One of the key things we know about sustainable good eating habits is that “failing to plan is planning to fail”. In this article, I’d like to talk about having a plan for when you are going out to eat. One of the biggest, most telling, tools I use when talking to people about making dietary changes is a simple question:
“Do you know what you are going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, tomorrow?”
And I don’t mean ‘kinda know’. I mean know specifically what you will be eating. People who make great progress, or who maintain a good level of bodyfat, will usually know this, as well as the next day, and the next!
They go to the grocery store to buy specific items for the meals they plan on eating. At first, they probably follow a specific shopping list to help them pick the right items so they can combine them in the tasty meals that will fuel their lives, and that they can prepare according to their schedules.
We talk about how to create a ‘Food Matrix’ (to help you plan) in our workshops, and we’ll post an article about that soon. The gist of it is that 3 meals a day with a snack works out to (7 days x 4 ‘meals’ = ) 28 times to cook/prepare. If you cook 5 combinations a week, and cook so you get 5-6 servings per combination, you’ll have all of your meals for the entire week!
The extreme example of this is to cook all of your food on one day, then pre-package everything for the rest of the week. Most people will budget enough time throughout the week to prepare 3-4 times, and make sure they have enough left overs to carry them over.
Now that we have covered how to plan for eating at home, let’s talk about going out to eat.
Having a plan for eating out will help you stay on track, while also not looking like a weirdo when you pull out your own packaged food at a restaurant. I define ‘eating out’ as going to a restaurant for dinner, buying lunch at work, stopping by to pick something up on the way home, etc.
First and foremost, you need to decide if you are going out to eat for sustenance, or for pleasure.
For many people, eating out was a treat growing up. It didn’t happen all of the time, and it meant that you got to eat foods you don’t normally eat. Restaurants naturally cater to this by making their foods as tasty as possible (so you’ll buy more).
This is where I came up with the term ‘Appetite of Opportunity’.
When faced with tasty foods that you don’t normally eat (that you just paid for), you are likely to eat more than you normally would. You are going to order lots of different things. You are going to eat as much as you can (not as much as you need). You have the ‘opportunity’ to eat lots of yummy food, so you are going to have an ‘appetite’ to match.
There is nothing wrong with this on occasion! Eating food should be used as a time to enjoy ourselves and connect with other humans. The problem comes up when we mix up our intent of ‘eating for pleasure’ and ‘eating for sustenance’.
If you are dining at restaurants frequently, you need to go with the intent of eating for sustenance most of the time. Select an establishment that has healthy options. Pick the right things on the menu. Only eat what you need and take home the rest.
About once per week, or 2-3 times per month, eat with gusto. Enjoy the food and the company you are eating with. Do not stress about the food or how many calories you ate. Order the appetizer and the desert. One “bad” meal in 30 or 40 will not derail your goals! You want your friends to wonder in amazement at your gains while still being someone who can put away so much delicious food!
Tips for eating for sustenance at restaurants:
Decide BEFORE if you are eating for sustenance or for pleasure!
Location, location, location! Go to an establishment where you can get decent meat and vegetables. Chipotle, Baja Fresh, Steak Houses, Seafood, Whole Foods, or any place with a good omelet.
Be picky on the menu. A ‘salad’ may be good, but one loaded with croutons, dressing, candied nuts, etc. and is the size of a manhole cover, is bad. Find something loaded with veggies (REAL veggies and not corn, potatoes, and the like), and a good amount of protein.
Change up the order. Get the burrito in a bowl. Get the burger without a bun. Switch the potatoes out for veggies. Ask for fruit instead of toast.
Don’t eat the bread/chips they offer for ‘free’. These filler foods actually make you eat more of your entrée!
Know your portions. Divvy up your plate before you dive in. Eat slowly, and plan on taking the rest home, leaving it, sharing it, or giving it to someone outside who may need it more than you!
Suppress the “Appetite of Opportunity”! Fill up on the healthy stuff, and don’t just keep eating because the food is in front of you. You aren’t going to starve if you don’t eat until you are stuffed!
Side note: Many people believe that eating healthy is expensive. Research says that this is not the case. The reality is that eating healthy food, prepared by someone else for money, can get expensive. If you are looking to save some dough (pun intended), put more time into preparing your own meals. Save the money for ‘going big’ when you are eating for pleasure!
I hope this helps you plan for success, while still enabling you to enjoy life’s pleasures. While it is okay to stretch our willpower for short periods of time, it is much more important to build habits that take us where we want to go while still enjoying the journey!
By Zeke Cutler
The image below represents the fitness pyramid that we use as a framework for athletic development when working with athletes of all shapes and sizes. The important idea with any pyramid is that it is built from the bottom up.
This pyramid takes our key components of fitness and places them in building order. The bottom of any pyramid has to be the strongest because it supports everything that is built on top of it. You cannot reach the top without first establishing a solid foundation. If the base of the pyramid is not solidified then your entire pyramid will collapse.
