I try to make it a habit to ask new gym-goers what they had for lunch that day. Not only is it a good conversation starter for an introvert like myself, but it also gives me a little bit of insight to someone’s eating habits based on their answer.
Sometimes my own lunch layout surprises them because of my career in the fitness industry. Here’s how I approach consuming a non-restrictive, balanced, sustainable diet.
I track my food.
We’ve said it before, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. If you’re not tracking your food, how do you know what you’re putting into your body? Using an app, I am able to see the percentages of my macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs) and gauge where I might have some extra wiggle room for dessert or a second helping of dinner. If you’re not tracking, you’re just guessing, and I’m willing to bet you’re not a good guesser.
I plan for times where I will not be eating that well.
Whether it’s a cookout, or a weekend getaway, there will be times when tracking my food isn’t going to be possible or I’m just not willing to set aside the extra time to look into the nutrition details of my meals. If I know far enough in advance, I can become stricter with my diet and give myself the freedom to not be as strict when those events come up.
I built a good relationship with food.
I don’t call myself a foodie because I’m actually quite a picky eater, but I do have a strong relationship with food. I understand that FOOD IS FUEL for my body. If I want to have the strength and energy to train, work, play with my cat, I know that I need to eat in order to have that energy. I believe that a non-restrictive diet allows me to enjoy certain foods like pasta, rice, and potatoes (carbs… they’re not evil) because I understand the benefits that carbs offer me.
I say “no” to other things
There are other ways that you take in calories other than eating. Any guesses? Drinking. Alcohol was one of the first things I cut out of my diet and it reduced bloating, I was better with my hydration, and I wasn’t throwing away 200-300 calories on a beverage that didn’t benefit me in any way. Again, if I know I’m going to be out at dinner and I’d like to have a cocktail with it, I refer back to step 2.
Building a good relationship with food is going to be the key to a sustainable diet. Make room for the things you enjoy in your diet and remember that wellness is a lifelong journey that takes constant learning and adjusting.
“To live well is to eat well.” -Jinny Fleischman
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Rachel Palepale has been part of the First Capital Gym team since November 2021. She has been coaching since August 2021. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing.