Put your hands up if this sounds like you! You are fed up of not looking like the magazine models despite the endless hours of exercise in the gym. You get annoyed that the cost of personal training is outside of your budget but following workouts from the magazines doesn’t seem to be cutting it for you! You started your workout body transformation 6 months ago and you feel like the only thing that has decreased is your mental will power and overall energy levels. You leap to the blindingly “obvious” conclusion that it must be your nutrition that sucks so you set yourself a diet plan and you are determined that this is the plan that will change your life. No matter how hard it gets, no matter the craving, you won’t give in. So you tell EVERYBODY!! That’s it, you’ve done it. You have announced it to the world that you are on a diet and that you will succeed. No matter what.
You spend the weekend downloading recipes and shopping in the outside aisles of the supermarket followed by 6 hours in the kitchen preparing food for the week ahead. You are impressed with your weekend efforts and wake up the next morning, eat your breakfast, and set off for work. Every 3 hours you eat your meagre meals and then come the end of your working day you head straight to the gym and absolutely smash it! Day 1 victory goes to you. It continues like this for 2 weeks. No hiccups, no drama, except for the fact that you have turned down a few invitations to meet with friends for fear that it will sabotage your plan. Inside you feel GREAT!!
Then one of your friends invites you over for a group dinner to celebrate some exciting news. OH MY GOD!! What do you do? You can’t take your own pre-made meal and you can’t continue living an anti social lifestyle, especially given the fact that your friend clearly has something very exciting/important to announce. So you go to the dinner and as you arrive at the door you tell yourself “be smart, don’t cheat”. You sit down with your friends and politely decline the wine that is offered to you As the meal is served you pick out the protein and vegetables and try to minimise the carb intake. One of your friends then turns to ask how is the diet going? “Yeah, really well thanks. I still try to be flexible but I feel like this plan I am on is one that I can really stick to”. Everyone tells you how wonderful this is and that they really admire you. It’s dessert time. You politely decline.
SUCCESS! You leave and you feel amazing. Ok, it wasn’t quite perfect but you survived your first outing in public where you had no control over your meal and you managed to not over consume and not give in to temptation when everyone else enjoyed in a sweet indulgence at the end of the meal. You get home and you go to bed feeling suitably pleased with yourself. All sounds great right?
Let’s fast forward another 4 weeks. You feel like you have lost some creativity with your diet and you are relying on the same meal plans each week. Whether it is because of ease in terms of time preparation or simply because you really liked those meals when you first started out, you aren’t quite sure. But you have stopped looking forward to meal time. Let’s just imagine that this dip in satisfaction with your meals has coincided with Easter. Every time you go to the supermarket you are bombarded with chocolate eggs, chocolate bars, chocolate bunnies, hot cross buns and more. You make it all the way around the supermarket having been good as gold and having only put your diet items in the basket. You feel epically awesome and decide to do a pinterest search for healthy easter treats. You come across “all natural, paleo chocolate bites”. You follow the link for the recipe and decide that as a treat to yourself for 6 weeks of incredible commitment that you are going to pick up the ingredients and make yourself some of these chocolate bites as a reward.
But because you have made such a big deal about your diet to your friends you feel like you can’t take pictures or announce your new home-made, “healthy” sweet treats to them for fear of judgement and comments like “what happened to your diet”? So you keep it to yourself. You promise yourself to eat just 2 a day when you get home from the gym as a reward for all of your hard work and that once they are gone, that is it, back to your diet plan 100%. The day comes and goes when you have finished your bites and the next night when you come home from the gym you are really craving something sweet.
OH NO!!!! DISASTER STRIKES!!
What was the BIG mistake here? Making the treats in the first place? Eating them in secret? Or choosing a foodie reward that is supposedly healthy but is representative of all the unhealthy things that you are trying to eradicate from your diet? My answer, now and always, will be the secrecy of it. When people go on a diet they assume that they have to give up everything that tastes good. That food must be bland and boring. That sweet treats are representative of failure. I know that I have told you that I am on a crusade against sugar and I am, but I am on a crusade against hidden sugar. That meaning the sugar in your diet that you just aren’t aware that you are consuming. This doesn’t mean I am telling you to go and eat a chocolate bar every day because you are aware of the sugar that you are eating (to think that I would inform you to do this is plain stupid). This means that I want people to realise that low-fat foods have had good nutrition removed and crappy ingredients added which adds to your carbohydrate and sugar load. Normally, these ingredients are synthetic in nature too, meaning there is nothing natural to them at all.
Making yourself a home-made “natural” sweet treat is not a disaster. In fact, it is smart planning. No one in this world can honestly tell me that they don’t ever crave something sweet, that something that fills the air in the room with an “eat me” smell. Especially when that person has given up all of these foods on a quest to achieve the perfect body. Failing to prepare for the sweet craving that will most definitely occur is once again preparing to fail. Eating in secret to hide from your friends, family and co-workers that you are human and have craved something sweet is a one way ticket to complete failure of a diet and rebounding in terms of weight (aka gaining weight to the point where you weigh more than you did when you started). But preparing for the event with something home made, so that you know exactly what is in it, well that it is just sensible. You get your sweet treat, you feel rewarded and you know that there are no nasties in it. But more importantly, this choice to prepare for the inevitable has given you flexibility. Let’s face it. It isn’t the food that you have to eat that stops people from being successful on a diet plan. It is the rigidity in their thoughts that any deviation from only protein and vegetables is a total failure. Part of being a personal trainer is of course advising people that if they eat doughnuts, snickers and pizza every day then of course their body image goal is likely unattainable (unless they are a super freak). However, part of being a better personal trainer is informing people that flexibility in your diet is critical. Yes, follow a plan and prepare your meals in advance. But don’t be a martyr. Don’t assume this means that you can’t enjoy life, out in the open and eating at social occasions with your friends and please don’t assume that you can never again enjoy the taste of something sweet. These thoughts will only lead you to one place eventually, a dirty take-out.
So go and make yourself some raw energy bites. In fact, if you follow us on instgram (@born2perfromfit) then you will see I made some rather scrummy looking “carrot cake energy bites”. No joke, these were incredible and they totally take away that craving of cake. So when I am eating with friends I order something nice and healthy and if I desperately want something sweet, I munch on one of those with my green tea whilst they devour their cakes. I win and so do they. They get to see me enjoy myself with them and not hide away because of the one phrase all people hate to state “I’m on a diet”….
Until next time……remember this; you have to #eat2perform