Food. What does it mean to you? Do you eat when you’re happy? Eat when you’re sad? Eat when you’re bored or lonely? Society tends to stress the emotional connection to food. We have comfort food. We have celebratory food. We have “healthy” food. We have fast food. We like to consume food and drinks that taste good and we’ve altered foods so much that we’re conditioned to enjoy processed food more than “real” food. We’ve made sweets sweeter. We consume fried, well, everything. Sometimes we even go so far as to associate food that tastes good with having a “good” day or a “good” time.
We’re instant gratification people. We want to see change but we don’t want to have to change. The truth is that real change requires habit change. It involves changing the way we think about food and prioritizing an active lifestyle. It requires thought and planning. It also involves making time for things that we often don’t associate with “fun”- like working out, grocery shopping and cooking.
The process of changing your nutrition and exercise habits has five steps: set goals; learn your food; learn your body; modification/sustainability; and, finally, changing the way you think about food/exercise.
Step one involves the deliberate choice to change. Sit down and write out realistic goals around health and fitness that will help motivate you to stay on track. Identify short-term and long-term goals so you can continually see your progress.
Then comes learning your food. Learning your food is a process that takes time.
Using apps like MyFitnessPal to log your food, will allow you to learn the macro- and micro-nutrient breakdown of the food you eat without feeling overwhelmed. You can just scan a food label or search for preexisting entries. Initially it can feel time consuming but the process gets smoother as you establish the new habit.
Next is learning how your body responds to the food you eat. How is your current way of eating working for you? How do you feel? How is your sleep? Are you bloated at the end of the day? How is your energy level? How healthy is your skin and hair? What’s your mood like throughout the day? Absent the presence of disease, all of these questions lead back to the food you eat.
Now its time to modify the food you eat and develop a sustainable nutrition plan. Set a period of time to incorporate less processed and more “real” food into your diet and see how it impacts the way you think and feel. Don’t panic. You don’t have to eliminate all processed food from your diet. The goal is to eat more “whole” food than processed. The more processed food you eliminate the more you’ll learn how your body responds to certain types of foods. You may feel less satisfied eating more whole food because your body is so accustomed to running primarily on food-like substances (which might make you temporarily grumpy). On the plus side, you’ll likely notice considerably less bloat, better sleep, improved skin and hair, and more energy.
Finally comes the tough part of changing our emotional connection to food and exercise. We must retrain our brains when it comes to the foods we eat. Food is information. The food we eat sends messages throughout our body to perform certain functions that maintain life. That’s it’s job. Food’s job is not to make us feel happy. It’s job is not to bring us comfort or joy. Food can’t make us feel. Going out with friends and choosing a grilled chicken breast and veggies over a cheeseburger and fries or nachos doesn’t mean we’ll have less fun (that’s just the story we tend to tell ourselves). Popcorn at the movie theater doesn’t mean the movie will be better. Hanging out with friends over pizza won’t be more fun than hanging out with friends without pizza. When it comes to exercise, you don’t need to run on a treadmill for 60 minutes or be bored out of your mind doing cardio. Try different methods of exercise. Incorporate weight training and find something that you don’t dread doing! After years of running, I discovered a love for CrossFit because it’s different every day and I don’t have to think about what to do. I just show up, do what I’m told to do, and I get to workout with friends! It’s something I actually look forward to! So try different things and determine what you enjoy and do that! Changing our emotional connection to food and exercise is by far the most challenging part of adopting a healthier lifestyle.
So, what’s Truth Nutrition Coaching? We’re not a quick fix. We can’t do the work for you. We can’t magically make you reach all of your goals in 90 days. What we CAN do is walk you through each of the five stages of nutrition/exercise/habit change. We will help you set goals, we will encourage you and hold you accountable when needed, we will help you stay the course by tweaking strategy and suggesting alternate options, we will zero in on your specific goals and set nutrition targets that will make eating “healthier” a more concrete concept, and we will cheer you on every step of the way. Whether you want to drop a few pounds, increase your athletic performance, or just become healthier, we would love to help you!