The Most Underutilised Yet Invaluable Nutrition Tool that you’re Neglecting
You’ve been tracking food for a consistent period of time and you’ve been making some really good improvements with your fat loss/fitness goals. You’re also pretty fixed on and actually quite happy sticking with your current plan.
Yet a social get together, holiday, celebratory period or meal out with friends is fast approaching. You feel anxious, uncertain and unsure how to approach the situation. You don’t want to say no but at the same time you don’t want to sit there weighing every ounce of potato on your plate. Nor do you want to be sat unsociably on MyFitnessPal scanning/logging every menu item, regardless of how unappealing it is, to see if it fits your “daily allowance”.
Rewind a couple of years and putting myself in that scenario I would panic, be unsure and be obsessed overthinking and overanalysing every single detail. Then I’d decide to either not go at all, go but not eat and wait until I got back to my desk/car/home etc. to sit alone and eat my pre prepared meal or I’d have a “f**k it” moment and eat anything in sight. Regardless of my decision, chances are I’d be left feeling guilty and disappointed; either in my decision to miss out or because I’d overconsumed.
I’ve never really struggled with the whole “getting back on track” scenario so luckily things never really spiraled after a less than ideal day or night but from my experience coaching over the years, I’ve witnessed first-hand how one bad day can turn into two and two turn into weeks and even months.
So what’s the alternative?
“Years down the line do you really want to look back and regret all those moments that were missed out of an unnecessary fear of gaining some body fat?”
I’m speaking to you as the guy that’s lived out of the four walls of his Tupperware box. I’ve sat at meals whilst watching everybody else tuck in with nothing but a water to keep me going. I’ve also been the guy that’s taken his chicken and rice to a pizza restaurant before.
Sure this was during prep for a physique competition but even with that, I now know that it doesn’t need to be this way. Food really is such an essential component of our social and general life irrespective of our body composition goals. It’s something many people love to share together and provides the perfect environment to catch up with friends, family, colleagues and to build and form new personal and professional relationships. These social events, holidays and festive periods should be relaxing and enjoyable. Years down the line do you really want to look back and regret all those moments that were missed out of an unnecessary fear of gaining some body fat?
With that in mind, I’ve outlined my top tips for conquering the fear and taking back control of the “social situation” saga.
The power of “guesstimating”
The power of “guesstimating” is such a powerful tool in your arsenal and one, in my opinion, that gets overlooked and is underutilised. “Guesstimating” is about giving you the power, the control, the awareness and the flexibility to enjoy social occasions whilst knowing roughly what’s on your plate.
The one key point to make about “guesstimating” is that it only really works if you already have a relatively good understanding and knowledge of food sources, intake and portion sizes. The reason being is that without this understanding and knowledge, often we will think we are choosing the “healthier” option but in reality it isn’t as healthy as we may think.
(In some cases especially with smaller females this ceaser salad may be over 50% of their daily calorie intake.)
“Often we will think we are choosing the “healthier” option but in reality it isn’t as healthy as we may think.”
For those that don’t already, I strongly advocate tracking and logging your food via MyFitnessPal or other comparable apps even if it’s only just for a very short period of time. I promise you that mastering this skill will make things so much easier in the long term. You will put yourself firmly in the driving seat and have far more control, flexibility and awareness over choices that you make.
One of the greatest things about apps like MyFitnessPal is just how easy they are to use. There’s a huge bank of food sources available for you to log and if there isn’t the beef and bacon burger with cheddar cheese and chips you ordered, you can enter food groups/sources in manually (as seen below). Remember these are approximations and the weights you’ll enter will be roughly guided by your eyeballing skills and knowledge of portion sizes and food sources.
Strive for consistency and not perfection
Yes you should plan ahead, leave yourself enough calories by having a smaller breakfast or a lighter lunch but if the meal/trip/period was completely spontaneous, then don’t worry or panic (I’ll cover more on this in a future blog post). Instead, get yourself back on track and make a conscious effort to stay on point for the rest of the week/month. If you have a significant time sensitive goal then the same still applies but you can consider adjusting intake the day after.
“…the longer you track, the more you learn about your body and how it responds to certain foods. As a result, you can be more flexible and will feel so much more relaxed.”
It is important to remember that your current position and relationship with food will play an influential role in your ability to feel in control whilst still feeling chilled out in social situations. I’ve had some clients that have been able to apply the “guesstimation” technique almost instantly and others that have taken 3-6-12 months to feel more comfortable and in control.
Similarly the longer you track, the more you learn about your body and how it responds to certain foods. As a result, you can be more flexible and will feel so much more relaxed. For those that track food already and have been doing for some time, I challenge you to stop for a day and simply guesstimate. I bet you’ll be pretty dam close.
Take away points
One of the biggest components of nutrition and achieving high levels of success with your body composition results is consistency. Unless you’re competing in a competition in a few weeks or doing a photoshoot, then I really wouldn’t worry at all about every little detail if you’re on track 80% of the time.
Equally tracking and logging is a fantastic tool for a period of time but as with anything I have seen it become quite obsessive. Don’t let yourself forget that the purpose for tracking is to gain a better understanding and a greater awareness of food sources, intake and portion control. Use it as a tool to enhance your education and results rather than allowing it to become your master!
Every person reading this blog will be at a different stage in their body and lifestyle journey and the relationship they have with food and fitness. Remember that improving body composition and mindset is a process that will continually progress and regress over time and as long as you are slowly but surely making improvements and coming out on top, you’re winning. Run your own race and don’t worry if it takes some time.
“Don’t let yourself forget that the purpose for tracking is to gain a better understanding and a greater awareness of food sources, intake and portion control. Use it as a tool to enhance your education and results rather than allowing it to become your master!”
Awareness and gaining greater control are always two elements we’re looking to focus our resources on at Team JPhysique so be sure to direct any question or queries our way via firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find out more about our coaching packages here and be sure to sign up to our Team JPhysique blog for free weekly articles just like this one.Subscribe to the Blog