We live in a fast-paced society where many of us overwork ourselves in whatever we do. Most people that we’ve talked to, just within our gym alone, eat only one or two times a day. Often times, those meals are either take-out meals, highly-processed, packaged meals or simply “whatever is convenient” (yes, even a Snickers bar). So… how can you plan to set yourself up for success both inside and outside of the gym to see the results to meet your goals?
1. Evaluate your current nutritional intake. Are you eating enough of the foods that provide you with nutrients and a constant flow of energy throughout the day? Does each meal consist of an appropriate balance of the three macronutrients (proteins, carbs, and healthy fats)?
2. Take it one step at a time. If you realize that most of the foods you eat come from a box or package, such as a muffin or granola bar, simply try replacing those foods with something “whole” like a piece of fruit or mixed nuts. Maybe you’ve realized that you don’t eat your first meal until noon, often famished, maybe you could consider having breakfast in the morning.
3. Start simple when preparing meals. We won’t be making 5-star culinary dishes if we are still learning and practicing how to find “balance”. Start simple: search Google or Pinterest for free recipes that may use minimal ingredients. Slow cooker recipes, or one-pan roasts such as chicken and veggies, are a great start. Just be cautious: remember, we want a variety of whole foods, so if the slow cooker has you using heavy cream, canned soups, and sodium-loaded seasonings, it may not be the best choice.
4. Make a plan. Make grocery lists, grocery trips, and a plan for what you will prepare. This could be for a full week, or just 3-4 days worth of meals. If you’re looking for more variety, it will require more preparation time during the week.
5. Determine your goals for further nutritional adjustments. If your goal is to compete in CrossFit competitions or weightlifting meets, your nutritional intake will need much more precision and likely, some guidance. If your goal is to reduce body fat or to simply make healthier choices for longevity, your nutrition will need less precision, but the same level of commitment and consistency; sometimes getting started is all you need to make lifelong changes. Goals will keep your mind focused on the outcomes and remind you of why you have decided to commit to a balanced nutritional intake. Working with a coach may be an option for those who feel they are overwhelmed and have no idea where to start.