Name: Jen Jewell
Occupation: Personal Trainer, Cellucor Athlete, fitness model and fitness writer
I beat myself up if I don't stick to my meals 100 percent of the time. I get off track and think, "What's the point if I don't eat perfect all of the time?" Do you have any advice to break free from this mentality?
Why is only diet an all-or-nothing proposition? Can you imagine if this mindset spilled into other aspects of life? In school, when you received less than 100 percent on a test, you would simply drop out. And what if you'd missed one of your scheduled workouts during the week: Would you decide not go back to the gym again because missing that one day got you so off track?
Look, life isn't perfect. It's unrealistic to expect your nutrition to be spot on day-in and day-out. Things might shake up your otherwise perfectly laid out dietary plan. Maybe a work meeting suddenly popped up during lunch hour, and then you might have had to eat on-the-go. Heck, you might even want to enjoy a slice of birthday cake on—gasp—your birthday! Life happens, and guess what? Everything is going to be okay.
These four tips will help you keep your cool!
One Meal Doesn't Rule Them All
I don't look at the occasional social event or life circumstances as getting me off track or "ruining" my plan. Instead I view them as being part of my plan. Flexibility and moderation are the keys to the fit life. If one healthy meal doesn't transform you into an Adonis or Aphrodite, then neither does one "off track" indulgent meal undo all of your hard work.
Make Your Motivation Visible
Find your motivation, remember why you began your journey, and write it down. Then put the note on your fridge or on the bathroom mirror, or even schedule a daily reminder on your phone to pop up whenever your cravings typically strike. Never, ever lose sight of your journey. A constant reminder of your goals reinforces the bigger picture.
No Pressure, Seriously
We all have ups and downs—myself included! Take the pressure off yourself to eat perfectly all of the time. Don't let a "slip-up" be an excuse for you to eat like crap and hit the drive-thru every day for a month. If you have a meal or two that you deem as "off track," make your next meal a healthier one rather than throwing in the towel for the rest of the day and eating everything in sight with wild abandon. Reel in that impulse to let it turn into a vicious cycle.
Plus, people seem to overlook that some healthy meals are always better than a diet lacking in any nutritional value. I remind my clients that each time they opt for the healthier version of a food, that's progress in itself and a step in the right direction.
Prepare Foods and Snacks Ahead Of Time
Hunger strikes! There isn't a healthy option within reach. This is when most people fall into dietary danger. Sure, you may not have the time nor desire to prep an entire week's worth of food on a Sunday, but planning ahead—even just a bit—is crucial to staying on track.
I don't expect everyone to weigh out every ounce of every meal, but I do expect you to have healthy foods and snacks in the fridge or in any other place you think you might be throughout the day. I mean it: Your work desk, the car, your bag, or your gym bag.
As far as meal or snack prep goes, you can easily whip up a couple of batches of your favorite proteins, such as chicken breast and lean steak, in the oven or Crockpot while you go about your day. It'll pay off because having these proteins readily available makes it super easy to quickly throw together meals throughout the week—no endless hours in the kitchen! I know that whenever I'm tempted to eat out I'm far more likely to eat at home if I already have pre-prepared meals, leaving restaurant fare for times when I actually need to eat on-the-go.
Every time you make the healthier choice you're already more than halfway there. Just take it one meal and one day at a time until choosing lean steak and veggies over a fast food hamburger becomes a no-brainer to you. You got this!