If you have ever said any of the following; “I really want to get in shape; feel better; get back on track; lose some weight, or tone up.” You probably already understand the nutritional component is going to be essential to success.
For many, that means getting your diet dialed in. But, before we go down that road, I want you to consider something for a few moments.
The word diet is a noun, and the act of dieting is a verb.
This often-overlooked difference is vitally important to your success. In my 20 years of health, fitness, and coaching experience, I’ve consistently found the people most likely to achieve long term success eat a healthy diet and are not dieting.
Here are my top four tips, in order, for helping you improve your diet right now!
Go from the verb to the noun
Plan, Prioritize, and prepare
Choose Higher Quality foods more often
Eat Slowly & Mindfully
The first step to helping you achieve success needs to be going from the verb to the noun.
I recently had the opportunity to speak to a local Girl Scout meeting to talk about healthy eating habits. I opened up my speech with this question, “What does the word diet mean?” I was so excited to hear this answer, “It’s like, just like, what you eat and stuff.” I was stupid excited to hear her answer. I thought going in, they were going to answer with something along the lines of calorie restriction. But nope. That little girl’s response is how I wish adults would answer the question.
Diet is simply what you eat. You can be on a diet of Ho-Ho’s and Twinkies, but I wouldn’t recommend it. By changing your paradigm of diet, you change how you approach food.
The idea of taking time to plan, prioritize, and prepare seems like it will take too long to fit into your busy schedule. That might be so, but what if you started with just five minutes?
Even a five-minute action can have powerful results. For example, in the next five minutes, I want to you do the following:
Minute 1 – Plan out what day or time you will make your next grocery store run and the amount of time required/allowed to shop.
Minute 2 – Think about what events you have coming up that might present you with a less than optimal situation food-wise and create a plan b.
Minute 3 & 4 – Create a list of meals you would like to eat, focusing on whole minimally processed food choices. (More on that in a moment).
Minute 5 – Plan out when you will prepare the food you will purchase, and you will store it for later.
An example of this sounds like this: I will go to the grocery store after I drop the kids off at day-care on Thursday. I will plan on being in the store for 20 minutes and will grab enough food for 8 meals for me, my wife, and two young boys. I’ll grab enough food for three different dinners and leftovers for lunches. I want two chicken dinners and one steak dinner. I’ll cook one of the chicken dinners that night and set up the other chicken dinner for the crock-pot on Friday and let it cook while I’m working because I know we will not have time to cook Friday night. Saturday night, I’ll fire up the grill for the steaks. I’ll store the meals in individual Tupperware containers as I’m cleaning up Thursday night.
This step is a process and can have multiple stages. This step is the 1% better approach. A vegetable example looks like this, going from canned to frozen, then from frozen to fresh.
Another example might be choosing a product with an extensive list of ingredients you can’t pronounce to one with fewer ingredients that you can pronounce and find in the store you’re shopping at. Chances are you’re not going to find Red dye #9 on Kroger’s shelves.
Finally, eat slowly and mindfully. Eating should be an enjoyable experience, but we too often distract ourselves while we eat. Put the phone down, turn the TV off, and get rid of any other distractions. Take your time as you eat and pay attention to the flavors and textures.
Eating at a slower pace will allow you time to pay attention to your hunger cues and the sensation of being full. This helps with reducing the chances of overeating. If you are up for a real challenge, try putting your unties down after each bite!
I can guarantee, if you follow these four steps, you are on your way to improving your diet without being on a diet.
Remember in high school when you would sit on the gym floor organized into lines of ten, and the gym coach would walk by the rows and take the role? I remember like it was yesterday! Gym was my favorite class (makes a lot of sense, right?!?!). After that, they would have you stand up, do 10-20 jumping jacks followed by some useless toe touch hamstring stretches. This was just enough time for them to get the cage of balls to roll out and unleash the craziness of gym class. Man, I miss those days!
Fast forward down the road post high school, and you probably took the same approach to your workout warm-ups, thinking it was doing you good. Shucks, you may have even done some extra stretching (3 whole minutes) before working out to make sure you were ready.
I hate to break it to you, but that’s not a warm-up. At least not one that is going to be beneficial.
Finally, warming-up up and mobilizing help prime the range of motion used in the workout. This helps reduce strain on the muscles and connective tissues and is how it helps reduce injury. But did you know that when you’re warming up, you are helping to prime the movement patterns and increase your performance? That’s right! When you go through the movements as part of your specific warm-up, you are reminding yourself of the movement patterns. The brain is subconsciously rolling through all the experience you have with that movement and starts to look for the optimal movement patterns successful in the past. Pretty amazing how the connection between the brain and the body works. And oh… if you want to optimize that connection, you should consider regular chiropractic adjustments to keep the superhighway of the nervous system, the spine, in proper alignment.
As a review, you will want to properly warm-up and mobilize to get the most out of your workouts. Now let’s get into the way you carry it out!
