It’s Friday night, you’ve been SO “good” with your diet of late. You have plans to get dinner with friends you haven’t seen in a while, you get a text that they’re picking your favorite pizza place on earth. You smile and begin to salivate thinking about that ooey gooey cheese and those bread sticks… THOSE BREAD STICKS! And then you think about the progress you’ve been making with your health, you think about those vision goals and all the hard work you’ve been putting in, you think about how that pizza and those evil breadsticks will ruin everything. You then get depressed and make an excuse not to join your friends for dinner and end up having a green smoothie instead. Cue the sad trombone.
Bummer. Maybe this eating healthy thing isn’t for you? Maybe this crazy way of living will take all the “fun” out of life?
I’m here to tell you to go ahead and eat the pizza. Seriously, eat the damn pizza. I always get the “ummm, but you shouldn’t let me eat things like that, right?” look whenever I tell a friend or client to just eat the food. How could a Nutrition Coach promote eating badly, you might be asking yourself? Well, I’m not. A healthy lifestyle is all about PATTERNS and not about one meal or one day out of the calendar. Plus, it’s imperative to an enjoyable life to have close friendships, to let go a little and most importantly, to realize that food is not the enemy. What is the enemy? Repeated bad choices that we never learn from. These ongoing decision are what lead us to be overweight, unhealthy, depressed, lethargic and often lead to disease.
Whether you’re trying to lose 20 pounds, trying to get shredded OR you’re a high level athlete in training, the occasional fun meal is important for your overall wellbeing. Good food can be one of the great joys of life. The following tips will help you kickstart your way to a life of joyful, sustainable, optimal health.
Eat any food you want in up to 10% of your meals; in the other 90% eat foods that will fuel your mind and body to success. I strongly suggest removing fast food and highly processed foods from your diet completely. In my opinion, these are simply not food at all. But if you’re used to having fast food multiple times a week try cutting back a meal each week until you’re down to zero. The less rigid you are, the better chance you have in making these lifestyle changes sustainable.
NOTE: Make sure you do the math (I know, I know – everyone hates math) when attempting this style of eating. For example, if you’re eating 4 meals/snacks per day through the week – that equals 28 meals. 10% of 28 meals is about 3 meals. So, you’re allowed to “break the rules” 3 meals each week.
NO CHEAT MEALS
I loathe this popular term in the health and fitness world. The thing is when you “cheat” it implies that you’re doing something terribly wrong. Those who always talk about (or hashtag) cheat meals are usually the ones who eat way more unhealthy food than they think. Do you take cheat naps? How about cheat vacations? Catch my drift?
DON’T BINGE EAT
Binge eating can downright DESTROY any progress that you have going for you and make you feel terrible. Binge eating all day does not equal a cheat meal contrary to what some in the fitness world preach.
The 10% can have some foods that might not fit into your plan like a couple of slices of pizza, a beer or glass of wine after dinner a couple of nights a week, a slice of pie once a week, some sourdough waffles for brunch, etc.
The best way to stay on course is to schedule your 10% meals ahead of time. Pick a day and your meal just like you would a certain time to exercise or meditate. This will keep you committed and give you a little something to look forward to.
*As mentioned above, I highly recommend ridding your diet of fast food and heavily processed foods. Try not to consume these in your 10% meals. I thought I’d mention that again for good measure.
MAKE YOUR 10% HEALTHIER
With a little practice, you can turn your 10% meals into healthy options that fit into your 90%.
From pizza to pancakes, you can hack those usually unhealthy meals and turn them into delicious, healthy, nutrient dense meals that stay within the lines of good nutrition.
Many of my clients are amazed when they learn how simple it is to shift unhealthy meals to healthy meals. It’s also pretty fun to experiment! Eventually you will decrease that 10% without even noticing (or missing) those not-so-healthy choices.
Do you get angry or frustrated as you are trying to get healthy, transform your body or change your overall lifestyle? Well, good. Yes, good. Use that frustration as fuel to step it up even more. Don’t direct that anger at your coach or trainer. You are being coached based on knowledge and experience. Keep in mind that most any coach or trainer you will hire has dealt with very similar experiences in their past. In other words, they know your pain and are there to help you succeed, that’s why they chose their profession: they want to change lives.
You might be thinking that a plan/program just isn’t working. The thing is, the plan/program, if created by a caring and knowledgable coach or trainer will usually work. Maybe it’s YOU that is not working the program to your best ability? Of course, this is not always the case as there are rotten apples out there.
Take responsibility, trust your coach or trainer, dive in head first and trust the process.
When making positive changes, tell your friends and family. Form a tribe of like-minded individuals by making some new friends at the gym, yoga, martial arts class, etc. Join new Facebook pages based on your health mission, search out local workshops that coincide with your health, nutrition and fitness interests, post progress pictures on line or share with a close friend(s) who support you.
Tell your friends, family, coach or trainer to hold you to it. Let them know that it’s okay to push you if you start to sway or doubt yourself.
NOTE: Beware those who use “tough love” as it usually ends up to being belittling or condescending. If it feels like someone is crossing the line from motivating talk to mean talk – run or the hills.
MIND BODY SPIRIT
If you’re making lifestyle changes just to get rock hard abs or a better butt, you are missing the most important elements of self evolution. While aesthetics are important and can be rewarding, eventually they will lose that new car smell. Strive to shift your entire life perspective.
Search out ways to improve yourself holistically, remember that it is all intimately interconnected and losing a few pounds is only part of the whole.
Go with an integrative approach to self care by searching out someone who can not only give you advice on personalized nutrition but someone who can help heal your gut (where health starts), teach you meditation techniques, help you find exercise that is right for you as an individual. Someone who will support you in finding balance between Primary Foods (spirituality, jobs, relationships, recreational and physical activities) and Secondary Foods (what’s on your plate). This is where real and sustainable change will truly take place for you.
Christopher Hostetler is an Integrative Health & Nutrition Coach, proud father, musician, writer and Muay Thai enthusiast residing in Los Angeles. He has made self evolution through nutrition, lifestyle, and mental and physical wellness his life’s work.
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