• Shawn Dube

Master the basics of nutrition to help you lose weight easier

Losing weight is hard. It doesn't matter who you are, what you know, or how many times you've done it before.

But it doesn't mean you can't make it easier to accomplish.

There are always basic skills you learn before you try to grasp something that is difficult.

You learn to walk before you run.

You learn to count before you do basic math.

Too often we get caught up in the minutiae.

Is Keto the best diet? How many meals a day should I eat? Should I intermittent fast? Yet, when it comes to your nutrition, building health, or losing weight, you might not focus much on the basics.

I get it though.

It is not as cool or sexy as doing the above.

We find that this idea is too "easy".

That focusing our efforts on something so boring and trivial won't get the results we want.

Why spend weeks, months, or even years focusing on improving the fundamental habits of our nutrition when we can just take out carbs and expect immediate results?

But you can't build a strong, supportive building on a weak foundation.

The same can be said about building a strong, healthy, supportive body.

Without some foundational nutrition habits, you have nothing to fall back on when struggles hit and try to knock you down.

Trust me when I say, the struggles will hit hard.

Or whenever you do lose the weight you want, you aren't sure how to maintain it and keep it off because you aren’t able to maintain the steps you did to lose the weight. (This is exactly what happened to me when I first lost weight)

If you don't have a stable foundation to fall back on then you risk going back to your old ways. I'll be honest and say that these habits aren't something you have to do first in order to lose weight. However, if you are struggling year after year trying to make real progress then maybe it would be a good idea to take a step back and focus on some of these habits to help push you a bit closer towards your goals.

This is why I take the first month (at least) in my online coaching business with all my 1-on-1 clients to start building a solid foundation before they try to lose weight (or whatever the goal may be). It would be very easy for me to start telling clients to eat less food so that they see immediate results but I'd rather focus on building a solid base so they can keep the results than give them immediate results that may not stick later. If you'd like to be more successful this year when implementing new healthy habits and help make weight loss easier, I suggest:

  1. Choosing higher quality meals MOST of the time.

  2. Create a Supportive Environment

  3. Getting enough quality sleep

  4. Regular physical activity

  5. Mindset (Your thoughts and beliefs around nutrition)

Revolutionary information? Hell no.

Boring? Absolutely.

Does it work? When done consistently, yes. This year, don't fall into the trap of all the fad diets that will be shoved down your throat come 2021. Stop the bullshit cleanses and detoxes that produce no significant results. If you want real, long-lasting results then practice getting good at the un-sexy, boring habits mentioned in this article. If you do, I promise you will be better at maximizing your goals in 2021 towards your health and body.

Where do you start?

You don't need to focus on weight loss to improve your nutrition.

I want you to re-read that again: You don't need to focus on weight loss to improve your nutrition.

So often, we get caught up in making changes to our nutrition or habits with the only goal of losing weight.

But nutrition can be used for much more than that, such as:

Increased energy levels

Better mood and focus

Improved sleep

Reduced risk of chronic diseases

A healthier immune system

As you go through practicing and mastering the basics, don’t be discouraged if you don’t necessarily lose weight. Although these habits, when done consistently can result in weight loss, focus on other measures of progress (like those mentioned above) when building these healthy habits.

The goal is to have some of these habits be a daily staple in your lifestyle so that when the time comes to lose weight, you will have better success in doing so.

Using weight as the sole measure for progress any nutrition goal is the most common but not necessarily the most accurate. But, that article is for another day.

I don't know everything when it comes to nutrition but I do know that these are the tips that have helped me and others become successful in their own journey.

1. Choosing higher quality meals MOST of the time.

The foods you choose to eat can affect a wide variety of things in your day to day life such as your hunger, mood, body composition, health, and more.

In any nutrition plan that you want to find success with, choosing higher-quality foods will be very important.

I capitalized most because most meals should be higher in quality that helps towards your goals but every meal does not have to be. It’s just not realistic, reasonable, nor enjoyable for your nutrition to only contain these types of meals.

A general guideline is to aim for at least 80% for higher quality meals while filling the rest of the 20% with anything else you enjoy.

