How I went from “dieting” to living a healthy lifestyle!
You guys hear from us all the time, so we figured we'd let you hear from someone who has been through the journey herself! Misha Theron is a world traveler, hard working mother of two, and fitness enthusiast. She has had some amazing results on her fitness journey, and we were lucky enough to have her share some of her secrets! She’s tried fad diets, intermittent fasting, calculating macros, and more-- and has come out 27.5lbs (12.5kg) lighter, as well as with a body fat percentage reduction of 12%. Pretty impressive. Misha shares our views that results only occur when you change your nutrition. Without further ado, let’s hear from Misha herself:
We’ve all been there: “I’m going on a diet from Monday,” or, “This year I'll get that summer body and wear a bikini with pride." I used to be the queen of fad diets and short- lived enthusiasm to “get in shape." It's one of those things we all secretly want but at which very few of us actually succeed. Bombarded left and right by fitness advice and advertising all suggesting that having six packs and perfectly toned butts is just a few shorts weeks away. Sadly, I've tested more of these claims, diets and theories than I'd like to admit and can safely say (with great disappointment) that it's simply, well, not that simple!
It's a Long-Term Lifestyle Change!
Maybe you’ve heard that before, or maybe this is the first time you’ve come across that “pearl of wisdom." Either way, you are most likely rolling your eyes and thinking, “Great, this is going to be super unhelpful! I'm looking for DIET advice here." But bear with me, I’m about to explain how you can use these so called “fad diets” as tools in your new, healthy way of life!
Over the last 2 years, I have successfully brought my body fat percentage way down from the obese range (starting at around 32% body fat) to now an athletic level of +/- 20% BF. In this time I've figured out what really works... the magic answer, the fat-loss equation, if you will. *Drumroll please*... A caloric deficit! Now, you're probably thinking a few things here:
But Misha, that sounds so very simple and obvious!
I hardly eat much at all, I would be thin if that is true!
What about exercise? Isn’t that the key? How have you not mentioned Crossfit?
I'm here to tell you it is scientific FACT that if you are in a calorie deficit, you WILL burn fat as fuel. It's all about that energy balance of calories in vs. calories out.
Simply put: Consume LESS calories then your body needs to function and it will be forced to burn those love handles or tummy rolls to keep going! On the flip side, give your body MORE then it needs and it will happily store it in its favourite fat storage site, a.k.a. your problem areas. Exercise can and will help widen that deficit by expending more calories but you CANNOT out train a bad diet. This is the basis of every diet, meal plan, weight loss remedy, magic potion, breakfast milkshake or any other advertising gimmick you have fallen victim to in the past. I've been there and I’m happy to be on the other side where the sun shines bright. I have an occasional cookie and I'm not trying to live on air, tears and some random “health shake” or green detox sludge!
Cookies and sunshine? Sign me up!
Here are the golden rules I follow throughout the year and how you can get started:
Calculate your calories and a moderate deficit to start. Always try to keep your calories as high as possible while still losing fat . A 10% deficit can do the trick. There is no need to starve. Use an online calculator or hire a Weighted Plate coach to get this magic number.
Accurately track your food through out the day. If you are not losing weight, you very well may be eating more than you think (and more than you need)! I've successfully used the My Fitness Pal app, but you can use any method you choose. Just make sure you are accurate and honest.
Consistency not perfection! You will have bad days. We all do, no one is going to be perfect 100% of the time. As long as you are consistent 80% of the time, you will see results. Don’t let a bad day, week or even month stop you from achieving your goals.
Is this really sustainable?
So now we need to address the biggest issue: how do we make this a sustainable way of life versus a short term diet? This is where most of us fail. Heavily restricting calories, eliminating whole food groups and adding crazy amounts of cardio ultimately ends in a crash and burn. We cannot maintain that extreme and who would want to? Its misery! Luckily, there are a few “diets” or eating philosophies that allow us to eat well, from a large variety of yummy food groups while still losing fat!
If you are commitment-phobic, like me, you will benefit from exploring different ways of achieving that deficit and staying in it. Throughout the year I like to cycle through different lifestyles/philosophies! After all, if the main idea is to stay in a deficit, why not keep things interesting within your calories? There's more than one way to eat for fat loss and I've compiled a list of my favourite strategies that I like to use below.
Once you’ve calculated your daily caloric needs and downloaded a food tracker, its time to decide from where those calories will come! Having guidelines will help you to succeed and take the guess work out of it. Here's a summary of the tools I use to stay within my calorie goal throughout the year. Being able to switch between these as I get bored has been the key to my success.
