In regards to health and weight loss, what is everyone’s actual goal? Lose the weight AND keep it off. The ‘lose the weight’ part is easy. It is the ‘keep is off’ part that isn’t. The scientific community, nutrition community, and fitness community have all been woefully unsuccessful at helping you keep it off. I think this is for several different reasons. I want to explore a solution to one of these reasons that I call ‘Stage 4 Surges’, and while doing so expose a major flaw is most people’s approach to dieting. As a primer to this post here’s a quick recap on the Stages of Nutrition:
The Stages of Nutrition:
- Nutritional Freestyling: You eat whatever you want whenever you want.
- Proper Food Choices Varying Compliance: You try to eat the right stuff but you just don’t do it consistently.
- Proper Food Choices 90% Compliance: You eat the right stuff and you rarely falter (this is the target stage for most people).
- Calorie/Portion Counting, Proper Food Choices 90% Compliance: You need to fine tune your diet more for a specific purpose (weight loss, health, performance) so you start counting calories or portions and you stay on your plan just about all the time.
So as you can see what your diet approach looks like should depend on where you are. If you are just starting out and nutritional freestyling then there is no need to worry about how many grams of protein, carbohydrates or fats that you are eating. In fact this could hinder your progress. What you need to be doing is focusing on consistently eating more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins throughout the day. The key word in that phrase was consistent.
If you can’t consistently do this then the gram quantities of anything don’t matter as you probably won’t have the discipline or skill set to consistently hit those targets.
The best part is that once you DO start consistently eating better (better defined as in line with the 6 Pillars of Nutrition – video below), your body is going to start changing for the good. It will probably change so much for the good that you’ll think ‘Jeez, why bother counting calories when I can just eat in line with the 6 Pillars of nutrition and get the body that I want’ (Okay, you may not choose those exact words when talking to yourself but you get what I mean).
The key point and one that I stress again and again in my seminars is that the 3rd Stage of Nutrition should be your target Stage.
A couple months ago I was giving a seminar at the Fitness Circuit in State College, PA. During this seminar I introduced the attendees to the Stages of Nutrition and the 6 Pillars of Nutrition. After the presentation, I got into a conversation with the gym owner, Scott Ludwig, he loved the idea of the Stages of Nutrition – obvious he’s a smart guy :). He went on to talk about how he could see the Stages being used in a back and forth type fashion. Exactly! (told you he was a smart guy)
Let me digress from my conversation with Scott to emphasize that nothing in life in linear. Not your weight loss, not your progress through the Stages of Nutrition, nothing. You will find yourself moving from Stage 2 (good food choices, less than optimal compliance) to Stage 3 (the target stage – good food choices, optimal compliance) and then maybe back to Stage 2. Hopefully never falling all the way back to Nutritional Freestyling. This ebb and flow of your compliance will most likely change depending on what is going on in your life. That is fine, it happens. When you find yourself slipping just step your game up, re-align your focus and achieve your compliance goals. Simple.
Back to my conversation with Scott. He wasn’t talking about the movement from Stages 2 to 3 to 2 and such but more using Stage 4 (Counting calories/portions, and optimal compliance) as a means for peaking. Good idea, right?
Think about the past 12 months. There have been times where you have been uber motivated to eat right and train, correct? There have been other times when you have been less than motivated or preoccupied with other things in your life such that you diet and training had to take a back seat (hopefully this wasn’t too far of a back seat and you were still hitting your compliance and training goals but they were just not as aggressively set).
Think about those highly motivated times. What could you have done if you really would have stepped your game up? How much extra weight could you have lost? How much extra muscle could you have built? There is a phrase that a business coach once told me that has always stuck with me….
“Maximize your winners.”
That is what I want you to do. Maximize your winners. Maximize those periods of high motivation and drive. Maximize the amount of calories you can burn. Maximize your ability to get that extra rep and burn off that extra layer of fat. Maximize the extra will power that you will have to ratchet down and tighten up your diet.