Some of the worst advice we can give in the worlds of fitness and nutrition revolves around a list of don’ts. It is common practice in many transformation challenges to give clients meal plans which includes a list of foods to eat, how much, and when. By default, this also includes a list of foods not to eat, times not to eat, and limits on quantities. Starting January 1st, cleanses/detoxes are another common practice by those trying to jump start good nutrition. The practice of providing individuals meal plans or lists of foods to avoid are well intentioned, but lack nuance, and in many cases may have the opposite effect. I have four children (ages 3-8) and one thing that becomes very apparent as a parent is that telling your child not to do something is a virtual guarantee that they will do it. There is nothing special in my closet, I just don’t want my kids in there making a mess. The second I tell them not to go in there, it becomes the coolest thing in the world. This is human nature, as we tend to be drawn to the forbidden. We can go all the way back to the biblical story of Adam and Eve to see this play out. When we restrict or take something away, we tend to dwell and think more about it. I remember back in my bodybuilding days doing hours of cardio while watching cooking shows on TV thinking endlessly about the second I could eat those foods again.
With our nutrition clients at Fenton Fitness, we try to focus more on habits that get our clients more in tune with their individual needs and discreetly get them to alter patterns that are counterproductive to their goals. Rather than telling somebody not to eat highly processed and refined foods, we simply ask them to eat slowly, chew, and savor their food. Try chewing a hotdog or dorito thoroughly (say 15-20 chews) and let me know how enjoyable that is. Conversely fresh, whole, well prepared whole foods erupt with unique flavor profiles the more you chew them. Rather than telling someone to stop watching TV for 90 minutes, we simply them a home exercise routine or ask them to walk for 20-30 minutes at some point in the evening. Rather than giving them a calorie count to which they can’t go over, we ask them to tune in to their levels of fullness/satiety and stop at 80% full. Eating slow and tuning in to what your body is feeling will do a pretty good job of autoregulating your portions.
We want people to feel empowered and positive about their eating, not anxious and restricted. Flip the paradigm on its head, stop saying no/don’t, and start saying yes and giving yourself things to do instead of avoid.
Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CFSC, Pn1
If you are interested in improving your nutrition in a sustainable manner, we offer Nutrition Coaching at Fenton Fitness for 3, 6, or 12 months. Over the last year, we’ve worked with nearly 60 individuals to help them lose hundreds of pounds and inches! They’ve completed over 3500 daily lessons and habits. The ProCoach nutrition software we use is offered through Precision Nutrition who’s worked with Nike, Apple, teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and been featured in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, the New York Times among many others.