So if you have read my previous blog I promised to share my thoughts on why I believe that balance is the best path to consider, if you want to make long term and lasting progress with health, happiness, and nutritional improvements.
As we’ve outlined already the concept of balance doesn’t sell. Balance isn’t easy. Thats why extremity for a short quick fix is actually more appealing to most than the idea of something that must be practiced forever. Extreme detoxes or diets, have a time frame- a shelf life. People tell themselves ‘after this x amount of weeks of ….probable hell….’ it’ll all be over, life will be better, I will be slimmer and I can return back to ‘normal’. Psychologically, as humans who are goal or reward driven, this then feels manageable as the reward of ‘normality’ in terms of nutrition or training, with the (promise) of a new physique shines at the end.
So lets start by looking at what balance means?
With thanks to dictionary.com for the following perfect descriptions :-
a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.
mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.
a state of bodily equilibrium:
Now I think we agree that ‘balance isn’t sexy’…. it wont lead to you dropping a dress size in 5 days nor will it ever be attached to any drastic before and after pictures. But, lets consider, if you had a choice of striving for even some of the ideas outlined above ‘mental steadiness, emotional stability a habit of calm and a state of bodily equilibrium’- Would you not jump at the chance to take it? I know I would!
Learning how to be balanced is an ongoing path for me, this is despite the irony of my hidden ‘Libra-scales tattoo’ on my back (sorry Dad -thats one from my teens).
As with most people I am fully capable of being very black or very white sometimes, and have lived and engaged with extreme practices on frequent occasions. And whilst I’m not convinced that living in ‘the grey’ 100 % of the time would suit my personality either, I have learnt that in terms of my body, mind, health and happiness living in a state of balance for MOST of the time is how I progress long term.
So what does balance in terms of nutrition look like and how can this help you?
-Firstly take stock of where your own imbalances are.
Balance for different people will vary. If you know you are a quick fix extreme dieter then this is the first area to address. Try and set yourself longer term targets for your goals which avoid drastic changes. Whilst drastic changes can easily be made, I am yet to find anyone who has been able to maintain a sudden short term diet weight loss solution, for the longer term. Separating yourself from this notion psychologically is your starting point.
-STOP researching before and after short term fixes.
You will ALWAYS find them. On social media the very clever ‘powers that be’ then will advertise this type of product more frequently on your page. They are picking on you as they know you are a (I would say vulnerable target)- they would say next customer. Instead begin to google or research longer term solutions. Research the impact that increased muscle mass has on your metabolism Read this. Absorb it and begin to work on this as a new goal.
Find yourself a coach.
A guide. Someone who knows what they are talking about in terms of nutrition. If they tell you things you don’t really feel that comfortable hearing (ie this wont happen over night)- then they are likely to be a keeper, and likely know what they are talking about. I can remember repeatedly being told that I needed to eat more carbohydrates (this is from strength coaches, people in the fitness industry, and other personal trainers) if I wanted to see improvements in my physique. I ignored their advice and insisted they were ‘wrong’. I often thought I knew best until the day when I experimented for myself and saw the results. Once you have a mentor, you can educate yourself in terms of what foods you will be more likely to do well on vrs those that may impede your progress (this will look different from person to person).
Learn what your body needs.
This ties in with the above. At Eat to Perform we have been trained to look at calculations of how and what macronutrients your body needs to function, lose weight, and gain muscle mass. This provides you with a base line figure (instead of a one size fits all approach of most diets which take no account for the physique of the individual). Once you know how many calories (roughly) you need to meet your goal then you can adjust for days to allow a little flexibility as and when you need to. This allows you to HAVE A LIFE. It also allows you to track, monitor and revise your progress if necessary. Seeing food as fuel is a great way to utilise the components it is made of. – It also allows you to eat chocolate rice pops (with some protein of course 😉 IF you have just smashed a very heavy gym session, in the safe knowledge that you are feeding your muscles of the glycogen that has been lost!
Make your own rules of negotiable and ‘non- negotiable’.
Now this is something only you will be able to decide. If you know you can’t eat just one packet of crisps but have to eat a giant bag for 6 people then maybe choosing crips as your non negotiable isn’t the sharpest idea. Think and be honest with yourself. Even when I was monitoring my weight (for a weighed in kettle bell Certification) every single week (and hence was being super strict with my food), I ‘allowed myself’ one ‘non negotiable’ glass of red wine and some chocolate every week. And no it isn’t due to any health benefits. I just like red wine and i like chocolate. I also liked to know I had flexibility even when I was being what I consider to be, super strict (ok not body builder comp strict but I measured food out which was an absolute pain in the a**). This area will vary dependant on your goal but allowing flexibility in any nutritional plan a) makes it doable long term b) keeps you motivated c) keeps you sane and ‘sociable’! The latter of which are perhaps of the most importance!
Now for ‘most of the time’ I operate the thought process of an 80/20 rule of how I eat. Meaning that 80% of what I eat has to provide the nutrition I need to help with my goals around strength training and general health. This leaves 20 % of the time devoted to the ‘whatever I want’. So yes pizza, burgers, chocolate whatever. What I have found increasingly however, with this mindset is the surprising lack of cravings I have for what most people would consider ‘bad or dirty or void of nutrition type’ foods. When I lived paleo I dreamt of carbohydrates. I also hated myself if I even smelt a piece of bread. In reality I probably operate at closer to 90/10 most weeks without even being aware of it. If my training isn’t there I know I need to look more at my percentages to see if its neutron that is having an effect. I really enjoy eating healthful foods, but at the same time I absolutely allow space for those that not providing anything other than a mental kick. Learning to embrace food as being ‘allowed’ according to your own rules gives you the power and enjoyment back over your own body and mind. It rids you of any negative thoughts, guilt, food shaming, all of which will help towards your goal of happiness and health.
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