Throughout the hundreds of 1:1 training sessions I’ve had with clients, there are common questions about their diet. Clients share with me their biggest nutritional struggles and successes with the expectation that I have an answer to solve all their diet needs: how to stay on track with their eating, how to eat foods they enjoy, and how to maintain their weight without depriving themselves.
Successful eating is not something I was raised to do well.
Every photo of me under the age of 16 shows me carrying around some sort of processed treat: pop-tarts, Doritos, or drinking liquid sugar drinks.
This eating behavior didn’t break as I grew up (surprise!) I’ve talked before about my struggles with sugar.
I’ve talked with you about my overindulging tendencies and how I’ve come, more or less, to eating moderately, consistently.
This week, I want to dive deeper with you into 2 interrelated concepts about eating. Will power and Planning Ahead. My aim is to give you sustainable strategies for your eating.
Willpower is defined as “control exerted to do something or restrain impulses” and is normally worn like a badge of honor. When practiced, one can display great control over resisting temptation. The flip side, it takes a lot of fucking conscious energy.
My biz mentor, Jill Coleman, says “ Ultimately, if you are FORCING yourself to do something that is not in line with your values or what you really want, it will not last in the end.”
Growing up, I had zero willpower, so this wasn’t the problem. My issue was that I wanted to eat all the food, all the time. Always. Without doubt. My diet was trash.
I started getting called Thunder Thighs at a very young age and into middle school adopted the nick name of Corn Dog (because I loved corndogs).
I used food to manage my emotions (ineffective) and ate certain foods to make me feel a certain way. I ate for convenience and overate regularly. I restricted myself and then indulged.
I forced myself to do a lot of things and eat certain ways that didn’t feel good to me.
If you’re white-knuckling resisting yourself to not eat something you want, in the end it will not last. The same is true for the opposite; if you’re forcing yourself to eat something you don’t enjoy, it will not last.
I know so many people who have struggled with their eating can relate to this.
Here are some scenarios.
You’re dieting and cut out all carbs. Did it last? No. Why?
Because 1) life happens 2) carbs are essential to energy balance and performance 3) it’s extreme and restrictive which perpetuates the feeling of deprivation which feeds the cycle of overindulging.
Another example: We decide to “get healthy” so we stop drinking more than 2 glasses of booze a week, and cut out all processed sugar/foods/baked goods and fattier meat. Maybe we go on a 10-day cleanse. Or. or…..
The list of restrictive diets created in the name of getting fit quick is endless. We force ourselves to do these diets and fads because they promise us instant, quick results.
The process of restrictive dieting is seen by those around us as sexy and hardcore. Yet inside we’re miserable and can’t wait for out cheat meal or cheat day.
We fall deeper into the deprivation hole.
Imagine using your will power to resist the high-sugar & high-energy snack in the office that is readily available at 4pm when you’re slammed with a project on deadline and desperate to wrap up the work day by 6 so you can get home by 7 so you can…..
Imagine the energy you will have to use to resist the food. Energy that is being taken away from the work task at hand, energy that is consuming and exhausting. If we want to break this cycle we have to think differently.
We can not get by on will power alone.
So, what do we go?
The strategies below are a few of the stable strategies I’ve taught to dozens if not hundreds of people and have helped them get consistent with their eating while prioritizing their satisfaction with the foods they eat. There’s still time to grab a spot in this FREE 5-Day healthy eating challenge.
We plan ahead and look at our week and see these preemptive curve balls we may be thrown. Curve balls that are intended to throw us off course. Anticipating and preparing for curve balls will lessen their ability to derail us.
In terms of nutrition, you already know you have a bat crazy week at work, so you preemptively plan for triggers like stress, deadlines, child illness, etc to get in the way and 1) bring healthy food and fill the drawers of your desk with it.
If it’s handy when you’re in a pinch, you’ll grab it. Don’t make it food you don’t enjoy, because it’ll lead to overindulging later.
SATISFACTION is key here – so if you’re used to grabbing the snickers/chips/pretzels/soda, how about stocking your drawer with a banana/whole grain crackers and some cheese/ mixed nuts with dark chocolate, and a protein shake (most protein bars are full of sugar so read labels carefully).
To review, we can not get by on will power alone.
Every demand that we put on our self control (will power) depletes our energy.
Walking around all day, every day telling ourselves we are stronger than our cravings isn’t going to cut it. We need to automate our decision making: make your food choices automatic and habit. We do this by consistently practicing one habit for 14 days.
This is a general timeframe in which conscious decisions become automatic. Automate one thing first.
We have to stop relying on our will power and start relying on ourselves.
Be preemptive. Plan ahead.
Look into your week for curve balls. Plan to have handy, healthy snacks available for busy days.
Look ahead and plan that you’ll pack your lunch 3 days this week and it’ll consist of XYZ healthy and satisfying foods, or that you’ll attend your favorite local cafe and get your middle of the menu food choice.
Don’t leave things until the last minute when you’re tired and distracted. That’s not a place where we make good decisions from. Bill Clinton said it best: “…Most of the bad decisions I made, I made when I was tired…”
We have the ability to prepare ourselves with the tools and strategies so that when we’re tired and stressed we can still make healthy choices for our bodies.
Grab your spot in the next 5-day healthy eating challenge. I’ll teach you the EXACT tools I coach my clients that help them get consistent with eating healthy, manage their weight while staying satisfied with their food choices. Spots are limited so grab one while you can. We start Monday, September 25th!