Something that is never talked about is how your mental state effects your fitness. Whether that is with nutrition/"dieting" (I hate that word) or exercise, our mental state is 100% responsible for our success or lack thereof. I wish it was as simple as being given a plan and then doing it and getting results. But lets be honest, it isn't that easy. The real problem lies in being able to do what the plan says. If we can pinpoint where the problem is MENTALLY we can easily tackle the physical and the results we want. I want to go over all of the ways that our mental health changes, or is responsible for, the way we handle our nutrition.
Whether you are trying to lose some fat, put on some muscle, or just plain eat "healthier", our mental state is responsible for how we handle it. I have pinpointed the reasons we aren't able to stick to a plan, whether the plan is laid out for us or it's something we created ourselves. I have also created a worksheet/quiz to help you pinpoint which areas effect YOU the most.
1. Emotional Eating
There are so many of use who use food as an emotional crutch. When we have a hard day and come home, we may sit down to mindlessly eat our pain away, even if its subconsciously. Or maybe we are going through a traumatic time and we notice we are eating more unhealthy foods than normal. This includes stress eating. For a long time, the first thing I would do is head to the kitchen when I got stressed out or anxious, as though the food would make me feel better. It has been scientifically proven that eating can cause a release of endorphins- the natural "high" that makes you happy. So when your down, you feel better when you're eating.
But as soon as we stop eating, we are upset again. And then we feel worse about ourselves.
This may be you if...
-You eat when your stressed
-You eat when you're not hungry
-You eat to feel better when you're sad, mad, stressed, anxious, etc
-You "reward" yourself with food
-You feel powerless or out of control when around food
How to stop the emotional eating roller coaster
Know that this is a process. It is not something you will typically fix over night. There may be moments you give into emotional eating, but that does NOT make you a bad person. It means now you know what NOT to do. You now know your "triggers" and what causes you to emotionally eat.
1. Focus on what you're feeling. Is there ONE specific feeling that causes you to want to eat?
2. Understand it is okay to not be perfect, and give yourself some slack.
3. Call someone and talk about what you're struggling with before heading to the kitchen
4. Go for a walk with music before you get the pantry
5. Keep healthier alternatives. Enlightened ice cream, low fat, popcorn, fruit, etc. And go for these items instead.
6. Keep your hands busy. Read, write, get outside, etc. Don't stay on the couch!
2. Habitual Eating
Do you notice you eat extra out of habit? Have you created a habit, or a daily ritual that is food focused? Maybe you come home form work and have the same snack. Maybe you have made it a habit to sit on the couch after dinner and watch TV while you munch. Do you always order an appetizer because it's just something you always do? Or maybe you throw nutrition out the window whenever you go out to eat or are around friends.
These are all habitual eating characteristics. It takes 30 days to break any habit.
How to break the habitual eating cycle
1. Pinpoint the eating habit that you have made a habit.
2. Take it slowly. Nothing works when you quit cold turkey. If you have been snacking at night every night for the last 5 years, you are setting yourself up for failure if you plan to "just stop".
3. Create a plan that is one step down from your daily ritual. Example: If you always order an appetizer, Instead of NOT ordering an appetizer, choose one that is healthier by looking at the restaurants nutritional info menu. Compare what you normally get to something that is lower in fat and carbs. Another example: If you snack at night, start snacking on fruit, veggies, low fat popcorn, a diet soda,etc.
4. Every week, lessen your habit. By week 4, you should not only be able to control your habit, but you won't have the desire and temptation like you did before!
3. "Dieting" Mindset
This is also you if you are able to stick to a plan for 3 days and then "fall off".
Something that is a huge emotional road block is getting in the dieting and restrictive mindset when you're trying to lose weight. You normally start with a ton of motivation to finally stick to your plan, and then by day 3, you feel tired and restricted and give in. And then normally give up until the next Monday rolls around. If you feel like you have to give up carbs or fats or whatever the new fad diet is, you're going to fail. This is the #1 reason I never recommend kept, because it has such a negative effect on you mentally.
Here is how to get out of the dieting mindset
1. DONT call it a diet! It is a life change. You are looking for ways to better your way of life and find lifelong changes to make you the person always wanted to be. IT IS A LIFE STYLE CHANGE.
2. DO NOT cut out whole food groups. That includes sugar! Just don't cut out anything in totality. There are NO bad foods, just some that are more dense in nutrients. It doesn't mean you can't fit them into your life at some point.
3. You will be able to eat it again. I know for me, when I start prepping for a competition it almost feel like I will never be able to eat said food again. Just tell yourself this is not forever, this is not a bad food, I am just going to eat it at a later time. But I WILL eat it again eventually.
