Thursday, January 15, 2009

Plan Your Nutritional Non-compliance

What?!?! It really is okay to be non-compliant with your nutrition plan occasionally. Not only that, but I find it's even better if I make non-compliance part of my nutrition plan.

Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition advocates working on your compliance until you can hit your nutrition goals at least 90% of the time. It makes total sense. Most of the time we put ourselves on something so strict we can't possibly keep it up. If you are eating balanced, it is sustainable over time. So if you find yourself struggling with your fat loss, you may need to review your plan, make sure it's balanced, and then track your compliance. That can be an eye-opening process.

For me, if I eat 5 times a day, 7 days a week, that equals 35 eating occasions. If I can stay on track for 32 of those meals, I'm going to hit my 90% compliance goal, and I should be seeing some progress. I've made tremendous gains in improving my eating habits over the last 3 years, but my default is still not completely set on a desirable track. If I'm not paying attention, I don't get enough protein or water, I don't eat often enough, and I drift toward the nutritionally worthless carbs. Right now I have a chart on my refrigerator to track my compliance. Some people would hate doing that, but there's no greater truth than having to log something on a piece of paper and dangle it in front of the rest of the family.

So why does planning it help? If you take some time on Sunday to look at your week, you will likely know what work and social events are coming up, which days will be particularly hectic, etc. I pretty much know that sometime mid-week I'm going to want a break, and social events typically fall on the weekend for us. By planning a non-compliant meal mid-week, I'm not so tempted to derail on the weekend, plus I'm not waiting until the weekend to have 3 non-compliant meals in a row, turning it into a non-compliant day. I know my body pretty well now and if I did, I'd completely undo a week's worth of hard work. Bottom line is if I plan it, I have control. If I don't plan for it, it's going to happen to me, because it's much harder for me to make a good decision on the spot. Some would argue that it doesn't sound like too much fun, or very spontaneous. Well, spontaneous is part of what got me into this (need to lose fat) and ending a week where I've controlled my nutrition instead of it controlling me feels pretty good.

Another thing to keep in mind is that when you plan a non-compliant meal, you can't go completely crazy and eat enough for 3 of your regular meals. Savor that food you've decided you want, but keep the portions within the context of the other meals you've eaten that day. You will find that as you clean up your eating and finally stop dieting that the irritable, ravenous cravings will stop and you may not even enjoy that meal you've built up in your mind so much.

If you want to make some changes and you've been having non-compliant weekends, see if you can reign it into a non-compliant day. If you've mastered that, try to spread it out where it is a planned treat that you can enjoy throughout the week. I had an interesting conversation with a first place figure competitor this week. She has narrowed herself down to a non-compliant item. She chooses the item the first part of the week and then stays focused during the week. On the weekend, she treats herself with that item, enjoys it and doesn't fret about it. Wow. Interesting too is that her choice of a treat is often a cupcake.

If you have a non-compliant meal or item, what is it you like to eat?

Related Post(s):

Focus on Nutrition

Fitness and Nutrition Goals

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Mother Pope said...

My non-compliant sweet item is Junior Mints (they are still "low-fat", but they satisfy my chocolate craving and go great with a movie)! For a salty craving I always go back to chips and salsa (don't know why?)

I, too, agree that you shouldn't be so legalistic in your diet that it causes a quick burnout. When I have so many eating occasions during the week, the impact percentage of 1 or 2 "indulgences" decreases and also gives me something to treat myself with. That's very freeing and very do-able.

Kelley Moore said...

Great comment! Love Junior Mints. My other sweet item for a movie is Milk Duds. Otherwise I'd have to say my sweet treat could just be a blob of buttercream frosting on a spoon! I would have to say my salty craving is chips and salsa too!

You are right that eating clean allows for more eating occasions so you don't feel deprived and I think it makes it easier for your body to process through the periodic treat.