Believe it or not your diet plays a big part in whether you lose weight or not and because of that we are going to start there. Now there are a number of different diet plans out there from IIFYM (if it fits your macros), paleo, low carb, low fat, etc and later down the line we will discuss each of those individually. But right now we want to start off with something simple so that those of us who may be trying to kick start can have something easy that can be followed. And really that is the key to living a healthy life, starting with something simple and easy and slowly building up. The plan we are going to start with is the simple "eating in moderation". Have you ever decided that on Monday you were going to start a new diet, but then found yourself stuffing your face with your favorite foods like it was your last meal? Been there done that and kicked myself when 2-3 weeks later the diet crashed and I am back to doing the same old thing. I failed at that over and over and over again until I realized I was dieting wrong. I treated dieting like a chore that I had to do eliminating all of my favorite foods all together. Unfortunately that never worked because the entire time I was dieting I was thinking that once I get to my goal on the scale I would get to enjoy those same foods again. The problem with that is if you were to reach your goal you would just create a balloon effect in that you would eventually be right back to where you started from. We want you to succeed, so to start, the first thing is to eliminate the word diet from your vocabulary, at least from the traditional sense. The goal here is not to starve yourself and be miserable; it is to enjoy life while achieving your fitness goals. Believe it or not, you can do that while enjoying your favorite foods and here is how we are going to do it. Education: If you know what you are eating, chances are you will want to make changes anyway (after seeing how fast food and packaged food companies make and package their products my desire for those foods declined). So start by actually looking at the ingredients in your food and the calories. Now we know not all calories are the same as your body processes sugar differently than protein and we will discuss that further in detail in a future article, but for now we want to keep it simple. Get in the habit of making it your point in reading what is on the package or going online and reading the nutrition charts of your favorite restaurants. Tip: if the ingredients on the package are not something you can get on a farm then make it a goal to gradually eliminate those foods from your diet and replace them with healthier options (ie stuff you can find on a farm). Instead of elimination lets substitute or go smaller: We was discussing cravings and 94lt suggested when you have a craving try going for the healthiest option. The reason diets fail is because people try to do too much too soon and are miserable the entire time. The goal is to gradually change our lifestyle over time to something that we can sustain for a life time. So here is my challenge to you, every 2 weeks find something in your diet that you can substitute. If you drink 8 sodas a day make it your goal this week to substitute one or more of those sodas with a healthier option (ie water, tea sweetened with honey or healthy sugar substitute). Our goal is to eliminate more of the foods off the shelf in exchange for more produce, lean meats, nuts, and grains. Here are some ideas of other things you can gradually substitute over time: whole milk for 2%, 1%, and eventually something like almond milk, french fries for a baked potato, ice cream for frozen yogurt and eventually greek yogurt. And for those things you can not (or are not ready to) substitute, go with a smaller option. At one time I could devour a 16 inch pizza by myself at one sitting. It is obvious I enjoy pizza but instead of eliminating it from my diet I turned my weakness into a treat. So instead of ordering a 16 inch I would get one of those 8 inch personal pan pizzas and enjoy it with a small single serving of ice cream or frozen yogurt. I challenge you to do the same so if you normally would grab a Wendy's Triple with cheese (1090 calories) with large fries (500 calories) and a large drink (320 calories), consider going with a double stack (460 calories) and eventually a Jr. cheeseburger (290 calories), small fries (310 calories) or baked potato (320 calories), and half sweet half unsweet tea. That change alone will cut your intake in half while still allowing you to enjoy some of your favorite foods. Eventually we want to get to a point where we are eating fast foods less and less and choosing more foods like lean meats, fresh produce, and whole grain. Spices make foods better: When people say chicken breast, greens, and fruit when compare to what fast foods offer it may not sound so good. But I challenge you to visit the spices aisle at your local grocery store. Be careful to not choose a lot of sodium heavy spices. But you can find a lot of good stuff that are low in sodium and add an awesome kick to your meal. The right spices can turn your boring chicken breast into a meal you look forward to in the future. And for those limited on time, invest in a foreman grill not so much to "eliminate the fat" but because it cooks on both sides, so you are able to cook meats much faster than conventional methods while maintaining the moisture. Hopefully those 3 suggestions will not only get you started but encourage you that eating right is not about being on a miserable diet but learning to enjoy life, enjoy food, and eventually build to a point where healthy food just plain taste better. I personally eliminated McDonald's from my diet because frankly I can do better. The thought of McDonald's now turn my stomach because after eating their food my stomach turns and 30 mins later I am still hungry and that is after waiting 5 mins at the drive thru only to get warm fries (vs hot) and a cool big mac served to me by some worker having a bad day. Instead I can throw a baked potato in the microwave, burger patties on the foreman grill, and in 7 mins enjoy it with a cold low calorie drink. Tastes better, I know what is in it because I made it, and I remain full for much longer. FF Tip of the week: Have a sweet tooth, did you know the best time to enjoy something sweet is immediately after a workout? Next time you must have something sweet enjoy it after an intense workout. Majority of the time I will enjoy a nice cool protein shake but every now and then ill grab a hershey bar or some m&m's staying away from the king sized options. We look forward to hearing from you, so if you have any questions or tips involving this topic feel free to post below.