My fitness journey – part one. The food.

First, you need to have in mind that I am NOT a licenced fitness trainer or nutritionist. I’m just someone who has been through a lot of diets, workouts, tried a lot of things before I came where I am today. This is something that works FOR ME. I’m writing this because a lot of people ask me “how did you do that?”, “what kind of excercise are you doing?” , “what are you eating?” etc.

I was always…well…the big one. I loved food (still am) and there’s no big mystery about that. While I was growing up I was fat and considered myself “not the type for sport”. I tried many diets but I always came back. The reason wasn’t that they were shit (those diets worked for some people, although the famous “yo-yo effect” is always present when you stop the diet), it was my motivation, that is, the lack of it, that was the problem.

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The motivation has to come from within you. You have to be your own motivation. Not the society, your boyfriend, your friends or that summer vacation you’re planning to go on. The moment everything started to change for me was the moment I realised how badly I was feeling. Not the bad-I-don’t-fit-in-that-jeans feeling but the it’s-hard-for-me-to-walk feeling. When I became aware that I was heavy to myself I realised I need to change my eating habits and start to move.

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My journey began when I joined to a Fitness club “Ludilo”  Insanity programme. I went there for 6 months, but haven’t really, truly changed my diet (although the trainers said to me I won’t get the results I want if I don’t change it). You can assume, I was still big. BUT, because of muscles, not fat. Still, it wasn’t what I wanted for myself. The trainers there taught me how to perform the excercises the RIGHT way. I was doing the simple push-ups wrong! So, please, before you do anything at home, just google “how to + excercise you want to do”. It’s very important because you can really hurt yourself (that ISN’T excuse for you not to work out at home). People often said to the trainers online that you can do these excercises at home. Yes, you can. But for people like me, it was a lifesaver to have a person who knows how to correct me, right there beside me.

The insanity programme may be a little to hard for beginers or people who are trying to insert workout as their habbit in life. I stopped because it was too hard for me then (I am thinking of going back now).

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I had a semester off so I decided to use it in the best way possible. I realised nothing will change for me if I don’t change my diet. Forever. Not for 3 weeks or 6 months. FOREVER. In that time, all the fitness programmes were “in”. The TV-shows and social networks were filled with articles/videos about healthy food, workouts in 5-minutes you can do at home, online fitness programmes you can join, quick-and-easy fat burning foods, teas, advices…It seemed to me that we were overwhelmed from all of that information that were often contradictory.

I found the book my parents bought years ago – I started to read The zone from the author Dr. Barry Sears. For Croatians – you can read the first chapter here. You can buy the book (here costs around 10 Euros)in Algoritam book store or you can borrow it in a library.

I really recommend that you read that book. You don’t have to read it thoroughly, you’ll get the point pretty soon and realise what chapters are for you. He talks about the zone and how he started it and tested it on the world athletes and then he explains it all. The main things I’ve learned and the main things that I use everyday are:

  1. Start thinking about food like it’s your fuel to live. I think my (Croatian) culture/ generation was raised in the way that the whole family gathers at the lunch/dinner table. And eeeeverything is about food. What will we eat for lunch today? What will you eat for dinner? What will we eat tommorow? When our friends come over – what food will we give them? I think it’s ok to “get out of the zone” sometimes (the key is to do it as rarely as possible).
  2. Eat 5 times a day – 3 big meals, 2 little meals. The 2 little meals you can arrange how you wish. I eat my 1st little meal between breakfast and lunch and the 2nd one before sleep (it is because I eat dinner earlier and go to sleep waay later so my body doesn’t became overly-hungry). Time between every meal shouldn’t pass more than 4-5 hours (you’ll see how it works for yourself), with little meals you extend the time for 2-3 hours (between the big meals).
  3. The measures. I am one of those people who are waay to lazy to count calories (they explain that in the book too). It’s just too much work for me. Dr. Vanja Grbac Gredelj (who wrote the sequels and the Cookbook in the zone for Croatians) has a  Hand rule solution for that:

    So, your palm size conducts how much protein you’ll have in the big meal (for meat, your palm size and the thickness of your palm), the vegetables you measure with two hands (how much you can grab with two hands). Your fist is the amount of “bad” carbs you can eat like pasta, potato, rice etc. Your thumb (the last ankle of your thumb) is the amount of fat you can eat (olive oil etc.)

  4. Nothing is forbidden. I eat everything. Veggies, potato, rice, meat, fish etc. Yeah, ok, I try not to eat chocolate and cake everyday and don’t drink coke but I give myself once a week the famous “cheat day”. There are times, I admit, it transforms itself into a cheat week (I’m human too), but the key is that you come back. You don’t have to feel guilty if you eat that burger or pizza (they are not that bad – the meat, the salad…exept the bagel and pizza dough. And the amount of cheese 😀 ) you wanted so bad. Just try to avoid eating that and “bad sugar” everyday. You can eat a cube of dark chocolate (not the whole bar), it’s not gonna kill you. Also, have in mind that fat isn’t that bad…it helps you to burn your own fat (of course, the right amount of it).
  5. It’s not that complicated. Listen to your body. It knows what it needs. If you’re feeling like eating baked potato – eat it. BUT, you can put it on a tray and bake it in the oven with a pinch of olive oil. You don’t have to fry it.
  6. What is the zone? The zone is the good hormonal balance in your organisam. It’s better explained in the book (biologically) but in practice…it means: the right ratio of carbs, protein and fat (40%:30%:30%) in your diet, physical activity, omega 3 (fish), using the right fat (olive oil, almonds).

It’s not about losing weight (although you will loose it), it’s about eating healthy and changing your (bad) eating habbits. This doesn’t come overnight. It will be hard. But trust me, if you’re consistent and even though you astray a bit(it’s important that you get back to that), you’ll feel so much better and have a waay lot more energy to do anything.

Little hacks:

  1. Although I looove coffee (the Turkish way) it can be really bad if you drink it too much (especially if you have someone with the heart condition in your family). I drink it only in the morning. In the afternoon, I replaced it with the green tea.
  2. About detox tea – I am not a big fan of those…although they can help you loose weight, I don’t think they are healthy for you (it’s that contradiction of information I talked about the beggining of this post). I tried it, but I think it doesn’t do anything more than a simple green tea.
  3. Although the fruit is good for you, have in mind that they are also carbs (good ones, but still carbs). So, when you plan your meal and plan to eat f.ex. an apple before lunch, have in mind to count it in with the carbs you’re gonna have for lunch. I repeat, everything is about amount.
  4. Throw out the white bread. Eat the black bread. I recommend that you make your own bread. I know it sounds complicated, but it really isn’t (I’ll make a post and give a recipe – with rye and integral flour). The thing is, I  tried to eat that black bread they sell in those “healthy food shops” and I don’t like it (the people I talked with, told me the same), so I make my own.
  5. The food is very important, but you also need to move. Every day. Take the stairs, walk on your way to work/school (or at least half of the way). Use the situations you are in everyday to make yourself going. If you combine that with a workout, you will feel soo much better, I promise.

And for the end remember:

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