It’s common knowledge, likely at this point, that when you are ON...you are ON.
You’re absolutely crushing life. You’re counting your macros. You’re choosing vegetables. You’re going to the gym & out for walks, and so on.
But now let’s look at those days where you’re not so “on” all the time.
What do they look like?
Do they look pretty similar to your “on” days?? Probably not.
If you’re like most people starting out, or struggling, your off days are on the other end of the spectrum. They’re when things go haywire. Tracking goes out the window. Sugary treats & candy comes in. Pizza is a more common staple. The gym gets forgotten.
The subject of this blog is how to adjust your nutrition for when “life happens”, “shit hits the fan”, “you’re not feeling it”, etc.
Because they SHOULDN’T be all that different.
But in majority of cases, they are.
So keep reading to learn how to adjust your nutrition to literally ANY day you face...and why that’s important.
WHAT DEFINES SURVIVAL
Before we get into it, we need to discuss the definition of needs & wants...and how that relates to your nutrition.
A need is something your body needs for survival. It is something you cannot live without, without which you will not survive. This includes water, food, shelter, air. That's it.
Everything else is a want.
You don’t need to lose weight, you want to.
You don’t need to eat clean, you want to (or maybe you don’t...more on that later)
You don’t need to get to the gym every day, you think you should because that’s how you will get results.
You DO need food. You do need water. You don’t need your friends to be supportive...you want them to support you because that will make it easier for you.
Okay, so you get where I’m going....so now moving on.
Why does this distinction matter??
Because it keeps you in a rational line of thinking.
When you think rationally, you’re more equipped to handle challenges headed your way.
Someone who doesn’t think rationally perceives challenges as “end of the world” scenarios.
On the flip side, a rational thinker perceives them as mere inconveniences.
Two common examples:
When someone forgets to log a protein shake or a meal, an irrational line of thought determines they’ve messed up their entire day & might as well say screw it & bring in the pint...or more...of ice cream. A rational thinker realizes it’s not a big deal, they still had great habits from the day & 1 day out of 365 is 0.2% of the entire year...they’re good.
When a weekend plan goes awry...an irrational thinker lets the whole weekend go to waste...and maybe even longer than that weekend. A rational thinker starts right back with normalcy
In other words, when you think rationally about what it is you WANT (as opposed to need), you’re more equipped to move on from it IF it doesn’t happen.
And when you’re more equipped to handle life’s challenges, you’re set up for big-picture success!! And THAT is what we want.
Now elaborating from above & talking about a very common misconception...
The need to be compliant 100% of the time.
I get this at least once in a client’s time working with me.
If they’re not 100% compliant, a couple things happen
They enter “fuck it” mode and that 0.1% that wasn’t compliant turns into 20%.
They avoid all communications with me & shut down
They quit & give up
Because of a preconceived notion that perfection is a pre-requisite for coaching...which couldn’t be further from the truth.
Do you really need to be 100% compliant??
NOPE. Read above.
For your survival, you don't need 100% compliance. You simply want it & believe without it, you're equal to failure & have thus defined yourself as "bad at this".
I'm going to be honest. You shouldn’t be compliant 100% of the time.
In fact, 80% compliance 100% of the time will get you SO MUCH FARTHER than 100% compliance 1-5% of the time.
Again, we're talking about rational thinking.
When you can be rational about "okay this was maybe just an 80% compliant day. I still got in veggies & protein & found that I could enjoy myself and a beer. I'll start right back on it tomorrow.
Until you accept 100% compliance is virtually impossible...even the best of the best aren't 100% compliant...you're going to always have these conversations.
How does this affect you & your nutrition progress??
HOW TO PLAN REALISTICALLY & RATIONALLY
The biggest area I see this affect is how a client plans for their day.
A client who “needs” to be 100% compliant PLANS for that. They plan for 100% clean eating, 100% control over their day, etc. They ignore all potential road blocks & barriers that could stand in the way.
And the best part is they KNOW they’re not going to succeed that day...but they’ve been forced to believe for so long that perfection is a must.
But...what if instead...you planned for the imperfection?? What if you planned for wiggle room? What if you recognized ahead of time “Okay, I’m working like 30 hours today. I’m going to plan to eat fewer meals & instead grab a bigger meal at Chipotle coming home from work. I know I won’t get to the gym that day either, so I’ll move my rest days around so it works!”.
BOOM. They’re planning for success...NOT for perfection.
Where does this matter?
Weekends - what if you planned JUST your protein or WHEN you planned on eating? Wouldn't you have more freedom in your weekend but still enough control??
