Go-go Gadget Nutrition: It’s a Lifestyle, Not a Diet
One of the biggest, and most legitimate, concerns people express when syncing their dietary practices with their fitness goals is the anxiety they feel when they believe they have to follow a diet. Or, at least, they think they do. “Bye, bye cookies;” “I guess if I eat like a rabbit I’ll be about as big as one, so that’s a plus;” “I don’t even know how the hell to say quinoa let alone make it;” “I’m never going to eat another piece of cake again;” “If cooking were reading, I’d have the IQ of a toddler.”
Before you get broccoli stalks and dino kale in a twist, take a deep breath and check out these four rules that facilitate a long-term, healthy lifestyle and not a quick-fix, crash diet.
01. Know your individual caloric and macronutrient needs for achieving your fitness goals and eat those amounts. Every. Damn. Day.
As an avid vinyl collector, broken records are not something I find desirable. However, unlike spinning Satisfaction Is the Death of Desire over and over again, I do not think this advice could ever be repeated enough. Without following it, in fact, you’re probably doing one of two extremely undesirable things: spinning your wheels or digging yourself further into the mud. Either way, you’re not making any progress toward your goals (unless you’re extremely lucky) because you can spend hours in the gym but if you’re nutrition isn’t on point, you’re never going to see any changes or gains.
If you have no idea how to calculate these numbers, I have an article with a the basic formula for doing so and it can be found here (scroll down the sixth bolded “answer”). This particular formula works for generally everyone and doesn’t require knowing your body fat percentage (something that typically costs money to find out). However, if you know this number, and want a more precise way to calculate your intake (and you know things like your body fat percentage), I’d reccomend checking out Emma Leigh’s article (reposted with permission by Daniel Brown).
02. Keep and honor and this truth: recognize that moderation and variety allows you to fit foods into your macros that you enjoy, even if they’re not “healthy” or “clean.”
It might come as a surprise that I listed this instead of something like “fill up your macros with whole foods” but I have found that many health-conscious vegans are more prone to eating a variety of whole foods than they are to consuming more processed and “decadent” “treats.” Of course, I don’t find this to be a bad thing – in fact, it’s inherently a great thing as it ensures that these individuals are, more than likely, pretty safe in hitting their micro-needs on the regular. However, many of these individuals are also “all-or-nothing” eaters and often label foods as either “clean” or “dirty,” making it difficult for people to recognize the fact that there no such thing as “dirty” or “clean” foods and leads to a lot of “crash and burns” because they want to follow a “diet” instead of live a “lifestyle.”
I suggest you read both parts of my If It Fits Your Macros rant (Part I and Part II) and then look into the macro-breakdowns of your favorite, but “indulgent,” foods – you’ll be surprised at what you can fit into your daily needs consistently.
03. Find foods that fit your macros that are also chock-full of micro-nutrients; eat ones that don’t make you gag when you try and consume them.
Again, I feel as if fitness-conscious vegans have less of a difficult time following this rule of thumb than most people. If I had a nickel for every time I heard vegans talking about “craving” avocados, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and, hell, even beets, I’d have about a buck fifty. With that said, I also know that not everyone finds a lot foods touted as “nutrient dense” as crave-worthy.1 And that’s okay. Just because you don’t like the texture of kale doesn’t mean you have to eat it: yes, all foods weren’t created with equal amounts of micronutrients but there are a few ways around this, chiefly eating ones you like in ways that you like.
If this means trading kale for spinach because you find the texture more agreeable, who cares? You’re still getting your micros in even if it’s not from the “trendy” leafy green. If it means obliterating flax seeds into smoothies until its presence is untraceable, so be it. Basically, find fruits, vegetables, and greens that suit your taste buds, not the ones of nutrition “gurus” because, when it comes down to it, if you’re not eating stuff you actually want to be eating, you’re not going to stick with your program. And, if you really can’t stomach a variety of greens, legumes, grains, fruits, and vegetables, look into getting something like Green SuperFood and throw it into your shakes, smoothies, and oatmeal concoctions to ensure that your getting all of the nutrients you should be.
04. Bearing in mind your macro and micro needs and their, perhaps newly discovered or uncovered, edible sources, make a “go-to” grocery list . And never hit the aisles without it.
Knowing you can achieve your fitness goals while still eating foods you can not only stomach but also scarf is a very empowering thing. Suddenly, the grocery store isn’t a source of anxiety or restriction but one of excitement and freedom. “Oh, hey, soy ice cream, you’re going right into my cart;” “Dearly beloved avocados, I am going to make so much guacamole with you.” Yes, yes it is and yes, yes you are. However, just because you’ve recently re-affirmed your ability to be master and commander of your nutrition doesn’t mean you should go into a store unprepared. Do not go blindly into the fluorescent lights or you’ll end up with a cart full of items that aren’t easily turned meals and could end up rotting away in the recesses of your refrigerator.
Even if you only ever make one list and use it for every shopping trip thereafter, make that one list. It makes meal making easier (because you’ll have all the ingredients at once instead of just grabbing ones that “look good” at the time), prevents food waste (because you’re not picking up “randoms” you don’t have a plan for), and saves you time in the supermarket (because, when you’re in a rush, you’re not scrambling to throw meal ideas together: you have some that are already designed for you).
If you do these four little things, sticking to your nutrition plan becomes extremely as simple as making the food you know fits into your macros/micros and eating it as your life allows. Of course, food preparation and meal timing are other topics of hot debate in the fitness world so be on the look out for the next two installments in this crash-course in getting your fitness-oriented nutrition on track. The first focusing on how to turn numbers (your macros and micros) into noms that save you time, money, and energy and the second centering on dispelling the myths surrounding the importance of meal frequency.
As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to drop me an Ask.
My name is Sarah and this is my endless pursuit of living a life without boundaries; of becoming bigger, faster, and stronger than I was yesterday by moving forward, onward, and upward everyday.
Here you will find my training log, thoughts and opinions about strength training/nutrition, and the research, information, and inspiration behind them.