Calories in vs. calories out, or Fuck Calories?
6 small meals per day, or intermittent fasting and feasting?
Paleo or IIFYM?
Carb cycling or Carb Backloading or Cyclic Ketogenic Diet?
The lemon detox diet vs. The purple diet?
Bahaha! Ok, not really.
But as for the first four series above (and others) they are all genuine dietary strategies that currently exist with varying levels of popularity and legitimacy. Do you recognise what they all have in common?These are all dietary methods.
In both nutrition and training, almost anything can work. Of course there are some methods that are healthier and more optimal than others, some exceedingly so, and I certainly have my biases.
But regardless of whether your goal is to get ripped, get jacked, or just get your health markers on song, these methods will only work if they are applied correctly and adhered to.
Adherence. That’s the key word here. The most successful diet and nutritional intervention companies all hammer this component of their programs. Whether it’s a company which I rate highly such as Precision Nutrition, or some other big brands which I don’t (Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig spring to mind) what they all have in common is a structure that emphasises some form of social support and accountability.
So props to all of them. They built a system that provides their members with some sense of obligation.
But what if there was another way to achieve even more accountability and obligation to one’s nutrition, training and health than committing to a paid program and following their rules?
Well, there absolutely is. And this is my single best nutrition tip for you:
Live an awesome, purpose-filled life!
“Yeah, yeah Will, that sounds great and all, and I’m sure unicorns are prancing in the rainbows and the flower children are singing soothing melodies at that mere notion. But what does the content of your life have to do with nutrition specifically?!”
Wellity, wellity, wellity…
When you live with purpose your life develops structure. You wake up knowing what must be done. You have a plan for the day. You don’t wake up in dread of going to work and exist in perpetual anticipation of the moments that fill the gaps around it. Instead, your life is your work. Hence the concept that one may create their life’s work.
If you approach your life with a sense of purpose, each day is seen as an opportunity to build upon your life’s work, and you take the necessary steps to do so.
How do you become most productive? What do you need?
Energy. Vitality. Vigour. Drive.
And when do you have more energy and vitality, more vigour and drive: When you’re operating on convenient, cheap, processed food, and sugar and caffeine-laden drinks? Or when you’re fuelled by wholesome, real foods found reasonably close to their natural state?
If you answered with the former, then you’re either lying, or you and I need to have a serious discussion on what constitutes wholesome real foods.
What you eat becomes extremely important when you recognise its impact on how you function in life. Proper nutrition now becomes necessary.
The quality of your work is dictated by the quality of effort you can put into it.
Like a fighter in camp eight weeks out from a big fight, all the little things start to add up. The nutrition. The workouts. The recovery. The visualisations. The technique repetition. Every small aspect of these components is another piece of productive effort going towards the ultimate goal: the fight.
As any fighter will tell you, the hard work is all done before fight night.
It’s the same in your life. All the little stuff adds up. It all contributes to effort, better effort in building your life’s work.
When you live a lacklustre life that you view as a constant struggle – a grind – it matters little whether you plan and prepare a home-cooked meal or whether you swing by KFC on the way home from work.
When you live with purpose, the planning and preparation required to prepare a healthy meal is seen as a necessary piece of the puzzle. It’s a step forward. Poor nutritional choices are a step backward.
When your life has purpose, planning and preparing good food is simply a daily habit.
When your life is a grind, to plan and prepare is an afterthought, if a thought at all.
When your life has purpose, choices are based on health and function, because your purpose demands it.
When your life is a grind, choices are based on convenience and instant gratification, because consequence is seemingly absent.
When your life has purpose, you can be unwavering. It is far easier to stick to your guns.
When your life is a grind, you easily succumb to peer pressure. When your mates drop into McDonald’s for a quick bite, it is far easier to follow along, to rationalise your poor choice because “they all did it”.
When your life has purpose, weekend choices are superior, because you don’t treat your weekend as a reprieve from your workweek. In fact, your workweek and weekend may not even be defined in the traditional sense of five days on and two days off, an arbitrary schedule applicable only to those who opt to follow the beaten path, the path that our current, broken economic model has dictated. You don’t seek solace in the bottom of a bottle or by emptying an Esky as means to provide an escape from the life you feel otherwise trapped in. You don’t necessarily feel obliged or justified in spending the weekend eating convenient yet unhealthy food as a means of matching your diet to your attitude to the weekend: A chance to rest and recuperate before being forced to saddle up again come Monday and duke it out with the world for another week.
When your life has purpose you eat to match your training and activity level. You treat your body with the care and respect it deserves. You maintain it diligently as you might a prized car, or other valued possession.
When you train consistently (which you do, because physical training also enhances your life…) eating poorly becomes harder to do. Your body screams at you for nourishment, to provide it with the essential nutrients it requires to perform. Drinking more water, eating more protein and more vegetables becomes a far more compelling proposition when you’re turning over body tissue at an accelerated rate.
Less alcohol, less sugar and less processed food is adhered to far more readily when you need and want to perform the next day, be it in the gym or on the field, in the classroom or in the boardroom.
When your life has purpose, sitting on the couch and watching T.V. while snacking on garbage is far less likely to occur, as that couch and T.V. time is instead allocated to more productive pursuits. Coca Cola and a bag of Malteasers might seem like appropriate fuel for a night of watching the media’s interpretation of all the worst current affairs and events from home and abroad on the nightly news, followed by reruns of Two and a Half Men.
However, when your night entails training your body, studying and learning new skills, participating in sports, or socialising – genuinely socialising – then thoughts of junk food are far removed. Meanwhile, making time to prepare some animal protein and plant matter to best fuel your activities becomes obligatory.
Properly fuelling your body is part of living a fulfilling life. Whether or not you enjoy training your body and eating healthy food, the fact is you do need a properly functioning body to carry you through all the things you want to do in life.
Being fat, sick and full of inflammation is going to make it nigh on impossible to pursue physical activity with any vigour.
Fatigue, illness, pain and anxiety will severely deplete and disrupt your efforts to engage your mind in study and any intellectual stimulation.
Lethargy, allergies and digestive discomfort, along with not being confident with your body image are going to make it very hard to lead a genuinely fulfilling social, sex or family life.
A life of purpose keeps you accountable. To seek the best choices is to reward yourself. To properly care for yourself is not an act of deprivation or punishment, as many have convinced themselves.
A life spent in grind mode keeps you seeking that instant gratification. You seek the convenient choices as a means of respite.
Now, lest you begin thinking I’m preaching from my high horse, please allow me to be very upfront in stating that I don’t have this down perfectly either. I’m no monk. Far, far from it.
I slip up. I have moments of laziness. I have moments of weakness.
I sleep in sometimes (read: often).
Occasionally I also forget to plan a meal and settle on something sub-par.
Sometimes I drink more than I had planned and regret it after the act.
Once in a blue moon I say “fuck it” and lather my naked body in butter ghee and roll around in a pile of M & Ms while hugging a tub of Ben & Jerry’s chocolate fudge brownie flavour (ok, I’m joking….that happens more like twice a week).
But I am constantly working towards improvement in all these areas.
You can too.
Thoughts, questions, hate mail, or anything I missed? Feel free to drop a comment below.
And of course, sharing this article will naturally help you jump the queue in your wait for karmic justice to start paying out.