The past 12 months, I have been focusing on my nutrition. I know, I know. You're likely thinking, "Who you? You're already healthy! You don't need to do that!"
The truth is, I'm just like everyone else. I have my own struggles and obstacles when it comes to my health. I promise, I'm not a robot. I have to work at it too.
Last July, I sat down and wrote out what my nutritional obstacles are. Here's what I came up with:
- Meal planning. When I don't plan my meals, I make bad choices.
- Early mornings. I wake up early and I have to be at the gym early. I do not have the time I desire to make a high quality breakfast.
- Lunch. If I do not bring lunch to work, I make bad choices.
- Vegetable intake. The majority of my vegetable intake happens with dinner. It's challenging to get my required vegetable intake when this is the case.
- My sweet tooth. I have a big sweet tooth, especially at night.
- Weekend temptations. The weekends tend to offer plenty of opportunities for over doing alcohol and food.
Once I identified my obstacles, I began creating solutions that would be simple to implement and allow me to over come my obstacles.
Below are my 6 solutions for each of my obstacles.
At the end of this article, you will have an opportunity to identify your own obstacles and begin a similar process. Feel free to skip to that point of the article if you prefer.
If I do not plan my meals, I make bad choices.
Each Sunday, Katie and I plan out a menu of meals we are going to cook at home. We do this before we go to the grocery store. This does a few things:
- It gets us both on the same page for the week. We can look to which nights one of us will have time to cook a more time consuming recipe, or, decide for which nights we need to plan quick and healthy options.
- We don't over shop or waste food and money. Everything we buy has an intention and gets used.
- It gives us an opportunity to explore new recipes we want to try in the kitchen. I'll get bored eating at home without tasty meals and variety.
Most days, I wake up just after 5AM. I refuse to give up sleep. It's my choice to take 6AM clients, a choice I am not ready to give up quite yet. So, that leaves me about 15 minutes to cook and consume my breakfast.
Keep it simple. My goal is to consume fruit, high quality carbohydrates, and protein in my breakfast. Here are a few of my favorite options:
Greek yogurt with granola and berries.
Oat meal mixed with peanut butter, cinnamon, and a side of fruit.
Granola with almond milk and a banana.
Hard boiled egg with an apple and peanut butter.
All of these choices take minimal time to make; we're talking 3 minutes tops. They do require planning ahead to ensure I have the necessary food options available.
On weekends, I will switch to steel cut oats, an omelet loaded with veggies, or from time to time, buckwheat pancakes with bacon and fruit.
If I do not bring my lunch, I make bad choices.
This one is easy. I always cook double portion dinners and use the extra portion for lunch the next day. I also find I need to have my lunch packed and ready the night before. That way, I can grab it in the morning and go. If I don't pack my lunch the night before, there's a strong possibility I will not take the extra food.
Quick tip here: investing in high quality tupperware makes all the difference.
The majority of my vegetable intake happens in the evening.
I pack up veggies to snack on throughout the day. Every Monday morning, I take out 5 zip lock bags and put in a combination of colorful vegetables. I usually dip the vegetables in humus for some extra flavor, making an easy afternoon snack.
The solution above, bringing my left over dinner for lunch, also helps address this obstacle.
My Sweet Tooth
I have a major sweet tooth, especially in the evening.
I have fruit ready to go. Since I have a habit of opening the fridge late at night, I'll chop up a cantaloup or honey dew melon. That way, when I open the fridge, I've got an easy to grab, sweet snack, ready to go.
When fruit is out of season, I'll buy bars of dark chocolate. I allow myself half a bar a night. The serving ends up being 9 grams of sugar. 9 grams of sugar wont hamper anyone's goals.
I find the weekends can undo much of a well planned week. So, two things here.
First, I manage weekends by knowing what my weekend might look like. If I know we're going to a wedding or sporting event on the weekend, I might say "no" the donut I usually treat myself to on a Thursday morning.
I make choices during the week based on how I know my weekend will likely go.
Second, I have a weekly drink limit of 7. I track my drink intake on my weekly wellbeing index card. If I know we will be at an outing that will involve multiple drinks, I'll drink less during the week so I can have more of my allotment in one night.
These two strategies never make me feel like I'm depriving myself.
In fact, they do the opposite. By setting an allowance for myself, I never feel guilty for indulging, as it was a planned indulgence.
All my choices, even the choice to indulge, align with how I want to feel, the energy I want to have, and how I want to look.
It's All About Pre-Planning Your Structures and Systems
Do you see a theme with my solutions? All of them are structures and systems that I have to set up ahead of time.
I know myself.
I will not cut up a bunch of fruit right before bed.
If I don't have a lunch to bring, I'm going to make a low quality food choice.
If I don't have simple items ready for breakfast, I'll be down at the Grind coffee shop buying a pastry instead.
I'm no different than everyone else!
By investing an hour a week in your own structure and systems, you will save time, you will save you money, and you will move you towards your goals with velocity.
Success starts the night before.
These are the 6 major obstacles I identified for myself. Your obstacles may be similar, or they may vary considerably. We all have different lives, family obligations, career demands, and social opportunities that shape each of our own unique challenges.
Your solutions might be similar, or, they may look totally different as well. I shared what I do to give examples and spark ideas.
The key is that what you create works for YOU.
Here's what to do now:
- Get clear on the obstacles you see for yourself. Write them down.
- Pick only 1 of these obstacles to focus on for the next 2 week. Remember, I've been working on these for 4 months now. I didn't add these structures in one week. It took patience and practice.
- Create one simple structure that addresses this challenge.
- Practice implementing this new structure over the next 2 weeks.
- After 2 weeks of practice, choose a new challenge to conquer and go through the same drill!
4 months from now, you'll be in a totally different place with your nutritional habits. Results don't happen over night, but they do come for those who consistently practice the changes they want to implement.
This approach of breaking down your long term goals into simple habits is the same approach I use with my year long nutritional coaching clients. We implement one new habit every 2 week over the course of a year. The habits build your tool box so that at the end of 52 weeks, you're a nutrition ninja.
Are you ready to achieve amazing results?
This is the exact approach to nutrition coaching I take with my clients. For one year, I'll take you through a program designed around behavior-oriented goals that add up to some INCREDIBLE transformations.
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