At the bottom of this pyramid, we can find nutrition. As many of us know how we fuel our bodies will greatly determine how well we perform. If you are not taking in enough healthy and beneficial nutrients then your overall health will lack greatly. Once our nutrition is in check we can then move on to the next building block called metabolic conditioning. This idea of metabolic training refers to conditioning exercises intended to increase the storage and delivery of energy for an activity. Our body has 3 main energy systems, ATP-phosphate (explosive power), glycolytic (mid-distance), and oxidative (>90 seconds) and we should be able to utilize each of these.
Too many times I feel like many athletes overlook this vital component of our pyramid, metabolic conditioning. If your goal is striving for fitness then this cannot be ignored. This also means working out in all aspects of our metabolic conditioning. Not only doing the short 5-7 minute workouts. We must exercise our anaerobic side along with our aerobic side. If you’re the person that cherry picks and only does short 7-minute workouts and skips the longer conditioning workouts then your overall fitness is going to lack. While 1 rep maxes and short workouts are fun, it is not what our pyramid is built upon. Build the foundation or the entire pyramid will collapse.
Stick with the programming and as I’ve said before DON’T cherry pick.
See you all at the box!
When I was in High School in the early 1990’s weight lifting was not part of my athletic training on a regular basis. About the only sports that had any emphasis on weight lifting was Football and Wrestling. Basketball and Track athletes just didn’t spend much time in the weight room during that time. That was a real shame because every athlete should be spending a lot of time developing strength and speed. It wasn’t until my freshmen year at Indiana University that I got introduced to weight lifting on a much larger scale. I was recruited to run track and field by Sam Bell and the staff he had in place at IU took a very different stance on power and strength and the importance of it in a sport.
I was first introduced to Olympic lifting by now former head of USA Weightlifting Coach Frank Ecksten. He would always watch me Olympic lift and say “Stien, being strong and slow isn’t going to help you much in sports”. Frank would always tell me that I had to use my God given speed the correct way in the Olympic lifts. Then he would say watch those guys over there move. He was referring to the massive human beings across the weight room from me. They were the following individuals: Coach Randy Heisler (Former Olympic Discus Thrower and eventual men’s Head Track coach at IU), Gregg Hart (Multiple Big Ten Championships in the discus and school record holder), Brett Sullivan (Shot Put 62’ and Discus Thrower), and Zach Fleming (Big Ten Outdoor Shot Champion 60+ feet). This squad was the epitome of power and strength. I remember watching them lift and thinking how it could be possible to snatch and clean the weights that they were moving? Most of them weighed in around 125 to 140 kilos and pretty much all of them could power snatch upwards of 125 kilos. I think that was the point Frank was trying to make to me. I had to learn to move efficiently and with a lot of speed to produce that much force on the bar.
What is the importance of the Olympic Lifts and why should we include them in our strength and conditioning programs? First, nothing produces more power output than the snatch and the clean and jerk. When you take into consideration the weight moved, the distance it travels and how it must accelerate nothing even comes close. That is why weightlifters are so athletic. Those guys listed above with the exception of one also had 35 plus inch vertical jumps as well. Athleticism is determined by how well one moves when it matters most (Strictly opinion here). If you have a big athletic guy or girl who can’t move on the field or floor, then they are really not going to help you much when the game is on the line. There is an overall awareness of the body in sport. In fact, if one is aware of their body in space that is a behavior that is hard to improve upon. If you can snatch a heavy weight of over 125 kilos, then you have incredible body awareness (This is also known as kinesthetic awareness).
Dan Brown owner of Lift Lab Co. gives another reason athletes should add Olympic Lifts to their training regiments. “At the end of the day, I like to tell people this. Weightlifting is not a strength sport. It is a change of direction sport. The sport is about how fast you can get up and get down. Weightlifting is about producing, absorbing, and transferring force. Are these not the characteristics you want of your athletes? Don’t we want to increase the speed at which they change direction? Don’t we want them to be able to produce large amounts of force when a ball is snapped (Produce force). Don’t we want them to stand their ground when someone hits them? (Absorb force) Don’t we want them to be able to redirect an athlete that runs into them? (Transfer force)”.
Perhaps one of the greatest examples I have heard to illustrate the importance of weightlifting. There are also other benefits from Olympic lifts that include balance, speed, accuracy, agility, timing, core stabilization to name a few.
The key to adding these lifts to your training programs is being able to teach them effectively, and that is our goal at Notch 8 Barbell. We want to educate everybody on how to perform the lifts safely and successfully. I like to teach using the ARM method. ARM stands for Accountability, Repetition, and Mechanics. Think of this like a three legged stool, if you are missing one leg of the stool then you will fall over! If you have no experience with the quick lifts, that is okay, we can help you learn! Whether your goal is to become a competitive lifter or a better teacher of the lifts yourself, Notch 8 Barbell is here to help! Contact us today to schedule your first free trial session with our coaching staff!
Notch 8 Barbell Head Coach
USAW-1 Sports Performance Coach