Did you know that no matter what your fitness goal is, your eating habits can help you achieve the results you want? Sometimes, some small but consistent tweaks to your diet and eating patterns can make all the difference in your health and fitness plan.
First, take a look at your current eating habits. Sometimes, there are things that you may need to change, but that you aren’t even aware of. What times of the day do you usually eat, and why? Is it because the clock says it’s time to eat? Do you eat because you’re hungry, bored, angry, sad, or something else? Which foods do you eat more of and which do you eat less of? Do you crave certain foods at certain times of the day or under certain circumstances? Do certain foods make you feel ill or tired or cause you to over-eat? Do you eat well during the week but let those good habits slide on the weekends, or vice-versa? Spend a week or two tracking your eating habits – write down when and what you eat, and how you feel after.
Then, decide what you want to achieve. Are you wanting to lose or gain weight, increase your energy levels, lower your cholesterol, or tone up? Regardless of your specific goal(s), you need to balance protein, carbs and fats (macro-nutrients) with vitamins and minerals (micro-nutrients). Protein, carbs and fats are required throughout the day, and the best and easiest way to get the micro-nutrients is to eat a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables. The fats will help the vitamins be properly absorbed to keep your cells lubricated and healthy.
Eat for Your Goals
To Lose Weight
For weight loss goals, you’ll want to have a palm-sized portion of protein and a fist-sized portion of vegetables at each meal. Keep the consumption of starchy carbs to only once each day, ideally after your exercise to replenish your energy stores. Women should have one cupped hand of starchy carbs per day; men can have two cupped hands.
To Gain Weight or Muscle
If your goal is weight gain, you still require the same sized portions of protein and vegetables with your meals; however, you’ll want to increase your intake of starchy carbs by having them at each meal, instead of only once each day. Make sure to keep the portion sizes the same – one cupped handful for women or two cupped handfuls for men.
To Lower Cholesterol
You will always want to make sure you are getting enough protein and vegetables but to lower your cholesterol levels, increase your intake of both soluble and insoluble fibre. Psyllium fibre is an easy way to do this – you can simply drink it mixed in water or juice, or add it into a smoothie.
Assess to establish starting point and create a plan
Once you have your goals in mind and know what you need to do, create a plan. Use your food tracking and goals to figure out what you’re missing in your diet, and what you need to change. You want to make sure you’re getting enough water, omega-3s, protein and vegetables, and not consuming too much fat, sugar and simple carbs. Pick one thing to change and work on that consistently, taking note of how you feel and any changes you notice. Make each thing a priority until it becomes a habit, and make a plan for unexpected setbacks (because let’s face it “life” happens). This isn’t about perfection; it’s about consistency and making the small changes a priority to give them a chance to create that positive difference you’re looking for.
Make sure you track your progress. A lot of people want to avoid this step, but by not tracking, it’s difficult to get a sense of your progress and determine how you’re doing. You can use a sheet of paper, an app, a calendar, fridge magnets or other creative ways to keep track of what you’re doing and the differences you notice. It will take time to create habits but once they are made, they are done without much thought or effort. Keep at it!
Evaluate your progress
It’s also important to evaluate your progress. Are you finding things harder or easier than you expected? What are you doing well and what area do you need to put in more effort? Are there times when it’s easier to follow through than other times? Don’t beat yourself up, just start again and keep going. Once you’re confident with one habit, start another one following the same step pattern outlined here.
Re-Adjust if needed
Sometimes, it’s necessary to make some adjustments to your goals or your plan to make it easier for you to work the habits into your life and see the results you want. For example, instead of trying to be perfect with every meal right from the get-go, start with the main meal that would normally throw you off. Concentrate on one thing and find success with that before you start something else. Maybe you just need to focus on increasing your water consumption before you make other changes. Start with something do-able that works for you, and build from there.
Consider your fitness goals and plan as a work in progress. Change and adjustments are never a bad thing; the only bad thing is if you stop. Don’t give up! And if you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask. That’s what I’m here for.