There is a misconception in the nutrition world that knowledge is everything. That is, if I just know what to eat and when to eat it, I will achieve my goal of weight loss, better body composition, or an improved bill of health. The idea that people just don’t have the correct information or that they have tried everything and nothing works, is more than common. In todays world of social media, targeted marketing campaigns by food giants, and the general plethora of information is overwhelming, to say the least. Fad diets are not going away and it’s easy to get hooked into them with the promises of immediate results. With science and technology advancing, the magic pill is surely right around the corner. Maybe not just yet…
Until that magic pill is invented let’s stick to what actually works. That is, practising and improving on your daily habits and routines. It doesn’t sound sexy and doesn’t have the appeal of immediate results beyond your wildest dreams, but it sure does work. I have been coaching clients for over 15 years and the number one thing that makes the biggest difference is the fact that people become consistent, year in and year out. Not day in and day out. Not week in and week out. Year in and year out. I call it the new normal. When a habit becomes your default, or new normal, it becomes easy. It doesn’t take extra effort, thought, or seem like a chore.
Having the correct knowledge is absolutely key but it is merely the starting point. Educating clients on what truly healthy nutrition means to them, is the beginning. It is not the game changer that it is thought to be.
I have had so many people tell me, “I know what to eat, I just don’t do it. I’m not sure why.”
In fact, most people only need to understand a couple of key concepts when trying to figure out nutrition, and how it relates to them. Most people have a decent concept of what is healthy and what is not.
I will admit the food industry as a whole has gotten very good at hiding unhealthy elements with professional marketing techniques. Watch Holy Chicken! on Netflix to see exactly what I mean. It is a great watch when your ignorant about company messaging, like I was.
So if we assume that we have pretty solid knowledge and information when considering what to eat, what’s the next step? Apply it. This is where most folks fight the uphill battle to better nutrition. When you sit down and start to consider all of the elements that it takes to apply this knowledge to your life, it isn’t as easy as you think, or would like it to be. That is why this is the key to changing your nutrition, and potentially your life.
There is debate about how long it takes to form a new habit and I could care less what all the “experts” say about it. The reason being is that I know every person is different and every habit is different. A habit can be picked up and held onto within a day, or it could take months, or a year (hopefully not). The difference in the time that it takes to turn a habit into a new normal is usually the approach. That is exactly what I coach. Sorting out the details of what the barriers are, and what you need to do to actually make it happen.
When I ask what a client is doing in terms of change habits I hear a lot of; “I try to do this, and I try to do that.” While that sounds like you’re on the right path, to me that screams that it is something that has importance in your brain but it is not something you achieve on a regular basis. For example; “I try to eat more vegetables.” Again, that is good that the mindset is there to improve a key element in nutrition, but what does that actually mean? Does that mean you ate more than you did yesterday? Did you eat more than you did last week? Did you even actually eat any more at all? Or is it just a concept in your mind?
You can see that the knowledge of eating more vegetables is present but that action of eating more vegetables is in question. Someone that in fact eats more vegetables will say; “I prepped 3 days worth of veggies on Sunday, and I have been eating more this week than I usually do because they are in the fridge packed up and ready to grab and go.” There’s no question that this person is eating more vegetables. The actions of shopping, preparing, and having them physically ready has allowed this person to achieve the daily habit of eating more vegetables.
To wrap up the thought of how much is involved in forming a new habit we need to think about quite a few very different elements. Consider that beyond knowledge some of the barriers are: family members, dependants, personal preference, work schedule, exercise, hydration, blood sugar, hormones, stress, age, body type, genetic predisposition, childhood, mood, a variety of triggers, visual cues, subliminal messaging, false health claims, and misconception.
That is just the beginning. Each and every person has their own set of battles and barriers along the way. The hardest part is that these barriers are often always changing.
This is where you will find value in having a coach. Someone who has seen similar situations or even just has an outside look in, with a wealth of knowledge and experience can approach change in a highly effective way. Coaches can see what you can’t and can offer advise, guidance, suggestions, and strategies that could be the difference between success and failure. A good coach will listen and be very focused on what specifically holds you back. If you have a coach pushing the end-all-be-all diet or approach that worked for someone else, you are not in good hands. Everyones nutrition and habit changing strategies should be unique to them. There is no one size fits all.