This is an excerpt from the 2016 edition of the All Strength Training Ultimate Challenge Body Transformation Guide, but I liked it so much after I wrote it that I couldn’t help sharing it with you all.
Your nutrition matters. While it is by far the least glamorous part of creating physical change, it is crucial. No matter how hard you train, or how much cardio you do, you cannot compensate for a lack of consistency and accuracy with what you put into your body. You can’t out-train a bad diet, as the Instagram-meme crowd might say.
And you’ll buy into the idea, too. You may have already had a conversation with yourself that goes a little something like this:
“Okay, starting tomorrow, I’m going to go all in with my eating. I want to speed up my progress, so I’m going to eat fewer carbs, eat healthier snacks, have something with more protein for breakfast, and be more picky with my dinner plans.” You’re excited (and maybe a little scared), you have every intention of kicking your fat’s ass, tomorrow. Let’s do this.
Then what follows might look like this the next day:
7am – open the refrigerator. Realize that all you have ready to eat now is a jar of hamburger pickles from a cookout you did last summer and two leftover waffles from brunch the weekend before.
9:30am – you’re starving, so on the way to work you stop by Starbucks and get a latte and a breakfast sandwich. Spend a solid three minutes before you order standing at the pastry case, undressing that chocolate scone with your eyes and drooling so much the guy standing next to you is taking a picture and posting it on Facebook. It already has 50 likes by the time you snap out of it and decide to get a sandwich instead.
9:33am – eat your breakfast sandwich while thinking about that chocolate scone from earlier. You wonder to yourself, how many times would I have to run up that goddamn hill to burn that thing off?
11:00am – you’re hungry again. Still two more hours until lunch. Okay, I need something healthy from the vending machine. They have that new refrigerated vending machine now! Perfect!
11:04am – you notice that there’s one yogurt parfait left in the vending machine. That’ll work!
11:05am – the yogurt parfait expired 10 days ago. Those aren’t blueberries in it, that’s just the color of the yogurt now.
11:06am – Oh my God, someone please call a priest, my GI tract needs an exorcism.
1:01pm – Sure, I would love to go to Olive Garden with you! I forgot to bring my lunch. I’ll just get a salad, I’m watching my diet.
1:15pm – Two words: Unlimited. Breadsticks.
3:30pm – you know you should probably eat something, but you’re terrified to go within 50 feet of the vending machine without a crucifix.
5:00pm – you politely try not to strangle your boss as he informs you that he needs that report done tonight. Don’t worry, he says, he’s definitely going to order in for everybody. He’ll put the order in before he leaves in 10 minutes while you prepare to be stuck there all night.
9:47pm – you’re super proud of yourself, because you didn’t eat any of the pizza your boss ordered in, because you really want to stick to the plan.
9:48pm – you open your fridge to realize that you had your dinner ready in a glass dish, you just need to put it in the oven for an hour first before it’s ready.
9:49pm – Seriously, that’s the bottom of the popcorn bag ALREADY?
9:51pm – screw this, I’m going to bed. I’m too tired to wait an hour for dinner, I’ll have to make it tomorrow.
7:00am – open the fridge again. Goddamn pickles.
This type of scenario, as over the top as it may sound, isn’t that far removed from the truth for many of the clients that come to us with their daily struggles. Every day starts with the best intentions, but intentions can quickly be swept away when we rely on everything to go our way at meal time.
I should be able to get up a few minutes early to cook breakfast, it shouldn’t take that long.
I’ll just head across the street right at lunch time so I can grab something good and have time to eat before the afternoon meeting.
I can just figure out dinner when I get home.
But how many times are you too tired to get up, so you hit the snooze alarm and use up all the time you’d allotted toward your breakfast? How many times have you had to have a “working lunch” because something urgent came up at work, so you never got to leave to walk across the street? Have you ever come home ready to make dinner, only to realize that the recipe you wanted to use required a bunch of things you didn’t have in your kitchen?
Intention is a wonderful thing, and extremely important for success. But intention without preparation? It leaves you at the mercy of everything going your way, and you lose the ability to control your own successes.