01 Jun It’s a “flexible” program!
Who kick starts their week, full of enthusiasm thinking- “I’m going to achieve 100% on my diet this week”? I know I did! Many times I have gone into a fresh new week with the mindset that if I didn’t follow my Chief Life plan to the letter, I wouldn’t be successful. In the 21st century, we enjoy living social lives where cafés and restaurants are the main meeting places. This makes this “100% to plan” much harder to achieve. We all know though, while we’re in our everyday routine, it’s much easier if someone tells us exact foods, exact meals and exact portions to eat rather than us having to think for ourselves. So how do we get that balance between on plan during the week, and freedom when socialising?
Instead of changing your goal and what you want to achieve, you need to change the measure you use for success. What is “100%” and how will you know if you have achieved it? Is it eating absolutely everything that’s on the plan without question? Though what happens when you don’t have an apple in the fridge, but you have a banana? Does that one thing mean that you have then failed? I know when I commit to something, when I commit to achieving a goal, I want to put my best effort forward and sometimes that can border on the line of perfectionism. The stress and pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect, to be the best, is actually causing more harm than good.
The Chief Life meal plans are a “pick and choose” or “flexible” nutritional program in the sense that if you don’t feel like one particular meal that’s suggested, you can cut it out and change or swap it with a different one. Essentially, what they give you is not a step-by-step “plan”, but more so 7 days, 5-6 meals a day of suggestions. So there’s 35-42 meals that you can choose from. If you feel like breakfast for dinner, have it. If you don’t have an apple, but have a banana, have it. It won’t make too much of a difference to your goal if you have Mexican mince on Tuesday if it’s actually on your plan for Thursday! The benefits you’ll get mentally from taking the pressure and stress off yourself, and eating more intuitively to what you feel like and what your body needs will far outweigh the ideal of being 100% on a “plan”.
After pushing the limits through the competition of the CrossFit Open, my body felt exhausted and I felt mentally drained. I wanted to eat more intuitively and certainly didn’t want to feel confined to a “plan”. This lasted a week! For someone who practically always eats on plan, I struggled with the impact this had on my mindset. I felt like I was so far off the plan that I wasn’t going to be able to get back on when I needed to. I wasn’t following my nutritional plan and certainly wasn’t achieving that “100% on plan” goal. So, I went into a week with that goal: “I’m going to achieve 100% on my plan. I’m going to get back on track and if I eat exactly what’s recommended, I’ll be successful.” In the end, it was more damaging to think like this than encouraging. I found I’d be great through the week while I was in the routine of work. As soon as the weekend came, I had the mindset of achieving 100%, but wasn’t able to stick to my plan to a tee.
The following Thursday I had my check-in call with Stacey. During this call she asked: “What was it that you had off plan?” Expecting me to say something like, a pizza, or Nutella doughnut, I admitted to having a piece of gluten free toast smothered in honey and peanut butter with some chicken on the side. “I tried to balance it as much as I could”. Stacey laughed at me!! Even though my meal wasn’t “on plan”, it was still balanced with protein, fats and carbohydrate sources and it was still gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free.
Being in the mindset of achieving 100% to plan caused me so much stress. I felt like I had failed. I felt like I was back to square one. This whole thought process could have then had a downward spiral affect, as we often consider giving up when things get tough. Since my check in call, Stacey advised me to change my measure of success. Instead of measuring the success of my meal plan with “sticking to it 100%”, change the measure to:
- eating every meal and snack balanced with protein, fats and carbs
- eating gluten and dairy free
- eating refined sugar free
By achieving all of this, it takes away the feeling of having to eat specifics, and focus on just following the principles. After 2 weeks of following the principles more than the plan, my relationship with food has bounced back to being positive and enjoyable. Start looking at your plans as 35-42 meal suggestions, rather than something to be followed to the very last vegetable.