The best place to start if you're new to calorie counting is “Flexible Dieting." Flexible Dieting simply means you can eat whatever you want as long as it is within your allotted daily caloric intake! Sound simple? It is! Of course, the healthier your choices, the more you’ll be able to eat, as “unhealthy” choices tend to be very calorie-dense. This is how I started out and was quite successful. It was a great way to ease into less calories and for my body to adjust.
Easy and fuss-free
No need for meal plans or elaborate recipes
Can start right away
Risk of burning muscle as well as fat due to not meeting your protein need
Does not promote healthy food choices or help us break bad food habits
“IF” is one of my favourite ways of staying in a deficit. IF generally means fasting (only consuming water or black coffee/tea) for a minimum of 16 - 18 hrs per day, allowing for just 6-8 hrs to eat your allotted calories - This is known as your "eating window" or "feeding window." IF helps your body learn how to burn stored fat and fuel. And an added benefit is that often by shortening your eating window, you eat less calories. An example of how I generally fast on a normal day:
Fasting 8pm - following day 12pm
Eating Window 12pm - 8pm
By skipping a meal (usually breakfast but you can choose your own eating window), you can then have larger lunches and dinners without going over your allotted caloric intake
Helps free up time by taking your mind off food
IF has many great health benefits besides just eating less, such as:
Increases glucose tolerance
Can take some time to adjust to it both mentally and physically
If It Fits Your Macros
If It Fits Your Macros or “IIFYM” is kind of the gold standard of diets these days. It's the ultimate balanced diet and definitely the diet you want to be striving for in the long run. IIFYM uses a scientific formula to calculate your exact macronutrient requirements. This formula takes into account your height, weight, gender, day to day lifestyle and hours of active exercise per week and gives you very precise diet goals to meet daily to get the most out of your diet and workouts.
These “diet goals” are given in the form of macronutrient amounts in grams and/or percentages. This means you are not only given a calorie goal but those calories are further divided into macronutrients: protein, fats and carbohydrates. IIFYM requires you to meet these macro requirements almost perfectly.
IIFYM is by far my favourite way of eating. When I’m able to stick to it, I see the results fast and drastically. I usually follow IIFYM strictly for a few months at a time, taking “breaks” in between by using one of the other diets just to allow some more freedom and then jump right back into it.
Followed by most serious bodybuilders, competitors and athletes
You can eat from all the food groups “if it fits your macros”
Most successful way to not only lose fat but to actually change your body shape (body recomposition)
Is supplementary to an active lifestyle, allowing you to get the most out of your workouts by allowing the appropriate amount of carbs
Maintains muscle mass by ensuring you have a sufficient amount of protein daily
Has a large learning curve
Requires a bit of planning ahead in order to make sure you meet your macros
Hard to eat out as you have to track every ingredient
Note: These cons can be eliminated by getting a coach to write you a meal plan according to your macros.
The Ketogenic diet, known as “Keto”, is one of the most effective ways to drop fat fast. The Keto way of eating is very strict and precise. The concept is based around eating high fat and extremely low carbs in order to force your body into a state of ketosis, wherein the body burns fat as fuel instead of carbohydrates. There are no grey areas; you have a specific list of foods you can not touch and a list of accepted foods which you can eat in whatever quantity you like.
As high fat foods are extremely satiating, it is very unlikely you’ll be able to eat large amounts and so you do not need to really track anything while on Keto. You automatically stay below your calories even while eating until full. I've personally done two “rounds” of 8 weeks of Keto in my weight-loss journey so far. Both times I've used it as a tool to break weight loss plateaus and as a sort of “reset” to get rid of cravings and bad habits. It's a huge change from how I usually eat (high protein, moderate carbs and low fat) and is a nice break from tracking and thinking about macros. For me it is certainly not a long term lifestyle but many people love this way of eating and never look back.
Has been proven to be very effective in fat loss
Stops all carbs and sugar cravings
Very good for those who suffer from insulin resistance
Stay in a deficit without feeling hungry
Doesn’t require much tracking
Heavily restricts and eliminates whole food groups such as fruits
Can get really boring to always eat fatty foods - lack of variety
Requires a lot of time to adjust including an initial “Keto flu”
We hope you enjoyed hearing from Misha. Go ahead and show her some love on her social media: @mish_magik. And if you have any questions about any of the types of nutrition regimens to which she has referred, please reach out to us to schedule a complimentary consultation today!