December 4, 2009
This is a very delicate topic to discuss, but I truly believe that nutrition and diet are even more important than all that hard exercise we do. Obviously, the combination of great diet and exercise always yields the best results.
Why am I in the best shape of my life? Diet and Nutrition! I am now the lightest and leanest I have ever been as an adult. Now! Not back when I was practicing soccer 2-3 hours / day, twice a day back in high school. Not back when I was playing collegiate water polo. These are tough sports where you are burning serious calories. But what wasn’t I doing? What had I never really done right? Diet and Nutrition!
Honestly, I feel most people know what is good and not so good for them. So most of the times people roll their eyes when you talk diet because they’ve heard it all before or they actually already know. I am going to be honest in this post and not paint some facade that I have been perfect. Many other coaches have been perfect. I have not. But I have been successful and over time I have moved from eating really clean 85% of the time to 90% to ~95+%. You get the idea. (By the way, 80+% of great abs are created in the kitchen, not by doing crunches!)
Everybody is different. Everyone has a different body type, metabolism, etc. God made us all different and we thank Him for that. It is the world we have all created around us that tells us what we should look like. This is not about the physical. This is about health. Healthy eating has been a very fundamental part of my mental and emotional change. (I consider the physical as a bonus.) I do not want anyone to underestimate this aspect of your transformation.
So, here are some of my humble suggestions:
Track Your Diet
There are so many ways to track your diet: mobile phone apps, web apps, paper journals. I use the Meal Planner at http://TeamBeachbody.com. It does not have the best database out there as I enter in much of my own food. However, it does help you tailor your diet to your goals, specific Beachbody workouts, and I do like the daily summary. (See below). This is the one of the services you need to sign-up for a Club Membership.
Knowledge is Power – I had never tracked my diet before. Who even knows how many calories are in a piece of bread or eggs or a steak or whatever. You need to educate yourself.
Confidence – Tracking takes the guessing game out. You know if you are on track or not. This gives you confidence to eat what you need. Starving yourself will not get you through these programs.
Accountability – You need to be accountable for what you put in your mouth. If you have a weak moment and grab a little of this or that at a party, track it. Don’t lie to yourself. Hold yourself accountable. It sounds funny but many times I wont eat things just because I don’t want to enter it. I am not even sure of all the ingredients in some things I used to eat. So if I find something that I really don’t know the ingredients, I wont eat it.
Take Control of Your Destiny
Take your destiny in your own hands. Do not be a victim! Plan ahead and plan out your day. This is hard at first, but will become part of your new routines.
What challenges will come my way today? Is there a time when I will not be in control of my food source? Sometimes if I am going out for a customer dinner, I will order some room service prior with a light meal so I don’t have to rely completely on the restaurant we are going out to.
We all live fast paced lives and we want easy and fast food. This was a major part of my transformation and was a huge part of taking control of my life. I felt at times that I just ate what was thrown at me. I didn’t have time. I am travelling through an airport; I have to get McDonald’s because it is quick. I’m at a customer dinner or I’m out travelling with the team and food became a vice. I am so stressed; at least I can enjoy eating whatever I want. Now when I pass on food, I start getting questions. I never realized how much people pay attention to what you eat (or don’t eat). And I find many people want to change and don’t know how either. And those are the opportunities that come your way to pay it forward!
Pick Healthier Options and Try New Things!
Instead of pork bacon, use turkey bacon.
Instead of ground beef, use ground turkey.
Instead of mayo, use some sliced avocado
Instead of white bread, use good whole wheat.
Instead of Regular Salad Dressing, use Light (and always put it on the side!)
Instead of Eggs, use Egg Whites.
You get the idea.
Try new things! If you tried avocados 5 years ago and didn’t like them, try them again. As you eat new food your taste buds will change. Processed foods wont taste good anymore. I used to ask for extra mayo on sandwiches. That would taste so horrible to me now.
Another example that I can use is dairy. I used to eat a lot of cheese (and a lot of pizza). When I started P90x, I moved to mozzarella cheese to put on my egg whites and I put fat free milk in some of my protein shakes. I then got to a point where water in shakes tasted just as good and I tried my eggs without cheese and they were fine. So I realize I don’t have much dairy anymore, but it was not an intentional thing.
