THE FIRST RULE OF FLEXIBLE NUTRITION
PERFECTION IS YOUR ENEMY. FLEXIBILITY IS YOUR FRIEND.
No matter what goal you are working toward, consistency is key to achieving it. I love clients who are consistent, because they are the ones who are making the most steady progress. Consistency is not only a good indicator that you’re establishing helpful habits - it also means that you are more likely to maintain the progress you have made in the long run.
Please note that I said consistent, not perfect.
You see, perfection is not your friend. Despite how good it feels hit your macros perfectly 10 days in a row, that may be an indicator that you’re not allowing yourself the flexibility you need to build long-term success.
We tend to see a pattern with perfectionists that goes like this: It starts with an amazing, perfect week or two of hitting macro targets spot on every day. Soon, it’s followed by a half-tracked day, then possibly another day or two (probably a weekend) that were either half-tracked or not tracked at all. The common explanation? “Well, I ate/drank too much, so I threw in the towel.”
Sound familiar? It’s ok - I’ve been there, too.
Eating something that throws a curveball into your macros for the day does not mean you failed. It’s just life. Sometimes your coworker brings in fresh, homemade cookies. Or maybe your partner really wants pizza for dinner. Or maybe your friends want to go out to lunch. That’s ok! Instead of thinking of your day as being “ruined” because it isn’t perfect, be flexible enough to make a plan to move forward.
When my day gets a bit off-track, I shift my focus from hitting all of my macro goals to having three main priorities. Here is what I recommend:
STAY AS CLOSE TO YOUR CALORIE GOAL AS POSSIBLE || Even if you do go over, minimizing how much you are over by does a lot more good than just stopping tracking all together.
TRY TO HIT YOUR PROTEIN GOAL || Protein is very satiating and will help you stay feeling full for longer. Protein is also important long-term for maintaining lean mass if you are focused on losing fat, and is key to building muscle.
FOCUS ON HIGH VOLUME FOODS || If you have fewer macros to work with for the rest of the day, you may benefit from trying maximize your food volume to balance your day out. High-volume foods like fruits and vegetables can help make your lower-calorie meals more filling.
This happened to me just the other day. I had been at an outdoor event all day and we decided to stop for ice cream on the way home. I knew I was going to be over on some of my macros for the day, but took a moment to log a best-guess estimate for my waffle cone. I was still able to get close to my protein goal for the day and managed to hit my calorie goal pretty accurately.
Allowing yourself to say “today isn’t going to be perfect, but I’ll do what I can” is how you can stay consistent, even when you aren’t able to hit your targets exactly. It’s also the difference between being truly flexible with your nutrition and being on a diet.
Be flexible. Be consistent. No perfection required.