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20th September 2021

Tastily x Lee Dubar, Personal Trainer interview

At Tastily, we are dedicated to producing fresh, delicious, and healthy meals to help you live a healthier lifestyle that fits into your schedule. So, I interviewed Lee Dubar, a Personal Trainer and Sports Science graduate who runs an Instagram page @ldubarnutrition, where he shares everything that he has learned to date about healthy eating and the science of weight loss.

Q1) How has adopting a healthier diet affected your life?

In short, adopting healthier eating habits has been the catalyst for positive change in my life over the past 3-4 years. Having grown up in a family environment with an unhealthy relationship with food, where massive portion sizes and easy access to unhealthy food were the norm, I struggled a lot with my diet and overeating for most of my childhood/teenage years. My health only got worse in my first year at university, as I was drinking a lot and not taking care of myself in terms of what I ate either. It wasn’t until my 2nd year of university when things changed. After switching from studying Marine Biology to Sports Science, I began to learn about healthy nutrition both for improving my performance at the gym and for general health & wellbeing. I learned about the healthy eating plate, the importance of calories and the science of weight loss amongst many other things. 

I went from being the heaviest I’d ever been, with no self-confidence, no motivation to do my university work, and in the depths of a deep depression, to watching my self-confidence skyrocket and my general motivation rise as I began to lose weight. I became more attracted to myself, which meant that I presented myself as more confident to other people, which meant that I was more outgoing and more open to new relationships. This led me to make plenty of great friends and even get a girlfriend. Not only did my energy levels go through the roof, the social anxiety that I had experienced in my 1st year of university gradually disappeared, and I overcame my depression too. 

 

Q2) How did you overcome your unhealthy eating habits from childhood and what do you still struggle with?

Moving away from home at 18, to go to university, really helped with this, as I have always been a passionate cook so I was able to apply that passion to learn about healthy cooking. Getting away from an unhealthy food environment at home made a massive difference too, as it’s so much easier to stick to a healthy diet when it's just you that you’re cooking for and when you’re surrounded by likeminded people, compared to when you’re the only one in your environment trying to eat healthily. Also, buying your own food makes you aware of what foods you buy, as you don’t just want to spend all your money on foods that make you feel like crap and that suck the energy out of you. That being said, even now the hardest thing is overcoming cravings for unhealthy food: the chocolate, crisps, and biscuits that I used to eat regularly as a kid. I still make space for those foods sometimes, but I now do enjoy them in moderation rather than binging on them like I used to, although fighting the urge to binge on those foods when at stressful/busy times is still very difficult.

Q3) What are your tips for somebody looking to lose weight and/or looking to adopt a much healthier diet?

My biggest piece of is to educate yourself on healthy eating. Spend some time looking at what foods are healthy, learn about energy balance and why calories in < calories out leads to weight loss. Whenever I get a new Personal Training/coaching client, I send them a document that I created which has information for them to use to educate themselves on healthy eating, as they must understand these things and keep themselves accountable to their diet in the long run, as you can’t rely on a Personal Trainer/online coach to hold you accountable forever. Similarly, although meal plans can work for someone looking to achieve a certain short-term, time-bound body goal, like getting in shape for a wedding or a holiday, they are not a long-term strategy for losing weight and eating healthy, as you won’t be motivated to stick to the plan in the long-term.

I’d then say to design your diet in a realistic manner. Don’t be too restrictive and remember to make space for the foods you crave (in moderation), otherwise you’ll yo-yo between diets and likely end up binging on those foods anyway. Keep it simple and eat according to principles, such as the 2 that I follow: 

  • Keep to 3 simple and filling healthy meals per day

  • Stick to healthy snacks like nuts, yogurt, and fruit

This sets you up much more effectively to achieve sustainable, long-term weight loss, rather than jumping from one quick fix weight loss programme to the next. It’s also very important to make a mindset shift from just viewing eating a healthier diet as a way to change your body, as eating healthier has so many more benefits than just getting some abs or building some muscle. If you begin to view food as medicine and food as a source of energy, you will have a much healthier relationship with food. Eat the right foods, and you’ll live a long life. 

 

Q4) What are some issues you see with the food industry?

I think that there is a lot of misinformation on nutrition on social media, since it is very easy for people are able to easily make unsupported, often false, claims about food and nutrition on those platforms. As I’ve already said, I think that education is key to people eating healthier diets, and it is important to say that Instagram is not the platform to educate yourself on sound nutritional principles. I also wish that personal training courses included more education about healthy nutrition, as nutrition training in personal training courses only consists of basic concepts such as the eat well plate at the moment.  And finally, it would be great to see the government do more to educate people about healthy eating and sound nutrition principles, especially children during their school years, as I believe that if everyone was educated on nutrition, we’d be a healthier, fitter, and happier nation with a higher quality of life.



Q5) How has your mindset about diet and healthy eating changed over time?

Looking back now, I realise that I always viewed diet as a means to improve my body image, and that was a mistake, as it led me to follow a very yo-yo approach to dieting and to ignore all of the other brilliant benefits of eating healthier: better mood, energy, sleep and brain function being just a few of those benefits. There’s a quote from Steve Jobs on this, that I absolutely love: “Eat your food as your medicine. Otherwise, you’ll have to eat medicine as your food.” I wholeheartedly agree with it, and believe that we really should view a healthy diet as medicine, rather than merely as fuel.

 

Q6) Why did you start your Instagram page @ldubarnutrition?

I started my nutrition Instagram page as I wanted to take other people through the mental journey that I went through, from a negative place to a positive one, through improving their diets.  I fell in love with creating, cooking, and eating healthy, delicious meals and wanted to share my healthy recipes with other people, in addition to sharing some of the science of healthy nutrition and weight loss, having learned this through my sports science degree. And the response has been great, especially to my science-backed posts. I remember a particular post in which I shared that drinking 500ml of water in the morning can increase your metabolism by 30% and that drinking 2L of water increases your calorie expenditure by 96 cals. The response to that was huge, and I think that was because people didn’t realise that something so simple could have such a huge impact.

 

Q7) What’s your advice for busy people who still want to have a balanced diet, but they might not have time to cook all the time

Firstly, don’t think that a healthy lifestyle necessarily takes more time than an unhealthy lifestyle. If you plan ahead each week, then it really doesn’t take much longer to follow a healthy diet than an unhealthy one. Check out pages like mine that throw out healthy, affordable meals that you can cook in <15 mins to help with this. Also, move as much as you can in the morning and, unless you’re following some sort of fasting, don’t skip breakfast. Food is energy, so ensure you start off your day with a burst of energy.

 

Written by Zach Dubar

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