I’m reading Ray Dalio’s Book called “Principles” at the moment and it inspired me to write a post on the principles that we all need to have in place when it comes to nutrition.
A collection of firm principles will help you make better decisions in all walks of life and nutrition is no different. The issue with food is that it’s a vast topic and everyone has an idea of what works. Every week there’s a new “technique” or “hack” popping up.
These ideas are alluring because they make us believe that there may be an easier way or easier way than what we’ve tried in the past. There are extreme transformational diets, paleo, keto, vegan, plant based, low carbs, high carb, dukkan, 5:2, atkins. The list is endless.
No single act is going to give you instant results. Sure, you can reduce carbs or sugar and drop weight quickly but to build a sustainable nutrition plan over the long term you need to practice food skills consistently.
The issue with everything that has caused you to fail in the past was that you’ve focused on the the techniques, not the principles.
A low carb diet is useless if you over eat at every meal. The paleo diet won’t work if you stuff your face with high fat food all day. A vegan diet full of refined grains is no different. The same goes for your movement practice. A handstand is never going to be possible if you never spend time on the basic principles needed to build a solid structural base for the handstand.
Consistent practice of principles are what counts, not techniques.
The underlying principles required for all of the things you wish to achieve in life are inherently simple but a lot of the times they are tough to maintain and execute consistently. Whatever your goal is, you need to know what are the underlying principles that are required to achieve this goal before you get caught up in all the techniques that can help along the way.
If your goal for 2018 is to lose body fat here are a few principles that will never change.
- Eat slowly (20 minutes)
- Eat mostly whole foods
- Eat till 80% full
- Eat protein and veggies at each meal
- Reduce refined sugar and carbohydrates
- Get at least 7 hours sleep a night
- Do something to manage your stress – yoga, meditation, long walks, mindfulness practice
- Do some form of resistance training 3 days a week for 30 minutes – barbells, dumbbells, bodyweight training.
Being able to apply all of these “skills” will result in your never having to worry about your weight again. The difficulty arises when we try and implement one if not all of them at once. This is where planning and coaching comes in. If you have practiced poor nutritional habits for most of your life these new skills will take time.
My advice is to pick one and do it as well as you can for 2 weeks. A simple way to track this is like I’ve done below. Every evening reflect on whether or not you completed your habit or not. If you hit the habit you mark an X. Once you are hitting the habit 80% of the time over two weeks then you can add the next one and the process repeats itself.
The most important thing about the principles is practice. If you practice eating food when you’re stressed out, you get better at it. If you practice having chips every-time you watch a movie, after a few weeks you’ll improve at that also. Look at all of your behaviours as good skills bringing you closer to your goals or negative skills that are leading you further astray.
“Practice and all is coming” – K Pattabhi Jois
Discomfort is a necessity when practicing new skills
I always tell my clients that when they are stretching they should feel some discomfort but not pain. This is pretty vague and varies between individuals but it gets people understanding that they should be stressing their bodies somewhat to see a change. It’s no different with strength work. When we work on a new progression, it’s uncomfortable at the start. Then you adapt and it gets easier. Once you have it at a level of ease we add another progression,
This is exactly what we do with your food habits. Stopping eating when you’re not stuffed is tough at the start. But it gets easier, remember that. The issue is that we need to go through that level of discomfort to promote change in your behaviour. Another thing to note is that we will have to revisit these habits over and over again and continually refine them or start them again throughout our life times.
These habits are going to be challenging and you will want to give up. please don’t! Stick with it and keep showing up every day. It takes so much self awareness and daily check ins but it will be worth it when you finally take control of your health. Remember if it were easy we’d all have 6 packs.
The daily check in is why I love the Procoach system I use with my clients. Everyday they get an email check in reminding them about their habit along with a bit of nutritional education.