So please be sure to enjoy a nice slice of pizza loaded with pineapple at times without feeling the need to be perfect.

Also, if you are currently eating only a couple of higher quality meals per week but increase this to a few more that is still a great improvement that should be celebrated. Saying to eat higher quality meals 80% of the time is just another way of saying eat higher quality meals most of the time.

So don’t stress if you can’t go from eating a lot of processed foods to a mostly high-quality diet immediately. It takes time!

Focus on progress, not perfection.

What are high-quality meals?

Higher quality meals will consist of:

Lean protein sources (ex: beef, fish, chicken, turkey, tofu, etc.)

Smart source of carbohydrates (ex: potatoes, rice, oats, fruit, etc.)

Healthy fats (ex: olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, etc.)

Vegetables (ex: any!)

Higher quality = minimally processed (all foods have some sort of processing to it) whole foods.

I’m sure you already know this. I don’t need to drill into your head how healthy and supportive it is to eat vegetables.

Besides these foods providing nutrients, are higher in fiber, help control your blood sugar, they help you from overeating and feel more satisfied.

Research shows that those with a diet filled with more processed foods will tend to eat more than a diet filled with less processed foods (roughly 500 calories more!).

It makes sense.

Ultra-processed foods are made for you to eat more of.

When it comes to trying to lose weight and keeping it off, hunger will be your #1 enemy.

Focusing on higher quality meals will help control your hunger and keep you on track.

Not only does it help your hunger but you feel better overall.

How do you go about getting more higher quality meals?

You know they are important but how the heck do you start shifting your habits towards these higher quality meals?

  • Start with adding, not subtracting.

Almost every diet will start by telling you what not to eat. Instead, focus on adding higher quality choices rather than removing anything first.

Add a lean source of protein with any meal.

Add a serving of vegetables to each meal.

Add a piece of fruit for a snack.

Add a glass of water with your dinner.

Focusing on adding rather than subtracting will make you feel less restricted or deprived when trying to make a change.

The more you start adding the above, the more satisfied and nourished you will feel. The more satisfied you feel the fewer cravings may occur.

  • Make time.

If you don’t spend time planning, prioritizing, and preparing to eat healthier then it will never happen.

Simple as that.

Your life is super busy and stressful.

You have a lot going on.

Everyone and everything wants your attention.

But you make time for the things that are important to you. As soon as you start prioritizing eating healthier then the sooner you will make time for it.

Practice setting aside some time in the future for your health goals by:

  1. Scheduling a time and reminder in your calendar for grocery shopping, creating a grocery list, your workouts, or anything else you need for your health and fitness goals.

  2. Look at your week coming up and see if there might be any obstacles that will hinder your health goals. If so, what can you do about them?

  3. Spend some time creating some rituals such as meal planning, setting your workout clothes in advance the night before, etc. It doesn’t matter if it is 5 minutes or an hour, build a ritual that you can become consistent with.

  • Make it easy

I know it can be overwhelming in the beginning but eating healthy doesn’t need to be hard.

You don’t need the 10-page recipes from Bon Appetit to make a meal that tastes great and is healthy for you.

Whenever you start to make a change, start with adding the easiest change possible first.

The more you overcomplicate it, the more likely you aren’t going to stick with it.

Try making easier choices like:

  • Ready to eat protein - rotisserie chickens, beef jerky, hard-boiled eggs, frozen meat, etc.

  • Ready to eat vegetables - frozen vegetables, salad mix, carrots, celery, etc.

  • Easier prepared fruit like apples or berries. Or go with the pre-cut fruit option if have the money (#boujee)

  • Canned beans or lentils - a great source of smart carbs.

As well as utilizing tools like the crock-pot. There’s a reason why they are so popular. You throw a bunch of food in, set it, and forget it! Hours later you have your meal cooked for you. Easy!

When you start making changes, focus on being a little bit better. You don’t need a complete overall.

Always strive for progress, not perfection.

2. Create a Supportive Environment

I have pretty good discipline, can stay pretty motivated, and I know a thing or two about losing weight.

