LEVEL 1: CALORIES
LEVEL 2: CALORIES + PROTEIN
LEVEL 3: MACROS
Hyperfocusing on perfection is a recipe for failure. Perfection is not realistic, sustainable, or necessary to achieve results. Whether you’re stuck at the airport, having a busy day at work, or taxiing your kids around, there will be days where adhering to a rigid meal plan and hitting exact macros is just not possible. That’s okay —YOU ARE HUMAN.
Because people tend to develop an expectation for perfection, the thought of deviating from a plan can be very stressful, potentially leading to extreme feelings of disappointment, guilt, and failure.
“If I can’t do it perfectly, I might as well not do it at all.”
This whirlwind of negative emotions generally carries over to the following day. In an attempt to make up for the previous day’s behavior, the go-to solution is an overcompensation of calorie intake, excessive exercise, or a combination of both.
“It’s fine, I’ll just start over tomorrow.”
If this sounds familiar, I want you to ask yourself a few questions:
“Did this experience contribute anything to my goals? Am I any closer to reaching them?”
“What could I have done better?
“How can I set myself up for success next time?”
The inconsistent cycle of ups and downs is a limiting factor to true success and an “all or nothing” mentality is the root of the problem. Goals are not achieved by throwing in the towel when challenged. Good nutrition shouldn’t be viewed as a chore, a daunting task, or have a negative effect on quality of life. If that is the case, the nutrition approach needs to be reassessed. Remind yourself that you do not need to be 100%, 100% of the time. Shift your mentality from perfection to progress. Control the controllable; Face challenges with confidence and a plan. Consistency is the gateway to success.
With that being said, let’s divide nutrition into 3 different levels. This ensures that regardless of the day, challenge, or situation, there is always a goal in place to stay accountable to.
LEVEL 1: CALORIES ONLY
Calories are the foundation. Without a consistent caloric intake, macronutrient goals simply do not matter. If all else fails, commit to hitting your CALORIE goal only.
LEVEL 2: CALORIES & PROTEIN
Protein is vital to the growth, maintenance, and repair of muscle tissue. Because of these important functions, protein intake is the next priority after calories. This does not mean that carbohydrate and fat intake are not important. Focusing on calorie and protein parameters ensures that two key players are being accounted for, allowing for more flexibility with carbohydrate and fat intake.
LEVEL 3: FULL MACROS
Calories are derived from macronutrients. If macronutrient goals are being attained, so are calorie goals. Hangout here when possible, but acknowledge that you do not need to permanently live here. Know that it is acceptable to drop to a lower level and still make progress.
These 3 levels of nutrition are in place to decrease the dependency of a strict plan by encouraging autonomy, self-accountability, flexibility, and skill development. This approach serves as a successful guide to achieve sustainability through the establishment of good habits, a strong mentality, a positive relationship with food, and a high quality of life.