Anyone can workout for an hour, but to control what goes on your plate the other 23 hours… that’s the hard work!
Ain’t that the truth.
You can sculpt, build, lift, push, pull and sweat as much as you can through exercise, but without the right food (and portion sizes) to fuel your body it won’t change as much as you want. It’s not just about being strong in the gym but OUT of the gym, in the other 23 hours.
Last year I intensively worked out and ate very healthily however my body made the most dramatic changes when I modified what I ate, how I ate and my portion sizes. Yes, I was eating healthy food but just way too much and being the carb monster that I was, the percentage of macronutrients that I ate was WAY off.
Once I set my goal the biggest thing I needed to do was change my habits and emotions towards food as well as eat smaller portions, different % of fats, carbs and protein, eat more often (every 2-3 hours) and, like I said before, stick to the plan. No ifs or buts.
Food really is a science, that’s what makes it so interesting.
Abs really are made in the kitchen!
On that note, here are my Top 5 Food Tips
1. Portion Control
I cannot stress this one enough!
We all built individually and need different amounts of calories and % of macronutrients (carbs, fats and proteins) depending on your goal(s), so what may work for your friend / sister / neighbour / training buddy may not work for you. In my case, I was eating the same (if not bigger) portions than Maarten, my husband, who weighs nearly twice my weight! No wonder I didn’t see any changes for all of those months.
You can check out some example of portion control on my Pinterest board here.
2. The best exercise you can do is walk away from the kitchen and fridge with a glass of water!
Last year you could find me hovering around the kitchen, usually at times when I wasn’t so busy and had time to think about food. I would go in there and nibble on a handful of nuts, or have a few sneaky crackers here and there. Dates filled with walnuts were a huge favourite of mine – so I would have a handful of those too a few times through the day.
I thought I was being healthy BUT I wasn’t paying any attention to the calories or nutrition of the food I was eating. Yes, dates and walnuts are healthy but they are packed with fats (even though they are good fats) and sugar (even though they are natural sugars), so are high in calories and carbs too.
Even though I was eating healthy options I was consuming far more calories than my body needed.
So next time you find yourself in the kitchen, looking for munchies – get yourself a big glass of water instead! More often than not we are either “bored” or dehydrated when we think we’re hungry.
3. Be mindful what and when you eat
I have learned to say no. Believe me, this was a massive thing for me. I would always eat what, when and where I wanted.
I absolutely love food, especially cakes and would never ever turn down the offer of one. Birthday parties, work gatherings, dinners out etc. were always exciting times when I would eat any of the things on offer.
However I had to make a conscious decision to really see and take on board all that I was eating – it’s an interesting thing to do – as, like I said, there were those moments alone in the kitchen with the sneaky handful of snacks that I wouldn’t consider as extra calories or even think about… but they all mount up.
So, think before you eat. Make smart choices. And learn to say “No”.
4. Keep a ‘food diary’ for a week
Something that made a huge impact was keeping a “Food Diary / Schedule”.
I really wanted to see what, how much and when I was eating so I started using the “Notes” function on my iPhone and ‘writing down’ what, when and how much I was eating.
What an eye opener!
Again – yes all healthy things, but WAY too much – especially in the evening. I had formed habits, like eating peanut butter on toast with a tea at 20:30 when I would watch The Big Bang Theory. That was my ritual. And these were very unnecessary nutrients and calories that my body didn’t need, since I had already ate enough carbs and fats through the day.
So I had to change my habit and make a conscious effort to replace this ritual with something else… which has now become a salad and green tea.
Writing things down and seeing what I was eating was really interesting. Give it a go!
5. Be accountable to someone other than yourself
Another biggie! Sometimes being accountable to yourself is just not enough. “No one will know if I have that biscuit / croissant / McDonalds etc.” You, of course, but sometimes the pleasure outweighs the guilt, so you eat it anyway.
However, having another person to be accountable to (and not wanting to let down) can really help you focus, stick to the plan and help in the motivation department. For me this person was my coach Jerry Koolhoven.
So share your goal with someone (your partner, a friend, a colleague whoever) and go for it!
Another blog post you may find interesting and like to read is: