I love the positivity of January, when people are open-minded to the idea of happy, healthy habits that can transform their lives. Whether a person wants to lose fat, build muscle or maintain the levels of fitness and health they’ve already achieved, the new year is an ideal time for a new mindset and a new or improved plan.
Put food first – and keep it positive.
It might be hard to believe, but 80% of improving health, fitness and strength revolves around food and nutrition choices. The 80% nutrition + 20% fitness rule states the importance of nutrition in the equation. What you put in your body, as well as when, how much and how often, creates the foundation for what you can get out of your body. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet!
Your attitude about physical fitness, food and bodyweight has everything to do with how easily you’ll be able to make small, positive changes. So, why not set yourself up for success by making some vocabulary changes?
Don’t diet. “Eat!”
What sounds more fun, eating or dieting? The word “diet” gives food a negative connotation and implies deprivation just for the sake of weight loss. But an improved nutrition plan is the opposite of deprivation; it’s a gift to yourself. In some cases, it can include more calories than your current eating habits do!
To create your plan, the first thing I want to know during our nutrition consultation is what your current nutrition plan looks like. Don’t worry; it’s not uncommon for someone’s current nutrition plan to seem completely unstructured, and that’s okay.
By looking at the way someone already eats on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis, I can discover patterns and make little suggestions that you can live with – and enjoy!
Take small steps toward realistic goals.
In the early stages, I don’t want anyone to think of a nutrition plan as permanent or as a full-year outline; it’s going to change over time, as it should. All I want anyone to do is view it in little, measurable chunks. What minor changes can they make tomorrow or the next day? Or what items can be added or removed over the next four weeks?
I create a nutrition plan that we can look at in daily, weekly, and four-week blocks. And I always ask people to think about what motivates them. That way, we can incorporate a reward for each goal they achieve.
Pretty soon, one small, positive change happens at a time. Maybe it’s replacing orange juice with an actual orange; replacing a packaged fruit-and-nut bar with a hearty handful of unsalted nuts and unsweetened, dried fruit; or replacing packed and processed foods with whole foods, natural from the ground.
Your new plan will fit your life.
As we create a nutrition plan, I look at what’s going on in every aspect of a person’s life. Are they happy; stressed; single; married; divorced; traveling a lot? Do they have kids and, if so, how old are they? Are they in a new job or are they about to retire? What are their hobbies? How often do they eat out and order in? What kinds of things get in the way of their progress?
Knowing all about someone’s life helps me put together a plan for their lifestyle that includes goals they can actually achieve. It also helps me make realistic suggestions. My job is to take the obstacles out of your day and life to help you achieve your fitness goals.
Don’t work out. “Train!”
We already know that 80% of planning and habit-forming efforts should go toward the nutrition aspects. But simultaneous, achievable fitness training goals feed the success of the overall plan.
Once again, it’s important to stay positive. Think of physical fitness, movement and strength not as work but as training that nudges you towards your goals. That’s because nutrition and fitness training feed on each other.
It’s not a myth. It’s true: When you start to exercise you eat better. And when you eat better you have more energy and motivation for training. Pretty soon, you start seeing and feeling results and you discover that your happy, healthy habits are transforming your body, your mind and your life.