Want to know something funny?
I’m Erica and I’m a fitness trainer who is against nutrition plans.
Well, conventional ones, at least.
A few years ago, I took a hiatus from writing plans for clients. No one was following them. No one was reaching their goals. No one was eating bland tilapia like I demanded. And no one could avoid devouring their entire pantry on the weekends.
What the fuck was happening.
Did my programs suck? Was I not a good trainer? Should I have quit fitness and become a fashion blogger instead?
My impeccable style aside, the disappointing results of my nutrition clients made me question my existence. And every time I question my existence, I do three things:
2.) book it to the nearest wine bar
3.) figure out how to improve as a professional.
So after some introspection over wine, a light bulb went off: I wasn’t actually writing people nutrition plans.
Rather, I was typing up menus into Microsoft Word.
It was a scary truth to face, to say the least.
And sadly, this is what most trainers do. They write up potatoes, Ezekiel bread, cod, broccoli, egg whites and 7 almonds on a document, email it to the masses, and cash in thousands into their bank account.
Oddly enough, I’d argue anyone and their mother can do this, not just trainers. Your accountant, your doctor, your mail man, your cat. All you need is Microsoft Word and know how to spell all the food groups. That’s about it.
Taking this discussion back to my personal growth as a nutrition coach, I’ve had to add the element of behavior change to truly be able to help my clients.
Because let’s be honest: everyone knows French fries have no nutritional value. Everyone knows fresh produce is better than Kentucky Fried Chicken. And everyone knows water keeps you alive and alcohol can make you die. Sorry if I got morbid.
With that said, understanding human habits and behavior change is key. People need guidance other than, “loaded French fries are bad for your cholesterol.” We all know this shit.
It’s tantamount to telling a drug addict, “hey, heroin is bad for you” and wishing them good luck on their recovery journey with no real habit, life changing, mind fucking advice. We all know heroin is bad for you too.
Given this, let’s start approaching nutrition like a life changing, recovery program with actionable steps. I’m going to dive in on three nutrition roadblocks and how to overcome:
1. You binge on the weekends.
You’ve been “good” all week. Grilled chicken, quinoa bowls, kale, and water. Then, the weekend rolls around and it’s buffalo wings to the face, French toast for brunch, bottomless mimosas, and pizza for Sunday night football. In fact, an entire pizza for yourself.
It’s no surprise you wake up Monday morning feeling like a lard of toxic sludge. How do you combat this?
- Preemptive cheats – I got this idea from fitness coach Jill Coleman. Instead of waiting to the weekend to eat the treats you enjoy, have a little each day Monday through Sunday. For example, maybe have a cookie Monday. Then, a Reese’s cup Tuesday. Or a small order of fries Wednesday. This way, during the week, you’re taking the edge off and far less likely to suffer an all-out binge on the weekend.
- Pre-loading – Before you go to happy hour with your friends, or to a work party, or to a pot luck, or anywhere you feel shit is about go downhill, pre-load with a protein shake. This way, you fill yourself up before you’re placed in front of a platter of junk. The results are nothing short of amazing.
2. You’re craving a lot.
Cravings can be hard to avoid. Perhaps you crave chocolate. Perhaps you crave sushi. Perhaps, like me, you crave Reese’s peanut butter cups.
So how do we solve?
- The “eat the damn cookie” method – Go ahead, just eat it. But if you do this, you may have to adjust your eating later on in the day and cut back on calories during your next meal. No biggie.
- Check in with your hunger – Is your craving happening because you’re actually hungry and your stomach is growling for food? If so, return to the “eat the damn cookie” method and just eat. If not, you may have to take a step back and turn down the craving altogether. The more we become of aware of our own hunger, the more we can move into a space of accepting we have a craving, and say, “I’ll pass,” then move on with our day.
3. You make unhealthy decisions when eating out.
Going out for food is tough. And oftentimes, we use it as an excuse to “be bad” and devour anything and everything with our friends.
How to solve?
- Protein – No matter what you order at a restaurant, order a meal that is high in protein. For me, I enjoy big ass salads with grilled chicken or fish, which is what I’ll eat first before I dive into the lettuce drowned in dressing and the croutons buttered in goodness. The result? I avoid eating the entire 1,000 calorie salad (yes, most restaurant salads are this high in calories), yet I’m still satisfied and full from the protein. Or, before a greasy appetizer, I may order a side of brussel sprouts or steamed veggies to fill myself up FIRST.
- Sampling – Sometimes, it’s inevitable your friends order buffalo chicken dip or nachos for the table. It’s cool. Enjoy a few bites by eating slowly. Enjoy the gooey, melty cheese of the nachos, the spicy and creamy kick of the buffalo chicken dip. The faster you eat, the less you’ll be able to appreciate the plate in front of you. Sow slow the fuck down and sample it. Enjoy it. The world will still spin.
These are just a few ways to overcome the most common nutrition obstacles.
Now, I’m no dietician, and my diet ain’t perfect, but these methods have allowed me to live a balanced lifestyle of healthy and junk food, without completely wrecking my life.
Let me know how you do.