4. Don't tel, yourself you're restricting anything. Instead, focus on what youre doing that is positive for your body. You are taking care of yourself because you deserve it! You're choosing to eat cleaner because YOU DESERVE IT.
4. Finding Time
Do you feel like you're just struggling to find time to create healthy meals? GIRL, ME TOO! I know the struggle. When I am in prep and I'm making 5-6 meals a day from scratch, I feel like a crazy person. There are times it just doesn't happen. So I won't give you advice like "just figure it out". Because as a full time stay at home mom with 2-3 stay at home jobs, while finding time to workout, and keeping the house clean, and running errands (I can feel my blood pressure rising while typing this), sometimes you truly don't have the time. Or it's choosing between 30 minutes of downtime and cooking...
1. I will say that if you want something bad enough you WILL find a way. But that is my life motto. Just keep it in mind.
2. Get a meal prep service. There are tons of online stores that sell HEALTHY pre made meals like fuel meals, Icon meals, etc. My company, NikelleFit, even provides pre-made prepped meals because, like I said, I know the struggle. (email me for more info on NikelleFit meals)
3. If you can't fathom paying for meals like this, then you need to know what to get at fast food places/restaurants when you go out to eat. I ALWAYS google the following "(restaurant/fast food place I'm going) nutritional info menu" Something always comes up. Here are some ideas.
Wendys- A grilled chicken breast and a large cup of chili
Chickfula- Any of their salads with fat free italian, or grilled chicken nuggets and fruit
Tokyo Joes- 1/2 cup of rice, white chicken, veggies, and steviaki (sugar free teriyaki sauce)
Texas Road House- 6oz sirloin with a side said w/ balsamic, and green beans
4. Chicken is the least expensive meat you can find, and about the leanest as well. It takes all of 5 minutes to take some chicken breasts and throw on three seasonings and put them in the oven to bake. I do this while running around doing a thousand other things. I love keeping cooked chicken in the fridge.
5. Get some healthy grab and go options at the store. Some examples are; rice cakes, greek yogurt, a bag of frozen veggies, a bag of frozen grilled chicken, protein bars, Quest chips, etc.
5. Lack Of Knowledge
If you are feeling overwhelmed and confused most of the time the problem just may be you need some more knowledge!
1. I would start googling and reading articles about the following: Counting macros, what are macros, macro calculator, How to find foods that fit your macro count, high protein diets, etc.
2. Find a knowledgeable fitness coach or dietician to give you "nutritional lessons" or work with them for a month to get a basic understanding of nutrition.
6. Body Disconnect
This one sounds strange. But how many of you have just been baffled that what you eat actually changes your body? I had such a bad body disconnect for years. I just couldn't imagine food changing my appearance because when we eat it doesn't FELL like it should change our body. Here is how I reconnect with my body
1. Take care of your body. Put on lotion, do a face mask ,exfoliate, or put on your makeup. All of these help remind me I am a part of my body and I take care of it.
2. Go to the gym and lift. Feel your muscles working and keep telling yourself you are in control of your body and your life. YOU change it.
7. All Or Nothing
Oh my gosh if I could relate to one of these the most, it is this one. I have such an all or nothing mind set and It has been something that is four years in the making. I'm like this in most aspects of my life, but I will relate it just to nutrition here. If you feel like eating one cookie is the same as eating the entire tub of cookies, you fall into this category. For some reason, we think that our body will process 1 piece of cake the same as the whole cake. Here are a few things that have begun to help me get out of this mindset.
1. I use the better late than never mindset .Think optimistically about this one. You ate 2 cookies? Thats okay because you didn't eat 6! *Pat of the back. This might sound silly, but count the small victories.
2. The more often you exercise control when you want to go all or nothing on that basket of chips and gaur, the more likely you are the exercise control the next time, and again and again. Just take baby steps!
3. This ties back to the "dieting" mindset, where you have restricted yourself ALL day, or all week and then you're ravenous! Try to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks throughout the day so you're not starving at night. Also, eat a small healthy snack or meal before you go to family functions so you aren't starving. This helps you keep control in the first place!
4. Practice makes perfect. Each day is a new day, and THIS IS MY FAVORITE! SO LISTEN UP! The time will pass anyways. If you eat the entire bag of chips, in 10 minutes you won't be eating them. Just say no, because the time will pass anyways, so you may as well do something you will be proud of tomorrow. THE TIME WILL PASS ANYWAYS. You won't get anything from going all or nothing. In 10 minutes you will still want cake even after you have had 3 pieces. It really isn't worth it.
These are all things I have struggled with at some point. It is the reason I was 160lbs in 10th grade at 5' 3". However, I was able to identify them and over the last year and a half I have been able to tackle almost all of them/ Of course, we all always have something to work on. Let me know what you learned from this article and what descriptions fit you!