When it comes to achieving your optimal health and fitness there is no doubt about it that food is an important part of the puzzle. Everything we eat is either taking us closer to our goal or further away, it has a huge impact on our overall health, how we look and how we feel.
The thing is there are so many different paths that can be taken when it comes to food and building out what is optimal for you. Its honestly a minefield out there and can be super confusing as there are so many people saying different things as to what is the best way to eat.
In my experience food is all about figuring out what is the best for you as the individual that you are. The right path to take is the one that best suits you, your values and how you want to look and feel.
For me food has been an enjoyable journey of self discovery and learning more about myself, here’s a little bit about my journey with food:
I thought I had to do it, count calories & macros that is. That’s what the guys and girls who are super lean do. They look strong, they look fit and that’s what I thought I wanted to be. Whilst tracking my food did teach me about portion sizes and what my food was actually made up of.. it also came along with health consequences that no-one had mentioned to me.
Calories and Macronutrients do matter, I better clarify that. Although whether you physically track them in an app or not, doesn’t have to be the determinant of you having a good physique and all it did for me was ruin what once was a healthy relationship with food.
Counting calories and macros is an extremist approach. It’s what bodybuilders do to get a super lean, unsustainable physique. Yes it gets results, yes there is science behind doing it, but do we have to do that to get results? Or is there another way that allows us to get results too? In a much more sustainable and healthy way?
In my experience counting calories can be a good way initially to learn about food, what’s in different foods and how much you should be eating to get the results you want. It can also be a good way to check-in with yourself and make sure your on track at any point in a health journey. Although unless we want to get to sub 5% body fat it’s not necessary, and sub 5% body fat for most people certainly isn’t going to be healthy anyway, not to mention the impact it will have on your mental health and your lifestyle.
For me it just didn’t feel right, I hated relying on a phone app to tell me what I could and couldn’t eat and the amounts I had to eat. There was an anxiety around being perfect with my food all the time, and when I wasn’t perfect, i felt I was letting myself down.
I felt anxious around going out to dinner or social occasions, I didn’t want to go because how was I going to track what I ate and when I did go I certainly didn’t fully embrace and enjoy the experience of being out with my friends, this limited the choices I’d make and I’d find myself eating things that I didn’t truely enjoy just to hit macros. Hmm was this how I really wanted to live?
I’d often think how nice it would be to be able to have freedom with my food again, eat food i really enjoy, eat food that aligned with my goals but wasn’t so strict, not have to track everything, and actually live my life a little more without that worry.
When I got real with myself, I realised I had been attaching my happiness to me looking a certain way. When I removed my ego from the equation and connected to my deepest values and what I truely wanted in my life, it wasn’t to be perfect with food all the time, it wasn’t to feel fear around food, it also wasn’t to be super lean and shredded.
Basically I wanted to be happy in myself. I wanted to accept and love myself. I wanted to be fit, strong, healthy, and to really enjoy my life. I wanted to express who I truely was as a person and align with my values and be accepted for who I really was. Rather than being on the journey I had been on, which involved trying looking a certain way which I thought would get me the attention felt I needed and allow me to feel accepted and good about myself.
For me... Different foods, great flavours and textures are something I really value, I love training and being strong in my body so I can do cool things like surf, adventure, climb mountains etc. I also really value the feeling of freedom, living in the moment and having fun, I love connecting to my deeper self, learning about myself, growing and helping other people grow too.
When it comes to food, I’ve spent the last few years learning about myself (Its a continuous journey), I’ve tried meal plans, counting calories, if it fits your macros, eating lots of meat, bringing in more vegetables again, I’ve tried 3, 4, 5 meals a day etc. The cool thing about trying different things with food is you can see how you respond to different ways of eating and you can learn a lot about yourself.
Ive now got to a point where I just know internally what works for me and what doesn’t. Ive built out what aligns with my values and allows me to look, feel and perform the way that I want to each day. I use my intuition and I know how I feel when I eat certain foods, I know how I want to feel and I choose to eat foods that I enjoy eating and that make me feel great.
I can intuitively change the amounts I eat if I am wanting to drop some body fat or put on some muscle etc, if I want to perform better at certain times I will eat based on that. Ive learnt portion control based on how I feel, if I look in the mirror and think hmm I’m getting a little podgy then I’ll reduce my food potions for a while. If I want to gain muscle il make sure my training is right for that and I’ll start eating more specifically for that too. It can be pretty simple really.
Getting to this place and really learning what works for you, what makes you feel good and how to achieve the results you want while doing this is a longer term approach. It requires you to learn about yourself and learn about food and what works best for you. It requires you to understand yourself on a new level.
This isn’t the approach that will get you crazy awesome before and after photos in 8 or 12 weeks, it is the approach that in 12 months and ongoing you will get to your ideal place and you won’t have to rely on counting calories or trying the next diet to keep yourself there.
You will intuitively know yourself and know what works for you - because food is not a one size fits all approach it actually requires you to become an expert in yourself.
Stop outsourcing people to tell you what to eat and start getting educated, connecting within and eating based on how you want to look and feel. Enjoy the journey as the journey within will be the most rewarding journey of them all.
If you’d like someone to help guide you on this journey, someone to ask you the right questions, help you learn about yourself, help you understand yourself and discover your own individual path...
Reach out for a chat, would love to help you become the best & healthiest version of you 💪