then taking small steps to learn self control by controlling and planning indulgences. They understand that there is nothing wrong with a piece of chocolate from time to time. They are willing to plan ahead and take control over their food.
(The same can be said for fitness too!)
Ultimately restriction is about balance! If you restrict too much you'll deprive yourself and that is not healthy or manageable. If you don't restrict at all then you are not willing to take self control over your life and choices.
Which are you?
How can I help you find a balance and restrict while depriving yourself?
Be pro-active! Once weekly desirably at the beginning of each week I want you to plan your food for the week ahead. I'm not even talking about creating a food menu either (heck I don't eat on a schedule, how can I ask you?) I am asking you to create a plan! How long you will restrict yourself before you create a plan to indulge. For example right now you don't have very good self control and restricting yourself is incredibly hard. Where as you would indulge daily I would ask you to go Monday, Tuesday very clean eating with restrictions against any comfort food or snack indulgences. Then on Wednesday after dinner you will plan on having a small 200-300 calorie snack. It's planned so that you won't over indulge (perhaps you visit the bakery and purchase your favorite pastry) or you buy your most favorite chocolate bar) then you treat yourself. Now Thursday, Friday and Saturday you eating clean without snacks and indulgences and Sunday Night you plan for "Dinner & Snack" (NOT A WHOLE DAY!) a portion sized indulgent eat that you can really enjoy! Although when I kick start my clients into the new lifestyle I ask for total abstinence from junk food for an entire week (GASP!) Shocker!
For example what I do is eat clean all week and maybe 1-2x weekly I'll have an indulgent snack. Once weekly I'll chose likely a diner where I'll eat something a little higher in calories or a little unclean. My go to meal is a Cheeseburger! My snack can be chocolate or maybe a cookie! I never feel deprived :)
There is still restriction even when you indulge. Don't blow your whole attempt to lose weight by having a 3,000 calorie meal/snack. Be practical and help yourself out by not acting too Gluttonous!
This can be hard for many of you. I want you to trust me when I say that when you begin to learn self control that you will earn yourself an increased self esteem. Take moments to honor your commitment toward changing your life! It won't mean anything to you if you don't celebrate the changes. Be positive in this adventure. Don't look at the restriction as something that is bad but instead good! Take joy and victory over learning self control so that the food won't win anymore but YOU win! Many of you rob yourselves of truly celebrating each day where you had self control! On the other hand when it comes time to treat yourself. Take the time to truly enjoy it. It's not a bad thing to love chocolate or cupcakes!! It does NOT mean you are unhealthy or bad. You are learning what it's like to still enjoy food without the guilt. Can you even imagine eating something without the guilt? Wow....let me just tell you when you can eat a cookie and NOT feel bad there is such Victory behind that! I myself understand that completely. I take victory in saying "No Thank You" as I pass the cookie tray but I also take Victory when I grab a cookie and enjoy it because it has been several days since something that sweet and sensual has touched me lips!
I want you to experience that :)
Learning to restrict teaches moderation and control and this day in age the people of the world need that to overcome the increasingly obesity epidemic. Always keep focus on nutrition. The more nutrient dense and varied your healthy foods the better your health. I adventure to say that you can indeed restrict WITHOUT COUNTING CALORIES!!