As a nutritionist, I spend a lot of time talking about food. I educate others on topics such as the health benefits of various foods, appropriate portion size for a given food, and how to look for healthy foods. I take a scientific approach in explaining how the macro- and micro-nutrient content of food affects our bodies.
Imagine you’re in your car, driving along on a bright and sunny day. Things are going well, until all of a sudden when you hear a loud “bang”, soon followed by “thump, thump, thump”.
You’re able to pull over and get out of the car to take a look. Just as you expected, you’re dealing with a flat tire.
So what do you do? Your car is temporarily out of commission. Your day has taken a hit. Perhaps you’re a bit shaken up too. That appointment you were right on time for, is now out of the question.
You’re feeling frustrated, hopeless, and disappointed. Your plans for the day are “ruined”. You let your emotions get the best of you and quickly decide to take out your pocket knife and slash the remaining 3 tires.
Huh? Does that make sense? One tire is down, why would you destroy the rest?
So often I use this analogy with clients when talking about diet. It usually has to do with the same type of scenario….”I’ve already messed up, so **ck it, I’m going to blow the rest of the day/week/month…off”. A classic example of “all-or-nothing” thinking. “I overate at breakfast, I’ve blown it, I might as well just eat what I want and start back fresh tomorrow”.
This kind of thinking is all too common and I’m quite familiar with it myself. I used to approach my diet with such ‘black and white’ mentlity and every so often I still find myself contemplating the urge to finish off the box of oatmeal cookies just because I’ve enjoyed one too many. Yet today I’m much less inclined to slash the tires or say “**ck it”. When I’m in a situation where my diet is less than optimal or I’ve strayed off plan, my motto is “Do the next best thing”. What’s been the difference? Learning more about nutrition and metabolism, cutting myself some slack, a greater sense of self-acceptance, and ultimately realizing that it is consistency over time, not one day/week/month of off-plan meals that has the biggest impact on my progress. Changing my perception of the “perfect diet” has allowed me to adjust my mindset, and ultimately my success.
This week I asked myself to “do the next best thing” on multiple occasions. Today is an example for #WhatIAteWednesdsay.
Meal 1: Power Coffee (Coffee, whey protein, coconut oil, almond milk)
Meal 2: Egg & egg white omelette, sautéed bell peppers
Meal 3: Out of chicken, so another omelette with roasted asparagus while at work
Meal 3.5: One of mom’s homemade butter tarts & coffee. (Not planned, but really craving)
Meal 4: Greek yogurt & almonds
Meal 5: 5-grain oat cereal, whey protein & SF syrup
Meal 5.5: Brussel sprouts & almond butter (strange, mindless snacking, again off plan)
Meal 6: 2 Carb Master yogurts with 1/2 oz walnuts (not shown)
I had a couple extra ‘treats’ today that I had not planned into my macros. I could have used either situation as a reason to go off the deep end, but rather I did the next best thing, which in both cases was to get right back on track. I didn’t restrict for the remainder of the day either, I chose to continue fueling my body right. I took good care of the remaining three tires and decided I’d better learn how to fix a flat!