Like exercise I strongly believe that nutrition is a very personalized thing, what works for Joe may not work for John and Mary may be a vegetarian for moral reasons.
There is a definite process we can work through to help an individual find just what works for them.
I’ve had hundreds, maybe thousands of conversations on the topic of nutrition over the years and the one question I get more often than not is:
“Well what do you eat?”
“I bet you can eat whatever you want right?”
Given the variables, what I eat and what you eat probably need to be completely different.
I’m on my feet 8 hours a day often, maybe more. On top of my own workouts, I probably do the equivalent of an entire body workout spaced out throughout the day, once or twice a day.
I get actively involved with clientele frequently during group sessions, sometimes this means playing tennis, basketball, badminton, floor hockey, dodge ball, ultimate Frisbee, soccer and a slew of other active games, sports and occasionally participating in runs, bikes, rowing, etc…
I also lead a relatively active lifestyle, in that I walk everywhere (I live downtown), I do mobility work and foam roll almost daily, I surf or ski with some regularity, mountain bike occasionally and every now and then, go on a hike or two.
Now that we have some context, most people I talk with spend 7-12 hours at a desk or near a desk. They deal with a lot of peer pressure to eat out at least once a day.
They move very little throughout the day. They have posture and mobility issues as a result and often some kind of joint or muscle pain that hinders their desire to be active.
They drive to and from work, often even short distances because biking or walking in bad weather is never that fun.
They are not necessarily involved in athletics or even endurance sports, though some are — generally speaking a lot of people regularly see me who would already consider themselves fit, sadly it’s the ones who really need the help, that don’t see me for the help — and they very rarely lead any kind of active lifestyle away from the gym.
Without getting into the science of food in any great detail, can we start to see why what I eat could be a little bit different from what you may need to eat in order to lose weight? Genetics aside — which might be in my favour, but my father has been a fairly large man for most of his life, whom we lovingly refer to as ‘Big Dog’ — my lifestyle is just different from most.
Yes I’m a fitness professional by day, but that doesn’t mean I’m perfect, nor do I try to be. I’ve yet to meet anybody, including myself — and yes, I’ve sat down with Nutrition coaches and Dieticians several times over the last 10 years — who couldn’t make some kind of improvements to their diet, if only to make obtaining a goal that much more simple in nature.
In that time frame, I’ve come to believe that the process of tweaking your own eating habits is essential for success in your health and fitness journey — wellness!
That may include reading books, gathering information, trying out various ‘diet plans’ but mostly through experimentation with that information, those diet plans, and not strict adherence.
Often diet plans have so many variables, it is tough to know what really works for you, which is another reason I think small incremental changes are an absolute necessity.
Rather than go on a diet, try and find small things you can do reasonably well for an extended period of time. Ideally it’s something you could make a part of your everyday lifestyle, with perhaps the most important thing being, to start eating whole foods.
Yes, I’m talking about not eating crackers, breads, sugars, caloric beverages like coke or sprite, but focusing on the good stuff like oatmeal, seeds, nuts, fruits, veggies, water and tea.
None of my qualifications really give me the right to neglect my diet and sooner or later bad diets always catch up with even the most ‘skinny-fat’ people around.
It doesn’t give the elite athlete the right to just ‘eat whatever they want.’ Athletes especially are often not the best role models to use as a justification for your present eating habits.
No one can eat whatever they want, just because it hasn’t ‘yet’ impacted their body composition or health status, doesn’t mean it won’t.