While listening to The Fit Cast live from Perform Better in Rhode Island, Steve Ledbetter and Pete Dupuis made a point that had me thinking back to what I just learned through my most recent audio book. They pointed out that, we, as humans suck at setting goals. Congruently, this point was also made in “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath. And it’s not isolated to just fitness or health. It’s with everything that you might set a goal for. We all do it.
As I make my way through Switch, one thing that’s been brought up is the concept of SMART goals. This is a popular method to setting goals because its pretty straight forward, its clear and gets to the point. However, this concept misses the mark when it comes to change. The focus is too much on outcome rather than the process. Focus on small improvements. A goal of “I want to lose weight,” has no process to it. Counter that with “I want to learn how to develop healthier habits,” gives behaviors to follow through on.
Change is what we’re seeking, right? We want to change our bodies, our lifestyle, our health. What SMART goals lack is an emotional response. To create change, we want to set up a postcard for ourselves, some sort of picture of the near-term future that shows what is possible. By pointing to a destination that we want, we can apply our strengths to figure out how to get there, instead of over analyzing everything.
People who change have a clear direction, ample motivation and a supportive environment.
So what’s your postcard look like? If you sent yourself a postcard six months, nine months from now, talking about yourself, what would it look like?
Despite what everyone else says, there is one diet that is better than all the rest of them. This may cause some controversy, but someone has to take a stand. You ready? I’ll let you in on the biggest secret in nutrition.
The best diet is…..
The One That Works For You
I know, shocking, isn’t it. But it is the truth. If you’re unable to consistently adhere to your diet plan of choice, maybe it’s not the one for you. Maybe it’s too restrictive.
What Diet Should I Do?
You have your pick of just about anything, and it can get very confusing. There’s IIFYM, Paleo, Low Fat, Ketogenic, Low Carb, Intermittent Fasting, etc. The list goes on and on. If you did a quick Google search, you’d get pages and pages of results. And I’d be willing to bet anything that by page 3 you’d give up searching. Some offer the promise of losing “x” amount of pounds, or detoxing toxins (whatever that means), or go on to say “y” nutrient is the devil and you’re forbidden to eat it.
So what diet should you actually do? Well….that depends on a myriad of factors, most important among them is whether or not you can confidently stick to your chosen diet. If you don’t think you can stick with it, then it might be a bad idea for you.
When we pick a program to follow, we usually see results pretty quickly, but what happens? We’re unable to keep up with the strict guidelines certain diets require, and we fall off the wagon. So the first thing we can do is avoid program hopping.
All the programs and books you see or read are garbage…if you can’t sustain them on a daily basis. There is no one best diet out there. The truth of the matter is, the best diet out there is the one that works for you, and that you can sustain without losing your mind.
The core of your nutritional philosophy should come down to forming healthier habits, not necessarily following a set of “eat this, not that” rules. Try to follow these recommendation to focus on a few important points rather than go through a whole nutritional overhaul.
Eat whole, real foods filled with vitamins & minerals
Focus on the quality of your food
Be more aware of what you’re eating and how you feel
Cut down on processed foods
Drink more water**
**this is a biggie. Drinking more water will help you feel fuller and can curb you from overeating.
There are certainly more habits that you can develop depending on where you are starting from, and we go into more depth as far as that is concerned in our nutritional programs, but if you can master those basics, then you’ll no longer need to jump from diet book to diet book.
In the end, the best diet out there is the one that works for you, that you see sustainable success with, and that you can maintain without feeling deprived or restricted. Try to avoid going for the short term fix, because if you don’t develop those healthier habits, if you don’t learn anything, if you don’t get in tune with what your body wants, you’ll be bouncing around for a long time.
In order to see success in the gym, you need to start at home. You can’t out train a bad diet. So what it all boils down to when it comes to altering one’s body composition, in terms of fat loss, is a sound nutrition plan. Fail to plan, plan to fail kind of thing. Lack of planning leads to reaching for convenience which leads to poor nutritional choices. Having a great plan is built on developing healthier habits.
