…or it depends on where we are on our journey!
I love writing about nutrition. I have done so many mistakes and I have learned so much, that I could write a post with 10 mistakes – every single day. I have noticed that like everything else in life, when it comes to workouts and nutrition, most of us walk the same road. We start with great enthusiasm, urged by the fact that we have found another defect on our body or that the scale just tipped over – some want to lose weight, others to get tones, third want muscle mass and so forth.
We start with absolutely no knowledge and we keep on going by imitating people who have already achieved what we are aiming for. We copy them and their actions. We have no idea what, how and why we do. We consider that if somebody is getting results with this, it automatically means that we will achieve success as well. Meanwhile we read some things and we start understanding more details. Slowly, but surely we start doubting what we have taken for granted. As the years go by, with tons of reading, trying and failing we start shaping our own opinion. We already know what and from whom we could take. In the whole process, we go through different stages of denial – moments when we deny a particular type of eating or training and we worship another one. Fortunately, there comes a time when we have gathered enough pieces from the puzzle and suddenly the whole picture reveals in front of our eyes. We realize that nothing is as bad or as good, as our convictions made it. We realize that on every stage, depending on our present goal and the situation, what used to be wrong yesterday, is the only right path today. What used to be true yesterday, has a lot of disadvantages today.
Personally, I have gone through a lot of periods like that – the time when I used to deny fats and I ate mainly protein; the time when I denied weights and I did a lot of cardio; the time when I used to deny carbs and I ate plenty of pork, butter, lard; the time when I completely denied isolation movements.
For a person who doesn’t constantly search, this might look like wandering. But it is exactly the wandering that took me where I am now and it will take me further in the future. Passionately believing in something, getting to know it in details, allows you to gather valuable experience. It allows you to go through a lot, to make a bunch of mistakes and then realize what works and in the context of what goal it works. For me, there isn’t a knowledge more valuable than the one that is a product of personal experience. In textbooks everything sounds logical, but applied in reality it has a lot of voids.
I was thinking how different training methods and nutrition are just like people – they have advantages and disadvantages. When the first thing that fascinates you is the advantage, we start building a cult around it and build an illusion. When the first thing we see is the disadvantage we start getting small minded.
I receive so many e-mails and in each one of them people ask me what they should eat; how could they distinguish the information and advices that are worth it, when there are so many controversies.
A year ago, my response would have been different. Today I would say that there are a lot of paths to one goal. Or to be more precise – the goal justifies the journey.
Everybody stands behind particular convictions and obviously different approaches work. The proof is all the fitness professionals in the industry and their clients and followers. Still, their approach is so different. What should we do?
We should stop copying others and try to observe ourselves – our own body. We should decide what we want – we can’t try to copy the nutritional plan of a triathlon athlete and in the same time train just with heavy, compound movements, 30-40 minutes, 2-3 times a week.
We can’t try to follow the nutrition plan of a person on a ketogenic diet, who trains with higher intensity, but with lower volume and frequency and in the same time wonder why we do not have the endurance to run a marathon.
Every sport has its own goal and specifics. One nutrition plan is appropriate for a sedentary person and another one for a really active person. A completely different plan is appropriate for a professional.
At the end of the day there is one common thing – it is the principals, the foundations. All healthy nutrition plans are based on the same principles – it is just the details that differ.
Everything from 1 to 6 meals a day works.
The question is what is your goal and what makes you feel good?
Do you want to be a fitness model?
Then 1 meal a day won’t do it for you.
Do you want to just lose a couple pounds and feel good in your own body?
Then 2 meals a day might be enough.
Have you noticed that you feel bad, heavy and bloated if you eat bigger portions?
Then why do you insist on eating 2-3 times a day? Obviously you would feel better if you eat 4 times a day.
Do you hate it when you have just started eating and you haven’t even mucked your fork and the food is over?
Then, why do you keep on eating 6 times a day in small portions? Obviously, it will be better if you eat 2-3 times a day in bigger portions.
Do you feel discomfort when you eat more eggs and meat?
Then why don’t you listen to your body and why do you keep on searching for a reason to justify that food choice? Why don’t you start eating more fish, veggies and fruits?
Or are you always feeling hungry when your diet has more fruits and less meat?
Then why don’t you go to the store and buy a big, pork steak?
The same is true for your workouts. Do you want to be extremely athletic and in great shape? Then, 1-2 workouts a week is not gonna work.
Or do you just want to be more active and be able to climb a flight of stairs without breathing like you just finished a marathon? Then you just need to focus on being more active and you are not supposed to follow a strict training plan.
I could keep on going like that forever.
The idea is that every goal has a price you should pay and a road that you should walk on.
Before we act, we need to get it straight what is our goal; what we want to achieve and then find the way to do it. We need to look for people who are like us, yet they have already achieved what we aim for. We shouldn’t keep on getting informed from the same resource and be mad at that person that his/her advices do not fit our notion or our goal. Everybody shares his own experience – a result of the road he has walked on and the goals he has set.
Walk on your own path and meanwhile take from others what works for you. Stay away from going into denial and know that every food and every exercise is just an instrument. Such that could do us good on a particular stage of our life, when our goal changes direction or just takes a different turn.
And here is what we achieve with our clients in IFS. We have the same principles for everybody, but a different approach to everybody!