You’re fired up! It’s the start of the new year, you either beginning a new health and fitness journey or carrying on from last year, and you have goals. Your momentum is high, so you’re dialing in your nutrition and getting stuck into training. You’re doing everything you need to, all of the time.
That might not be the best approach.
You certainly need to work towards your goals, but perfection is impossible. Balance, however, is sustainable. What I’ve experienced over the years, in both nutrition and training, is that almost everyone who goes “strict” all the time, even if just for specific periods, ends up going the opposite way. And that usually happens at the end of their set period or after some sort of event–birthdays, holidays, parties, etc.
Whereas those who find a healthy balance of good food and treats experience ongoing results, and are generally happier.
It’s kind of a kid-in-candy-store analogy. A kid who has never been exposed to all those amazing colours and smells is likely to lose their sh*t in a candy store. But a kid who has had some exposure to candy over time is more likely to know what they want and don’t want, find it, and if the parents are smart enough they’ll be out of there!
If you try to keep it strict all of the time, you’re probably going to lose your sh*t like that first kid.
In my opinion, it’s a simple approach. Eat good food (veges, a variety of meats, nuts and seeds, some fruit and starch, a bit of dairy) MOST of the time, and go for less healthy foods (processed foods, takeaways) and sugary treats SOME of the time.
This is striving for sustainable. Excellence is sustainable.
2017 is about to wrap up and it’s flown by. It probably seems to fly by quicker towards the tail end of the year because everyone has their sights on the holiday season, almost wishing the time away. But it’s also a good time for reflection. Like have you accomplished those resolutions you set 12 months ago?
Big up if you have! Achieving goals don’t happen without some effort and discipline. Was it rewarding accomplishing those goals, though? Or perhaps you didn’t meet your resolutions. You could have smart goals and well laid out plans to achieve them, but you may still end up indifferent or not having accomplished them at all. And that could be down to knowing your why.
Because you want to get stronger, put 10kg on your deadllift, get your first pull-up, rehabilitate an injury, look better naked, or out-run your grandchildren. Everyone’s why’s are different, but knowing your reasons has the same effect. Your why’s–the reasons for doing something–guide your actions and influence your feelings.
Why we program and coach the way we do at CFJ is based on several why’s, but there’s one big why governing all of that. Lifelong health and fitness. That means more people with a better quality of life, throughout life. It means more people living an active life for as long as possible. It means people who are more capable, in general.
So as much as we love seeing a full PB Board and a busy PB Bell, we’re okay if you don’t get that PB. You aren’t always going to PB everything all the time. You still had a good workout. You’re doing more than sitting on the couch which is more than just about the rest of the population. And you’re fitter and healthier than when you started with us. You are also (hopefully) making better decisions around your food and recovery. That’s what matters.
What matters to you, though? What is behind your decision to come to the gym? Let us know in the comments section below.
“I can have dessert because I’ll burn the calories in training tomorrow. That’s why I like to do lots of exercise–so I can eat anything.” It’s a culture, and not a surprising one given that people in the developed world are hedonistic eaters. In general, people eat to feel good. When you do feel good your body’s reward system encourages you to repeat the behaviour that’s providing the pleasure.
So you keep eating, whether it’s too much good food or lots of bad food. You know that even too much of a good thing can be bad, but it feels so good that you just “can’t” stop. But that’s okay, because you’re training! As long as you expend the same amount of calories that you consume you’ll be good, right?
Not quite. The calories in versus calories out equation is far more complex than that. More importantly, your body needs nutrients to function healthily. So all the training may be offsetting some of the calories you consume while making you fitter, all the bad calories are affecting both your health and body composition.
It’s similar to the effects of too much steady-state cardio coupled with insufficient food. In that case you end up slimmer but with a high percentage of body fat. In both cases, dietary habits outweigh the effects of training, leaving you with a less than ideal body composition and lacking in health. Those sorts are pretty easy to spot in the gym too. You’re either looking at a slim athlete who crushes bodyweight and endurance based workouts but gets crushed by any form of load. Or a well built athlete with a big engine, and a beer belly!
I’m in favour of eating for pleasure too. You’ve got one, short life so you best live it well. But you want to live it well for as long as you are around, and that’s why health and fitness are placed on the same continuum. You can, and should, be both fit and healthy. And you can enjoy food while still being fit and healthy. It comes down to your mind set.
Eat for health and performance, instead of training so that you can eat. Give your body the quality fuel it needs to support your levels of activity while not supporting body fat, and do so most of the time. You won’t be able to out-train a shitty diet for very long.
