Do you find that you are constantly searching for the next “best” diet plan or way of eating rather than actually implementing one, at all? Or you implement it but do not really stick with it? Or you do but you are miserable? You resist the foods you love? You lose weight and gain it back? Anytime you set yourself up to be more strict, follow a meal plan perfectly or eliminate certain foods completely, you are setting yourself up for failure. Let me add that if you have food allergies or choose not to eat meat or gluten, whatever it may be, double check yourself to see if it is a “fad” or something that truly works for you.
So how do you know if the way you are eating is working for you? Ask yourself the following questions.
1. Why am I eating this way? I often have clients say that they are not getting the results they want and they try out a new way of eating. “I am not losing weight so I think I am going to try (insert paleo, gluten free, vegan, south beach, the meal plan in Clean Eating Magazine etc). If this sounds like you I want to you to ask yourself WHY you are choosing that way of eating. Because it is on the news? Because your friend had success? You do not know what else to do?
Solution: Unless you have an absolutely specific, whole hearted, reason for choosing a certain diet, do not classify yourself as anything. Eat foods that make you feel great! Eat food that makes you look your best? And eat in a way that gives you energy. Remember everyone is unique in their body type, genetic makeup, work schedules, food likes and dislikes, food tolerances, goals, exercise preferences, etc. Seriously look at what I just listed and ask yourself what do you need to do to meet all those areas? Do I need to eat 6 meals a day if I only have 2 breaks? Do I need to give up meat if I love it? Am I really intolerant to gluten or do I think it is the magical answer? Dig deep and ask yourself the why?
2. Is it Effortless? The number one way to get off track with eating is to make a diet so stressful and complicated that you cannot follow it. So ask yourself, is it effortless? Are you shopping all over town for specific ingredients? Is prepping your food for the week too stressful? Is it miserable to come home for dinner and eat something because you are “suppose” to not because you want too?
Solution: Pick your number one struggle. Time? Preparation? Connivence? And work on that one struggle only (studies show that when you focus on one habit at a time you are more likely to succeed). If you find yourself always out and about hungry, making poor food choices often, pack a protein bar with you wherever you go, find a Starbucks and pick up a fruit cup. Is a protein bar the most ideal choice ever? No. But its better than a milkshake. Is it hard to prep food for the week? Do it one day at a time? Use a crockpot. Buy pre cut vegetables.
Create a solution for the one habit you want to break.
3. Am I able to maintain my eating week in week out while performing, looking and feeling my best? A good way to know is simply if you have been able to stick with it for an extended period of time and feel really good doing it, in your food choices, in your energy levels, in your physique and in the effortlessness of eating. I will share with you my struggle. I tend to want to follow a meal plan. And usually I do great for a couple days, but meal plans are not conducive to birthday parties, girls nights and sporting events. And this is the trouble with meal plans . We get into a social situation and get down on ourselves because we can not follow it the way we are suppose to and who can blame us. We want to live life.
Solution: It comes down to making conscious food choices ongoing. Honestly take some accountablitly for your food choices, and this doesn’t mean never indulging. I was at a college football game the other day and I found BBQ chicken skewers. It was the perfect choice. I walked by the candy apples, the french fries and pizza and found exactly what I knew I would enjoy eating and feel good eating. You know what? My sister who is in great shape got a giant snickerdoodle cookie. She works out, eats healthy and loves cookies. She probably will get in a workout today and make some veggies and it will all be ok. It is about balance.
Final Thoughts: This is for your health and this is for your life. We are not told to eat veggies, move more, drink water and stress less just because. It is not to be boring and it is not to be obsessed. It is for your health, well-being, and quality of life. It is to be mentally and physically fit for whatever life throws at you. It really is about moderation. You can still have a cookie, you can still have a glass of wine and you can still eat a burger and fries. Do not diet, find a healthy eating plan that you can maintain forever..yes I said forever! You can achieve your desired goals but you must take action. Knowing what is healthy is one thing, doing it is another.