I don’t have any diet to sell you. My passion is teaching people how to take charge of their own nutrition, health, and fitness.
Stop looking for quick fix diets and ready-made meal plan templates. Learn from trusted resources that you’ve done your due diligence on and practice the philosophy that is a product of hard earned, time tested knowledge. If you choose to work with a coach, make sure they are not just relaying over tenants of whatever diet worked for themselves. Take the nutrition principals that work for you, shape them to fit into your unique lifestyle, and leave behind the junk that does not fit. There are no shortcuts with nutrition and no one way of doing things is right or wrong. Have the courage and patience to forge your own philosophy based on what works for your unique life. Always continue to gain insight about your body and mind through experience and self-awareness.
In short, gain what I call “nutrition wisdom” and become your own nutrition guru. It will be one of the most important and enjoyable things you do to enrich your life.
So, how does one gain “nutrition wisdom?”
First, avoid generic “meal plans” and “diets” at all costs.
All generic “meal plans” and “diets” fall under the quick fix category. People who sell these plans and crash diets know how to prey on your insecurities and impulses. Most of the time, they have high incentive to sell you something that is not truly in your best interest. The diet industry can be very lucrative, so be careful who you trust, no matter who else swears by it. A truly effective nutrition plan need to be individualized and something you can sustain for life. This means you need to feel good, live a deeply happy life, AND maintain and healthy/strong body through solid, but flexible nutrition habits; not a rigid diet plan. A nutrition strategy of this caliber is very do-able, but first you need to drop the “first, I’ll lose the weight with meal plan/diet X, then I’ll maintain from there” mentality. Generic meal plans and diets do not work in the long run because your body and life is not a static entity. Period.
For example, a new, hot craze is the Paleo Diet. The idea that this (or any other diet for that matter) is the “best” way to eat is a total fantasy.
I studied paleo-environments extensively in college. It doesn’t take much research to discover that the environment, and hence the flora and fauna associated with that environment, has ceaselessly changed over the course of our history on this planet. Humans have survived because of our resourcefulness and adaptability. We have thrived off a diverse palate that has included every food source imaginable.
The only food source we don’t seem to thrive off of is foods that are highly processed and altered for long term storage and mass production. So, if you need the “paleo diet” to stay away from those foods, then that’s cool. But let’s add some reality into the equation here. Following the Paleo Diet will not get you any closer to your goals if you cannot follow it long term. Nor is it the right approach for most athletes who regularly train at high intensity and have goals beyond leanness.
Don’t let others tempt or scare you into a lifestyle that doesn’t fit. I promise….there is a better way.
Second, drop your scale and calorie fixation.
At best, restriction based fad diets (which includes almost ALL diets) make dropping weight and being lean a temporary sort of thing (if they work at all). On the other hand, sound nutrition planning that supports the growth of lean muscle tissue also leads to a lean body, but in way that is easily sustainable.
More muscle = Stronger metabolic rate and better hormone profile = Natural, effortless leanness
But for some people, the fact the muscle mass has weight (due to the protein structure, water, and stored energy within muscle tissue) presents a major psychological problem. If you lose 15 pounds of fat and gain 15 pounds of muscle mass you will be dramatically tighter, more defined, and more capable of sustaining your transformation. But, your weight will be the same. This presents a deal-breaking conundrum for those with psycho-scale issues. Let the changes in the mirror and your body fat percentage be the measures you base your progress on. Work past the scale/low calorie fixation and you will really start making lasting progress.
Third, be real with yourself and set goals based on your own unique body and lifestyle.
I urge most people to develop their own “lifestyle nutrition.”
I’ll frequently ask other nutrition enthusiasts, “Are you training for an athletic competition?” If not, then why are you interested in burdening yourself with a competition-style diet?
I get it. We all want to be the best; the fittest person running on the road or down the trail; the sexiest body in the gym; the “alpha” male or female; the one that inspires everyone else. But, truth be told, this very pursuit of needing to be the top dog is what prevents most people from actually getting in great shape and enjoying the fruits of their labor.
I am going to let you in on a little secret: Even those who do have incredibly fit bodies are looking up to someone else. There is ALWAYS someone who you will view as fitter, sexier, and better than you. It’s just human nature. Nothing is ever good enough when it comes to our own self-image. And this is the very concept that holds most people back. For so many people, it’s as if your health and fitness isn’t worth pursuing unless you can become the healthiest and fittest person in the world.
It is critically important that you never lose sight of your own personal goals and values as you embark on the roller coaster that is nutrition and fitness. Becoming the “top dog” and twisting your health and fitness journey into perfectionism is not worth losing yourself, your sanity, and your loved ones through an otherwise healthy pursuit.
Lastly, work through progressive habits that teach you how to eat healthy, balanced meals and naturally crave less junk.
This one is difficult only because the internet is so full of misleading, but tempting information. There are enough “rules” and “tips” out there to make the most grounded people want to pull their hair out. The trick is to learn which principals/habits to follow and which ones are just not worth the trouble.
Well-executed, progressive nutrition habits allow you to…
…obtain the lean, strong body you desire
…work past lifelong addictions, such as high sugared and salted foods
…fully enjoy a diet that is comprised of mostly whole foods
…add in flexibility for cheat meals, social gatherings, etc
…achieve balance in your life to ensure you are deeply happy and healthy for the long term
Working on one simple habit at a time, such as “eat about X ounces or grams of a protein source with each meal” for weeks at a time will allow you to slowly acclimate to a new way of eating while setting you up for your next life-changing, positive habit.
Becoming your own nutrition guru is the only way the make lasting change. One of the most common testimonials I get from my clients is “I never realized how the way I used to eat affected my body. Now that I am aware, making good choices has just become second nature.” Knowing your own body is the true “miracle diet” we are all looking for.
In Strength and Balance,