It’s time—your gym/office/bowling league is hosting a weight-loss contest. Wherever it may be, there is no shortage of biggest loser contests and weight-loss plans on TV. And even more plans can be seen as we drive around town. But how do we set out on a 30-day challenge that actually works for us?
First, we need to firmly establish our goals: Are we in this just to win the pot at the office … or are we seeking to become healthier people in general? This will help us to plan and ensure our continued success after the challenge, as opposed to merely “sticking it out.”
Second, clear out the pantry! Dump the chips (no, don’t gorge on them all weekend just because the challenge starts on Monday), throw out the cereal, and give away your soft drinks, and, at least … well … most of your alcohol (you’ll do better at the challenge and make an instant new best friend). Don’t start off something important with the setup for failure at home. This is crucial.
Third, stock your pantry with what you need to be healthy—and learn how to cook! Eggs (know anyone with chickens?), coconut oil (or butter from grass-fed cows) to cook with, coconut flour to bake with, lots of fresh vegetables and herbs, and just a little fruit for dessert. Learn some new recipes, or you’ll be eating the same salads for a week and quickly get sick of it.
Fourth, learn how to eat out. Although the best long-term solution to weight problems is learning how to be healthy in your home kitchen, you don’t have to be a hermit. Many restaurants offer options that allow a delicious treat without blowing out your entire diet. Order salads (with oil and vinegar dressings) before the main course, look for options without lots of bread and pasta (grilled fish, steak, etc.), and remember that a sweet potato is sweet—you don’t need a brown sugar glaze on it that has enough empty calories in it by itself to sustain you for two days.
There are plenty of additional tips (exercise, journal your efforts, sleep, etc.), and there are great resources all around us (gyms, dietitians, etc.) if we just open our eyes and ears (instead of our mouths). These guidelines will empower us as individuals to stop making excuses and, instead, take control of our health.
Brian Ellender is a CrossFit Certified instructor and owner of CrossFit Houma. He currently teaches English at Nicholls State University.