1/24/15

Trust your eating plan


Far too many times, athletes who want results will try to rush the process of gaining fitness. 
This is not far from the truth when it comes any individual who is seeking a positive (and healthy) change in the body composition. 

As I think about individuals who jump from one diet plan to another looking for the magic fix, there is a tendency to think that one plan will solve everything - health issues, bloating, gas, inflammation, overeating, cravings, etc. Most magazines, diet plans and health-focused commercials want you to believe that you need fixing - you are broken, failing or desperate for change. 

Thus, by changing this, eating that and eliminating these foods, you will feel better, be better and look better.

Often times, athletes get wrapped-up into this diet-mentality thinking and stop seeing food for fuel but instead, see food as good/bad for weight loss. Despite the massive amount of calories we burn each day/week through structured training, athletes are being brainwashed to believe that the same diet plan that is marketed toward someone who is in need of a healthier or more active lifestyle, will work for our extremely active lifestyle. 

Well guess what. 

Lean people still get bloated and have gas.
Toned and fit individuals still get inflammation and feel sore after workouts.
A low body fat percentage does not make you immune to disease, sickness or injury.
And lastly, regardless how much you weigh or how much body fat you have, if you have a body and have crossed a finish line, no one can take your athlete title away from you. 

Everyone has an off-day. 

We all have a day when the body just feels blah or clothes feel a little tighter than the day before. But guess what, your personality and great characteristics do not change just because you feel a little different in your skin. You are still a hard-working, passionate, go-getting, loving type of person.

 You are not defined by what size clothes you wear, how little jiggle is in your wiggle and certainly, the scale is not designed to run or ruin your day. So if you can carry-on with your day despite feeling a little off one day, you may find that your individual eating plan is perfect just for you because no matter what plan you think you need to follow, everyone has an off-day. 

You wouldn't stop working out just because you feel tired during one workout, would you?
How many times have you felt blah before a workout but made yourself carry-on and ended up feeling great afterward?

Come to terms that you have to trust your plan, your journey, your path of improvement when you want to make a change for the better. 

Changing your nutrition habits is all about discovering what works best for you. A sensible plan is not a cleanse, fast or detox and it does not (absolutely does not) involve eliminating major food groups. Don't ever let someone tell you that you one food or food group is off-limit, bad or poison. 

Trust a plan that will provide you with realistic changes. A good eating plan will help you see food differently. See the good in food and how it enhance your life. 
Your eating plan should enhance your quality of life. If you don't feel good inside with your diet or you feel controlled by food (or food restriction), your plan is not designed for you. 

Recognize that when you follow a plan - whether it is designed just for you or a mass-marketed plan - you are going to have to make some changes. And with these changes, you are also going to experience several mind games in your journey. 

Doubt, fear, worry, second-guessing, comparison.

But with no deadline in place in your eating plan, you must learn to quite those thoughts. Just like a new training plan, if you don't trust your plan, you will never trust that the hard work you are putting in will pay off. 

And with eating, don't let one experience, one day, one occasion force you to think that your plan is not working. You must give it time and not always will it feel easy and comfortable at the beginning. 

Most people deviate from a nutrition plan when they are vulnerable to their body or life feels out of balance. 
This can go both ways. 

Someone who has been restricting food for a while and/or overexercising to control body composition or food choices may feel extreme anxiety over what may happen when eating habits change and exercise volume is decreased. Despite the necessity to put on weight and change the exercise or eating regime in order to improve health and/or performance, there are thoughts as to how uncomfortable it may feel to experience a change in the body or diet. 

And the other end of the spectrum. 

If you feel a little bloated one day or look in the mirror (or comparing to someone else) and feel that the body is not changing fast enough to drop weight, you may lose faith in the plan and decide it's just not worth continuing. 

Diet plans make you believe that you can't figure out your own style of eating on your own. 

If you have an unhealthy relationship with food and your body, you may find comfort in having a good/bad food list (whether you created it on your own or per a book/website). 
Whereas there may be some good in your eating plan, you should be putting your energy into developing a healthy relationship with food and that means trusting your own plan of mindful eating and fueling your active body. 

Do's and don'ts and many non-negotiable's. 

These are key components of diet plans or disordered eating habits. 
Absolutely do not eat this, avoid that and don't even think about that. Or else.

This all or nothing mentality can wear heavily on your mind and body and it is not a plan that you want to put all your trust into. 

Discover food freedom in your eating plan. Learn to fall in love with the process and trust your eating plan that works for you and your lifestyle. 

Positive results are in your near future, just don't give up. 

And for all you athletes reading this post, weight loss (or reaching your "racing weight")  may change your body composition and it may make you more efficient so you feel lighter when you run and bike as you will be carrying less body weight.

But weight loss doesn't bring on significant training adaptations. Losing weight through food restriction or over-exercising with an undernourished/under-fueled body, doesn't make you more powerful, faster or stronger and it certainly does not improve your endurance and lactate threshold nor does it create a positive relationship with food and the body. 

If you want training adaptations and a strong and fit body, you have to work for what you want and the only want you can get to where you want to be is following a well-designed plan with your well-fueled body.