Adherence Is For The Old
The most important part of any workout plan is consistency. You could get strong doing just about any type of exercise if you are consistent with it, except maybe zumba, I’m pretty sure that’s nonsense. Similarly the most important part of any eating style is adherence. There is no point going full paleo if you have a soft pretzel everyday and you know there is nothing that can stop you and it from becoming one. Eating style adherence is something that comes with age, lifestyle age to be exact. Those that have been living a certain lifestyle for an extended period of time get really good at it. Diet adherence is for the old, those that are old in their lifestyle, mature in its ways, and used to its inherent pitfalls.
The Best of Intentions
We all start a diet plan with the best intentions usually something like:
No carbs, no sugar, no alcohol, only organic fruits and veggies, and ethically sourced meats.
Looks great typed out doesn’t it?
The problem lies in the implementation over time, AKA diet adherence. If your current diet involves a Chick-fil-a chicken and biscuit for breakfast, a bag of doritos and a foot long sweet onion chicken teriyaki for lunch, and some cheesy mac hamburger helper for dinner with half a loaf of white bread and 16oz of mountain dew code red for dinner you are going to have serious issues jumping into the aforementioned dietary deep end.
I first started getting into nutrition for my own enjoyment in my early twenties. I would try to eat healthy, you know, the typical stuff like eat enough protein to get stronger, eat enough fruits and vegetables*, not eat so much ice cream, blah blah blah. Whisky and Cokes even left the menu I switched to whisky and soda water. Sounds pretty good right…? The more I read the more I wanted to implement. Then my world was rocked when I discovered intermittent fasting (IF). Thank god I found IF before I started meal prepping 6 meals a day, what a waste of time and cause of decision fatigue** that is.
From an uneducated outsider looking in I saw the “not what you eat, but, when you eat” tagline and was sold. I had much to learn.
Things were good in the beginning because I was motivated. 8 hour eating window of whatever I wanted, no problem. Then life kicked in and I realized that my eight hour window was getting in the way of my normal life events. For instance hungover Saturday and Sunday morning breakfasts. Usually six eggs, half a pound of bacon, an avocado, and a ton of toast***. Not to mention the nights before these mornings where I would go hard in the paint****.
This persisted for years. I would be solid during the week, sometime losing as much as 5 or 6 lbs between Monday and Friday afternoon. BUT, as soon as I would get out of work on Friday it was time to throw that weight back on. Not to mention destroy my bowel movements that you could set your watch to. I believe it was 9:30 AM everyday Monday through Friday. 😉
Just by implementing intermittent fasting for what in effect was five days a week I managed to keep my weight within a ten pound range, around 185. I wasn’t eating super healthy but I also wasn’t crushing happy meals on my lunch break. This is something I was pretty happy with considering I was bordering on a sloppy 200lbs a few months prior.
With maturity in this lifestyle I have managed to clean up some of my inconsistencies. Drinking is minimal now*****. Honestly, that cleared up most of my issues with fasting. For any big drinkers out there this sounds like a death sentence I know. But, consider drinking inside of your eating window instead of late into the night, even that is better if you have to have a little sippy. Also, few things are as enjoyable as a nice buzz while the sun is still out.
Don’t Be The Sprinter
Now that I’ve matured in my lifestyle choice I’ve figured out way to make it more efficient and help me reach better results over time. The other method is trying to make a dramatic shift and hoping it sticks.
When trying to lose weight, or gain weight for that matter take baby steps if you want it to stick. There are diets out there such as the Whole30 diet in which you jump into the deep end and tread water for 30 days in order to get the bad stuff out and try to develop a few good habits. This method is a sprint though, the end is always in sight and you have no commitment on day 31. There are plenty of benefits to this style of diet intervention as long as your goals are short term as well, like getting ready for beach season or your child’s wedding. It is not a sustainable method for a lifestyle change that will stay forever.
The Nomadic Lifestyle******
Instead consider your dietary adherence like that of a nomad. Nomads are constantly on the move, there is no final destination in sight, moving is the destination. For this reason we need to choose a method of being nomadic (eating) that is both enjoyable and sustainable. Nomads don’t sprint from locale to locale. Just like we shouldn’t dramatically shift from eating style to eating style. Slowly nomadic peoples become more efficient at packing their things, at moving along treacherous terrain, at finding water, and at conducting trade. This is akin to us learning over time how to cut sugar out of our diets, to drink only during appropriate occasions, cook our own meals with efficiency and skill. Change doesn’t happen overnight, if you try to force it you will fail because you aren’t that person yet.
There is no rule of thumb or set standard for how to do this because it is so individual. Take a periodic hard look at your diet lifestyle and choose one thing to try to improve that you are sure you can stick to. Once one thing sticks you’ll be able to add more and more.Pretty soon people will be asking you how you manage to do something seemingly so difficult from an outside perspective. You’ll just shrug and say it’s not that hard. Adherence comes with age just like the rind on a stinky wheel of cheese.
Remember what Derice Bannock named his bobsled…. Cool Runnings AKA “Peace be the journey”
May your diet lifestyle journey be peaceful, progressive, and compounding.
*We say fruits and vegetables all the time as if they are interchangeable. This leads to people thinking that they can substitute broccoli for a pomegranate or spinach for an apple. The reality is these are not interchangeable. You need much much more vegetables than fruits in your diet.
**Potential future post
***The healthiness of this meal was unintentional. I’ve never really been a huge fan of breakfast pastries. That’s a topic for another time though.
****Play to win!
*****I think now that my prefrontal cortex is finished developing I’m as much fun sober as I am with a couple of drinks. Its nice being comfortable being me. Also nice is not being hungover 2/7ths of the year minimum..
******I guess the more linear comparison to a sprinter is a marathoner not a nomad. But, even the marathoner sees an end in sight. 26 miles (42 km) is just not long enough to compare to human life. Especially since now there is a trend of marathoners bragging about their after race meals and how plan on gorging themselves. You burn about 2 pizzas worth of calories during a marathon depending on individual factors.