We all judge our own food. We all feel the guilt afterwards when we have something unhealthy. We are all hard on ourselves at some point when making food choices. It happens. But, how often do you do this and how does it make you feel? We should be enjoying what we eat, but instead we beat ourselves down and nitpick at the choices making their way into our bodies.
As personal trainers, we know that it’s OK to be particular about what you eat, but we also know you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself.
Not only do we need to tell our clients to avoid being overly critical after a bad meal, but you might want to rethink the way you’re treating yourself as well.
Food is for enjoyment and to help our bodies perform better and stay healthy. Food is very central to our culture. We go out to eat for birthdays and gather at home for huge celebrations, all surrounded by food.
And that’s not bad! It’s a way for us to communicate and bond with one another. Food also shows differences in cultures and brings us all together as one.
However, despite our cultural fascination with food, it’s important to be conscious of what you are eating and to keep the quantities under control in our attempt to eat well.
And avoiding treats, sweets, and goodies is not just what I’m talking about when I say eating well; I mean eating well for us mentally.
We can all have sweets and treats here and there so long as we know those are things we just shouldn’t be eating on a regular basis. Is this hard to control? Absolutely! Foods that aren’t good for us, like sweets, make us feel good since they cause our brains to release dopamine. This makes us feel like we’ve given ourselves a reward.
But anyone can talk about sugar and how too much is bad for you. I’m here to talk about the good and the bad of mental stability with food — even healthy food.
It doesn’t matter how healthy you are eating. It’s about if you feel good about making those decisions and if your body is responding the way it should to those choices.
If you are eating well and your body feels great, but your mind is telling you that you’re not doing a good enough job, you need to stop, reassess your situation and stop comparing what you’re doing to what someone else is doing..
You are different and unique, and your body will never work the same exact way as someone else’s. Evolve what you are doing at your own pace, what feels right, and what makes you happy.
If you have designated days for cheat meals, great! Cheat meals are perfect if you have a hard time stopping yourself from eating treats all the time, as it is good for practicing self-discipline.
Don’t overdo it and judge yourself if you decide to eat something outside your cheat-meal day. Just switch days and go from there. Or if you eat well all day everyday and you just like a treat now and then, do it!
I’m not going to say you deserve it, and I personally prefer not to consider food a reward, but one candy bar is not going to kill you or throw off your healthy diet so long as you eat properly during all of your other meals within the week.
If finding that stability with food is not affecting your goals then what’s the harm in it? If you don’t have cheat meal days, then you should make them. They are made to keep you on track with your goals and to teach you moderation. Just know that if you want something that bad, it can wait until your cheat meal – that is the mental toughness and stability I am referring to.
As trainers we, have to practice what we preach. We can’t tell our clients “It’s OK, jump back on the wagon,” if we are filling ourselves with self-loathing and regret for eating too many carbs the weekend before. We do not have a leg to stand on if we try to teach mental toughness along with physical progression if we do not have goals set for ourselves as well.
That gross feeling will eventually go away. If you are experiencing a craving for unhealthy foods, take a step back and wait awhile before fulfilling that craving, as cravings typically don’t last very long. If you still desire a certain food, your best option to fulfill the craving guilt-free is to find a healthier alternative.
You can also take care of cravings by staying on track with your food and eating smaller meals packed with good protein, fats and carbs, which will help keep you satisfied all day.
There will be times when you really do crave something, and that’s because we’ve had that taste before and we know how much we enjoyed it at the time. You can’t crave something if you’ve never had it before, but if you really want something, then go get it and adjust your cheat meal days accordingly.
Remember, moderation and portions are key to a healthy diet and preventing yourself from overeating! That’s why we pick specific days to have the treats we love.
Make sure you aren’t making yourself feel bad for what you are eating or being too strict on yourself for not doing well enough. Practice what you preach: Tell your clients to strive for better eating habits and that it is the mental stability that we are searching for, not the need to work off the indulgence.
If your client feels good, tell them to stick with it. If not, they should consult a nutritionist or ask you, the trainer, for help developing an alternative nutrition plan.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution though, so encourage them to find what works best for their body and go with it! However, don’t forget to do the same for yourself.
Even though we are trainers, we sometimes need that extra push of motivation and additional knowledge to keep succeeding.