by Andrew Heming
If you want to get in great shape and finally achieve your fitness goals, you had better address your exercise AND your nutrition. This leads many people to seek out not just a training program, but also a meal plan from their Trainer. At first this makes perfect sense. This would give you a plan for the gym and the kitchen. However, it almost always fails – big time! To understand why you don't want a meal plan, let's look at Alison's story.
It is a story that happens countless times all over the world every day. Alison wants to lose some fat and get toned. She heads to her local gym and looks for a Trainer.
Alison: "I want to get back into shape. Can you give me the perfect workout and meal plan?"
Trainer Bob: "Okay, here you go!" (Trainer pulls out generic workout A and meal plan B and hands them to client. Alison hands Trainer Bob a cheque.)
Alison: "Thanks Trainer Bob, that's just what I need! You're so awesome!"
Trainer Bob: "You are welcome! I know" (Trainer Bob pretends to be bashful)
Trainer Bob (in his head): "Wow this job is easy!" While this story sounds great so far, it doesn't have a happy ending.
Her program was way too advanced for her and she started getting nagging injuries. Also, Alison quickly got sick of her diet and went be to her normal way of eating. While Trainer Bob gave her what she asked for Alison failed to get what she really needed.
- Meal plans get real old, real quick
- I always tell people that meal plans are fun – for about a day. What happens when you get tired of the same food you eat, day after day on your meal plan? How many days of chicken, broccoli and brown rice do you have in you?
- Meal plans don't work the real world
- Time with people in your social circle is a major part of life and this always involves food. What happens to your meal plan when weddings, funerals, parties, Thanksgiving, dinner with friends and Christmas comes? Are you going to attend all of these events with your camping cooler? Are you going to sit down at a wedding and pull out your Tupperware containers of chicken, broccoli and brown rice? Wouldn't it be better to be able to just do to a restaurant or party and know how to select the best options for your goals?
- Meal plans are not personalized
- Let's face it, eating is a very personal thing. A diet can't be just based on your goals. You have to take in consideration things like: your current eating habits, lifestyle, job, likes/dislikes, food intolerance and body type. Yes, there are highly educated and experienced nutritionists out there who can work with you to develop a truly personalized meal plan (and take the time to ensure there are no nutrient deficiencies) but this is not what you get at most gyms. What you usually get is a generic meal plan from a fitness/bodybuilding website, something a physique competitor uses or the diet that the Trainer personally uses. What do you think the chances are that this will be the right fit for you?
- You don't learn "how to fish"
- Remember that famous old proverb: "Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Meal plans simply give you a fish. They don't teach you how to fish. When you are sick of that meal plan, then what? Most people do what Alison did and simply go back to eating what they did before they started the diet. Is it any wonder that almost everyone who goes on a diet gains all of their weight back when they go off the diet? Getting and staying in great shape requires learning "how to fish". You have to adopt the dietary habits of people who enjoy continued health, body composition and vibrant energy.
- They fail to help you achieve permanent change
- As human beings, we are naturally resistant to change. We like things just the way they are. When we try to make a bunch of changes all at once, our chances of staying with all of these changes are dismal. If you go on a diet, you make many, many changes all at once. This is why so many people fail on diets. Remember that nothing short of a permanent lifestyle and dietary changes will deliver the long-term health, body composition and daily energy changes you deserve.
The best way to approach nutrition is to think of it like fitness. Start at a level you are currently at and gradually progress from there.
Here at Coastal Fitness, we do things differently.
You: "Hi, I want to join your gym and get in great shape!"
Coastal Fitness: "Great, welcome!"
You: "Can you give me an exercise program and a meal plan?"
Coastal Fitness: "We can do much better than that! Instead of just giving you a generic workout plan, let's start with some assessments and a Functional Movement Screen. This will let us create a program for you based not only on your goals, but on your needs as well. Then as we work with you, we can customize the program as you progress and we learn more about how your individual body responds to exercise. Instead of a generic meal plan, we have a comprehensive, world-class Nutritional Coaching program. Instead of a short-term diet, we take you step-by-step through the process of developing new and improved eating habits. You will learn to eat in a way that improves not just your body composition, but also your health and daily life performance. Best of all, you will continually move towards a way of eating that is the right fit for you!"
Interested in learning more? Find our how our Nutritional Coaching program can help you get positive results towards your fitness goals.