I have had, over the years, many clients who work out regularly and are in good to excellent condition – with the exception of their body composition, or, fat percentage. For the first few years of my training, it was frustrating for me when clients would express a sincere desire to lose weight, and we were doing everything possible with the training to make that happen but they made little progress trimming their waistline. I felt responsible and that somehow I had failed. Until I finally realized a very important point:
People eat they way they want to eat. Period.
So what do you want for your body composition? Are you happy where you’re at now? Would you like to be leaner? Those questions may seem easy to answer, but the root question is even easier to answer, and is the key to change if you really want it:
"How do I want to eat?"
Look at how you’re eating now. That’s how you want to eat.
The real mystery you need to solve is whether you want to be leaner more than you want to continue to eat how you’re currently eating. If you’re truly ready to make some changes to get that firmer, more trim body, read on.
Here’s where I have my clients start: Healthy Eating Chalice
It addresses what foods should be emphasized in your diet and a healthy ratio range for each.
Take a look in my refrigerator and you’ll see a pretty fair representation of what’s on the chalice. I put veggies up front (broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, cauliflower, V8 juice and salad greens) and lean proteins (chicken, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, soy and milk) next on the priority list.
After that is plenty of fresh fruit like bananas, apples and tangerines, and finally oatmeal I prepare in a double batch because it microwaves easily later in the week. I also make it with 2% fat milk, rather than water to increase the protein, calcium and vitamin D content. Plus, it just tastes better.
Also inside are cheese and nuts, which are fat sources and, as such, I use them sparingly. But I do usually combine them with produce for a more satisfying snack that will help keep my blood sugar stable.
In the cabinet are: whole grain breakfast cereals, whole grain pasta and other high protein grains like quinoa and couscous, which I’ll make using vegetable broth and top with veggies and chicken for a healthy dinner once a week or so.
Starting with a standard shopping list that includes at least three choices in each category can be helpful. Then experiment and make healthy eating fun!
Your body wants to be treated well, and eating well is an important first step. Take that step, and you will be rewarded with more of what you want (lean, healthy muscles) and less of what you don’t.
Dan is a nationally certified personal fitness trainer and former continuing education faculty member of the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise. He is the owner and head trainer at Tri Valley Trainer, which provides personal and small group fitness training and nutrition guidance. He can be reached at Dan@TriValleyTrainer.com.