Say what ?!? I talk to people every…single…day about this kind of stuff, not only because I am personal trainer but because I am a friend, a sister, a co-worker, an acquaintance, a customer (if I am ever out with my “trainer” shirt on, you better believe I get fitness questions all the time). My point being that I have the discussion on a regular basis about what is the best way for people to achieve their physique goals.
Everyone is different and you have to find out what works for you.
This is my number one piece of advice when people ask me about health and fitness. Have you ever had a friend get killer results for their Paleo diet, Zone diet, Shakeology drinks, marathon training, Jillian Micheals dvd? You get the idea. Then you try to put one of these things into place and it just does not work for you. There are many factors that you must take into account that range from your metabolism to your lifestyle. Say you decide to try the Paleo diet but you really dislike meat. So now you are scarfing bacon and beef everyday, miserable every meal. How long do you think that is going to last. Or you hate running, but that friend got a killer body running. And then you try to implement a running schedule but you do not stick to it because you absolutely hate it. I understand why completely. My advice to you is to find what works for you, and adapt it to your likes, you body, and your lifestyle.
Be Less Strict
My second piece of advice is usually a harder concept to grasp, and is something I am currently working on myself. I want to preface these paragraphs by addressing those who have specific physique goals. If you are going for a six pack ab physique, then yes you DO have to be more strict and take in to account how your diet and workouts will affect your body. It is also important to realize that usually when training or dieting for that look, you will not be able to keep that look without being super strict. Then it becomes more about deciding if you want to eat and train that way for the rest of your life to achieve and keep that look. If you do and find a way that works for you, then by all means have at it. But generally speaking most people struggle when trying to be super strict.
Ok, so here we go. What typically happens when you decide to “be more strict” on your diet? When you decide on a plan or diet, you usually do great for the first few days, weeks, maybe months if you can hang in that long. You are pumped, excited and motivated to begin. Then as the reality sets in and your schedule gets hectic you slowly begin to fall off the plan. Maybe it is a binge meal or a binge day and you just say say screw it and say you will begin again on Monday. Maybe it is a night out with friends and you planned to eat a salad and drink water and then the night turned into pizza and wine. You get angry at yourself for not having enough discipline, enough willpower or enough motivation to be able to stick to that plan. You repeat the same thing the following week, starting off strict and then falling off, all the time bashing yourself for not being able to be disciplined with your diet. Eventually this cycle gets old and most people resort back to whatever their normal eating habits are. So is being “more strict” really helping you? The key is not to be more strict. It is to be less strict.
From my personal experience I have learned that whether I am more strict or less strict it really does not change my body a whole lot. So I can choose:
A – More strict and worry/stress more
B-Less Strict and worry/stress less
I am working towards option B. I went through a phase where I prepped all my food in advance for the week and portioned it out properly. It was great and I was motivated for a good solid month but then what happens when I didn’t have my food prepped? Could I eat a regular meal or would it throw off my diet. Would I lose what I had worked so hard for? No, not in one meal I have learned. You do not build or break you physique in one bad meal or one bad day. Remember the opposite too though, you will not make it in one good meal or one good day either.
Now a word of warning. You should not take this advice and think that you can not care at all about what to eat. Don’t think, “I read in Adele’s blog I can be less strict and have all the food and drink I want and have the body I want.” You must find a balance with what works for you. Set yourself up for success by acknowledge that there will be times and events in life where you will want to have some drinks, have some birthday cake and have some burgers. And that is ok. I encourage you to have those in moderation and be ok with it and get back on track the next day to your workouts and regular way of eating.
When getting my Precision Nutrition certification, one fabulous piece of advice I learned was the 90% compliant rule. That being if you are compliant to your eating 90% of the time, you can indulge the other 10%. So for example, if you eat 5 meals a day that is 35 meals a week. So you can indulge in about 3 meals and still keep on track to your goals. By indulge I mean glass of wine not bottle, and 2 pieces of pizza, not whole. 🙂 This is just a general guideline to follow. Maybe you try this and find that 3 indulgences a week is just too much but maybe you do great off 1 or 2. But you can see what I mean here, that you do not have to be 100% super strict for a lifetime to reach your goals. The best diet for you is one where you can look, feel and perform your best for life.
Remember consistency is more important than perfection. Every choice you make with your food is taking you closer to or farther away from your goals, or is keeping you right where you are. And it is ok to be right where you are for the time being, if you know the plan is going to work long term. Try to steer away from an all or nothing approach and find a way of eating and exercising that works for you. Every workout and/or meal is another chance to get back on track.