A Coach’s Secret to Food

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I probably don’t think about food as much as my clients think I do (now). I also look at food differently than most of my clients do and did. That’s a good thing because it means I have a much lower emotional attachment to food than most of my clients. My best piece of advice when it comes to food and my biggest food secret is: food is fuel to me, nothing more.

The easiest way to maintain a healthy diet throughout the busy work week is through meal prepping and eating the same basic meals every day. Some of you cringed as soon as you read that, “I can’t eat the same thing everyday!” If you’re serious about ditching that gut and love handles you will. It’s what healthy people do, It’s WHAT THEY DO!!

Here’s another little mental secret for you. If you want to succeed at anything or in this case eating healthy and being in shape you’d better start getting into the mindset of a healthy person. Healthy people meal-prep, they eat the same thing all week. They suck it up and get it done because they’re big picture people. They don’t reward themselves with food, food rewards are for horses and dogs not you.

Your food is fuel and your body is an engine. If you want your body to generate power and strength, you have to provide it with clean burning high octane fuel. It is a simple equation we all know we’ve just forgot it. Garbage in=Garbage out.

Admittedly my relationship with food didn’t happen overnight. Yes it took work and if you’re serious about achieving the level of health you desire you’re going to have to ask yourself some serious questions about your level of commitment to those goals. I’ve had more than a few no BS conversations with clients about what goals they could expect to achieve based on what level of sacrifice they were willing to endure. Success is more a question of not what are you willing to do, but what are you willing to do without? How much are you willing to suffer to win? To those who are willing to walk away from bad habits, and old comforts, much is possible.

So it took time, and it’s needed, so how do you go about changing your attitude towards foods? It’s a journey of a thousand little steps my friends. It starts with just eating the damn food. Take Sunday to grill, bake, or smoke a bunch of meat, and some kind of veggies. Fall is the easiest time for meal prepping for me, because I just put football on the TV and get to work. Portion out your meat and veggies about 6 oz for meat and 1 cup for veggies, put them into reusable containers and store them in your fridge. Grab one every morning and take it to work with you, heat it up at lunch time and eat it.

When you first start this routine I am sure you will get cravings. Cravings are just your body withdrawing from unhealthy substances. It’s also your mind trying to sever it’s emotional attachment to food. All of us have strong emotional responses to food. Even the smell of some meals can trigger powerful memories and responses in us. This is where you have to be strong, and resolute. You have to remind yourself that you’re in control, not the food. You are deciding what to eat, not your emotions. I would strongly advise anyone who’s beginning a journey like this to stay away from your old favorites, and trigger foods for at least 8 weeks. Give your body the time it needs to adapt to a new way of eating. You may be surprised at how unappetizing and unappealing those same foods become to you after a couple of months.

Here are some keys to helping this habit stick. First you have to learn to cook and season meat and veggies so they taste good. If you can’t cook (learn!) or Google pre-prepared meals in your area and buy them. Back when I was coaching full-time in the suburbs of Chicago there were a dozen healthy prepared foods companies. I can only imagine that number has grown. Second eliminate unhealthy choices. Clear the junk out of your home kitchen, and work place, this includes your car. Don’t give yourself the option of cheating and you won’t. Third, get the whole family on board. Why in the hell would you go through the effort of meal-prepping and still feed your kids and spouse junk? It’s expensive, it’s impractical, and its doomed to failure. It’s like telling a drug addict to stay clean by sending them to live in a crack house.

Let’s recap. Food is fuel, it will take you time to get there in your head. This will require effort and sacrifice. There are things you can do to make that transition easier. Meal-prepping and avoiding trigger foods while you build up your mental resilience are valuable tools. Getting the whole family on board will help too and is just the responsible thing to do. Finally if you fall off the wagon, just get back on and keep going. Sooner or later you will get there if you’re honest with yourself and keep doing the work.

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