Rely on Strategies, Not Willpower, Part 1

It seems that people are often under the impression that I'm a sort of fearless and incorruptible freedom fighter when it comes to eating healthy and staving off temptation in the food realm. In fact, when I worked in the physical therapy clinic, all the therapists even brought in hard-boiled eggs and/or veggie+fruit platters for my birthday (instead of the typical cake+brownie+muffin celebratory nibbles). This meant a lot to me, as not only did they think of me on my birthday, but it showed that they knew it would mean more to me to eat snacks that "do the body good" than the usual birthday foods. I've been asked on many occasion - be it throughout college, out at dinner, or at the workplace - how I consistently eat well. How I always seem to pack healthy lunches, snacks, and at the same time avoid the belly-busting items on restaurant menus.

  • How do you DO it?
  • Man, I wish I could do that....
  • Wow, you have such great self-control!
  • I want your babies.

But the point of this post isn't to gloat. In fact, it's the exact opposite.

You want to know a deep, dark secret of mine? A skeleton in my closet, so to speak? I do NOT have the best self-control when it comes to food. In fact, it's terrible. Absolutely terrible. In reality, my sweet tooth is larger than the state of Kansas, and it is absolutely no sweat for me to crush a garbage disposal in a race to demolish a pint of ice cream. Not kidding. (To those that know me well, I know this doesn't come as a surprise).

However, despite this sad truth, I do still manage to fuel my body with foods that will benefit it rather than destroy it, the majority of the time. And my struggles to prove victorious in this area can help you.

I don't think any of you reading will deny that whole, unprocessed foods and vegetables will provide our bodies with steady doses of energy, allow us to recover faster from lifting sessions or athletic competitions, boost our immune systems, and keep body fat stores at bay. Nonetheless, many of us fail to act on this truth on a daily basis, right? Why?

Why is that, on a given weekend, we can plan to eat healthy throughout the upcoming week, only to find ourselves having consumed more oreos than antioxidants at the end of the week? I'll tell you why. The answer came to me when I was attending a business seminar put on by Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove. Rachel, while discussing client adherence to nutrition and exercise plans, said something I'll never forget:

Rely on Strategies, Not Willpower.

So true. I mean, how many times throughout the week are we hit with unexpected events that cause to gravitate toward shoving crap down our pie holes? Whether it's being held up at the office for an extra hour (or three), unexpectedly needing to pick up your child at a soccer game, running a few extra errands, getting stuck in obscene traffic (for those that live in NOVA), or saving a vulnerable, homeless kitten from the perils of the wild (if you happen to be a SAPT strength coach), there's no doubt that numerous events can knock us off track.

Countless stressors and time-consuming events are GOING to happen that will tempt you to make a poor decision in the kitchen, and relying on willpower isn't the answer. Willpower is just too fragile for us mere mortals in the crowd. Instead, we need strategies. Strategies are the key to success.

Not to leave you hanging, but I need to stop here. I'm out of time, so I'm going to touch a few critical strategies on Wednesday. Plus, I'm over 600 words for this post so I may have already lost some of you anyway :) Until then, start thinking of some strategies YOU can use - be it related to your nutrition OR training - that can take you where you know you need to go.