Next Level Eating and Exercising
Updated: Jul 13, 2021
Introduction to The Way of the Next Level Hero
"The Way of the Next Level Hero" is our philosophy for living a more loving, peaceful, and joyful life as an adult based on our experiences and wisdom learned from studying the thought leaders of multiple disciplines.
Next Level Eating and Exercising
The world is filled with diet and exercise routines. While they work for some, many heroes find them to be unsustainable. According to a UCLA study on the efficacy of diets, “Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority. Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people” (Wolpert, 2007).
Diets can feel too restrictive on what foods can be eaten. Exercise programs require daily motivation to overcome the allure of work, chores, and leisure activities. The problem with these healthy lifestyle programs is that they’re not customized to the individual. They prescribe a one-size-fits-all solution which is rarely if ever practical.
I was overweight and when I was finally ready to address the situation, I devised my own program for getting healthier and lost 70 pounds. I found a balance that works for my body and that I’ve been able to sustain for 8 years and counting.
Next Level Eating and Exercise is NLH’s philosophy for food and fitness. We offer no prescribed calorie counts, foods to eat, rep counts, or exercises. We do offer empowering beliefs for your dietary and fitness habits that provide a balance between enjoyment and health.
Let’s start by addressing food consumption…
We all love foods that aren’t always “healthy”. Sometimes you’ll want to tear into a pizza, rip open a bag of chips, and bust out some brews. Then you think to yourself, I really shouldn’t. I want to but this isn’t allowed by my diet. I should opt for the kale instead.
You don’t have to give up foods that you love, just eat everything in moderation. The idea is that you don’t want to feel deprived of your favorite foods and you don’t want to feel like you overindulged. That cake looks delicious, but has a lot of sugar. I’ll take a small slice so I can enjoy it but don’t go overboard.
If you feel that you tend to eat too much, there are some strategies you can adopt. Ensure you’re being present and aren’t eating on autopilot. Consider fixed portioned meals where you fill your plate to an amount that you think is ideal and make it difficult to go for seconds by putting the rest of the food away. Or better yet, if you load up your plate with healthy foods like fruits and veggies, feel free to go up for seconds on those because you can eat a lot of them guilt free.
Take a sip of water between bites. This will fill you up more quickly and force you to slow your eating so your brain can catch up with the signals from your stomach. Also, make sure you’re enjoying each bite fully, chewing for longer than normal if you’re used to eating quickly. This lets you savor the flavors and forces you to slow down as well. A game I used to play was “be the last person finished eating”. I’d look at the plates of those around me while eating and make sure I had the highest percent of food left on my plate at each stage of dinner.
Learn what your body likes. Figure out how many times a day you like to eat and at what times. If you ate X number of meals yesterday and felt great throughout the day, try that again today.
Find the balance of nutrition your body needs. How many green vegetables do you need to eat for fiber, how much protein do you need to get enough energy, how much cheese can you eat before a date, etc.? Also, learn your tolerance for different types of foods. For instance, how much sugar causes you to crash? If I eat too much dessert, I have little energy for the rest of the night.
Just start experimenting with and keeping track of the different eating strategies that allow you to enjoy your favorite foods while feeling healthy and comfortable with your choices. Make a pact with yourself where you agree to the balance you want to strike in your diet. Share your pact with a family member or friend so they can help you stay accountable. When you’ve established a balance between veggies and sweets, there is no need to ever feel deprived or guilty. You’ll create your own strategy to help your body operate at peak performance.
Exercise doesn’t have to be spending 10 plus hours per week at the gym. If you enjoy that then great. However, many heroes are drawn to the gym to fit into a societal mold. Let your desires and preferences guide how you exercise, not anyone else’s.
Exercise is important but the way it’s done should be tailored to you. My favorite way to exercise is to go on walks/hikes in nature. I do them often, enjoy them, and can be productive in other ways like calling my family or having a business meeting. You can also listen to music or to podcasts that fascinate you and help you learn.
Make exercise fun for you. The important thing is that you move your body. Avoid exercise that is too strenuous because it can lead to burn out after a few months causing you to quit or worse, get injured.
The best source of motivation for staying active is a workout buddy. They help keep you accountable and vice versa. Get together regularly with your partner, friend, or family member for exercise. Go on walks and have great conversations. Throw a frisbee, join a sports club, or workout at the gym together. Having a workout buddy makes exercise more fun, motivating and sustainable.
Bear in mind that life is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes you’ll overeat or not exercise for a while. That’s totally fine. If, overall, you’re eating and exercising in a way that helps you to feel energized, clear headed, and satisfied, then you’re doing great.
There is no one-size-fits-all program for diet and exercise. Don’t blindly rely on others' advice because, though it may work for them, it most likely won’t work for you. These lifestyle choices should be customized to your body and your desires. Enjoy your favorite foods in proper moderation, find your ideal nutritional balance, and eat in a way that you’ll be happy with in the present and in the future. Exercise in a way that you enjoy, you’re happy to continue, and includes a partner. That is The Way of the Next Level Hero.
Wolpert, S. (2007, April 3). Dieting does not work, UCLA researchers report. UCLA. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/Dieting-Does-Not-Work-UCLA-Researchers-7832