We have essentially two forms of fuel available to us, fats or carbs (sugar). I found it very difficult to buy in fully when we started to switch the way we ate from high carb to high fat because I was afraid of the damage or harm we could do to our health. To be honest I was also afraid of getting fat. The problem as I see it is that we have been conditioned all of our lives to believe that fat is bad, it isn’t. Or at least not all fats are bad.
As a result, when we cut the amount of carbs we ate I continued to eat what I thought of as “clean” ie; lean meats, veg etc and I found it hard to eat a lot of fats (I’ll come back to this point again) I then very quickly learned that cutting out carbs and not giving my body an alternative fuel source meant I struggled massively in training and racing. I just had no energy.
Even though on an intellectual level I bought in to and understood the whole logic of the high fat low carb thing, I really struggled with a lifetime of “emotional” programming. I wanted to be fitter and healthier but I found it very difficult to eat a big plate of bacon and eggs fried in butter and believe that not only was it not going to kill me but that it would actually have the opposite effect.
It has taken a long time to undo that programming and get to the stage where I eat all the fat on the meat, in fact I eat the fattier meats and make sure to load each meal with fats in the way that I once would have loaded up with carbs.
I’m not paleo, I do eat carbs. I also do eat cake and the occasional ice cream. I don’t believe in going through life feeling like I’m living a life of constant sacrifice and self denial. As soon as you think you have to give up something you are starting on the wrong tack. When I stopped smoking in ’99 I read Alan Carr’s book and it changed not only my life but the way I thought about smoking. I had tried countless times to “give up” cigarettes, always failing. It was only when I switched my way of thinking (after reading Carr’s book) and started to think of myself as a non smoker (something I could be proud of) as oppossed to giving up cigarettes (a sacrifice I would have to struggle with every day for the rest of my life) did I really have success. I never smoked since and can’t even imagine ever smoking again. It’s as far from my reality as heroin or crack cocaine.
Making the shift in how we think about food has to be made in the same way. We need to buy into the changes first and they need to be sustainable, something we can do for the rest of our lives. Not eating sugar isn’t a sacrifice, it’s a choice. Thats not to say that it wont be hard initally but if you focus on the positives instead of the “sacrifice” you are much more likely to succeed.
Thinking and more importantly feeling proud of being the person who eats healthily is the most important step towards making lasting changes. You can’t live your life feeling like every day is a sacrifice, you just wont last. If you do there will be a “I’ll just have one” moment which will lead to “just one more”
Make the choice that being healthy is what you want and that by eating correctly you will get what you want, the positive side effects are what most people focus on first, less fat, look better naked and the bonus is that these changes will be permanent and simple to achieve if you make health through the correct food choices your first aim.
I will do a post on good and bad fats over the next week or so but in the meantime check out Professor Tim Noakes. He explains it much better than I can.
Buy into the process not just the result. It’s the only way to have the health and body that you desire.
I have written a report examining how 5 of the most successful Irish Ironman triathletes have qualified for Kona an incredible 29 times. You can access it free here.
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