When I start working with new clients I have them complete a pretty detailed intake questionnaire.
Two of the questions that I ask are:
- What’s your biggest nutrition challenge? (The thing that makes it most difficult to stay consistent or make progress with healthy eating?)
- What’s your biggest exercise challenge? (The thing that makes it most difficult to stay consistent or make progress with exercise?)
Here are some of the answers that I’ve received recently…
- “I do really well during the week, but then the weekend comes and I just lose control.”
- “Everything is fine when I make my own meals. But when I go out to eat or to parties, I always blow it. And after that, it takes me days to get back on track.”
- “I have a busy schedule and a lot of commitments, so I just don’t have time to exercise everyday and cook all of my meals. If I can’t do it right, what’s the point?”
- “I do really well for a few weeks. I push myself hard at the the gym and I eat super clean. But then I get to the point where I lose all of my motivation and I just can do it anymore, so I quit for a while. When my motivation comes back, I start again, but I always seem to lose it eventually.”
- “I don’t have time to exercise as much as I need to to get results, so I don’t even bother.”
- “I really enjoy baked goods, ice cream, cheese and chips. I know they’re not good for me, but I can’t seem to stop myself from eating them.”
Each of these answers is a bit different, but they all have a common theme. Each of these people view exercise and healthy eating as black-and-white.
They think that they’re either “on plan” or “off plan”.
They all chase perfection.
And that’s the real reason why most people don’t reach their fitness goals. It’s because they set impossible rules and standards for themselves and try to follow plans that are totally unsustainable.
But it’s not their fault. Personally, I think that the health and fitness industry is more to blame.
Why I hate the health and fitness industry...
There are so many things about the health and industry that frustrate the hell out of me, but diet and training dogma definitely takes the cake.
Do a simple Google search on healthy eating, weight loss, fitness, exercise, nutrition etc. and what do you get?
A ton of conflicting information. And…
Lists of “magical” supplements, foods to “never” eat, the next best training regimen, and bullshit advice from so-called gurus, Instagram models, and celebrities…
Don’t get me wrong, there are awesome resources available too, but they’re few and far between.
So most well-meaning people are left believing two common myths about exercise and healthy eating:
- You can't indulge. If you do, you're off plan and you'll never look good or reach your goals.
- The only way to look good, be fit and be healthy is to exercise all the time (or exercise only at really high intensities).
Let me tell you, as popular as these beliefs are, they’re complete and utter bullshit!
It doesn’t have to be that way at all. (Contrary to what the “gurus” might want you to believe.)
The truth is, you can absolutely indulge sometimes and still look good and be healthy and fit. No food needs to be off-limits.
And you don’t need to workout everyday (or only at high intensities) either. In fact, I highly recommend that you don’t. Rest and recovery are just as important as training.
The healthiest and most effective nutrition and training strategies have two things in common — consistency and sustainability.
It’s what you do consistently that matters most.
If most of your meals consist of whole foods, then having desert or drinks every now then isn’t going to have any impact whatsoever. In fact, allowing yourself to indulge every now again is what will make your strategy more sustainable.
If you stick to your workout plan consistently, then missing a training session one in a while won’t impact your results.
The most important change that you can make to overcome your struggles and ensure your success is to start shifting your mindset away from perfection, rigid rules and dogmas.
What healthy (and effective) nutrition and training plans should actually look like...
Start by letting go of the unrealistic or inflexible beliefs that you might have about what it takes to look, feel, and perform better.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should say “screw it” and not hold yourself accountable for your behaviours and actions. All it means is that you should be a bit more flexible in your beliefs.
Understand that being healthy, strong, and fit isn’t just about “losing body fat”, “looking good naked”, or “staying on plan”. It’s about enjoying your life, choosing the right situations to indulge, and not worrying about missing a workout every now and then.
So instead of trying to hold yourself to rigid rules and unrealistic expectations, try some of these approaches…
- Focus on eating more of the foods that add value to your body — things like fruits and veggies, lean proteins, healthy fats, and smart carbs — instead of trying to avoid certain foods at all costs.
- Choose a type of exercise or training that you enjoy — one that makes you feel good and one that you can do consistently. Don’t try to force yourself to do something that you hate or something that feels like a chore just because a so-called expert told that it was the best or only way to get fit.
- Focus on making ONE realistic lifestyle change at a time. Small changes made over time are far more effective and easier to sustain than complete lifestyle overhauls.
- Hold yourself accountable and commit to your goals. But live a little too. If you’re eating well and exercising consistently, don’t worry about indulging occasionally. And if you miss the odd workout, don’t sweat it (especially if it’s because you did something more important with your time.)
Above all, focus on an approach that helps you establish balance.
A balanced approach will lead to better consistency and sustainability, higher quality workouts, improved dietary compliance, and a more enjoyable life.
If you need a place to start, click the image below to download The Results Blueprint for a simple and sustainable step-by-step approach.