Here are some key things to ask yourself:
Are you eating healthy fats?
Are you eating plenty of vegetables?
Are you eating enough protein?
Are you drinking enough water?
Fat is important for hormone production, a healthy immune system, and transport of many vitamins, namely A, D, E, & K.
Protein is filling, improves muscle mass, aids in muscle repair from your training, & stimulates your metabolism.
Vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals as well as a source of carbohydrates and fiber. So fill up on those vegetables.
Lastly, drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated creates an ideal environment for your body to exercise and lose weight.
When it comes to training, think about developing movement patterns and doing full body movements. More squatting, lunging, climbing, crawling, pushing, pulling, and rotational exercises. Use your time wisely in the gym. The more you move, the more calories you’ll burn, the better your results.
Try to follow a training program that builds up itself and allows you to progress each session. Having a purpose and a plan to each training session sets you up to perform better each and every time in the gym, making you stronger, fitter, and more awesome.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to regress or take a step back at times if you are unable to do something. Regress now, so that you can progress later. Your training doesn’t have to be 110% intensity all the time. Sometimes it pays to take a step back, regress, do more recovery work like foam rolling and stretching to set yourself up for the long run. You just might see better results that way.
There are times where taking a vitamin supplement or an Omega-3 supplement is necessary to fix any deficiencies you may have. However I would seek out a doctor’s or a nutritionist’s advice on that subject.
Sounds like a lot to keep track of and follow, but it’ll be worth it in the end, and changing little habits now will go a long way towards maintaining a healthier, happier lifestyle. In the end, isn’t that what we’re all looking for?
Nutrition + Exercise + Recovery = Awesomeness
Remember plan ahead for success later. Hopefully these tips help set you up for success in the kitchen and in the gym.
Hitting the snooze button multiple times each morning?
Feeling as if you’re never getting enough sleep?
This ones for you.
As kids, we were always told to go to bed at a certain time. Usually so we’d get enough sleep before school the next day. But now that we’re adults, we no longer give ourselves that same strict bedtime. I mean when was the last time you told yourself that you were going to go to bed at say 10pm every night. And stuck with it for more than a day or two. We’re adults, we do what we want. We get wrapped up in a TV show, a book, or if you’re cool, the NHL Stanley Cup.
Life happens. However, much like we plan our meals, nutrition, and training, we can plan our sleep schedule ahead of time by setting ourselves up with a bedtime routine. I dunno, maybe you start yourself off by reading Goodnight Moon to yourself. No judging.
By reading this, the hope is that you will look at sleep as something vital to a healthy lifestyle. No longer will you see it as undervalued and overlooked aspect to health and fitness. Sleep, exercise, and nutrition are all part of a healthy lifestyle. We tend to focus on exercise and nutrition and hope that will push us towards our goals. For the most part that would be a successful plan. However that is not always the case.
How much sleep does the typical adult get each night? Six maybe seven hours if we’re lucky. But lacking in this area has effects on everything from brain chemistry, to muscle regeneration, to hormonal balance. And that’s a no good situation. Just a short list of what’s to come should you continue on your path of poor sleep:
Changes in eating habits
Decrease in Testosterone, Increase in Estrogen
Loss of lean mass
Heart Attack, Stroke
Hardly a list of ailments we want to develop. We all believe that we are immune to this, that we can just grind away and hustle hard all hours of the night. We all think we can get by on just a few hours, thinking coffee or Red Bull are the answer. However the more you miss sleep, the more this “sleep debt” accumulates and makes it harder and harder to pay back. The more nights you get less sleep, the greater the likelihood of those negative effects taking place.
There is hope.
The first thing you should do is to go sleep, duh. It is possible that you can catch up by stringing together a few nights of great, quality sleep. The more consistent you are with the amount of hours you sleep and the time in which you go to bed, the better.
Second, make sleep a priority. A priority in that it takes precedent over many of the things we get sidetracked by, like finishing a project, or the show on tv, or scrolling through Facebook. Set up a pattern, set up a plan for bed and you’ll find yourself more rested than before.
