True life: I didn’t get good at flexible eating for a while. In fact, it took me months to really get on board both in my motivation and execution. I learned through mistakes — mistakes I probably wouldn’t have made if I had a nutrition coach. So, here I am: your nutrition coach. Cue the trumpets!
There’s nothing that’ll guarantee I fall off track like not being prepared. So, every Sunday, I take two hours out of the day to plan a menu, write up a grocery list, shop, and prepare what I can. Sometimes the feedback I get goes something like, “Two hours?! I don’t have that time.” I have two responses to that: if you’re an adult, you’re likely going to spend time going to the grocery store and cooking anyway, so clump that time together and get it done so you don’t have to worry about it throughout the week. Second, with sacrifice comes great reward. Unless you have a personal chef at your fingertips, you’re going to have to put in some work. It’s the same for anything in life. My advice is to learn to enjoy it — grab a glass of wine (make sure it fits your macros), put on some good music, a podcast, or an audio book, and get to cooking.
Never let yourself get too hungry
I’ve eaten an entire bagel in less than 30 seconds once. No, it didn’t fit my macros. It was because I let myself go so long without eating that the last thing I wanted to do was wait the extra two minutes to weigh out my shrimp and vegetables. It’s hard to make good decisions when you’re hungry. Why? Because there’s a hormone called ghrelin that’s produced by the stomach in anticipation of a meal. Studies have shown that it has a negative effect on decision making and impulse control. There ya have it: science. So, always have snacks on hand, especially when you know it’s going to be a while until your next meal.
Preplan your day when you can
During the weekdays, I’m a creature of habit. So, it’s easy for me to open up MyFitnessPal and have a sense of what I’m going to eat and snack on. I’ll spend a couple of minutes putting that all in so that my job for the rest of the day is just to eat what’s already in MyFitnessPal! No thinking, just eating. Tell mama, we made it!
Always plan a before bedtime snack
The very first thing I log in MyFitnessPal is my ‘before bedtime’ snack. Sometimes, that’s a half cup of ice cream or handfuls of strawberries but it’s always something sweet, something to look forward to, something that will help me go to sleep feeling satisfied. Put it in first thing in the morning and plan the rest of your day around it.
Don’t let mishaps turn into catastrophes
If you think you’re going to hit your macros every day for the rest of your life, you’re in for a rude awakening. It just doesn’t happen. There are going to be vacations, parties, client dinners, and just days where you need a mental break from tracking and logging. The problem is, too many people let one or two bad days turn into a bad week, then into a bad month, then into a bad season. Flexible eating isn’t about perfection, it’s about persistence. Have your bad day, sulk if you need to, and then get back on the horse. One day at a time.
Have some patience
This is not a diet. I want to make that clear. There’s no promise of fast results, because what happens when you go on the Atkins Diet and lose 5 pounds a week? Eventually you introduce carbs back into your diet (there’s no avoiding them forever) and you gain all that lost weight back — plus some. The goal here is to maintain lean muscle mass. The goal here is to lose body fat. The goal here is to improve strength and increase performance. Most importantly, the goal here is to teach you how to eat for your goals. This is how you should eat for the rest of your life. Learning to do that takes time.
Understand the process
This is not a linear process by any means. I’ve never had a client come in and have a great weigh-in every week. Some weeks we don’t work out or sleep as much as we planned. Some weeks we just couldn’t hit our macros as often as we would have liked. Some weeks we just are retaining water or have some other hormonal thing going on that makes the read on the scale less than ideal. It’s just part of the process. The key, though, is to understand that as long as you are seeing progress in the grand scheme, a bad weigh-in is meaningless and definitely shouldn’t discourage you from continuing to work towards your goals.