I read up on the internet as often as I can.
Nutrition fascinates me.
I’m genuinely interested in food and how it enhances or inhibits certain processes in the body.
Trying to find the right amounts of nutrients and make the proper food choices to improve my body composition is a passion of mine. It’s relatively consuming, sure, but in a quest to live to be 250 years old, it’s a noble endeavor indeed.
If only it was easier to say no.
For so many of us, it is so unequivocally certain that food, in many ways, equals love.
Some of us have a gameplan. Some of us don’t. Some of us are on a program. Some of us aren’t.
But no matter who we are, we inherently know the difference between what we should eat and what we shouldn’t eat.
Sure, there are those who are misguided.
Like the nutritionist who swore up and down I wasn’t getting enough nutrients since I fast daily.
Or people who skip red meat because they read somewhere that it causes heart disease.
Or the person who orders an egg white omelette at breakfast to keep it low fat – all the while smashing two orders of hash browns.
But those scenarios and people aren’t what I’m talking about.
Even the most solid, well-intentioned plan can go awry when life “happens” to us. We’ve all been there before.
You’re walking through the breakroom at work, and there’s a huge plate of homemade cookies. Well, those aren’t on your plan. So, what do you do?
I have a client who had a very similar scenario recently.
He had a meal plan all set up with the macros I had given him.
He was going to help his buddy move with a couple of his friends and then head home to cook his meal.
The job took a little bit longer than planned, and his friends, in a valiant attempt to pay him back for his hard work, ordered pizza and bought a case of beer.
Pizza and beer wasn’t on his plan.
Damn. Now what?
A few things we need to keep in mind. First and foremost, with any diet or fitness plan, there is a skill which is often overlooked: Saying “No”.
Please notice I referred to the act of saying “No” as a skill.
It is not easy to say no. We are all forced with plenty of decisions on an almost daily basis.
It’s easy to stick to your plan when you’re at home in your own kitchen. But things don’t work out that way in the real world.
It’s the summertime. It’s a time filled with barbecues, back porches, beer with fruit in it, and (GASP!) the Fourth of July.
How on earth can we control what we eat during the summer? The temptations are endless!
We all know, for sure, that at the Fourth of July parties and cookouts we attend there will be PLENTY of absolutely delicious and calorie laden food.
Your aunt will make her famous “American Flag Cheesecake”. Your mother in law will make pulled pork with barbecue sauce. And your uncle will hand you another beer every time you take a sip out of the one you already have.
And they all will expect you to consume. And consume. And consume.
Trust me, I’ve been there. Many times, in fact. I’m a big guy. 6’8″.
And everywhere I go, people assume and expect me to eat myself silly at every opportunity.
One of the very first changes I had to make mentally is to remove the emotional attachment I have for food. Food is food. It doesn’t equal love. It never has equaled love. And if we eat out of obligation or a desire not to offend, we are setting ourselves up for disaster.
I can’t tell you how many times I feel as if I have offended someone for not eating their food.
Hell, I even skipped the cake at my own daughter’s one-year birthday party.
I was pretty proud of that. Skipping cake at your own kid’s party is pretty hardcore. And I was able to handle the temptation. I’m pretty sure I pissed off the person who made the cake, though.
So, what did I tell my client? I told him to be smart.
Just because you have a plan doesn’t mean it will go exactly as you wish.
Remember the most important aspect to any diet plan: OVERALL CALORIE CONSUMPTION.
It’s more important than macronutrient ratios.
It’s more important than timing. It’s more important than fasting.
And it’s more important than training.
My client made a fantastic choice: He ate two pieces of pizza and skipped the beer and had a bourbon on the rocks instead. And that was his meal for the evening. Was it the exact macros I had given him? Not at all. Was it still under the calorie allotment for dinner? Yessir, of course.
By all means, I was proud of the decision he had made and he will continue to progress in a positive fashion because of his great choice.
A while back, I stumbled across a short blog post by Brad Pilon, intermittent fasting aficionado.
He discussed “coming full circle” when it comes to food and nutrition. And his words ring very true.
At first, we simply see food as food. It’s something we eat and don’t give it much thought.
As we progress deeper and deeper into the desire to achieve leanness and improve our health, we start to see food as much more.
We give food almost magical powers.
We obsess and worry about macronutrients, the timing of our meals, and the proper supplements to take.
But as the months go on, we start to realize just how simple it truly is to be healthy and lean.
Our eyes become opened to the fact that as long as we make solid, informed choices on a regular basis, we are going to be just fine.
Eating your aunt’s cheesecake isn’t going to kill you. So you eat it. And nothing happens. Fire and brimstone don’t reign down from above.
And we step on the scale and realize……………”Wow. Nothing happened.”
And we come full circle. And we once again realize that food, in essence, is just food. It gives us fuel to live our daily lives. There’s nothing special or magical or mythical about it.
Trust me, I love me some cheesecake. As most people do. But as long as we make a conscious effort to stay true to ourselves and our health, the choices we make will surely enhance our lives as a result.
And if it’s cheesecake, it better be New York style. There really is no other choice.