But if there are cookies in the house, I will eat them.

Not just one.

Probably all of them.

It isn’t because I don’t know any better or that I am not motivated or that I lack discipline.

It is simply because they are there.

No matter how hard you try to plan to make a change, if your environment doesn’t support this change, you could find yourself running an uphill battle.

Almost always, your environment will dictate your behavior and determine your habits.

Changing your environment is a simple step you can take that will yield big results.

Here are some ideas you can try to implement to improve your environment:

  1. Out of sight, out of mind I am a firm believer that there are no "bad" foods when dieting. There are foods that might be a more optimal choice but there is no one single food that will ruin your progress. However, certain foods are made these days to be irresistible, very satisfying, and calorie-dense which can cause you to overeat when consuming. Everyone has a certain "trigger" or "red light" food. For me, it is cookies. For you, it might be chips. Either way, the easiest way to not eat them is to not buy them or have them in your house. This is the biggest step you can take to make your environment more supportive of your goals. If you do not have these trigger foods in your house then you won't be able to eat them when you get hungry which you will. However, not everyone has the luxury to be able to do this. You may have others in your household who wants and eats your particular trigger foods regularly. That is okay. If you cannot come to an agreement with this person to remove these foods then the next best step is to remove these foods from your sight. Hide them and make them hard to reach. Put them way back in cabinets. Better yet, have whoever you live with that enjoys these things to put it somewhere where only they know. You won't even know they have it or where it is which will cause you to not even think about it. The more you leave food out insight, the more you will want to eat it even if you aren't hungry. Leaving things like boxes of cereal, candy, or any other foods that you don't want out on your kitchen counter-top, will cause you to reach for these foods when you are hungry because they are easily accessible. No matter how much will power you have or how disciplined you think you are, it will happen.

  2. Fill your house with healthy foods and put them in plain view. Use the sight of food to your advantage. Once you remove all the foods that you feel you might eat when you don't want to, replace them with foods that you do want to eat. Leave things like fruit out on your counter and make it easy to grab. This way, when you get hungry, you have no excuse but to grab it because it is easy and accessible. But first, it begins by filling your house with healthy, supportive foods. If you don't have these food choices in the house, to begin with then you cannot make the choices that you need to make. Clean out your kitchen if you can. Remove foods that you don't think will help you become healthier. Then make a list of the healthier foods you enjoy, go to the store, and buy them. Have these foods easily accessible to you. Also, adjust your fridge in the same way. Put the things you may not want to eat in the back and put the things you need to eat in the front. So that when you open the door for a snack, you will see a healthy option that you can easily grab. When you make the decision easy to do, it will become a habit.

  3. Buy smaller plates/bowls. Research shows that we eat what is in front of us (in this case, you might be able to blame your parents if they told you to always finish your plate). If you have larger dishware then you will have larger portions. If you put smaller portions on a bigger plate then you will not feel as satisfied. Replacing your dishes with smaller ones allows you to fill up your plate with a smaller serving size while also increasing your satisfaction for the meal. This is a simple and easy solution you can implement that will help you eat less without actually thinking about it.

  4. Eating habits. Your eating habits can be a direct reflection of your environment. If you find yourself eating in front of your TV or phone every meal then chances are you are more likely to eat more and feel less satisfied due to being distracted while eating. Distracted eating can lead to less mindfulness of your food choices. Have you ever gotten a tub of popcorn at the movies and the next minute you look down and it's gone? You can't even remember what it tasted like at times. You ate it because it was in front of you and you kept eating it because you were distracted by the movie. The same principle applies to this. Try to practice mindful eating: - Don't watch TV or look at your cell phone while eating. - Have a conversation with someone as this tends to slow things down. - Take smaller bites. - Chew slower. Slow down. Become less distracted. Pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you. A lot of the time it is telling you that you are full yet we are oblivious to it because we are so distracted. Pay attention to your hunger. Try to eat until you are satisfied and not overly full. Set up your environment so that you can practice eating more mindfully.

