You Can't Out-work a Poor Diet
How to stay disciplined with a healthy eating plan that fuels your workouts.
I think it’s safe to say that there is a general understanding that to be at your most optimal health, physical activity and a healthy, balanced diet go hand in hand. Exercising regularly but eating poorly will only you get so far, and vice versa.
However, often times, you’re in the presence of foods that you wouldn’t necessarily incorporate into your daily diet. For example, donuts in the break room, a cake for a coworker’s birthday, or pastries for a morning meeting are all examples that I know I’ve run into. In no way am I stating that these foods should never be eaten or eliminated from your diet. In fact, I think these foods are necessary from time to time, in moderation, to enjoy life.
What I want to address are the difficulties that you may face to stay on track with your nutrition. Here are some things you may hear when you sit down to have lunch with your chicken breast and broccoli while everyone else is eating pizza:
- “You work out all the time, you can eat this!”
- “Don’t you get bored of your food? Does that even taste good?”
- “You’re already tiny.. One french fry won’t kill you.”“Why are you “dieting”? Why would you put yourself through that misery?”
On top of already having to be in the presence of sweet treats, you may now face others’ judgement or criticism. It makes for an already tough situation even tougher. Here are some ways I personally use to stay focused, polite, yet firm about the choices I’m making about my nutrition.
- “I’m fueling my body to match the level that I want to perform.”
- “I’m really focusing on the food choices that I make so that it matches my fitness and wellness goals.”
- “Thank you for your concern, but I know what I’m doing and I am happy and healthy.”
- “I still enjoy my life without eating this ______.”
- “I am not dieting, but I am working hard to focus on my nutrition to support my training.”
- “It helps my fitness goals if I eat certain things timed around my workout. That ______ isn’t in my plan for today.”
- “I eat this because I like it and it makes me feel good.”
Moreover, switch your mindset of telling yourself you “don’t” eat certain things, rather than saying you “can’t”. You can do whatever your heart pleases, but it’s the fact that you are making these conscious choices on your own, without the opinion of others. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for how you choose to fuel your body. Someone once said to me, “to be awesome, in ANYTHING, you are going to hear a lot from people who are too afraid to attempt to reach your level.”
Develop a healthy relationship with food, rather than trying to “diet”. This isn’t about getting ready for bikini season or your winter trip to Cancun. It’s about learning to enjoy a donut once in a while without feeling so guilty that you try to add in another workout. It’s about enjoying your side salad versus fries when you eat out and being happy and content with your choice because that’s what makes you feel good. It’s about enjoying foods in moderation and not restricting yourself completely (if you tell me I can’t have chocolate, I’m going to want it seven times more).
With all that being said, I think there’s a fine balance of setting realistic expectations for yourself and staying firm to your goals, but also knowing when to take the consideration of a close family member or friend who may gently remind you to stay grounded. If you are staying active and fueling yourself with smart food choices, your body will match that- in the way that you look and feel.
It’s much easier said than done, of course. We all struggle but that’s the beauty of it. You’re not alone. Surround yourself and dine with friends who support your choices without passing judgement. Those are the keepers.
Happy eating and exercising!
*Note: It is not within my scope of practice to state what you should or should not eat. These are mere recommendations and further, more detailed questions about your diet/nutrition should be addressed with a doctor or health professional.