Rely on Strategies, Not Willpower, Part 2


In Part 1, we discussed how a major key to success in fueling our bodies with good foods is to rely on strategies. A good plan of action will trump willpower, every time.

While there are many strategies one can use, I'm going to give you seven right here and now. Aren't I awesome?? Let's get right to it:

1. Hold Yourself Accountable.

If things are looking pretty dire, holding yourself accountable to someone may be exactly the kick in the pants you need. I recently wrote about this in detail HERE, so no need to elaborate much for the moment.

2. Pre-chop Your Vegetables.

Pretty self-explanatory, yet astonishingly effective. This blew my socks off when I first tried it and saw how effective it was. I don't know about you, but I find it rather annoying to cut veggies (especially those large broccoli bushes) . This being the case, it's guaranteed I'm not going to chop them when I arrive home, tired and hungry, from work at 9pm.  However, if I've already chopped them, then they're all ready to go to throw on a frying pan, into a pot, or whatever. Tossing in a generous portion of herbs and spices will make them actually taste good, too.


On a Saturday or Sunday, simply take a bit of time to chop of a ton of veggies. Onions, peppers, carrots, squash, you name it. Then you can either divide them into separate containers, or just mix them all into one. This makes it a piece of cake to intake plenty of vegetables throughout the week. A personal favorite of mine is to keep a container of sliced bell peppers (various colors), and sliced onions to throw on the frying pan in the morning for egg omelets.

3. Always Have a (Nutritious) Meal Handy.

This takes a bit of planning, but will really help those random bouts of hunger that suddenly hit you. A recent favorite of mine has been to mix chopped carrots, beans, chick peas, asparagus, brussels sprouts, and canned chicken in a big baking dish:


Douse the dish with spices (I use cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder), mix in olive oil, and then top with some honey-flavored goat cheese (*the magic maker*) and bake in the oven for thirty minutes or so. I'll then divide up the dish into a bunch of tupperware containers to use on an as-needed basis.

It tastes better than it may sound, and is going to get you much closer to fitting into those skinny jeans than a bagel will.

4. Make Smoothies.

I have at least one of these every day. Super easy to make, and you can toss virtually anything in them. Not to mention, they're a great way to satisfy a sweets craving. Take them with you to work on a car trip and you're good to go. See the video below for one of my favorite recipes. If you have a cat to help you (like I did), even better:

5. Eat a Good Breakfast.

While scientists and dietitians may debate on which meal of the day is really the most important, I'm convinced that what you eat for breakfast will set the tone for the rest of the day. Simply put: If you gobble down a quick bowl of sugary cereal on your way out the door, then you're more than likely going to crave other sugary foods and sweets throughout the remainder of the day. Conversely, if you fuel your body with some lean proteins and healthy fats, then you'll be less prone to cave in to "problem foods" later in the day.

6. Give the Inside of Your Cupboards a Makeover.

If it's in your home, you're going to eat it. Plain and simple.

As such, if you have any "kryptonite" foods (you know what I'm talking about) that you tend to binge on for comfort, throw them away. If it's not in your home, you can't eat it.

7. Plan to Break the Rules 10% of the Time.

This is a staple guideline of John Berardi's Precision Nutrition system. Oftentimes, aiming for 90% compliance will get you much further than aiming for 100% compliance. When we shoot for perfection, we tend to enter a fail-->guilt-->fail-->guilt-->fail further-->guilt cycle that spirals us down to a place worse than where we started.

Achieving 90% adherence to a good plan will still deliver outstanding results, while still allowing ourselves not to be miserable. Going out for a special dinner? Get dessert and don't feel guilty about it. Ate well throughout the week and hit some benchmarks at work? Grab a burger and beer with your buds on Friday and enjoy it.

Just keep in mind what 90% really is. If you eat six times a day (42 feedings a week), this means that 38 of those 42 feeding opportunities can't contain crap. Or, if you eat three times a day (21 meals a week) then that leaves you only two, yes two, opportunities to indulge.

Most people think that they're at 90%, when really, after doing the math, they're only at 80% or so. I remember Rachel Cosgrove saying (paraphrased) that getting from 80% to 90% is one of the toughest barriers to break, yet also the biggest difference-maker when it comes to body composition and health.

Well, there you have it. Athletes can use the above tips to ensure optimal performance on game day and speedy recovery between training sessions. Everyone else can use them to feel better and keep body composition in check. Now get to it! After all, information without action is merely entertainment.