Vacations - what if you didn't stress about where you were eating or your specific macros in a city you know nothing about & instead just planned on veggies or fruit at every meal??
Busy days - a pet peeve of mine is when someone tells me their day was too busy for them to make it work...yet they still got up, got dressed, brushed their teeth, drove to work, & did all their OTHER habits in the day! Instead of forgetting you exist as a human, what if you planned for more food the day before or like I mentioned right before...go to your favorite back up restaurant & get a lot of protein & a lot of veggies & hit a 5 min walk by parking further away?
See the difference there? Don't you see how you don't really NEED to be 100% all in all the time?? In fact, if you just realized that you didn't have to be so perfect, you'd likely already achieved your results by now???
TYPES OF DAYS
SO now getting into the TYPES of days you’re likely going to encounter on a given day. Think of it like a bell curve of normal distribution. See below:
If you took statistics, you learned normal distribution, the bell curve, and standard deviation. This should be a review. If you didn't, a quick stats lesson! The curve above basically represents everything. In the middle, we have "normal" or the majority of cases. In this case, we're referring to types of days. MOST of our days fall in the normal category (68%)! On the lower & upper ends, we have our extreme cases, things that do happen but not a lot of the time. Each end really only accounts for 2-5% of cases...and they're few and further between. Boom, my college stats professor would hopefully be proud.
So let's talk about the types of the days we're likely to have & how to adjust your nutrition so you can make it count on LITERALLY any day.
Great (5-10% of the time)
This would be on the far right of the curve!
Where this comes to be a problem is we expect these days as the majority...but this defies statistics...and isn't realistic. EXPECT great days to happen fewer times. If they were the "norm", then they'd be in the middle of the curve...and better days would still be on the edges!
So onto your nutrition...
On these days, get exact.
Pick 4-5 of the following to do exceptionally well: meal prep, go to the gym, go for a walk or two, plan out your food ahead of time, go to the store & get food.
Aim to hit all food groups (protein, carbs, veggies, calories) within recommendations. If you're tracking macros, hit them spot on. If you're portioning your meals, get exact & spot on with them.
Basically do all the things to get the ball rollin' for the upcoming not as great days. You're motivated so take advantage of it & enjoy feeling good!!
Average (50-60% of the time)
This accounts for MAJORITY of your days...not the great days or bad days that we often categorize things.
This is where habits & discipline come into play!
You may not always be "feeling" it, so you don't have to go alllllll in on everything.
On these days, find a happy maintenance point.
Shoot for 2-3 of the above-mentioned habits & tasks.
Aim to get within ranges of 2 out of 3 macros or pick 1-2 macros & hit calories (protein is almost always recommended).
If you're wanting to track everything, give yourself a RANGE to work with.
Instead of 2 walks AND the gym, go for one walk & get to the gym. EVEN consider a rest day, especially if you have a busy day or your body is tired.
This is where habits are formed & where the reps really matter. It takes 10,000 reps to become perfect at something...learn something wrong & it takes not only 10,000 reps to undo it but another 10,000 to become perfect at something else! This is the phase where you tap into cruise control & show up for yourself :)
Life happens/bad or busy days (5-10% of the time)
As much as you think these days come into the picture, it's not as many as you think...we just make them worse & overdramatize them simply because we EXPECT and NEED 100% perfection.
Remember, you don't NEED to be 100% all in, spot on all the time.
This is where you'll likely make the most adjustments. First, that starts by changing your mindset to accept these days will come & that you don't need to really be overdoing it. Slow is fast. Less is more. Sometimes backing off is just what you need to do. Next, understanding that these days aren't the norm...and if you spend your other 80% of days being disciplined, you may find you'll allow yourself some time to feel & move through these days.
Do what works & what you have control & headspace to do. Use back up restaurants to pick up food & meals that will be productive. Have EASY foods in the freezer like chicken nuggets, meatballs, frozen veggies, bagged salads in the fridge, etc. that are easily grab & go (may not be pretty but it is a step forward). Pick ONE metric to track or achieve (usually setting a protein or veggie goal is recommended). Do ONE habit each day OR at each meal you feel comfortable with!
As you can see, there's always SOMETHING you can do so it's not "all or nothing"...like you've been led to believe.
IF you remain open minded & put these to use & make necessary adjustments, I guarantee you will see MUCH better results in a quicker time...& you will feel better doing it!
If you're interested in joining our Clar-e-ty Team, apply here for coaching!
Resources and Coaching:
Online Coaching here.
[Free] Nutrition Guide here.
Recipe & Macro Guide here.