In the world of fitness and nutrition you do not need to be perfect.
In fact, trying to be perfect will only frustrate you and in the end you will probably never reach your goals.
In your journey to a new body and healthier life focusing on what actually matters is the key. Well, duh right?? But, what actually does matter? Now, that is where people get stuck and that is where people get frustrated. You can find basically anything on the internet nowadays and most of it is junk in my opinion. There is some great advice out there for your nutrition and exercise, but also some pretty shitty advice. How do you filter through the junk and find what actually works for you? This is challenging no doubt, but I wanted to help you a little with that problem in this post.
I am here to tell you four things that you might be putting too much focus on, that miiiiiight not matter as much as you think.
- Calories you burned exercising; specifically calories burned while doing cardio. At some point or another, someone came up with the idea to put a feature on cardio equipment (treadmills, ellipticals etc) that allowed you as the user to see how many calories were burned in your workout. Honestly, pretty cool in my opinion. Then came along the Fit Bits and other activity trackers that also measured calorie burn. Though this calorie burn feature is intriguing, it has caused some problems with how some people view exercise. First of all the calorie burn trackers are typically over estimating your calorie expenditure by 25-50%. This has lead some people to believe that they can eat back more calories then the actually should be which ends up in unexpected weight gain. Second of all, you can eat back those 150 calories you actually burned pretty quickly. You aren’t getting ahead by simply doing more cardio. Long term weight requires you to build muscle. But, more importantly focusing on calorie burn has made people think about exercise all wrong. Yes, the point of exercise is to burn calories and rev up your metabolism, there is not doubt in my mind everyone needs to be more active. But, focusing solely on how many calories you burn only sets up a negative mindset towards exercise. Instead of viewing exercise as a way to get stronger, healthier and more efficient with whatever type exercise you choose, focusing just on calorie burn puts you in a mindset of breaking down your body. That isn’t good. Exercise in the short term is a stress to your body and muscles no doubt. But, in the long term exercise needs to be seen as a way to build yourself up. Being nit picky about how many calories you did or didn’t burn at the gym will only frustrate you. If you instead focus on the fact that each workout you complete is a building block to a stronger version of yourself, there will be less frustration along the way. Does that sound cheesy? Maybe it does, but trust, me it works. One workout won’t get you in shape, just as one cheat day won’t make you fat. Each workout you complete is one step closer to your ultimate goal…not a way to break down your body because you had two glasses of wine last night and need to whip yourself back into shape.
- Sugar. If you are diabetic or have insulin problems obviously that is a different story. But, if you are like most of my clients who would like to lose 10-75lbs, sugar is not your problem. More of the blame should be put on the high sugar and high fat foods that taste delicious and that you eat too much. When you combine sugar (a carb) and fat into once recipe is tastes awesome! This also means it is usually very high in calories for small portion sizes. AKA you get a lot of calories for not that much food. This doesn’t fill you up and before you know it you have eaten four jelly filled donuts. When you think sugar is your problem, what you actually mean is you eat too many high CALORIC foods like baked items, chips, fast food etc. Making sure to get 1-2 meals a day with green fibrous veggies that are low in calories, but high in food volume (so they fill up your stomach) can go a long way in curbing your appetite. This doesn’t mean I am saying go out and fill your calories for the day with sugary foods and that is it. But, sugar has been unrightfully demonized when the problem actually comes down to people simply eating too much food in general.
- The calories in a single food item. Whoa is this the opposite of what I just said? Kind of, but not really. Often times from clients I hear this: “Well that snack had 350 calories! That is way too many!” How do you know that is too many calories? How has it been decided that 350 calories is too many? Many times people will get so focused on the calories for that individual bag of snack nuts, when they should be looking at the big picture. The big picture in this case is your TOTAL CALORIC INTAKE FOR THE ENTIRE DAY. If you fit that 350 calorie snack into your total caloric goal for the day then those 350 calories are actually not too many. But, if you at that 350 calorie snack after dinner and are now over your caloric amount for the day, well then those calories are now too many. So, don’t blame the individual foods because honestly, you can and should be able to fit any food you want into your days. It just takes planning.
- Meal prep. This is definitely one where people try to perfect things and forget that whole premise of meal prepping for the week is be better prepared when they are busy. Meal prep should not be a time to experiment with new recipes because that simply takes too much time. Meal prep should be fast, simple and efficient. In my opinion taking no longer than 60 minutes. You don’t need the fancy grill pan, or a $100 rice cooker or those fancy tupper ware containers that have multiple compartments. You are overthinking things if you focusing on those minor details and honestly just making excuses for not getting this done on regular basis. Keep it more simple. Grill or bake your protein sources (chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish), cook your carb sources (rice, potatoes or pasta) while the meat is grilling and have some veggies to chop up or to be steamed while everything else is going on. The best meal prep meals are simply a protein source, a carb source (if you want) and a veggies. The more you mix and match and make soups and make stews etc the more you lose control of calories. When you lose control of calories (like eating out for most of your meals) game over. Remember, the goal of meal prep is to have food made so you don’t over eat during the week…not to perfect a new recipe for Pinterest.
Putting your focus on the things that actually matter isn’t always an easy task, especially if you don’t know what actually matters. But, if you find yourself feeling too nit picky or anal about a small task or single food item you might be putting too focus on a detail that doesn’t need that much attention.
Consistency over time. This means months and years.
Those “P” and “C” words can never have enough focus on them.
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