By Amy Sullivan
I was stuck in a vicious cycle of calories-in (slice of pie, an extra apple) and calories-out (extra mile on the ABB, two strength sessions a day). I knew I was stuck. I knew I couldn’t get ahead. And worse, I knew I would never meet my goals with a frustrating view of “health.”
In Part One, I examined my belief systems of food and fitness and why they fell short. Something had to change. So I talked to my coach and slowly began to retrain my brain to view food and fitness on different but complementary spectrums.
HOW I NEEDED TO CHANGE
A proper view of food
According to the good old Webster dictionary, food is “any nutritious substance you eat or drink to maintain life and growth.” So, if I had to categorize food, I needed to rip off the labels of “good” and “bad” and look at the nutrition level.
Basically, I needed to read the nutrition labels on everything I ate, particularly the daily percentage value. If something was 20 percent or over in a certain component, it was considered high (ie: Total Fat 20%). If it was under 5 percent, it was considered low.
Additionally, my coach (husband) made it very clear food needed to be used as fuel.
“It can’t be entertainment,” he said, “or you won’t break free from the cycle.”
A proper view of fitness
Likewise, Webster says “fitness is a physical state of being strong and free of disease.” It didn’t say “a tool used to balance caloric intake.” So, being fit, by definition, had nothing to do with food. It’s about physical health and strength — having a strong working heart, low blood numbers, efficient central nervous system, broad range of motion.
“Being disease-free may be a bi-product of the food you eat,” my coach said, “but it is not the focus.”
WHAT I DID ABOUT WHAT I LEARNED
My coach informed me, the quickest way to separate the bond food and fitness shared in my mind was to make goals. Goal-making, tracking and achieving kept my eyes focused squarely on each as an individual entity.
“Each compliments but isn’t reliant on the other,” my coach said.
Track food goals
My goal was to gain 10 pounds of muscle in 3 months. So my coach advised me to eat 2,400 calories divided percentage-wise into carbohydrates, fats and proteins (called your macronutrients). As I ate, I tracked my meals and their nutrition on My Fitness Pal. My focus was on meeting macro numbers. My caloric intake didn’t go up or down depending on how I worked out that day. My food goal wasn’t reliant on my fitness.
Track fitness goals
Likewise with fitness. My coach wanted me to perform heavy lifting and mobility 6 days a week with only one day of metabolic conditioning. Just like food, I tracked my lifting sessions — my movements and weights — on SugarWOD. My focus was being consistent and moving up in weight. It had nothing to do with what I ate that day.
As I learned to sever the bond food and fitness played in my own life, I did gain that 10 pounds of muscle. I did do that in 3 months. And most importantly, I did escape the whirling cycle of calorie frustration to accomplish my goals.