As we approach the holiday season, we start to look at our lives and take stock of what we have! Thanksgiving brings about time with family, great food, football and an opportunity to reflect. Then comes Christmas, which is usually a strange mixture of joy, stress, and hangovers. Then to round out the season comes the New Year! This first day of the year is known in the fitness world as “D-Day”. Gyms are flooded with eager resolutioners trying to make a change in their health. But by week two, the gym is back to its normal flow and most of them have fallen back off the bandwagon.
The same can be said in regards to nutrition. On January 1st, grocery stores become mobbed and people are running up lofty bills. They’re cleaning out pantries declaring that ‘this year, I’m REALLY GONNA DO IT!” But by the second week, all that healthy food has gone bad and the drive-thru line is packed.
Why is this? What causes our nutritional woes, and why does it seem like no matter what we try we can’t stick to a healthy lifestyle of nourishment? I believe that nourishment can be boiled down to 4 steps to keep you on track today, tomorrow and for years to come! I won’t say they are easy, but they are simple!
The first step is to nail down your motivation. Why is eating healthy a priority for you? This can be anything from wanting to fit into an old pair of jeans to wanting to be around for your grandkids. But whatever your motivation is, it needs to really matter to you! That is what is going to keep you going when someone offers you that first cheat meal. I know for many people when the going gets tough and they are presented with the choice to cheat or stay the course, it’s usually easiest to take that little cheat. I mean at the end of the day, it’s only one and it doesn’t really matter that much, right? Wrong! This brings me to the next point!
The next step is preparation! You must be prepared for your nutritional journey or you will be led off course at every turn! This can look like a few things. Figure out what style of meal-prep fits best for your lifestyle. Do you do best with batch cooking once or twice a week? Or maybe you’re like me and you would rather cook fresh daily! You need to take an honest assessment of yourself and determine where you will find the most success. Then, you need to schedule out your week. We go off course when we don’t have our map readily available. If you know you have 3 lunch meetings coming up, then go ahead and look over the menu at the restaurant. Figure out what you can eat and don’t get tempted by the indulgent foods that’ll lead you off your plan! Another preparation technique I prescribe to my clients is to look at nourishment and macronutrient numbers week to week not day-to-day. Why? Because it’s hard to justify a 4,000 calorie cheat meal when you only have 6,000 calories left for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! This week-long approach will keep you in the game longer because you don’t feel like you get a clean slate every morning!
Keep it Simple
Next is simplicity. We try to make the nutritional game so complicated! We spend so much time discussing the merits of this diet versus that diet when in actuality you often find yourself eating junk because the sensationalized diets are so difficult to stick to. You try it, you get overwhelmed and then you quit! If you have sat on the couch for 10 years, you would never get up one day and go run a marathon! You would start training for it with a long-term plan. Too often we see people go from eating a diet of fast food and processed pastries to jumping into “XYZ GET SEXY FAST DIET”. And while they do work, you typically see someone quit within the first month, or once they hit their original goal they go right back to their old habits.
My prescription with my nutrition clients is very similar to a “Couch to 5K” program. Start by adding colorful vegetables at every meal. Then once we’ve got some nutrient density, let’s start to measure out our macronutrients. Finally, once we have some good cooking habits and some control over our quantities, we can start to look at timing of our meals. But trying to take all these steps on at once can be very daunting!
The last step is to find some accountability! I am a huge nerd and love any and all stories in the fantasy genre. My favorite of these is the Lord of the Rings books by J.R.R. Tolkien! If you are unfamiliar with the story, I am so sorry because they are incredible! But here’s a brief summary.
A young man finds a ring that must be destroyed in a volcano that is on the other side of the world. To get there he must travel through all sorts of terrible trials. When he sets out on his journey he is joined by his best friend Samwise Gamgee. They pick up and drop other companions along the way but there is always one constant. Sam is there for Frodo no matter what comes across their path.
Everyone needs a Sam! Especially when your traveling to Mt. Doom! And while the stakes aren’t quite as high in your nutritional journey, the trials can feel just as daunting! So you need to find yourself a Sam! This can look different for everyone. Whether that is your spouse, your best gym friend or you hire a coach to walk alongside you. A journey is always easier when shared with a friend!
So as we approach the holidays, take a look at where you are and decide where you want to be. Then, slowly begin to implement habits in your life to get you on track for what you want to achieve. And if you are looking to hire your own Samwise Gamgee, then reach out to your manager at your local Iron Tribe and ask about our Peak Program!
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