Has this ever happened to you – and you found you fell off the ‘good eating’ wagon?
Last week, I received a really interesting and honest email from a client of mine that I wanted to share with readers. I have a feeling there will be some of you who will really resonate with this. This is how it read:
“So, the last two weeks have been interesting for me from a personal wellbeing reflection standpoint. I have learned something new or had an ‘aha’ moment. Even though I am totally aware that I signed up to have my food micro-managed – I have come to realise that handing over control to someone else has actually been disempowering and demotivating to me – rather than the opposite. This makes sense when I align it to how I live other areas of my life. I have been single again these last three years and last night I realised that even when I am in a relationship – I make decisions for and around myself as though I am single. I don’t respond well to ‘dictation’ in the sense of someone else telling me what to do. I believe I have now realised that I will prefer to be single for the rest of my life. Because I am in control. I find relationships with ‘significant others’ exhausting – especially if they don’t subscribe to my points of view and try to mould the shape of my life along their ideas.
Hence, this led me to another realisation. Even though I am definitely keen to ‘transform’, get stronger and improve my body – following a food plan prescribed by someone else actually has the opposite of the desired effect for me. I want to rebel against it. Because I am not in control of it – and I want to be. I think I will actually come out of this transformation better by taking responsibility for designing my own food plan – following the 40/40/20 Macro split – because I have more ‘ownership’ and control. Does any of that make sense?”
Who reading is nodding their head going, “Yep, that’s me”? See, some people respond incredibly well to having a coach or trainer laying out exactly what to eat, how much and when. Sure, it takes the ‘thinking’ out of it for them, and overthinking when you are doing your own plan can totally do your head in, as you continually question what you are doing and often spend far too much time second guessing yourself. This becomes incredibly stressful especially over time. There are absolutely good arguments for handing over your nutrition to an experienced nutritionist/coach who can perhaps better and more successfully guide you to your wanted results.
But. There is a lot to be said for you taking ownership of your own plan. See, being on strict meal plans and competition plans may turn us into mental robots — dependent, unable to make decisions without an organised plan and basically mentally lazy. The times you probably struggled the most also ended up being the times you grew the most. Why? Because you had to navigate the discomfort. You had to THINK independently and strategically. And the best part? You survived!
I don’t have an issue with people wanting me to micro-manage their food. Like I said, there are pros and cons to all approaches and different people work differently to various management styles and that’s OK. Here was my email response to my client’s thoughts:
“This is SO interesting. Kind of like music to my ears. I am glad you can actually come to your own conclusion. You are an autonomous individual and also introspective and good at reflection and this is an important observation. To get lean you do not want nor need someone else to tell you what to eat and you have observed through trial that it makes you want to rebel. This is great stuff. And very, very human. Some people are good at this, (sticking to a plan) and some are not and you have identified why.
Eating mindfully, eating when you’re hungry and eating foods you like with a macro split in mind can break obsession and break the idea of ‘cheating’. You are absolutely more in control. Your ability to eat healthy forever requires the courage to unlearn traditional dieting ‘rules’ and learn yourself. You ask if it makes sense? I say it makes perfect sense.”
To ‘conquer’ nutrition demons and learn to be at peace with food whilst being happy in your own skin requires mindfulness. I keep saying this I know, ad nauseum, but until you address mindfulness you won’t achieve long-term success. We need everyday nutritional strategies that help us maintain a flexible mindset when our environment is not ideal or we get caught without ‘our food’. They help us choose moderately, and not let perfect be the enemy of good. Employing nutritional strategy is doing your best to hit your Daily Nutritional Commitments (DNCs) and letting that be good enough.
And remember, DNCs are different than strict meal plans. DNCs are different than strict meal plans. DNCs are things like ‘eat protein at each meal’. Distinguish that with, ‘Eat 130 grams of grilled chicken breast at 1.15pm.’ Which ones take less time? Which ones require less mental stress?
You don’t need more willpower to follow a plan. If you have that willpower and you can ‘flick the switch’ — great! Micro-management is for you at least short term. But you require skill-power and the practicing of mindfulness to nail a really anti-fragile approach to long-term eating for body composition, performance and health, whilst practicing being a social human being!
What are your thoughts on my post? What approach do you have or do you practice a mixture? What is your biggest struggle when it comes to food and strategy? I’d love to hear.