Finding the right eating plan for your lifestyle is the key to sticking with it. There is no 'one size fits all' approach with nutrition and that's why a lot of people struggle to stick to something that's not right for them. The thing my clients have the most trouble with is the 'healthy eating' part of their health and fitness plan. A lot of them will come to 4 or 5 exercise sessions a week and do everything I prescribe during those sessions but when we talk about nutrition...well that's a whole different ball game. If this sounds familiar to you then check out my '5 steps to eating healthier and sticking to it..'
Step 1. Create rules for yourself.
I am NOT an all or nothing kind of trainer. In fact I'm the complete opposite. I think you CAN have it all, just in moderation. For example, I would love a cinnamon scroll every day for breakfast but I know that's not healthy for my body so I have that as my Saturday treat and I enjoy healthier options during the week. My other rules include:
1. Don't drink alcohol on weeknights (except Friday of course!)
2. Fast for at least 12 hours overnight
3. No takeaway during the week
4. Only 1 coffee per day
These rules are pliable on special occasions, don't get me wrong but it's important to have some simple and achievable boundaries for yourself. I'd love to think that we could just eat whatever we want whenever we want but unless salad is your favourite meal (I hate you) then having guidelines is a great way to stay on track.
Step 2. Choose what you eat based on how you will feel after you eat it.
I'm looking at the menu and I'm seeing a bacon burger and a roasted veggie salad. It's Saturday and I've craved a bacon burger all week so I'm going for it! In the back of my mind I know that physically I will probably feel tired and a bit sick afterwards, I may even need to lie on the couch for a while but I'm okay with that because it's Saturday and I can!!! I am really aware of the effect that food has on my body, physically and emotionally. For example. I'm an anxious person so I know that two coffees a day will make me feel jittery and too much sugar makes me restless. I also know that heavy carbohydrates leave me feeling tired and bloated. I eat to feel good and energised so I choose the healthier option (most of the time) for that reason. It's all about what you do most of the time, not what you do sometimes.
Step 3. Find healthy foods you enjoy and stick to that.
I love crispy skinned salmon and a really good steak so those are my 'go tos' for dinners during the week. I don't really like boiled chicken with broccoli so I just steer clear of that. You know that feeling when you pack a garden salad for work and all your coworkers are going out for burgers? Yeah, it's good to avoid that! Think about what you could pack for lunch each day that's going to be appetising come 12 o'clock when you're ravenous. Enjoy your food and you won't be so tempted to chuck it in the garbage and grab a burger with the crew. I'm not saying you can never go for a burger. I'm just reiterating that it's what you do most of the time that makes a difference to your health, not what you do every now and then.
Step 4. Figure out what times of the day are best for you to eat.
I choose to fast in the mornings because that's what feels good for my body (if you want to read an awesome book about Fasting then check out 'Eat Stop Eat') Maybe you're a solid breakfast, lunch and dinner type person or maybe you prefer small meals and snacking during the day? Find what feels good for you and work around that. If you know you function better when you snack between meals then be prepared and have some nuts or fruit at the ready so you don't end up grabbing a chocolate bar at the servo. If you prefer three bigger meals then make those meals hearty by adding some good fats, a little bit of carbs and and protein to each one.
Step 5. Write a list of foods that you can easily make for your meals.
I've said this before (and I'll say it again no doubt!)... Preparation is key! I am boring and I do gravitate towards the same foods for each meal but if you prefer mixing it up, then write down a basic list of options you can make for your meals that you know you will enjoy. For example my 'go to' for brekky is granola. yoghurt and some peanut butter and for lunch I have been into rice paper rolls. I always have the ingredients for those foods in the house because they are quick and easy and then I have no excuse not to make it.
Reminder: I'm not talking about staying 'skinny' or eating less calories, I'm talking about eating healthy and finding what feels good for your body. I'm talking about nourishing yourself so you feel good and have energy. If the way you're eating at the moment doesn't make you feel that way then it might be time to make some small changes. Have a think about these 5 things and make a start. You don't have to find the perfect eating plan overnight but you can make gradual changes to find out what really works for you. Once you find what works, it is so much easier to make healthier choices and stick to them.
Here's to a happy and healthy you.