Week 3: It's Time To Talk About It ... Nutrition.

Ok all!  We're well on our way to establishing some great new habits!  Many of you I'm seeing 3, 4 or even 5 times per week! And this past week many of you showed that you were very comfortable pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and got really uncomfortable / bad*ss in your workouts (and made some great gains / experienced some great breakthroughs as a result!).  

Now - for Week 3 - I'm asking all to focus on what can sometimes be a touchy subject - your nutrition.  While working out everyday is awesome and a habit I want all to establish, your nutrition is what's going to have the greatest effect on your overall wellness journey.  Some say it's 80% nutrition - 20% exercise ... but I prefer to think it's closer to 70%-30%. ;-)  At the end of the day, both are very important, but you'll never be able to out-exercise a bad diet.  You can work out 6 hours a day, but if your diet is junk (and you aren't 18 years old anymore), you won't see the changes you're hoping to see (and those abs will stay buried forever - no matter how many sit-ups you do or how much you master the captain's chair)

So, what do I want you to focus on specifically?  Here are my hard and fast rules when it comes to nutrition ...

1.  There are no hard and fast rules for nutrition that apply to all.  We are all so different and our bodies react so differently to food that one can't just create a blanket nutrition rule for all to follow.  Some do better eating a higher protein diet, whereas others can lose weight while eating almost nothing but carbs (grrrr - I hate those people). Others do really well on a high fat diet.  And still others excel when eating a balanced approach to all of these.  Every body is different and we have to learn what our bodies respond best to.  The one hard and fast rule that DOES apply to every one though is this - eating too little will make you gain weight.  I repeat - EATING TOO LITTLE WILL MAKE YOU GAIN WEIGHT.  Or, at the very least, it will make you retain the weight you currently have.  When you're not eating enough to fuel your body (think anyone who has ever told you to "only eat 1200 calories a day" *eyeroll*), your body believes it's starving, and the body's response to thinking it's starving is to hang onto every precious fat cell that it has in order to ensure it can maintain life for as long as possible until food becomes available again.  In the times where it was days or weeks between large meals, this was a handy adaptation.  However, when you use this technique now, your body will make fat out of every little bit of food you put into your mouth if you're not eating enough.  Don't do it!  Fuel for performance, fuel for health, not to "get skinny"!

2.  Log. Your. Food.  I know, I know, super annoying.  But until you know what you're actually eating (and not what you *think* you're eating - I promise you - there's a huge discrepancy) you won't be able to make better decisions (if better decisions need to be made).  Apps like 'My Fitness Pal' make logging your food VERY easy.  It even has a barcode scanner so that you can scan the bag or box of whatever it is you're eating and it'll know all the nutritional details for you.  It's a very easy way to catch a glimpse of your overall daily calories, along with your protein, fat and carb intake each day.  Once you have the numbers, you can compare them to what you *should* be eating daily (and while these numbers truly can vary per person, I've put some general numbers below) and then adjust your food accordingly.  

Loosely recommended numbers:
Women (on days you work out at high intensity for at least an hour): 1600 - 1800 cals
Women (on rest / low activity days): 1400 - 1600 cals
Men (on days you work out at high intensity for at least an hour): 2000 - 2400 cals
Men (on rest / low activity days): 1600 - 2000 cals

Generally, your macros (protein, fat, carbs) should breakdown as follows, but again, different folks respond differently, but this is at least a good jumping off point to see how your body reacts:

Protein: 15% - 25% of calories
Carbs: 50% - 55% of calories
Fat: 25% - 35% of calories

Apps like My Fitness Pal will automatically give you the breakdown of your macros after you input your meals, so no math required!  YAY! You can also 'friend' others on the My Fitness Pal app, so others can see your daily food diary, giving you that added little bit of accountability.  If you wish to friend me (and you should) - my handle is 'dhbeefcake' (don't ask).

3.  Think about what you need to add versus what you need to take away.  "Dieting" sucks, so don't do it.  In the United States, while we have one of the largest epidemics of obesity in the world, we also have a large malnutrition epidemic.  How?  Because even though we're eating way too much ... we're not eating near enough of the good stuff.  If we were shoving spinach into our mouths like we were cheeseburgers, we'd be one of the healthiest nations on the planet, but we're not.  And that's an issue.  Good nutrition is KEY to being able to perform like the athletes that you are, and good nutrition runs everything from our gut health to our energy reserves (to about a billion things in between).  So, my hard and fast rule for this is; If you're craving something junky, eat something good first, get your nutrition and good fuel in, and then if you're still craving the junk, eat the junk afterward.  I promise you, at a minimum, you'll eat way less of the junk ... and sometimes none of the junk at all after you've had the good stuff.  When you're focused more on "this is what I need to ADD to my diet today" (mentally feeling like you're giving yourself MORE) ... it's a lot easier to deal with than if you're constantly in the "I have to take all of this stuff away" and then you're sad mindset.  When you're out at a restaurant, order that salad, but know you can order that burger or side of fries as a backup if you're still hungry (99% of the time - you won't be). When you're at home - have that veggie and fruit protein smoothie before you grab for that leftover cupcake.  And then if you still want the cupcake - have the cupcake (or 1/2 of the cupcake, or 1/4 of the cupcake). Willpower is a limited resource, to try and "push through" is a technique that has never worked for the long-term (or even "medium-term").  So allow yourself to embrace food.  To love food. To have a healthy relationship with food.  Just make sure, like in all our relationships, the good guys are getting the top billing and best spot on your plate! 

That's really it for now!  Nutrition is a topic that one could really dive deep into, but for now, I think the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) approach is the best.  Log your food, see what you're eating, get the good stuff in first.  Try that approach for a week or two, and then we'll make some tweaks as necessary.  

One more random note about nutrition / booze (because many have asked):

- Beer is (unfortunately) the sworn enemy of fitness, especially if you want those abs to show this summer.  Depending on which study you read, one beer equals somewhere between 2.5 and 5 slices of bread.  So, if you have a few beers at a BBQ one day, you do the math on that one.  Wine isn't a whole lot better as it's a massive sugar bomb to the gut.  If you want to enjoy a cocktail during the 8-Week Challenge (and beyond) a clear liquor (vodka or tequila) mixed with club soda is the least "fattening".  However, if you truly want to see what you can accomplish, water is always going to be your very best bet, as any kind of alcohol will cause the metabolism to slow. This being said, we also preach balance at Hamboody, and if alcohol is a normal (by normal I don't mean all day / e'ryday ... but like .. normal social amounts ... perhaps a time or two each week) part of your lifestyle, don't cut it out, because this overall fitness process and journey needs to be one that is enjoyable and maintainable for the long term.  But, you know, DO try to make better drink choices if fitness and wellness are also on top of your priority list.