  5. Build a support team Join a gym. Join a Facebook group. Find some friends to enjoy some changes with. Either way, find a team of people that align with your goals. Find those that will inspire and motivate you to keep going. Find those that will help you up when you fall down. It's hard to do it on your own. That is why building a support system can be crucial in any change you desire. You become like the people you surround yourself with so choose wisely.

These are just a few examples that you can try to improve your environment to improve your success.

The easiest way to implement a new, healthy behavior (or any behavior) is to:

  1. Make the less-helpful behavior harder to do (put away food, don't buy it, etc.)

  2. Make the more-helpful behavior easier to do (put out fruit and vegetables to grab, smaller plates, less TV, etc.)

3. Getting enough quality sleep

Recovery is vital in improving your body composition and living a healthier lifestyle. We live in a fast-paced world where recovery isn't that "cool" to do. Nowadays, it is about sleeping less, working more, and "no time" for other things. We are in constant "go" mode.

However, without proper recovery, we simply cannot give our bodies the opportunity to grow and recover.

You are also more likely to gain weight, be more stressed out, and anxious when you don't get a good amount of quality sleep. It isn't because a lack of sleep causes you to store more fat. If you are in a calorie deficit (eating less than your body burns) regardless of how much you sleep, you will still lose fat. However, the amount and quality of your sleep can greatly influence your decisions and behaviors which can result in weight gain or make it harder for you to lose weight. There are plenty of studies that show those who sleep less are more likely to eat more. Mainly because you're tired which can cause you to not make the smartest decisions and your appetite is increased due to your hunger hormones.

Also, less sleep = more time awake = more opportunities to snack and eat more.

Again, losing weight is hard. If your goal is to lose weight then you will want all the help you can take. Ensuring you get adequate sleep is one of those things. It will keep your hunger in check and give you the best opportunity to make smart decisions.

A good goal is to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep. It might sound like a lot to you but read the tips below to help you achieve a little bit more.

How to improve your quality and quantity of sleep:

  • Go to bed 15 minutes earlier tonight. I don't expect you to go from 3 hours of sleep a night to 9 hours of sleep immediately. Just like improving anything in life, it takes time. You can't dictate how much sleep you will actually get but you can set yourself up for success by focusing on your behaviors. That's why you can try to go to bed a little bit earlier tonight. If not 15 minutes then do 5 minutes. Anything helps. Set yourself an alarm on your phone for when you want to go to bed.

  • Create a sleep ritual that winds you down. If you find it hard to immediately go to bed at night then you may benefit from figuring out a routine that helps you wind down at night. - Phones, TVs, tablets, and any other device with a screen are designed to keep you up. Try to limit your exposure to them at least 30-60 minutes before bed. - Read a book. - Drink some tea. - Take a shower or bath. - Listen to soothing music. - Dim the lights. - Try to limit caffeine throughout the day. Do whatever you feel will relax you the most.

  • Improve your sleep environment. It might be hard for you to sleep if your environment doesn't support it. Here are some science-backed tips that can help you sleep better: - Keep your room cool. A good temperature for coolness is somewhere between 60-68 degrees. - Make your room dark. Invest in some blackout curtains. Cover any electronics that emit light. Wear an eye mask, if needed. The darker the better. - Add a white noise machine to help erase the quietness if you find it discomforting. (This has actually helped me a lot lately. I really enjoy this!) - Make sure your bed is comfortable and inviting. Invest in quality sheets, beds, and pillows so you can look forward to sleeping.

Getting good, quality sleep takes time. It takes a routine and it takes practice. But the benefits from improved sleep far outweigh the investment of time it takes to start implementing some of these behaviors.

4. Regular Physical Activity

If you are reading this in 2020 then your year might be drastically different than the last. You may now work from home, doing less or no commuting, leaving the house less, and overall, less physical activity. With continuous sitting throughout the day, groceries being delivered to your door, and unlimited entertainment streaming to your TV, our need to move seems to get less each year. We, as humans, are meant to move and the more we sit still the more we lose the ability to do the things we were intended to do.

