It’s not long in between clients asking me about their ‘diet’. What ‘diet’ are you on? What ‘diet’ can I go on? Which ‘diet’ has worked for you in the past? Can you help me work on my ‘diet’?
(These questions arise more so after Easter 😉 )
The problem with this is, a ‘diet’, doesn’t usually last long. And this is where people can fall over. Let me clarify something. A diet implies there’s a start date and end date. That you eat ‘clean’, or ‘healthy’ or ‘no junk food’ for a specific amount of time.
A ‘diet’ is absolutely fine, if that’s what your goal is. If you’re wanting to lose weight quickly to fit into that tight little dress for a specific event, or if you’re going through a ‘cutting phase’, if you’re competing and need to hit a certain weight, or whatever the reason, then great. You’re on a ‘diet’, and that is completely OK. You can do whatever you want to get to that point. I know I’ve done it heaps of times. And I didn’t go the right way about it either. But I succeeded, and it was definitely a quick fix. And that’s what it is… a quick fix. As soon as you start eating ‘properly’ again, you’re just back to where you started.
If that’s all you want to do, then there’s no need for you to read any further, because what I want to talk about is your life long ‘diet’ and how it’s OK to be a complete failure at it sometimes!
When members ask me at the gym about their ‘diet’, I know they aren’t asking me about the quick fix I’ve explained above. They have taken the time, money and energy to invest in getting themselves better and stronger, for one. So this question is more about lifestyle changes. And the difference here is, there is no quick fix! You can sigh all you like, but you know this is true.
We need to be viewing our food as nutrition, or fuel, for the body, as a way of living on a day to day basis, rather than a diet for 6 weeks. We need to start learning more about food and what it can do for us and how we can use it. And lets start eating to live, rather than living to eat.
Easy said huh? I know…! I’ve failed too! Many, many times. And here’s what I’ve learnt.
- Waiting for ‘the right time’ just doesn’t work. Like having children, there might be a better time, but there’s never a right time. If you’re waiting for the right time, you’ve already missed many opportunities to start getting better, or potentially BE better
- As long as you start something, you’re more likely to do better at it, if (nay – WHEN), you need to do it again. Eating well, consistently, takes practice. And you get better at it day by day and at every attempt
- You need to form good habits. This happens one day, not straight away. You can’t go cold turkey on things and expect that to work indefinitely (that’s your classic diet). So you need to be realistic. Cut out one bad habit at a time, and replace with a good, new habit
- You WILL eat ‘bad’ foods. Know that this is ok. Your entire day/week doesn’t have to be ‘blown out now so I’ll just continue eating shit’ because you had a cake. Who cares?! We want to enjoy life too yeah? You’re allowed a cake. Remember, this isn’t a diet, you can enjoy some delicious food. But reign it back in. Don’t think you now have an excuse to go and over indulge by 50,000 calories just because you had 2 glasses of wine. Lift your game!
- Understand that calories IN Vs calories OUT MATTERS. Know how this works, so you can manipulate numbers/calories/food when you need to. Don’t look at Calories in one day, look at them over a week period
- Ask a friend to join you on your quest for better eating habits. Accountability helps
I’ll digress a bit here, but you’ll get my point.
I offered to help out one client by doing a 9 week ‘Learning How to Eat’ Challenge with her. The intention was to simply try and change some bad eating habits into good eating habits. Yes, we took before pictures, we changed her training slightly, and there was an intent to lose weight. But the main point was to LEARN how to eat well, while allowing for life events and what to choose/do when this came about.
We contacted each other most days to see how the day had gone, what the meal plans for the week looked like, whether we’d be going out socially and how we’d cater for that. We contacted each other when we were feeling weak. We didn’t make eachother feel bad if we did eat something ‘naughty’, but encouraged each other to pick ourselves back up and keep going. We were holding each other accountable. And having each other there, going through the same thing, helped mentally.
And she succeeded. She lost weight, but most importantly, learnt how to eat and formed good habits. I, unfortunately, didn’t do as well. Which brings me to 7
- You might not succeed… the first time. But you’ve gotten better. So try again! You might not succeed again, but you’ve gotten even better again. Repeat… Until, you’ve not just got it, you’ve kicked its ass. Aaaaannnd then, you fall off the wagon, again.. See where I’m going with this? A lifestyle change is exactly that. You have to work at it every day. And those good habits you’re forming, actually kick in and work. So, the good news is, it gets easier. It really does
- There’s not end date. Just accept it as you accept that days will pass, or 2 + 2 = 4. This isn’t a bad thing. This is the opportunity for you to get better Every.Single.Day! When you get a puppy, or have a baby, or travel etc, after 6 months you look back and wonder where the time has gone. Instead of thinking “Shit, its gonna take 6 months” and getting all upset about that, just think how quickly that time will go. And before you know it, you’ll be looking back on those 6 months and hopefully saying “I’m glad I started then”
So lets get some strategies in place so you can start doing this right now.
- Up your protein! I can pretty much guarantee you that most of you are getting no where near the amount of protein you need. Protein will help keep you feel fuller for longer. So get on that as your first task. This could be as simple as you adding in a couple of boiled eggs, or a can of tuna in your day. If you cant get it in food, look at your protein powder supplements. Pretty easy so far right…? Well, there’s one habit changed right there!
- Learn about your daily calories. Do you know how many calories you should be eating per day? If not, then yes, find out. Just as a guide. Once you find out approx. how many calories you need in a day, you need to know how or what that looks like in food. You don’t need to be measuring food every single day, but you should have an idea about it. So many people over eat because they have no idea how many calories are in their food.
- Start thinking ahead about your meals. Not a huge amount of time has to go into it, but have an idea, so you can prepare your shopping list for it. And plan around days/nights of eating out. For example, this week for dinners I am planning a chicken based meal, a spag bol, and a stir fry. I knew this at the start of the week. Not only does it make my decision process easier, given I have to also plan for lunchboxes x 2, it saves time when I know what I’m doing.
- Read into Intermittent Fasting (IF) and see if it’s something you might want to try or could work for you. It can be quite beneficial if you accidentally go over those calories per day. If this isn’t for you, that’s completely fine…
- You could try Calorie Cycling. Whereby, depending on what you have on during any particular day, you allow for the daily calories to match. ie. If I were training on Tuesday, I’d make sure my calories for Tuesday were on the higher end of my limit, ensuring I have eaten enough carbs to get me through my training program. Because I’m not training on Thursday, I should eat closer towards the lower end of my calories / day as I won’t be exerting myself and probably don’t need those extra 200 cal of carbs. (There’s so many different ways of looking at/doing Calorie Cycling, this was just one example. There is far more to it than this).
These are just a few ideas I put together very quickly. There are a heap of strategies you can employ that suit you. And, even if you only attempt the above suggestions, you’re already on your way to a better nutrition lifestyle.
So just remember, don’t quit just because you made a few bad food decisions in your day. Your week has not gone to shit because you ate 10 times more chocolate Easter eggs than expected in one day (ooops, that me ;P). You will fall, you will de-rail, but get back on the horse and pick it back up. The more often you make these small changes, the easier it gets. And before you know it, you have a ‘healthy’ lifestyle with great nutritional decisions as well as the ability to eat all the yummy food and not feel like you need to run 30 kms to burn it off. Food is to be enjoyed. So learn more, and implement this TODAY!
So go get ‘em.