Have you ever set out to make strides in fitness, only to miss your goal and be frustrated in the process? That happened to me recently. At the beginning of 2012, I found myself at the same weight/body fat as when I started 2011. I made positive gains over 2011, but slacked during the holiday months. I went on a Caribbean cruise, which didn’t help, and I found myself overweight (for my standards). Starting June 1st of this year, I decided to rededicate myself fully to the health and fitness model. I went back to tracking everything I ate, every workout, and recording weekly measurements. You can also track my fitness journey on Streetztalk and chime in there too. As of Monday the 18th, I’m down 4.3 pounds and I’m on my way to getting to my best body ever. Along the way, I made five (of many) changes that brought me immediate results.

Bye Bye Bacon

I know I might seem like a traitor to #TeamBacon, but it was becoming a negative. I’ll admit that during my diet evaluation period I wasn’t working out as much, but I knew that bacon could be fattening. At one point, I had it for breakfast every day. It didn’t help that I would get it from my local bodega, where they thought that vegetable oil was the nectar of the gods. I got lax with my nutrition and had to get back to a more scrutinous observation of what I ate. There are many healthier options (chicken, turkey, or no meat at all) that I had to substitute. In moderation, bacon is cool, but for the results I wanted, I felt it was better to leave well enough alone.

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Drinking More Water

Back in 2010 when I was Rick Ross’n (overweight), an integral part of my nutrition plan was water. I drank at least a liter of water daily and in tune, cut out juices and other sugary drinks. Yes, water has no taste (unless you are in the hood where tap and quarter water reigns supreme), but the benefits are beyond amazing. First of all, your body is comprised of mostly water, so it’s logical that adding H2O would be prudent. Secondly, Americans tend to drink a lot of their calories. These juices, colas, and alcoholic beverages pack like 200 calories or more a serving…and I’m being kind. Imagine adding that to every meal? That’s almost 1000 calories a day added to your daily intake and over time that equals more pounds and more struggle. I try to drink ½ a gallon (8 cups) on average now, and I see the difference in my energy level, hydration, and skin (more vibrant, like I got that Bruce Leeroy glow). It helps me with my workouts as well. Water is good!

Cutting Out Cheese

Along with bacon, another staple of my previous diet was cheese. I marked out for cheese like my name was Steven Q Urkel. Whether on my eggs or with my sandwiches, cheese was prevalent. I decided to go a few weeks without eating it to see if there would be a change. Now don’t get me wrong, I am by no means slandering (libeling?) cheese. I just saw it as an expendable part of my nutrition plan. I’ve seen positive results, as my body fat and weight have decreased while my lean body mass has increased, so I will continue to leave it out for this 14 week period and see what happens.

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Vegging Out

One undeniable fact about nutrition is that vegetables should be one of the building blocks of your weight/fat loss plan. I decided to increase the vegetables (and fruits) in my diet. To me, I’d rather snack on a mango or some raspberries than chips/candy. Also, my dinners/lunches are packed with veggies to get that vitamin and nutrient boost. I eat more salads during lunch, and I make sure that I pack them with great veggies so that it fills me up properly. The more natural the food, the better it will be for the body! By the way, vegetables are more than just iceberg lettuce. Broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, peppers, beans (don’t slander me let me rock), and other foods of the Earth will only help you get in better shape and achieve overall better health.

Limiting My Intake Of Starchy Carbs

As a Caribbean man, rice is like a lifeline to me. I was bred on the goodness that is rice and beans, so it’s no surprise that I ate more than my fair share of it when I gained weight. Dialing back on rice, white bread, crackers, and any other starchy carb is essential if you want to eat better and get fit. I limit my rice intake to 1-2 times a week (if that), eat wraps instead of bread, stay away from crackers, chill on tortilla chips, and make sure to substitute fibrous carbs (veggies) for starchy carbs when available. Some starchy carbs digest quickly and convert to blood sugar at a rapid pace, which leads to fat storage. I’m trying to avoid that.

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The key takeaway that you should have from my personal list is that we need to KNOW our bodies. When you are in tune with how your body reacts to different foods, you will know how to adjust in order to reach your fitness goals. You can follow the baseline rules, but knowing what foods work well with your body will help you get to the next level.

What foods have you added or limited in your nutrition plan that have yielded positive results? Any tips or recipes you want to share? Let us know!