Physical activity is linked to many positive outcomes that it is hard to deny how important it is.

Things like:

- Improving mental health

- Reduce stress and anxiety

- Managing your weight

- Reducing the risk of chronic diseases

- Better mood

- More energy

All things that can benefit and make your life a bit better.

Let's focus on what to implement and how to implement it.

  • Increase your daily activity. Your overall energy expenditure aka a fancy way to say how much energy/calories you burn each day is largely associated with how much daily movement you achieve. If you ever notice those people who can't stop moving throughout the day and fidget a lot, they most likely burn a lot of calories because of all these daily movements ("naturally skinny"). Things like walking, household chores, food prepping, and taking the stairs all add up as your daily movement throughout the day. While purposeful exercise like weight lifting is great, what you do in the rest of the hours throughout the day is what really adds up to your daily movement. How to improve your daily activity? Add a walk throughout your day Walking is an underestimated and undervalued tool that can greatly improve your daily activity. It is of lower intensity and you can virtually do it anywhere. Don't get caught up in the "you have to walk 10,000 steps per day" stigma. If you want to set a goal to do so and it helps you walk more then great. Do that. But don't fall into the trap of feeling guilty that you didn't reach 10,000 steps if you happen to get 6,000 compared to your normal 2,000. Set a goal that is realistic for you. Add a walk during your lunch break. Add a 5-minute walk in the morning or after dinner. Walk the dog every day. Pick something that you know you can do comfortably. Something so easy that you can do it every day. The goal isn't to walk 30 minutes right away or hit 10,000 steps from your couch. The goal is to pick something that you can do day after day thus creating a habit. Once mastered then you can add time or intensity. Don't underestimate starting small or slow. Just start. Other ways you can increase your daily movement: - Take the stairs - Park further away when going to the store - Get up and take a break from your desk if at work - Stand when possible rather than sitting - Do daily housework - Go for a bike ride with your family/significant other - Dance It really doesn't matter what you do as long you become more aware that you need to move more. Once you become more conscious of these choices then you can start making them as you go throughout your day.

  • Do exercise you actually enjoy. It sounds like a crazy and novel idea but do shit you actually enjoy. Because the exercise method you enjoy is the one that you can stick to! If you don’t like to run then don’t. If you enjoy archery tag, cool. If you Crossfit, make sure you let everyone know you do. Whatever gets you moving (and preferably outside) is a win. Don't get caught up in what you think you should be doing because someone said so. Do what feels best for you.

  • Strength Training It would be a disservice for me not to express how important and beneficial I believe strength training is for everyone. I know it is very intimidating if you haven't done it before and you don't know what you are doing but there are massive benefits to your health and body when incorporating some type of strength training routine. Strength training can: - Increase your metabolism - Improve body composition - Prevent the loss of lean muscle when aging - Make you strong as an ox - Improve your quality of life by being able to do normal movements throughout your day - Support bone health - Prevent injury - Better health, mood, and energy I could go on all day about the benefits but essentially if you want to look better, feel better, and live longer then maybe you should consider incorporating strength training. My biggest piece of advice on implementing strength training in your life is to get a trainer. Especially if you don't know what you are doing. Learn from someone who is good so that you can build your technique. After time, if you feel confident in what you are doing, you can either continue on your own or continue with the trainer. But either way, learn from someone first. You could spend time watching YouTube and reading to learn for yourself but it is a lot harder to fix bad form once it is established than it is to help create it in the beginning. You can also join a group style training class that can help teach and support your goals as well. You might not get the one-on-one individualized attention that you would from a personal trainer but you can still benefit from this (as long as the coach is good).

5. Mindset

Lastly, we have arguably one of the most important aspects when dieting or establishing a healthier lifestyle, mindset. Your mindset is essentially your thoughts and beliefs about dieting and nutrition. Nutrition can be filled with a bunch of bullshit, unrealistic expectations, and downright lies that can cause you to give up too soon on your goals. Why are your thoughts and beliefs important when it comes to achieving success?

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.”


The key is understanding the truth and becoming aware of these thoughts when they occur. When they do occur, question them.

