I hope you’re having a great week! So far it’s been a good one here in Calgary… After a busy and awesome weekend rafting (more on that soon!), I am enjoying my clients, workouts in the gym and routine while perhaps not loving the rain… It’s been like a monsoon here! We received more rain in the month of July than Calgary normally gets in a year. The rain storms have been nuts, which is kind of neat (so NOT normal for this California girl!), save for the mosquitos… I could do without them. 😉
Lately I’ve been thinking about nutrition. I think most of us know by now how much food affects our performance in the gym and at work, our mood, our sleep and our mindset… MANY things boil down to what we put into our bodies. You guys know that I advocate #moderation365 and that I love the idea of eating to perform, but I wanted to get a little real with you today.
(delicious food on our Kootenay River rafting trip!)
Here’s some plain talk to start things off: If you’re looking for a specific outcome in your body or performance, you need to get specific with your eating. It’s as simple as that. So while I do love the idea of being a little looser with meals and not stressing about macros or nutrient timing or bringing food scales with you to restaurants, you need to make sure that your goals match up with how you’re eating, because any amount of hard work can be derailed by how you eat outside the gym.
I’ve been thinking about nutrition lately partly because of my clients; so many people are so close to more change but don’t want to face the truth that their nutrition weighs so heavily on them achieving their goals. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been there too, and I’m still in a learning process in terms of how my body best works with movement and eating and am continually experimenting on myself. I see many of my clients doing what I’ve done in the past: self-sabotaging their progress. In other words, they will make some changes in terms of movement or other habits but then not commit to get diligent about their food for a short while so we can find a baseline to work from. It’s common for people to decide it’s not working and throw their hands up in the air too early, only to start over again the next week with making promises to themselves about their food and habits.
Would you believe me if I said that you could go from an entry level job in an oil company to the CEO in 6 weeks? Of course not. Then why do we often think we can change our bodies and habits in 6 weeks flat only to give up on our plans as soon as progress is stalled? If you want to see your muscle increase or your fat decrease, you have to play the long game and stay consistent with your food. Clearly this doesn’t mean never indulging, but you can’t give up on the process before you’ve really committed to it. Consistency ALWAYS trumps everything else!
I read something on the Eat To Perform Facebook page that I loved from one of the members, who was reflecting on how far he’d come in his mindset. He said,
“My fats are blown for the day, and it is only 1:00 PM. I was frustrated because I feel like I have been blowing my fat number fairly consistently and just can’t seem to hit my numbers. Then I realized that a few weeks or a month ago, I just would have counted the day as a wash and not logged it, and I recognized that I am 100% more accountable for what I’m logging since I started really hitting this trendsheet game hard [what we use to log our data and watch our progress as an Eat To Perform member]. Sometimes improvement comes not with PRs and scale changes, but with getting honest with myself and acknowledging my weak areas so that I can actually change them.”
Getting honest with yourself…Maybe that’s you right now. If so, what’s stopping you from facing the truth about your eating habits? Don’t be scared of the process but rather enjoy the journey as you go. After all, it’s just food!
So that’s the food part of your goals… what about the movement part? Other people focus too much on their workouts, feeling derailed if they miss a session or workout. But, as Joy mentioned the other day on the Girls Gone WOD Podcast, the reality is that: “If people are feeling guilty about not getting in the gym, it’s because their diet is not on par.” – Nicole Christiansen.
Let that sink in for a minute.
If you’re too worried about your workouts, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your kitchen game and put a bit more attention on how you’re eating, at least when it comes to how you feel about the gym (guilty, stressed, etc). Many of you need more movement, but not the intense kind, the leisure walking kind. Walking is so good for our bodies, our minds, our stress levels, and simply getting more steps in per day could be the thing that causes real movement in your direction toward your goals. Try it sometime! Get an activity tracker (I love my Garmin VivoFit!) and track those steps; you might be surprised how few you’re getting, even with met con CrossFit workouts or long lifting sessions!
Let’s switch gears and think on sustainability when it comes to nutrition. I mentioned above that it might be time to start tracking, but once we have a baseline, are you supposed to track for the rest of your days? No, not necessarily. I do think it works for some people to keep them more consistent and honest about their eating habits, but for others it could become obsessive; the last thing I want is anyone to become a slave to My Fitness Pal. For more on macro (carbs, proteins and fat) tracking versus eating more intuitively, check out Paige’s recent post!
There are moments, like this last weekend, where I don’t even bring my phone because I’m not thinking about tracking (plus, there’s no cell service!). But tracking in the past (which, again, doesn’t work for everyone) has helped me to know what a balance of macronutrients looks like for my body and my goals right now. Did I worry about the s’more I had? Nope, I enjoyed it! Did I think twice about the glass of wine I shared with the crew on the river? No, but I was mindful of how much I took and didn’t have one every night. So when people say, “Let loose! Go live your life!” it makes me wonder what their definition of “living life” really means, because to me, going out and “living my life” SHOULD have a focus on my health! A bite here, a slice there, is no big deal in my eyes, but nothing too extravagant because it’s unnecessary. I’m learning to live in that place of abundance versus scarcity and appreciating the food that’s available to me while learning to focus more on the sustainability of how I’m eating rather than the immediate results. That’s what I’ve learned through tracking my food and macros and it’s actually been a really wonderful process for me, enabling me to also live WITHOUT tracking my food! It works both ways.
Now let’s think on mindset around our food and eating habits, because how you think about food makes all the difference in how you approach it and how that affects your life! We often view eating, especially around a goal like gaining strength or leaning out, in terms of what could go wrong: “I have a wedding this weekend – what horrible timing!” or “How can I cut down alcohol in the summer? It’s at every BBQ!” What if we thought about our superpowers when it comes to our nutrition, and asked ourselves instead, “What would work well about my current plan in my life” instead of “What could go wrong?”
Let’s start with an attitude of resourcefulness rather than despair and see what happens.
Inevitably, we won’t eat perfectly, and I think that’s actually great! That’s life! I love how Bryan Khan put it on a Facebook post recently:
“To me, a ‘perfect’ food log is a big red flag. Unless we’re near the end of a long diet, ‘perfection’ tells me that either a) the client is fudging and creating a false reality; or b) being way too anal retentive and setting a standard that no one can possibly sustain, thereby setting themselves up for burnout.
I’ll take a guy or girl who strings together week after week at 90% compliancy every time. Bonus points if they start at 50% and end at 90%. That’s real progress, and that’s how shit gets done. For life.”
Don’t you love that? That’s real life! And that’s how I want to live – mindful of how my eating affects my goals, mood, attitude, sleep and energy but not allowing food to become my focus and simply enjoying life along the way. Don’t worry about nutrient timing if you’re not currently eating any vegetables. Don’t fret about getting protein in within 30 minutes of your workout if you’re not consistent with your workouts. In other words, don’t major in the minor, just stay consistent and be honest with your goals and current habits and you will see the change you’re looking for.
I’d love to hear where you’re at in your own path with nutrition, fitness and mindset. I was inspired by many writing this post, including my own clients, numerous podcasts, and any own changes in nutrition and mindset over the last few years. Hopefully this is helpful to you in some way, and if you’re in the Calgary area I’d love to train with you in person at CityFit! Contact me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eat to perform (not to shrink away!) and live well & be well, friends!