The magazine headlines at the grocery store checkout stand are hard to ignore. Things like “Blast Away All Your Gross Parts in 15 Minutes or Less!” or “How The String Cheese Diet Can Help You Live to Be 100” seem purposely designed to make you question yourself as you checkout with a grocery cart full of frozen dinners and dog food (the latter is for your dog, not for you). Sure, you’d like to have the body of your favorite actor or singer, but it feels impossible. It seems like it would take time and money you simply don’t have. That may be true, but a few small tweaks to your diet and lifestyle can lead to a noticeable improvement in how you look and feel.
Think of the last time you saw a celebrity you’ve never heard of posing in a bikini on the cover of a magazine. The magazine probably said something like “How (Celebrity) Got Back Her Body After Baby, and How You Can Too!” First of all, “got back her body” sounds like someone stole it and she had to hire a private detective to track her body through the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. Second of all, remember that celebrity’s body is literally her livelihood, and she has the money and time to pay a fancy personal trainer named Todd to come over and yell at her. She also probably has a personal chef who can make her meals. Celebrities know that their bodies are under constant scrutiny, and it’s especially bad for women. For roughly ten years, Jennifer Aniston couldn’t eat a plate of nachos without some magazine accusing her of being pregnant. It may seem unfair that celebrities can afford trainers and nutritionists, but the amount of scrutiny they get is also ridiculous.
So where does that leave you? Well, next time you go to the grocery store, start in the produce section. Make fruits and veggies the first items you put in your cart. You don’t need to buy five dozen oranges, just get what you can eat before it goes bad. Whether you get organic or not is up to you; some people prefer it, while others feel like it’s too expensive.
Once you’re out of the produce section, head to the meats and consider buying a little less than usual. Not everyone has the desire to go vegetarian or vegan, but cutting back on red meat can be beneficial. Consider “Meatless Mondays” or “Tofu Tuesdays” as an experiment in trying to eat less chicken, beef, and pork.
Then there’s sugar, which can be incredibly addictive. It’s so easy to eat dinner and then start looking for dessert. Try to only have dessert one or two days a week rather than after every meal. The longer you do it, the easier it will get.
It’s also important to talk with your doctor about your body’s specific nutritional needs. As an example, women are more likely to be low in iron, so your doctor may want you to focus on eating more leafy greens and beans. You can also ask your physician about adding supplements to your diet, as they may have specific recommendations for you based on your medical history and other factors.
If any of this feels too, well, subtle, then that’s sort of the point. You’re much more likely to stick with it if you make a series of small but consequential changes. Those people who lose 100 pounds in six months probably aren’t going to be able to keep all that weight off long-term. It’s a lot easier to work going for walks a few times a week into your schedule than it is to spend two hours at the gym six days a week. So start working on yourself, and don’t be intimidated. And next time you’re at the checkout stand, look away from the magazine rack.