Those of us who are in to health and fitness whether it be through work as personal trainer or fitness instructor, or through just enjoyment and interest, we find it fairly easy to stay on top of our nutrition.
We have built up healthy habits that we know help us stay fit, healthy, strong and help us achieve our goal. They are second nature.
However, there are so many people out there whose health and fitness is not on their list of priorities. For example, the single mum with a full-time job, who has to do the school run and then cook three different meals each night. The busy business women who are going from meeting to meeting and spending the majority of their day sat behind a wheel, with a few minutes to spare each day to rustle up a meal.
These people, over the years, have built up their own habits that they do day-to-day. They may not be the healthiest, but they are habits that have stuck for a long time, and are what gets them through the day with minimal fuss and with the time they have.
But if you REALLY want to make a change and see some progress with your health and fitness, then starting to change day-to-day habits is the first stepping stone. Start to build some new habits with regard to your nutrition and how you eat throughout the day, and this will begin to really help improve your results.
So at the moment, I can imagine a day in the life of these people may be:
- Running late for work, so no time to make breakfast. Therefore just grab a quick snack bar on the way out, and eat on the way to work. Maybe washed down with a coffee.
- Had some stressful meetings this morning, therefore you need another couple of coffees. A client was also nice enough to offer a couple of posh biscuits. Rude not to right?
- Lunch time. Yes!! Oh but wait. You’re too busy to have a decent lunch hour so you’re forced to resort to the work canteen, a sandwich meal deal from the local shop, or something from the chippy.
- After lunch you feel that mid- afternoon energy slump coming on. So chug down a diet coke and reach into the snack drawer for a couple of handfuls of nuts- take the bag out & put it on your desk. Job done, let’s go.
- SHIT!!! The fridge is empty & there’s nothing to cook for dinner. You zoom round the supermarket throwing a couple of ‘on offer’ foods in your basket. Grab a bag of crisps as you get to the car to tide you over until dinner.
- Got home, prepared dinner for yourself & kids, now you NEED a couple of glasses of wine to wind down…
- At last you get to sit down in front of the TV for an hour & you think “Fuck it. It’s been a long stressful day. I am gonna have a bit of choccy”.
Now this might not be the exact same as yourself, but I can imagine you may be able to find similarities.
No matter how we look at this, these situations are going to occur pretty much every day. We HAVE to go to work early. We HAVE to look after the children, and more than likely work colleagues WILL bring in some junk food to work. We can’t change this, but we can change how we act during these situations.
Well, it all starts with being more PROACTIVE and PREPARED for what situations you KNOW will arise. Snack bars are not typically the healthiest or most filling of breakfast options. This is because they lack much protein or fibre, but they still somehow seem to pack a serious calorie punch (I wonder how?). We often opt for these when there is a lack of time, but if this is the case be prepared with a pot of greek yoghurt, some berries and some nuts and you will be set with a healthy breakfast in less than 5 minutes.
For those of you who don’t fancy much at breakfast, then why not just opt for a protein shake and some fruit.
Time on a work day is a precious commodity. With pressure mounting at work , you are always in a rush and using time to get as much work done as possible. This leaves very little time for a quality lunch break, so we opt for quick and easy by going for something like a meal deal (sandwich, crisps and fizzy drink).
But to this I say make sure you are prepared. We know we are not going to have much time for lunch, so why not be prepared for it. You could easily rustle up tuna, some salad and jacket potato the evening before and store it for work the next day. This is a much better and nutritious way of getting in a good lunch and keep you on track with your progress.
Now for that mid-afternoon energy slump. As mentioned before, many of us try and boost those energy levels with some sort of trail mix that has dried fruits and some nuts. These may not be the worst when it comes to food choices, but these can really add up the calories if you keep mindlessly eating them. Therefore it is best to follow the old age rule of “out of sight, out of mind”.
So by all means grab a small handful, but make sure you don’t leave it hanging around for you to take more than you need.
If you know you are going to need something extra before dinner, then make sure you are prepared. Aim to see if you almost make this a small meal instead of a snack. For example, it could be some tinned tuna mashed together with avocado, or a load of veg sticks and a pot of hummus. Something with a bit of protein and a bit of fibre will be really helpful in keeping you full until dinner.
Now for dinner. Oh yeah, there is nothing in the house, so we need to get down the shops.
Before you even step into the shops, make sure you have an idea of what you are buying beforehand. This will help to stop you dilly-dallying around the junk food and stop you from picking up unnecessary items.
Aim for a protein source (e.g. turkey mince), a veg source (e.g. frozen Mediterranean veg) and a carb source (e.g. packet of microwave brown rice). This will set you up to have a healthy meal a lot of the time.
Now we are home and ready to chill for a bit. This is typically the time where the needless and excess calories start to show. We often have a sit down with a bit of chocolate or biscuits and watch a bit of the news – this is just habit.
Instead, opt for something like a greek yoghurt with plenty of raspberries, or maybe just a fruit tea to soothe you.
These changes are very simple and hugely effective, and that’s what it’s really about. Consistent little habit changes are the ones that matter, these are the things which give the most bang for the least buck.