Keep a relatively consistent bedtime and wake-time.
Darkness- Keep your room dark. This tells your body it’s time for sleep.
Set a comfortable temperature
Eliminate computer/phone use when you’re approaching that set bedtime.
Athletes eat and train. They don’t diet and exercise. You may have seen that meme somewhere floating about the internet or right here. It is true. Athletes have a goal in mind and a training plan in which to get there, some as long as 4 years long if you think about Olympic athletes. And they often don’t think about dieting (however they too can fall prey to marketing bs)
What can you take away from this process? Start thinking about your nutrition as a way to fuel your body for performance and maximizing your training sessions. We forget that nutrition is all about fueling our bodies so that we can perform in our workouts. Instead we hyper focus on how many calories “x” workout or exercise burns. We don’t take the time to enjoy the process and strive for performance goals.
Take for example, Michael Phelps, aside from his regular intense training he was taking in a reportedly 10,000 calories per day. Now while we wouldn’t be able to sustain that type of nutrition plan, there are many things we can take away from how athletes set up their nutrition that can apply to us.
It all starts with a certain mindset
An athletes body much like yours is a machine, thus athletes eat in order to fuel that machine. You can do the same thing. Performance is tops on their list, as it should be for you too.
Get a piece of paper out and write down something you want to achieve, something that is a performance goal. The idea behind this is to get away from the generalized goals of losing weight or building muscle, or getting stronger. Those are great and all, but it’s pretty subjective as to when those may end, or how you would go about measuring that you accomplished those. Pick something tangible, like doing a strict pull-up? Maybe your goal is to do a pull-up for the first time. That gives you something to strive for that has an end, or maybe it’s to deadlift a certain weight. Again, you have something to train for.
The more you think about attaining that performance goal, and fueling yourself to get there, the less your focus actually is on food and making yourself crazy over what you’re eating.
Relationship with Food
Do you have a positive relationship with food? Or a negative one? As a client said to me, “food should be fun.” She is absolutely right. Food should be fun and you should be able to enjoy your food. If you can’t, then whats the point. Being healthy and eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring or bland. Ask yourself:
“Do I have a positive relationship with food?”
A positive relationship starts with not demonizing certain nutrients or certain foods. That also includes not skipping meals, or thinking that all food is evil. There are no good or bad foods, just ones that bring us closer or further away from our goals. We’re quick to demonize this food or that nutrient, with the idea that somehow ONE thing has to be our downfall. For example, how many of us define carbs as evil? That just thinking about them will make us fat. When the truth is, your body actually thrives on carbs, and athletes look at carbs as an energy source, as fuel (noticing a trend). Our bodies crave carbs because they are what our muscles and brain rely on to work.
What comes next is a gross over analyzation of everything that goes in our body. While you should be aware or mindful about what you put in your body, avoid making it so complicated that you worry about every little thing that goes in.
Avoid looking for the quick fixes. This is due to the fact that, in order to get to where they want to be in their sport, there likely aren’t any LEGAL quick fixes. They know that their training and the subsequent nutrition associated with it is a long term process and no shortcuts exist that will get them there. When results don’t happen instantaneously, they don’t give up. There is a bigger picture. We often get so wrapped up in what we want the end result to be and when we expect it to happen by, that we lose sight of the bigger picture, or we forget how far we’ve actually come.
Look at it this way, training for the Olympics is about a minimum of a 4 year process, in most cases these athletes have been training and fueling that training process their entire lives. Athletes don’t give up halfway through because they haven’t achieved what they wanted to. They keep pushing, staying consistent with their training and nutrition. Athletes embrace the journey. So should you.
In addition to everything that athletes do that is associated with nutrition, their approach to training is quite different than how we see it. Where one would see needing to get beat down and be exhausted after each and every workout, or put in two a days, or longer workouts, athletes solely look at training as a way to get better, as a way to get stronger. It’s about being a better athlete.
Eat food to fuel performance, food is awesome so don’t skip meals, be mindful, quit looking for shortcuts, and above all else enjoy the journey.