DIET, NUTRITION, HEALTHY…these are such loaded words! Should I diet, what does nutrition and healthy really mean? We hear all the time that you can’t out-run your food choices. This couldn’t be truer! You can burn 550-750 calories in a tough 60-minute workout, get in your car and ingest 1000 calories before you get home! Of course, we all know that person who seems to be thin despite the poor food choices they make. People do metabolize food differently but trust me, it catches up with everyone eventually!!! The outside might appear ‘in shape’ or enviable to you, but you can’t see what’s happening on the inside. Many times, poor nutritional decisions wreak havoc on the inside of a person before the outside begins to rear its ugly head. Honestly 80% of your success (whether that’s visual, strength, or both) will happen in the kitchen.
Let’s start out by changing your terminology. Diets are temporary, you are making a lifestyle change. Chronic dieting is extremely unhealthy and often produce a ‘yo-yo’ effect on results. Many diets start out as a will-power game…how long can you maintain, how tough are you? NO, NO, NO…we are not talking about removing major macro or micro nutrients. For example, many people will see initial results when removing or severely limiting carbohydrates. Our body needs carbohydrates to function properly, so limiting this macro nutrient for a diet is not maintainable and will ultimately lead to frustration and ‘falling off the wagon’. I call this a lifestyle change because you need to learn the truth about what our body needs to function properly. Another example, healthy fat is IMPORTANT for proper body and brain function, we can’t be scared to incorporate healthy fats into our meals. Our bodies are screaming at us to wake up and stop over complicating every choice.
The topic of nutrition is far larger than one article, so for the sake of your reading sanity, I’ve broken down this message into some tips for staying consistent in making your nutrition plan actually work this time!
YOU HAVE TO PREPARE!
I mentioned this last week, but you would never go into a battle blindfolded and expect success. We must think ahead and be prepared if we are hoping to stay on track. You need to look at your upcoming week and think about any issues that might get in your way nutritionally. For example, does your child have a softball tournament all weekend? Pre-pack meals and snacks or find dining options that are close to the fields and fit into your goals, making sure you don’t forget to eat and then binge ravenously when you get home. Do you have a celebration dinner with friends on Friday night? Many restaurants have their menu online…look ahead to be prepared for your options when you arrive. You need to know the truth about what you actually eat. This might mean having an app on your phone that plans your meals for you or lets you enter your food choices. Often, we are unaware of how much the little nibbles of ‘this or that’ add up to major calories. Documenting our food choices, especially initially, is the first step to gaining control over food issues. Understanding serving size can be a huge wake up call for many people…knowledge is the first line of defense in making permanent changes. You might not be a planner and proudly enjoy taking each day as it comes. That is completely ok; however, this would be a personality trait to honestly evaluate when it comes to your health goals. Enjoying a spontaneous personality or not finding planning as a personal strength could be getting in your way. Growing as a person requires constant honest assessments. You might need to compromise a little and ‘come to the middle’ on this one issue. This doesn’t mean that overnight you need to order $500 worth of Tupperware and meal prep all day Sunday. For you it might mean that for the first 2-3 weeks, you make a list for the grocery store, instead of wandering the aisles and grabbing what seems good at the moment. Little steps make permanent changes…nothing happens all at once overnight!
Ok…I will prepare…now what?
Life is busy; however, we all make our priorities! You may have heard the phrase: “if you want to get something done, find the busiest person you know and ask them." The inability to say ‘no’ carries its own issues that will probably warrant a future topic here; however, that comment illustrates the point that as humans we find the time to accomplish the things that truly matter to us. You might claim that you “really want to lose the weight this time”; however, words are meaningless without actions to back them up. I am just going to say it: “Stop being a martyr in your own life”! Own your choices and make the necessary adjustments needed to align with your priorities. YES, YOU CAN DO THAT…maybe not an overnight change, but you have the power to make little changes each day that will get you closer. I will admit it…there have been seasons in my life that I feel sorry for myself or allow myself to get sucked into the busy schedule I created or allowed to be created. Yes, I have 4 kids and for me personally it’s incredibly important that I am there for them in all aspects of their life. This is my choice and carries sacrifice in other areas. For example, with my ultimate priorities as a wife and mother, competing in a fitness competition doesn’t work. My personality and background would love the challenge, but it doesn’t fit into my other priorities. Rather than pouting about my lack of time to dedicate to this or being envious of people who do have the time…how about embracing the other blessings that I get to experience because of my choices and changing my goals to realistically fit my over-all life. This is all a long-winded way of saying…if you truly want something you need to find the time to do it and be realistic about it! Meal Prep is a HUGE tool for your success. This often looks different for each person. Some personalities pick one day to cook all their meals for the week. Their fridge looks like an advertisement for Tupperware. This is great for that person; however, this might not be realistic for you…THAT’S OK! For you it might mean that you plan your dinners for the week and have a detailed grocery list that fills your fridge and pantry with healthy choices for your meals. Maybe, you only pack lunch. The point here isn’t how Type A your fridge looks…the point is you must have food choices available and accessible that support the goals you have set. YOU MUST EAT! If you think a healthy lifestyle means cutting out meals or eating ‘bird levels’ of food, you need to educate yourself on what our bodies truly need. Your body needs food and water to function properly. If it’s not functioning properly, you will start feeling the negative effects of fatigue, weight gain, muscle loss, or larger life altering health concerns. Fuel your body and it will reward you. Stop saying your too busy to eat! You can either do the little things for success today, or you can somehow find the time to recover when your body just stops working for you. Your body will eventually force you to find the time…you get to choose the hard way or the easier way.
What do I mean when I say having available and accessible food choices?
Imagine you just got home from a long day, you are really hungry and with each passing second your will power is fading. You open your fridge and see a 2lb bag of carrots, a few cucumbers, a head of lettuce and uncooked chicken. Then you go to your pantry and see a bag of gluten free pita chips and a jar of peanut butter. Given your current state of hunger, you are going to be deeply tempted to grab the easy pita chips and start dipping them in peanut butter…maybe as you start cooking the chicken. Now dinner is ready and it’s a healthy and delicious chicken salad; however, you just mindlessly ingested hundreds of calories in the prepping of that healthy meal. Having available and accessible food means that the chicken was already cooked (maybe all you do is cut it up), the lettuce was already washed, and the veggies were already cut up. Finding a little time to prep those things on a day off, will make it so much easier to throw together dinner when you’re hungry. When you know that eating is still 90 minutes away, your will power starts to fade fast. We can be strong for the 10 minutes it takes to throw together the same food…since it was already started. Being prepared is vital; however, I will also continue to hammer in the importance of giving ourselves grace and compassion for this journey! Success starts with the mind, making the positive and conscience choice every day to not speak negatively to ourselves.