Never Diet Again, Embrace a Habit Based Approach to Nutrition
There’s a problem in the fitness industry. Well, maybe more than one, but here’s one I’ve been thinking about and working towards fixing.
In terms of nutrition, trainers and coaches are getting too scientific. They’re forgetting about the majority of people who don’t spend their lives and every waking moment thinking about things like macronutrient calculations or nutrient timing.
The fitness industry as it is doesn’t speak well to those who just want to be healthy while still living their lives outside of the gym and kitchen.
A big part of the industry is making health and fitness out to look complicated and that you need to be a rocket scientist to figure out how much to eat and when to eat it.
Between macro calculations, nutrient timing, high or low carb, trainers and coaches are skipping the basics of good nutrition.
Good nutrition goes much deeper than being strict with what you eat. It’s about understanding that your overall health is an accumulation of hundreds of meals. It’s about understanding that if you want to go eat a double cheeseburger topped with donair meat and peanut butter, then you do it. Because you know that tomorrow, or your next meal, you’ll be right back on track. Good nutrition means that you understand it’s a long game. Playing the nutrition short game doesn’t work. You want to be healthy for the rest of your life right?
The fitness industry has made it ok to skip nutritional basics or aren’t sure how to approach the subject.
If we take a step back and look at the training side of things, there are progressions and regressions. If you can’t do an exercise (or just don’t like doing it) a certain way, then we make it work for you. A good trainer will make sure you have a solid foundation in the basics of strength training before jumping into olympic lifts, super heavy weights, or even plyometrics.
Attempting to completely change your life with a diet or a strict meal plan is similar to jumping straight into heavy olympic lifts. It’s overwhelming, and it’s not going to last.
For the majority of people diets and strict meal plans simply don’t work. If they did, we wouldn’t have the statistics of 1/3 of Americans being obese with another 1/3 being overweight. These statistics are resulting in a weight loss industry worth $20 billion dollars, but the stats aren’t getting better, their getting worse.
Cue conversation with myself
Ok, but what other options do I have to reach my nutritional goals?
You can take a habit-based approach to your nutrition.
A habit-based approach to nutrition.
What the heck is that?
It’s taking a realistic, one step at a time approach to your nutrition to make sure you have the ability to be healthy and to stay healthy forever.
I want to be healthy forever, how does it work?
It’s as simple as taking a look at your daily habits, picking something you know you can make a little bit healthier on the health continuum and just start doing it, one habit at a time. If you don’t know what the health continuum is, check out my blog here.
Why is that better, seems slower than a strict diet?
True, the results you see are progressive. Even though it may seem like a longer process, it can change your life forever. It’s longer lasting and your health is a long game. It’s a more realistic approach that is designed to work for you and your lifestyle specifically.
That makes sense. I’ve heard of people tracking their foods and macros, but that seems tedious.
You’re right, tracking macronutrients (food) (proteins, carbs, and fats) may work for some people, and in fact, there are many different roads to take on your health journey. There really are a million ways that will work if you stick with them. The thing with a habit based approach is its easier to stick with, we make sure you can do the next step in the program with confidence. We make sure you have the ability and the confidence to reach your goals.
Yeah! That sounds amazing!
….Ok, no more conversations with myself…
A bit more on habits
Habits are powerful things.
Your brain is powerful but at the same time your brain is inherently lazy, it’s constantly trying to find ways to conserve energy. It loves turning actions into habits because once it’s a habit, it becomes automatic and your brain doesn’t have to make decisions or solve problems.
A habit is something you consistently do without having to think much about it. Your brain is on cruise control.
Our current nutrition habits have been developed over months, or even years of repeated behaviour. That being said, “you can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it.” – The Power of Habit (Great read!)
A habit-based approach isn’t about getting rid of your bad habits, it’s about replacing them with something a little healthier.
If we look into habits a little more, we already have the foundation for them. There are already things you’re doing each and every day that, with a small shift in mentality, can make huge leaps in your overall health.
What does a habit-based approach look like?
A habit-based approach to nutrition will help make healthy nutrition fit your lifestyle. It’s about living your own life happily and healthily without having to obsess over food. It’s one step at a time, tackling one habit at a time.
This is what a sample program would look like.
Week 1 & 2
Have a discussion with your coach where you discuss your goals, your habits, and the lifestyle you see yourself living.
Throughout this conversation you’ll work together to narrow in on one specific habit. This first habit will be ultimately up to you. It will be something that you feel 100% capable of doing every day for the next 2 weeks without it being completely life altering.
We’re talking something like bringing a water bottle with you to work and filling it up twice throughout the day, or ordering no sugar in your morning coffee, or ordering a regular coffee instead of a triple-triple.
Week 3 & 4
Mindfulness during periods of hunger and your meals. If you notice yourself feeling hungry during the day between lunch and dinner, stop and ask yourself if you’re really hungry, or just bored. Sit with it for a few minutes. If you decide you still want that snack, eat it.
Week 5 & 6
Learn and practice how to add a lean protein source to each meal.
Week 7 & 8
Learn and practice how to add veggies to each meal.
Programs are altered on the fly as well. The beauty of a habit-based approach is that it’s not black and white. It’s not succeed or fail. It’s about becoming consistently healthier over time.
There’s no failure, only feedback.
Thanks for reading this far, I’m really excited to share with you my new online coaching program. Click Online Coaching at the top of the page or the link here to learn more.
If you’re interested in learning more on the topic check out these articles:
3 Steps to Persuade a Hungry Brain
A great article from Tony Gentilcores website here offers pros and cons, a fantastic read as well!
If you’re a fellow coach or trainer, many thanks for reading and check out the Precision Nutrition certification and the books below.
The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
Motivational Interviewing in Nutrition and Fitness – Dawn Clifford and Laura Curtis
The Hungry Brain – Dr. Stephan J. Guyenet
Precision Nutrition blogs
Thanks again for reading! 🙂