Carnivores and Herbivores
I believe Tony Horton is a vegetarian and says you shouldn’t eat anything with a face on it. I am a meat eater and used to eat a lot of red meat: burgers, steaks, etc. I drastically cut back red meat and when I do have it (once a month?), it is a lean cut. I eat a lot of grilled chicken, turkey, and lean pork. Great protein, low fat. I also eat more fish than I used to. I don’t desire to be a vegetarian. If you are or can do that, great for you! If you do like meat, make better meat choices. The 70/30 ground beef is not going to cut it.
Last piece of advice. Do most of your shopping at the perimeter of the grocery store as it helps you stay away from a lot of bad packaged food!
Stop Empty Calories and Stop Bad Habits
Everyone has heard this, but today we have so much processed food with no nutritional value. Our body keeps wanting to eat because it is not getting the fuel it needs.
You know your bad habits. No one needs to tell you that. And if you don’t know your bad habits, tracking your food will make them very clear to you.
Don’t drink your calories – You know what I am talking about (eh hem…soda). Another one you have heard all your life. Drink more water. There is a reason you have heard it all your life. It’s true! I love water, but even I want some flavor once in a while. I use Propel packets, Crystal Light Packets, and my new favorite is Vitamin Water Zero. I only have one of any of these once a day at most. My P90x Results and Recovery Drink gives me some Orange flavor in the morning and Shakeology and Protein Shakes give me flavor the rest of the day.
No Processed Sugar – And this is in so much of our food. Get sugar from natural sources.
No Alcohol – No one is going to tell you alcohol is good for you. Have I had a beer on a hot summer day? Yes. But I really save it for special occasions. And do it in moderation. By the way, you track it like anything else.
No Caffeine – This is not a problem for me. I was never a coffee or tea drinker. But I know many people that rely on their coffee like oxygen in the air. Try the best you can to cut back as much as you can. If you have a caffeine addiction, wean yourself off as I heard cold turkey can make you pretty miserable.
This was a huge one for me. I would skip breakfast, eat a big toasty sandwich for lunch, feel so hungry around 3pm (and not eat), and then stuff myself for dinner. Mix that with travelling internationally and you have one screwed up metabolism.
I had no clue how to retrain my metabolism, but I believe the rule of eating 5 smaller meals a day was a huge part of that.
How do I eat 5x a day?
That’s what I asked. I am so busy, how is this possible? Go back to planning out your day. Pack quick snacks: almonds, turkey jerky, or a protein bar. If you know you have meetings all morning, stuff some of these goodies in your backpack and take one out at 10:30.
Hunger is BAD!
You should NOT be hungry during the day. When you eat the right food and fuel your body with the correctly, you will be less hungry. You won’t be stuffed and feel like you are going to blow.
Make A Baseline Food Plan and Refine
This is another big one! It will give you some early success that will give you confidence that you CAN change! The Meal Planner works really great for me here. I will post my baseline diet shortly.
Keep refining and don’t try and take on everything on at once. I know it can be overwhelming. Now that I have fixed so much of the major issues, I know I need to start looking at other things, like sodium intake. But I feel trying to do it all at once is really tough. In my mind, this is not a 90 day stint. This is a lifelong transformation.
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1) I am not a registered dietician and I do not pretend to be an expert on this topic. But here is what I can tell you. I know lifetime habits are tough to change, but it will get easier. You wont desire what you used to. And it is not as complicated as you think. Find that baseline diet and you are well on your way.
2) Momentum is your friend. Don’t ambush yourself. You have worked so hard to get where you are. That’s why early on, it is critical to stay true to the plan until you create your new habits. Going the rest of your life without a cookie is not much fun, but early on you do have to go cold turkey on many things. You have to create your own momentum by staying on the rails. The most important thing is to stop the bad habits!
3) Changing diet is really hard. It’s harder than any P90x or Insanity workout routine. That’s why the weight loss industry is approaching $70 Billion in the US in 2010. But the long-term solution is to get back to the fundamentals. We are surrounded by bad food. Take control of your own health and it will change your life!