Written by Walter Grio
The internet is full of useful and insightful information about losing weight and how to achieve a healthier lifestyle. I’m here to offset that with what I’ve learned!
I’m not an expert and I don’t have a degree in Nutrition or Exercise Science and most of the things I’m going to share are common sense. But if having a healthier diet was strictly common sense, then why are we not doing it?
I personally blame advertising. I’m a sucker for them. I see it enough times, I’m eventually going to want it. And my kryptonite is Popeye’s Chicken. Sigh. There’s definitely no shortage of television ads for Popeye’s Chicken and it comes to you faster than “Louisiana Fast.”
Needless to say, I’m a big fan. There is a Popeye’s Chicken about 3 blocks away from me and I was so lazy that I would actually have it delivered. A few swipes and clicks on my phone and boom. Extra biscuits please.
In early 2015, I actually wanted to apply common sense and start eating healthier. But where do I start? How do I do it? How can I possibly give up Popeye’s Chicken?? With all of these extra crispy questions and spicy doubts marinating in my head, I needed a strategy. And most importantly, I wanted something sustainable. I wanted a program I could follow for the rest of my life. It’s one thing to go on a six week plan, but knowing myself, I wanted real change that I could implement as a lifestyle.
THE TANTRUM LIST
The first thing I did was list out the foods that I currently could NOT live without. Consider this list to be the foods that would make you throw a full blown WTF tantrum if someone told you that you couldn’t have them anymore. While this might end up being a long list of deliciousness at first, in truth, there’s probably only a handful of them. And if you really think about it, there might only be two or three things. For me, my list ended up being: white rice, bacon, Snickers or Twix (side story: one weekend, I had a Twix in ten different countries), fried chicken, and Coca-Cola (and later on Coke Zero).
REDUCE, REPLACE, OR REMOVE
Once I identified my list, my next strategy was to reduce my intake of those specific things. Instead of drinking Coke Zero every single day, I started drinking sweet Lipton iced tea as well. Instead of ordering fried chicken from Popeye’s, I would visit one of my favorite restaurants and order fried chicken there (with waffles). I know that sounds silly and useless, but for me, it helped. When I had a craving for fried chicken, it required more effort to get it and considering how lazy I was, my craving eventually subsided for the day. What used to be a weekly thing became a monthly thing to eventually when I only had out of town visitors. And if I had fried chicken, at least it wasn’t the fast food variety. The most difficult one was white rice. Most people may not consider this to be “that bad”, but if you’re consuming it as much as I was and you’re trying to lose weight, it doesn’t help. I knew that deep down I could not remove this from my diet. For someone who’s been eating it all of their life, it’s just not that easy. Some suggested replacing it with brown rice, but that just didn’t work for me. So I didn’t remove it. I just reduced it. Instead of two cups for each meal, I would just have one. Not trying to be facetious, but if you’re ordering a bucket of chicken, try ordering a 3 piece instead. If you can’t get rid of it, then make a conscious effort to reduce it. Less calories is less calories no matter how you look at it.
KNOW YOUR WEIGHT SALARY
As you probably already know, your body actually burns calories just to maintain itself. Simply by being alive, you’re already burning calories (even when you’re asleep). And the heavier your weight, the more calories you’re burning. If you want to know your daily expenditure, you can use this calculator here.
Once you know your number, it helps quite a bit on planning a budget. It’s like your “weight salary” sort of speak. For me, at one point, my “weight salary” was about 2,100 calories. This meant that if I wanted to maintain my weight, I had to consume 2,100 calories. But the problem was that my three cups of rice alone were already costing me 1,500 calories per day. Throw in everything else that I was eating and drinking, it was instantly clear to me why I had gained so much weight (or why I was in “debt”).
Let’s say that your current daily intake is at the level of the Roman Emperor that you are and that you don’t do any exercises. If you reduce your intake by 200 calories per day, that’s 20 pounds that you won’t gain throughout the year (1 pound = 3,500 calories). And frankly, reducing your current diet by 200 calories per day is analogous to saving a dollar a day. It’s doable and it’s a great start. If you really want to be a baller, then go for a reduction of 500 calories per day (or 52 pounds). If your diet involves three Big Macs a day, just go for two.
I think the analogy between monetary debt and diet is really interesting, but that’s for another time.
I was not known to have healthy foods around the house or in my fridge so I started to experiment on snacks that I would eat regularly. I made another list of healthy whole foods that I actually enjoy. I started buying fruits like strawberries, bananas, and blueberries and I would have them out on the counter in plain sight. It was easy to walk by them and grab a handful. I bought some almonds as well to help curb my appetite for unhealthy potato chips.
We all have those inspirational moments where we go all out only to crash back down to the point that we’re not doing any exercises at all. There were phases when I signed up for a gym membership only to have it last a few weeks. So this time, I wanted a plan that I could follow every single day for the rest of my life. And for me, it was the mantra of “it’s only 30 minutes.” I believe that if you cannot find 30 minutes throughout the day to exercise, then no gym membership or personal trainer or strategy will help you in the long run.
If you’re just starting out, you have to find something active that you can do every single day for 30 minutes. And as I’ve said to almost everyone I’ve seen in the past year, WALKING is the easiest of them all. WALKING 30 MINUTES a day is sustainable, healthy, and if you do it every single day, I can GUARANTEE you that you will want to do more after a few weeks. If you can’t find 30 minutes in your day, then break it up throughout the day. Walk for 5 minutes. Walk for 10. Take one extra lap around the grocery store or the shopping mall. WALKING for 30 minutes as a baseline exercise eliminates every single excuse you might have that day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Since launching fashiontographer.com on July 2011, Walter Grio has photographed over 250 runway shows and fashion events in Paris and New York.
In 2012, Walter Grio was accredited by the prestigious Fédération Française de la Couture du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers to photograph and cover Paris Fashion Week Prêt à Porter and Haute Couture. He also has media accreditation from IMG to cover Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York, Miami, and Berlin. He has received runway show invitations from Burberry, Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad, Akris, John Galliano, Issey Miyake, Paco Rabanne, Tsumori Chisato, Herve Leger, Andrew Gn, and others. In addition, he has photographed the runway shows of Carolina Herrera, Chanel, Elie Saab, Diane von Furstenberg, Monique Lhuillier, Reem Acra, Tracy Reese, Vera Wang, and many more.
Walter Grio is also involved in philanthropy through his Shoot for Change initiative, where money from photography go to a nonprofit organization of his client’s choice. Since 2006, Shoot for Change has raised over $130,000 for various nonprofit organizations. In January 2012, Walter Grio created the Shoot for Change Scholarship at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. Based on merit and need, scholarships have been awarded to two students to study at the JKO School.