If you think your progress should be going quicker, why? What makes you believe this? Challenge your thoughts. If you don't know or if it is what you always been told, find out. Question it. Research it.

  • Unrealistic expectations This isn't your fault. You are fed lies and bullshit each day from social media, magazines, and television promising you quick results if you just do "this" (insert whatever fad diet, cleanse, detox, etc.) You probably won't lose 10 pounds in 10 days. Doing what someone else does won't produce the same results for you (you are your own body and person). It's going to take a lot longer than you think it will. You will mess up. It will be hard. You won't lose weight every day. These are the truths. The sooner you can accept them then the sooner you can make progress. If you lose .5-1% of your body weight each week then that is FANTASTIC progress. If you weigh around 150 pounds that could be anywhere from .75-1.5 pounds. Yes, it is not 10 pounds in a week because that usually isn't normal. Practice setting normal expectations or, even better, don't set any expectations. The more unrealistic pressure you put on yourself on what you think you should be achieving, the more likely you are to give up. Focus on doing the work required and the results will follow.

  • You will not be perfect. Expect Failure. You will fail. It isn't a matter of if, it is a matter of when. Failures are what define us. If you fail, you have a decision to make: Either quit Or figure it out and keep going Too often, we put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. To follow our meal plans perfectly. To work out every day like we planned to do. And when we slip up by eating an unplanned cookie or miss a workout, we consider ourselves a failure. First, know that you are human and you are not perfect. Whatever you want to happen or plan to happen may not actually happen. That is okay. The single greatest thing you can do is acknowledge what happened and move on. Don't dwell and don't let it affect the rest of your plans. Don't let one decision turn into a shit day which then turns into a shit weekend. Keep going on course. One planned salad won't instantly make you leaner. Just like one un-planned meal won't make you a failure. Keep going.

  • Patience Ah, patience. Everyone needs it to be successful in this journey but most don't have it. In a world where you get free 2-day shipping on almost anything, unlimited access to movies/tv on demand, and access to all information at your fingertips, it can be easy to think things aren't working after trying for an entire week. I get it. I am impatient as well. Even when I start dieting to lose weight, I wonder why things aren't going faster after 5 days. But, the way you lose weight is more important than how quickly you lose weight. Again, the way you lose weight is more important than how quickly you lose weight. One more time, the way you lose weight is more important than how quickly you lose weight. I lost 70 pounds in 6 months only to gain 100 back within a year because I lost it the wrong way. I starved myself and didn't focus on what I needed to do to sustain the weight loss. Don't do what I did. Focus on the most sustainable method for your life that will produce the results you want. When you look back after you achieve your goals are you really going to care that it took you an extra 6 months to achieve it in the grand scheme of things? No. You will still be thrilled you achieved it rather than not achieving it. Slow down. Be patient.

  • Good vs Bad foods "Dirty Food" vs "Clean Food" "Healthy foods" vs "Junk foods" I am about to blow your mind with this statement: There are no good or bad foods. There are foods that are more nutritious than others and can help you better towards your goals but there are no "bad" foods. There isn't one single food that negatively affects your health in moderation. I say in "moderation" because too much of anything can be harmful to your health, even water. The problem with labeling foods as good vs bad is that you start associating these foods with feelings. Such as, when you eat bad food you classify yourself as being bad. When you feel bad, you then feel guilty. Guilt leads to feeling shame or failure which in turn leads you to emotionally eating even more. Or perhaps you think cookies are a "bad" food so you completely stay away from them. You don't eat any cookies for 7 days. Then 14 days. But then on day 21 you really want a cookie. You finally give in and have a cookie. But that cookie turns into 5 which turns into 20. You told yourself cookies were bad so you restricted yourself from them. Humans want things they can't have. So telling yourself you can't have them made your mind and body crave them even more. And when you finally had one it was like the flood gates open. You didn't know when you might have them again with your restriction so you eat as much as possible. Which can lead to feeling guilty. Rinse and repeat. It's a vicious circle that feels uncontrollable at times. Challenge your beliefs about food. What makes food good? What makes food bad? Is one cookie really going to set you off your goals? No. But feeling "bad" or restricting yourself can certainly cause you to eat more than just one.

