I like order (my dresser drawer!). I like things in line (kettlebells!). I thrive when I’m organized (there is a system for everything in my life!).
That’s just the way I’m wired.
And it works for me.
I’m not saying you must do this or be as crazy (and rigid) as I am, but when you operate best, you have structure. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar.
When I set out to reach my goals, I prefer to look at it from a more macro or big-picture outlook and work my way down into the micro or every day.
I want you to look at nutrition that way too. Nutrition can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.
We break things down in 15 Essential Nutrition Habits. The 15 habits are broken into three categories: Every Week, Everyday Awareness and Everyday by the Numbers.
Planning - “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Benjamin Franklin was a wise man and while he may not have been talking about meal planning at the time, it works. To be successful with your nutrition, you must plan. Will there be things in your life that get in the way? Absolutely and that’s more of a reason to plan. By planning out your meals for the week ahead of time, it will help you when you grocery shop, it will keep you from stopping at a fast food restaurant on the way home from work and you’ll be healthier!
Shopping - Grocery shopping doesn’t have to be a drag. Have you ever gone to the grocery store hungry and without a list? You probably walked out with some unhealthy food. That’s the way it goes and grocery stores capitalize on that. The candy bars are in the checkout line. There is a reason for that. While you are standing there waiting with your stomach growling, it’s like the candy bar has its eyes on you and you break down and buy one. With a list, this won’t happen. Not only will grocery shopping be much quicker as you know what to get, it will be a healthy trip and also one that will save you money. Stick to your list.
Cooking - If you cook at home, you control what goes into your food. Listen, time can be hard to come by as you have many different obligations. That’s why it’s important to plan, grocery shop and cook at home. Do you have to cook every night? Absolutely not. Set aside a meal prep time. There are 168 hours during the week so dedicating two hours to meal prep on a Sunday morning should not be a problem. Cook some items ahead of time so they are ready to go early in the week when your life gets crazy busy. Cook in bulk so it’s easier and less expensive for you. Divide up some side salads for lunch and dinner. Get the crockpot fired up with a healthy chili. There are many different options but we guarantee if you start doing meal prep, you WILL get results.
Convenience - For those that just don’t want to cook or cannot find a few hours during the week, there are options. Instead of opting for fast food or eating out every night, meal prep services are available to everyone. We have tried several different services and regularly use them to keep up with our busy schedules. There are options for everyone so there is no excuse for not eating healthy.
Reward - Ever heard of the 80/20 rule? Well, we believe in 80 percent great and 20 percent reward because a restrictive diet is not a long-term fix and will leave you unhappy. What is the point of being unhappy? At the end of a good week, go ahead and reward yourself. If you like pizza, have a pizza night. If you like having a beer, go enjoy that beer. The key is not to overindulge. Get your fun night out of your system, enjoy it and then get back on track. One more key piece of advice is keep it out of your house. Go out for that ice cream or out for that meal. After it’s over, you won’t have leftovers and bring it home.
80% Full - To avoid overeating, stop when you are 80 percent full. It can take up to 20 minutes to feel full once you’ve started eating. The digestive system is complex so when it finally hits the stomach, it signals to your brain that you are full.
Journaling - If you write it down, you will be more aware of what goes into your body. By tracking your food, it can be eye-opening how many calories you may be consuming every time you eat. Find what works best for you. You can write it down in your notebook, pick up a food log next time you stop in or use an app such as My Fitness Pal. Track it and be honest with what you’ve eaten.
Slow Eating - This goes along with stopping when you are 80 percent full. By eating slow, it allows your brain to catch up and tell you when you are actually full. It also allows you to enjoy your food instead of inhaling it and to enjoy the company you are sitting down to eat with.
Portion Control - If you overeat, you will gain weight. Apples are healthy but if you eat five of them in a day, it becomes unhealthy because it’s overeating. The whole “clean your plate” movement is old school and that only promotes overeating. If you have a well-rounded meal with lean protein, and healthy fats and carbs, you are going in the right direction. Want to make things easier? Use smaller plates. The less food you can fit on your plate, the better off you will be.
Prioritize - You need to prioritize your meals. Put it in your schedule. If you plan out your work day and it’s full of appointments, start putting in meal times. If you don’t prioritize meal time, you won’t get into a consistent routine and routines are the recipe for success. There will be times when your routine is thrown off but if you start prioritizing, you won’t miss meals and feel energized and healthy throughout your day.
EVERYDAY BY THE NUMBERS
Protein - Protein is your friend. Aim for every meal to have good protein sources in it. Not only is protein the building block for muscle growth, but it can reduce your hunger and boost your metabolism. Aim for AT LEAST 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. This is the absolute floor and you should aim for more than that especially if you are an active person.
Calories - Calories matter. If you eat too many calories, it doesn’t matter if there are healthy foods or not. Keep your calorie count in check. What is daily recommended calorie intake? It depends on several factors, including age, sex, activity level and goals, but if you look at a nutritional label, that is based on eating 2000 calories per day. Check your food logs each day to see your total calories.
Quality Carbs - The never-ending debate of carbs. Some days carbs and are good and others they are bad. Listen, everyone needs carbs. Can you eat a lower carb diet and it be sustainable? Sure, but restricting them completely is not realistic nor is it sustainable. Carbs can be broken down into a good category and a bad category. The good category is filled with foods such as fruit, vegetables, quinoa and beans. The bad category is boxed foods such as cereals and cookies, fast food and anything that is filled with added sugar. Opt for the good ones and you will be fine and a rule of thumb is stay away from added sugar because it just means it’s more processed and unhealthy.
Healthy Fats - Fats are good for you! Yes, you eat the good fats but these should be a staple in your nutrition. Eggs, avocados, cheese, fish such as salmon, chia seeds and olive oil are great sources of good carbs. Next time you’re in the grocery store, check a nutrition label. If the food is high in either saturated fat or trans fat, it’s your best bet to stay away. On the flip side, seek out unsaturated fats which are the good ones.
Hydrate - Drink water. Your body needs it. Water is a key part of your body and it helps maintain fluid balance, transport nutrients, aid in digestion and circulation as well as helping to maintain body temperature. Don’t like water? Add some fruit to it such as a lemon. Need some carbonation? Try flavored seltzer water.
What is one habit from each category that you can start implementing or get better at in your own life?
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