We are all finally starting to come to terms with the fact that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ program when it comes to nutrition or exercise. It’s been proven time and time again that different things work for different bodies and – hooray! – we get it. Now the important question that I’m getting asked more and more often is, “How do I know what works for me?”
In no field does the adage, “paralysis by over-analysis” occur more than in the nutrition and fitness realm. A quick peruse through our Facebook timeline or Twitter feed can leave even the most rational person starting to second-guess what they’re doing, and is it any wonder? Our friend posts a video of their 13 unassisted chin-ups or a pic of their beautiful sculpted legs and suddenly we have an urge to recklessly abandon the program we once swore by only to start doing whatever they are doing!
So, how do we finally stop jumping on the latest trends and find something that is right for us? The following are some things for you to take into consideration…
What makes you happy?
A nutrition/training protocol is only as effective as your ability to adhere to it. You may have the best plan in the world but if you aren’t able to follow it, then what is the point? When mapping out your plan, I believe that you should ask yourself the following:
- Will I enjoy this?
- Can I stick with this?
- Will it enhance my health?
- Is it in line with my goals?
The answer should be yes to all of the above; 3 outta 4 ain’t gonna cut it.
Be the science experiment
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make while seeking physique changes is that they overhaul their entire training and nutrition program every other week because it’s “not working”. How can something work if you don’t give it a chance? This is like planting a seed and then digging it up the next day to replace it because it hasn’t sprouted yet. Sheesh! Give your program some time (4-6 weeks) and then if you still don’t get any desired results, tweak the variables. More of this, less of that… you get it. Don’t overhaul everything at once or you’ll never be able to figure out what is or isn’t working. I’ve seen people pinball from Paleo, to Veganism, to Carb Cycling, all within 8 weeks while claiming “nothing is working”.
“Look at your body like a science experiment. Add a stimulus. Measure response. Adjust as needed, one variable at a time.” – Craig Ballantyne
Ask people that have done it successfully
If you are trying to decide between a couple of different nutritional & training protocols, ask people that have used them successfully. People love to offer their opinions in general and I’m sure they’d be happy to help! Conduct little interviews and ask them what they like about the plan, what they dislike, how long have they been following it, and what kind of results they have gotten. Tell them a little bit about yourself, your goals and your lifestyle and ask them if they think that their plan would be a good one for you to try. Books and science are great, but getting a friend or acquaintances unbiased perspective is worth much more and they will shoot you straight.
Trial and error
If you are anything like me, the “trial” doesn’t sound too shabby, but the prospect of “error”? Ick. Well guess what friends? We have to suck it up and prepare ourselves to make some mistakes, because it’s going to happen, and that is okay! Finding what works for our body typically comes with a learning curve. We’ve got to throw a lot of noodles at the wall before we find out what sticks. And rest assured that once you do find that sweet spot your body will change which will inevitably create the need for revision to your programs. It’s a never-ending journey of tweaks and adjustments!
Hire a great* coach
If you don’t know where to start, get the advice from an educated and trusted professional – that is what we are here for! Yes, coaches cost money, but if it means giving you direction and peace of mind rather than spinning your wheels for months, or even years, then it’s worth the upfront cost. It’s an investment in more than just your goals, health and strength (all excellent reasons), but also in your knowledge! We get so caught up and trapped into our personal dogmas that we have a tough time thinking outside of our rep/set schemes or our nutrient timing. When you have an excellent coach you will likely learn to see things from a different perspective. For example, when I was working on building my strength, I always lifted in a 2-6 rep range for my main lift. When I started working with Josh Bryant, he’d have me pull a deadlift from a deficit for 12 singles with timed rest. I remember thinking he was nuts! But, like Josh does with all of his clients, his programming made me significantly stronger. An excellent coach will help you think outside of the box that we all tend to back ourselves into! Both myself and my husband are nutrition coaches, but I’ve been a loyal client to Coach Carter Schoffer for almost a year now. Carter has taught me so much all while providing guidance, support, and accountability – worth every penny! As my good friend Alli says, “Every coach needs a coach!”
*Take the time to find somebody fantastic to help you. Check out this article where I talk about how to find a great nutrition coach. Need a reference? Email me anytime at JenComasKeck@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to help point you in the right direction!
Once you have finally found what fits your lifestyle and preferences, go at it with gusto! Don’t waste anymore time by tip-toeing through the tulips. Have faith in your program and what you’ve chosen to do, focus on yourself, work hard, monitor the results, and then ask yourself, “Is it working”?” If it is, great! And if it’s not, don’t panic – just make a couple of small changes.
To recap: Ask yourself what is sustainable, will keep you happy, make you healthier, and help you reach your goals. Treat this like a science experiment adjusting one variable at a time and monitoring the results. Ask around from people who have followed the plan successfully and enjoyed it. Prepare yourself for a little trial and error. Hire a fantastic coach.
So for those of you that are wondering, is Intermittent Fasting and Crossfit the secret? Is Carb Backloading and powerlifting the best way? Is multiple meals per day and bodybuilding the right way? Yes, to all of the above. They all work, but for different people under the right circumstances.
If you liked this article, check out: “What Do You Eat? A Peek Into the Diets of Some of the Hottest Bodies I know”
Stay tuned for my next post: Fat Loss Expectations!