  • Emotional Eating Emotional eating is very common. I am not going to sit here and act like there is an easy way to combat this. There isn't. Our emotions are heavily involved in our food decisions. Sometimes, you might use food to self-medicate. Whether it is eating too much to gain some temporary comfort or using food to manage your stress and anxiety. Or maybe you are just bored. Food comforts and soothes us. It can help us feel better in the moment and distract us from what we are really feeling. Food can remind you of good times like vacations and holidays. It can also remind you of your family and your culture. This is normal. When it doesn't become normal is when you might start feeling out of control from doing it excessively. When it is too hard to stop or can't be managed. When you might be doing more harm than good by either eating too little or too much. If you have fallen deep into a hole, as I have, seek help. Talk to a counselor or speak to someone educated on the topic. In my opinion (again, seek professional help if needed) the first step is to become aware of this process. Too often we become unconscious in our decisions. We do things simply because this is what we know to do. We don't stop to think about why we are actually doing what we are doing. So, next time you might feel that you may be eating out of emotion, stop for a second, and take a breather. Become aware of what you are doing. Be present in the moment. Ask yourself, what is going on? What are you feeling? Why might you be feeling this? Is this a common occurrence? What can make this situation a little bit better? Before you can make any change you must become aware. If you are bored or lonely see if there is something you can to take your mind off of it like walking your dog. If you are stressed or anxious see if there is something you can do to de-stress and lower your anxiety. Read a book. Drink some tea. Workout. Either way, become aware of your habits and triggers. Then question yourself to see if this what you truly want or if it will only help relieve the pain temporarily.

Phew. That was a lot. If you made it this far I commend you. But, all of this is meaningless if you don't do something about it. So, take some action.


Not in 2021.

Not next week.

Not after Christmas.


Don't wait until you are motivated. Motivation is bullshit. If you wait until you feel motivated then you may never do it.

Take action > get results > you'll be motivated to continue doing it.

Pick 1 thing from this list. Whether it is focusing on improving your food quality by adding more protein or trying to go to bed 10 minutes earlier tonight. Pick something you actually want to do and pick a difficulty you know you can do. I don't care how easy it might sound. Even if it is putting your phone away 5 minutes before bed. If you keep doing it, it becomes a habit. And habits are what will drive your success. Then create a consistency calendar. Mark an "X" on the calendar every day that you do your new habit. Got it down pat after a few weeks? Great! Now add something new to implement or increase the difficulty of your current habit (like walking 15 minutes instead of 10 each day). Don't try to take everything from this list and implement it tomorrow. That is not the point. Start slow and start small. Once you master one habit, work your way to the next. So on and so forth. When it comes time to focus on losing weight by being a calorie deficit (aka eating less), you will have many of these habits already implemented into your life so that you are more successful. You'll be able to control your hunger by focusing on the foods that help most of the time. You'll have set up an environment that makes it easier for you to stick to your plan. You'll be able to control your cravings and won't be as stressed because you sleep well now. You'll have implemented some sort of physical activity to keep you moving. You'll have your thoughts managed and ready for all things that come your way. All of these combined play a big role in mastering your health no matter what your goal is. So this year, or next year, or whatever year you happen to read this, take a step back and focus on the basics first. Maybe don't cut out all your carbs yet. Or kill yourself doing that 21-day cleanse. Or try whatever fad diet they will come up with in 2021. (My guess? A diet solely made of tacos. I can get down with that!) Instead of debating the minutiae like how many meals a day to eat or what diet is the best, spend some time building a solid foundation to support your new, healthy, amazing body in 2021. If this helped you in any way then I'd love to know! Send an email to shawn@shawndubenutrition.com. Tell me what new habits you are going to implement this New Year and how you're going to do it. If you are interested in signing up for my newsletter to receive updates when articles like this are posted, please consider subscribing at the bottom of my homepage here. Also, if you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to reach out! Until next time, Shawn