As with anything of value, achieving better health and fitness requires ongoing work. You’ve got to keep turning up to training, and you need consistently strong efforts in training. You’ve got to stay on top of your nutrition, and you need to take care of your recovery needs such as sleep, stretching and rest. All. The. Time.
Such a consistent effort surely requires motivation. How would you even get started without some form of motivation? You need discipline too, though. Self-discipline, to be precise. But what’s the difference between the two?
Motivation is defined as “your desire or willingness to do something.” It’s the fuel that gets you started, and we know that the hardest part of any task is getting started. When your motivation is high you have momentum. However, that momentum is based on emotion and emotions tap out quickly.
You see, your reasons for training and eating well may never change. Whereas your desire or willingness to take the necessary actions for those reasons is fickle.
Let’s look at the example of ‘Jane.’ Jane has just confirmed her wedding date six months away. She wants to get there in the best physical shape possible so unpacks her moldy training gear and books her sessions for the following week. She’s super motivated and the excitement about the wedding encourages her momentum.
Her first two weeks are rocking. She’s met her attendance goals and is already feeling better–she’s got even more momentum! But week two ends with unpleasant news, her wedding planner has ditched her. Naturally, Jane is worried and miserable. She opts for some wine-o-therapy over the weekend and come time for her Monday morning training session is lacking both energy and motivation to go. So she skips the session.
And the next because she’s guilty about missing the first, and then feels less fit so misses another, and then it’s the weekend and oh look, wine!
Desire, willingness and excitement–the emotions that drive motivation–last only for three to six weeks. You lose the emotional drive as the task becomes habit and that’s when your momentum drops.
Self-discipline refers to “your capacity to control your feelings and actions in pursuit of your goals.” Whereas motivation refers to why you start a task, self-discipline refers to what you do to achieve the end goal. It is self-control.
Discipline enables you to keep going even when your motivation is wavering. Discipline, however, is more difficult to achieve than motivation. You feel good when you’re motivated, but with discipline you learn to ride out the bad days, the failures and the crappy emotions. It’s like getting through a nasty workout–it’s uncomfortable, but you know it’s going to be good for you so you stick it out.
Discipline is arguably more important, but you need motivation too. Here are some tips to make the most out of the good motivation while establishing discipline.
- Set SMART goals
- Ride out the three to six week motivation wave, once you’re through that you’re naturally developing discipline
- Make the most out of your momentum by making your goals public
- Acknowledge and accept that you will have bad days, they’re a part of the process
- Strive for balance by rewarding yourself for the small wins
Adhere to a behaviour for eight weeks and it becomes a habit, and then tasks that required a lot of effort become a breeze!
Controlling your nutrient intake by way of calculating your macronutrient (macro) or caloric intake undoubtedly helps to ensure you’re eating enough to support your levels of activity while preventing excess body fat, if you have the right mindset. There are an array of methods to determine those numbers, but today I’d like to touch on two ways of managing those numbers.
Prospective management involves calculating your macro/caloric intake numbers and then ensuring that your food is weighed and counted before you consume it. Aside from the calculation, this of course requires preparing meals and snacks ahead of time, having a food scale in the kitchen, and knowing how many of each type of macro you’ll be consuming for a particular amount of food.
With retrospective management you calculate how many macros/calories you consumed after having the food. As the day goes on you try to meet your intake requirements based on what you have already eaten and what you ‘have left’ to eat. In this instance you do still need to calculate your intake numbers in advance and have that plugged into an app or at the very least a spreadsheet, and you do still need to use a resource that provides the nutritional information for the food you’re eating.
As with everything, there are pros and cons to both methods. With prospective management you know what you’ve got to eat and you have either have it prepared in advance or you have your plate on the scale while dishing your food up. You’re less likely to eat more than you should. But, that does require some ‘work’ on your behalf.
There’s less prep work with retrospective nutrition management. The work comes in ensuring that you log the food you ate after every meal and snack. The downside is that you might end up with a big deficit in one of your macronutrients at the end of the day. You then end up ‘making it up’ with convenient sources of food, and convenient is rarely healthy.
A big plus to both methods is that they teach you about portion control. You eventually learn how to eyeball your portions and you also get better at listening to your body–you learn to eat when you hungry and stop eating before consuming too much. More importantly, both methods have the potential to work.
It all comes down to you, though. Which method suits your lifestyle and personality traits better? The better the fit, the more likely you are to sustain the habits. They aren’t quick fixes either. If you adhere to either method for at least 80% of the time, you’ll be setting yourself up for ongoing success.
Neither approach is laborious. You just need to understand the hows and whys, and that’s why we offer individually tailored nutrition coaching. Get in touch to enquire about that.
Posts tagged with ‘learn’