Every time you warm-up it should be specific to the workout you plan to perform. This means that how you warm-up for a longer cardio-based workout is different than how you should warm-up for a heavy deadlift day. The for steps to optimizing your warm-up are:
General Warm-up – Mobilization – Movement Specific Warm-Up – Performance Priming
I’ve got a seemingly random question; If we were to jump into your car right now, how loud would your radio be playing? Chances are it’s at a level that isn’t too low or too loud. Sure, from time to time, you crank it up and sing loudly. At other times you turn it down when you’ve had a tough day at the office and just want to hear something soft to help reduce the stress of the day.
Now I want you to apply that same idea to the intensity of your workouts.
Some days you’re feeling like the Axl from Guns N’ Roses (feel free to fill in your front man and fantasy band here if it suits you), and you’re at a 10/10 on the intensity and feeling ready for whatever the workout may be. Kickass! Glad you’re ready to go hard, but not every workout should leave you in the fetal position gasping.
There is nothing, read that again, NOTHING wrong with turning the intensity down for a day if you’re not 100%. Maybe your nutrition was crap at the company luncheon, or your two-year-old has been having trouble sleeping, and it’s got you up at night (that’s me). Perhaps you’re in the gym for the 5th day in a row, and you usually come 3 days a week. Going hard for the sake of going hard may help relieve some stress mentally, but physically you’re doing a disservice to your progress. In fact, there is recent research to back this up.
Over the past decade, you have probably seen a large uptick in wearable technology to track physical activity. Companies like FitBit, Whoop, Garmin, and Oura Ring all have proprietary measures related to readiness for exercise. These wearable devices look at factors like resting heart rate, respiration rate, heart rate variability, and more. These readiness factors allow the wearer to gain insight into what their body is doing from a qualitative standpoint to help provide information about how to structure your workout. For example, researchers in Spain published an article in June of this year outlining how the metrics used by many of these wearable technologies were used to refine the training habits of cyclists and improve training outcomes1.
While these devices provide some great information, you still need to apply it appropriately. Furthermore, many of us don’t need these devices to tell us that we are feeling run down, ready to go. What we need is to find our workout of the day that aligns perfectly when our readiness state. One that is going to be the most beneficial for that day.
Having a coach that can help you set the focus and purpose for the day’s workout to align your readiness state, ability, and long goals are so important. If you need help getting the most out of your training, try connecting with one of our coaches to see what recommendations they have!
1. Javaloyes, Alejandro1; Sarabia, Jose M.1; Lamberts, Robert P.2; Plews, Daniel3; Moya-Ramon, Manuel1 Training Prescription Guided by Heart Rate Variability Vs. Block Periodization in Well-Trained Cyclists, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: June 2020 – Volume 34 – Issue 6 – p 1511-1518 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003337
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb
Damned if it ain’t true! This might sound painfully obvious, but now, this very second, well maybe after you finish reading this, is the best time to take action. This might be to improve your diet, to start working out, or any other health-building practice.
Before the entire world started slowing down and in some parts, shutting down, many of us moved throughout our day packing in as much as possible. We often neglected to build our most precious resource to combat COVID-19, our health.
While many people are harping on the adverse effects the pandemic is imposing on their “normal” life, I’ve taken this opportunity and encourage you to reflect on what may be a blessing in disguise. I’ve taken the opportunity to intentionally shift the focus my attention to aspects of my health that were not given ample attention previously, and so should you! Perhaps that means you let work and life responsibilities superseded your focus on personal health and fitness. Or, if you were like me, you allotted more attention to some aspects of health and neglected others. Whatever the case may be, now is the best time to start building a more robust level of health.
Here is how to start; small daily actions focusing on the process of change rather than the end result. That sounds weird! Why should I focus on the process rather than the goal?!?!
Let me answer a question with a question again (see my blog post about 5 functional foods and fluids HERE); How do you build a house?
Ahhh…. now you get it. There is a process to the end result, and it has to be done by setting a firm foundation, then frame it, and so on. As the project progresses, it begins to take the form of the end goal, a home. To be honest, I’ve never built a house, but you get the idea. It takes time, and certain things must be in place before you can take the next step.
To further the analogy, let’s look at nutritional equivalent. A not so hypothetical client set up a nutritional coaching session to help lose some weight. As the meeting started, it was apparent, the client wanted a very detailed, down to the smallest macro diet plan along with a list of dietary supplements they need to be taking. To their surprise, this is not what I provided right off the bat. Instead, I asked them if they were consistently eating whole foods that are minimally processed and consuming ample water throughout the day? The answer was no.
As you might guess, the client did not leave the session with what they initially expected. Instead, a list of actionable process steps they could, without a doubt, be successful for the next two weeks. During the next meeting we had, we built on those steps. Over a few months, they continued to succeed. They ultimately reached the goal of losing weight, even without the need for an elaborate plan.
Now it’s your turn, begin by creating small actionable changes that you can perform with a high success rate and build on regularly.
If you have questions about where to begin, we are here to help and answer your questions about fitness, nutrition, and what will be the best course of action for you. Now get to it!
Link to previous blog: https://
Whether you spend more time binging the latest Netflix series or accomplishing physically demanding workouts, what we eat and drink has a major influence on our health and wellness.
Regardless of where you lay on this spectrum, I believe each of us would appreciate some extra credit that requires little to no effort to see added health benefits.