80% of your progress in the gym comes down to nutrition. My failures with nutrition came from my lack of proper education and planning to the 10th power. I went crazy not knowing how I should be eating to increase my effectiveness in the weight room. I mean, with the variety of dietary theories out there how do I choose the one? I tried going paleo, vegetarian, pescetarian, vegan and gluten free all with the goal of finding something I could actually stick to! Through my own trial and errors I finally have my nutrition on track and wanted to share some tips if you need some guidance.
My lifestyle is generally centered around following a whole foods diet. Whole foods are those that have been minimally processed or completely unprocessed when you eat them. Yes girl, this means actually cooking the majority of your meals.
I feel my best and reach my goals in the gym eating this way because the body can efficiently use whole foods as fuel without the BS. I constantly keep in mind that food is fuel. I am a premium car and my food is the gas I need to keep moving. Keeping this in mind helps me remember that whatever I put into my body will either fuel me for whatever I need to do for the day or it won’t. Since training in the gym is a top priority for me, what I eat plays an even more important role. Going hard in the gym and primarily eating whole foods gives me the freedom and flexibility to eat what I want. I can choose to eat something processed here and there and not worry about killing my progress. I’m not going to hide that pizza is life, but I just don’t feel my best during the day fueled by a heavily processed pizza. When I really want a good pizza I hit up a place like Pizza Fusion (currently only in FL, NJ, VA in the states!) because I like to know what ingredients I’m putting into my body.
This leads me to say that my ability to go hard in the gym comes with a few things:
Goals – The importance of having goals can drive your nutritional choices and help you stay on track.
Values – I personally believe in a balanced lifestyle so I wouldn’t partake in a diet that I don’t believe in and you shouldn’t either. When the way you eat already aligns with your lifestyle and values it’s automatically easier to stay on track.
Fitness Regimen – When you work out consistently you don’t want to NOT see progress. Progress always happens with consistency so keeping this in mind makes it easier to stick to your goals when your dedication to your fitness is above all else.
KISS/Staples – Next, I’ve found that keeping meals simple and sticking with your staples helps tremendously. Essentially just sticking to what you know works for you and the kinds of food you like. Practice getting good at the basics so you can excel. Don’t get crazy at first or you will get sidetracked.
Create a menu for the week and know exactly what you are going to have for breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. When you plan ahead you can stick to your budget and you don’t randomly buy things you don’t need because you already planned ahead of time. Know your weaknesses (mine is my little sweet tooth) and plan ahead! To combat my cravings for sweet things, I’ve been eating mangoes, grapes and pineapples whenever it hits. I know fruits work to stop the craving long enough for me to shift my focus to something else. I’ll also eat healthier cookies like Lenny & Larry’s that double as a great protein source. I make a plan for when I will allow myself an extra indulgence as well. I’ll check my calendar to see if a birthday or event is coming up where I will most likely be able to eat something sweet. For example, my 4 year anniversary is tomorrow so you know I’m definitely planning on enjoying a treat and the celebration!
Below are a list of habits I’ve maintained long enough to experience the positive nutritional benefits. Don’t ever worry about breaking habits overnight. The goal is to work toward your goals and be more conscious about your eating habits. When you create excellent habits, eating another way won’t even taste as good anymore as your tastebuds will be trained to like what you’ve been giving it more recently!*
– Drinking water as the main beverage
– No sweets in the house, only enjoy out
– No extra sugar. Use stevia for tea
– No junk food (chips, cookies, processed meals)
– Snack on fresh fruit for sweet cravings
– Green tea as main caffeine source (nothing against coffee I’m just a tea drinker!)
– Minimize salt
– No alcohol
– Taking a multivitamin
*This doesn’t mean I don’t have something not on the list occasionally, it just means this is what I have made into habits that now come as naturally to me as breathing air.
At the end of the day, the way you eat should make you feel more alive. I sincerely hope that you give yourself the chance to explore what works for you and your goals if you feel like you need a change. Since processed food was never meant to be a main way of eating it’s important to understand the basics of nutrition to help you make choices that can best serve your future. If the way you’re eating keeps you sane, healthy, happy and progressive towards goals then you know you are doing something right.