You are in the driver's seat

One of the most difficult and personal realizations we can come to is that ultimately, we are responsible for our choices.  While this could be extrapolated to nearly any aspect of life, I am speaking specifically to nutrition and exercise.

Since my business offers prepared meals, we get a lot of inquiries about what we offer.  Many times potential customers say things like “I can’t have carbs” or “I’ve tried a lot of diets but none of them worked”, indicating there is a change they would like to make, but certain aspects of their nutrition are out of their control.

In coaching one on one nutrition clients, these kinds of self-imposed rules or caveats are extremely common; they reflect that something did not work previously for the client or that they were told a piece of information that changed their mindset.  These self-limiting statements reinforce something the client already wanted to believe (eating past 6pm makes you fat) or they produce some results which creates a confirmation bias.

While the comment section of Facebook is no-man’s land for trying to have an educating or enlightening conversation with someone, one on one coaching is by no means a quick fix. Once we’ve developed rules from a desire to confirm things we already believe or we see results from following said rules, it’s very difficult to change someone’s mindset.

After all, if you didn’t eat carbohydrates and never ate past 6pm and lost 20lbs, wouldn’t that indicate to you that it was an effective system?

Simple doesn't mean easy, but it's a start

The science community has so much more nutrition data to point us in the right direction than we do for something like muscle building physiology.  It really isn’t an argument anymore about what causes changes in weight loss: a decrease in energy balance.  Eating less and/or moving more really does work.  And while simply eating less causes weight loss, we can push that further into our favor by focusing on fat loss instead.  Rather than trying to game the system and see the scale go down from less carbohydrate intake, lower sodium levels and water loss (none of which have anything to do with body fat), we can use an energy deficit to tap into fat stores while preserving or building muscle through adequate protein and strength training.

The above is quite simple. This is the beauty and the beast of it.  The beauty is that it really isn’t that complicated to get most clients to see results as long as we check a few key boxes.  The beast of it is that since we’re human, we will filter this information through all our past experiences, flaws, insecurity and desires to create a bastardized version of our personality manifested as a diet.

Harking back to my initial statement, stepping away from the responsibility of choice and allowing these self-imposed parameters to call the shots is, in a sense, the easy way out.

As soon as our results are dictated by forces outside our control we not only lose all sense of responsibility but we also lose the ability to take criticism and have discussion.

Nope, you're STILL the one behind the wheel

A coach is not there to lock you in the trunk while they take you on a proverbial nutrition road trip, they are there in the passenger seat trying to convince you that YOU are the one driving.  Sure, you need some tools, experience, encouragement and reinforcement to improve but your hands are on the wheel buddy.

In perhaps one of the only aspects of your life that you have nearly all the control, this is the one we have such a hard time acknowledging. You choose everything that goes into your mouth, at what times and in what quantities.  Your energy expenditure may be impacted by body size and N.E.A.T (non-exercise adaptive thermogenesis) but whether you go for a walk or hit the weight room is again, your choice.

Arguing about metabolism or fat loss genetics is always lose-lose for the client.  It’s like complaining about your height.  Sure, tall people hate squatting and short people hate deadlifting and apparently any height at all is always a disadvantage (insert eye roll) so the only solution is to move on. Unless you come out of the womb with the build of Ed Coan, some things in the gym will be really hard and some will be easy, sounds like life to me.

Nutrition is similar in that your metabolic rate is quite appropriate for your current size and activity levels. We need to move past worrying about broken metabolisms, carb intolerance and whether insulin makes us fat. These are the energy vampires of the nutrition world, they will suck you down a rabbit hole under the illusion the answer is one step away while you’re actually moving further away from the truth with every corner you turn.

We’re still in the very early stages of 2021 and with so many people wanting to improve their health, lose fat and feel better, it’s critical that you remember who’s behind the wheel. What food, at what times, in what quantities is entirely under your stewardship.

When you can turn “I just can’t seem to lose weight” into any honest assessment like “I am overeating peanut butter but not reporting it”, it allows you to make more effective changes.  You might still need a coach to help you realize those issues and address them but the ability to take ownership is entirely on you.

Searching for diet secrets and “one food your doctor won’t tell you about’ is the texting and driving of the nutrition world: always a risk, never worth it.

You are in the driver’s seat.