Ive found with many things in life there are certain rules and then there are ways to bend those rules to get a desired result.
Take something as simple as driving your car. We have to go through driver’s education lessons to learn the rules of the road before we’re set off on our own. Things like obeying the posted speed limit, pulling into the closest lane when making a turn or keeping your hands on the steering wheel at “10 and 2 o’clock”. These are the rules.
Now, raise your hand if you’ve ever driven over the posted speed limit. Keep your hand up if you’ve ever taken your hands away from “10 and 2 o’clock” on your steering wheel.
Once in a while, there are situations where you’re going to go over the speed limit with no negative consequences. But if you didn’t know what the speed limit was or understand the importance of it and simply drove whatever speed you wanted all of the time, you’d eventually get pulled over and handed a hefty speeding ticket. You have to understand the rules before you can bend them.
Bending The Food Rules
Let’s look at everyone’s favourite topic – nutrition.
If you’re trying to lose weight or simply feel better, there are certain nutrition “rules” that should be followed. Things like “eat plenty of vegetables and a little fruit” or “avoid highly processed foods” or “eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods”. The basics that if you were to follow consistently, most people would feel significantly better and probably be happier with how their body looked.
When I’m working with a client, I like to focus on those things first before getting into calculating calories or amounts of protein, carbs and fats. The problem I find with teaching those calculations first (as with “flexible dieting” or “IIFYM”) is that it teaches you how to bend (or completely break) the rules before you have the basics down consistently. You’re trying to run before you can crawl.
Can you lose weight eating Twinkie’s and McDonald’s? Absolutely. People have done it. But if that’s the way you want to lose weight, you’ll have to go somewhere else. Once you have the basics down, I’ll show you how to fit the occasional fast food indulgence into your diet and still make progress. I’m all about bending the rules and enjoying the foods you want to eat…once you understand the basics.
Trying to lose weight on a diet of Twinkies and McDonald’s food is like driving your car at whatever speed you want, whenever you want. Eventually you’re going to caught, except instead of a speeding ticket you’ll be handed a broken metabolism and a messed up relationship with food.
You have to know the rules before you can bend them.
Yes, calories matter. Yes, the amount of protein, carbs and fats you eat and when can make a difference in your progress. But for the average person simply trying to feel better, move better and look a little better all of those things are secondary to doing the basics consistently.
Focus on the basics first:
- Portion sizes (using “hand” measurements instead of calculations)
- Plenty of vegetables, some meat/fish/eggs, a little fruit, some nuts/seeds/oils/avocado
- Starches on workout days, preferably plant based like potatoes, sweet potatoes and squash
- Plant based, whole food choices
- No processed foods or added sugars
- Awareness around what and how much you’re eating
- Awareness of how you feel when you eat
- SLEEP 7-9 hours/night
- 80-90% consistency
Once you have those down consistently, then you can dial things in (if you want to) and start calculating calories and macros more specifically. Then you can start learning how to bend the rules while still making progress.
Most people will be able to make great progress and would be incredibly happy with how they feel if they simply stuck to the basics consistently, never having to count calories or turn their food into a math calculation.