In the opening post of this series, I made a bold claim that my intention behind this blog series was to move toward the vision I have for the health and fitness industry: a world where health and fitness professionals are no longer necessary. In that post, I started by defining nutrition, it’s function, and established a beacon. If you didn’t get a chance to read that one, you can catch up here: How to Be Your Own Nutrition Coach, Part 1.
Today’s post is all about how to assess your starting point. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Log Your Food
Simply grab a piece of paper and write down what you eat and drink for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You don’t need to weigh and measure anything, just describe as you are able: “Handful of chips,” “fist sized steak,” etc. Add in any snack items you find yourself grabbing during the day and don’t forget the liquids. Here’s a sample of one:
The interesting thing about a simple food log like this is the nearly immediate positive impact it has on folks’ choices. I’ve found that most people know what they should probably be eating less of, and when you have to write it down, you end up breaking the habit loop of choosing that not-so-good food! Win-win.
Step 2: Questions Around Awareness
Not only do you want the black and white facts about what you are putting into your body, you also need to understand the habits surrounding your choices. We might not like to admit it, but much of our daily choices are on auto-pilot. This is actually a good thing as it allows our brain to devote precious (and scare) resources to big decisions each day. Our goal here is to understand the habit loops and triggers that are keeping us where we are. Here are the questions you’ll want to take some time to answer for yourself:
- Describe your meal time routine(s):
- Do you notice any triggers that lead to habits you’d like to change? For instance, if you notice that late night boredom and TV watching leads to snacking, write this down.
- Do any foods bother you or cause digestive distress? If so, please describe below.
- Do you feel full when you finish a meal? How about during the day – do you get feelings of hunger at consistent intervals throughout the day?
- With regards to physical fitness, are you able to make the progress you’d like to make?
- Are there any nutritional habits you’d like to change? If so, list below.
- Are you hungry when you wake up?
- Do you have peaks and valleys in your energy levels during the day? If so, please describe below.
While the assessment of nutrition can seem like a daunting task because of the emotion surrounding eating habits, the relationship people have with those habits, and body image, it must be given its rightful place of importance if the one ever expects to make meaningful, sustainable progress. That is why we make it as easy as two steps, because without them, how do you know where to begin your journey?
Spoiler alert – YOU DON’T! Might as well start assessing today.
In our next post, we’ll spend time unpacking the consequences of a lack of getting enough good nutrition.