I Pity The Food: How The A-Team Can Help You Reach Fitness Goals While Still Enjoying Life
One of my favorite shows growing up was the A-Team.
Within 60 minutes, minus commercials, they would find an innocent person who needed help, come up with a plan, execute it while simultaneously missing the broad side of a barn with their guns, and save the day.
Much like Hannibal from the A-Team, I love it when a plan comes together.
Nothing feels better than having a plan that works for you, and being able to execute it without fault. It is literally #winning.
Sometimes life doesn’t work that way; life doesn’t always go according to plan.
Here you are, well on your way on your fitness journey. You’ve calculated your personal caloric budget. You now know exactly what foods to eat, and just how much of them to eat, to support your goals.
You’re crushing it!
Now, you get a call to hangout Saturday night with your best bro from college. You know this will test your resolve. You think about cancelling because you don’t want to ruin your progress.
But that’s not fun.
It’s not real life.
And most importantly, it’s not sustainable.
Sure, you could live like an athlete, preparing and planning all your meals in advance, and measuring/weighing everything that goes into your mouth.
Maybe you’ll even grow to love it.
And that’s great.
If that approach works for you, continue doing it for as long as you want.
If you’re like the rest of us, you know this isn’t something that most people can do forever.
You already know how to calculate your own unique nutritional needs, so now we want to show you how to manipulate it to allow you flexibility with your diet, and with life.
Don’t worry, we’ve got a plan.
Gather ‘round kids, I’m about to tell a story.
It’s possible you’ve heard it before, but stick with me.
A professor of philosophy stood before his class with some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks about two inches in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full.
They agreed that it was full.
So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly and watched as the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The professor then asked the students again if the jar was full.
They chuckled and agreed that it was indeed full this time.
The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled the remaining open areas of the jar. “Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar signifies your life. The rocks are the truly important things, such as family, health and relationships. If all else was lost and only the rocks remained, your life would still be meaningful. The pebbles are the other things that matter in your life, such as work or school. The sand signifies the remaining “small stuff” and material possessions.
The point of this analogy is to identify priorities. In life, it means identifying the most important things, and spending as much time on those things as possible. For many, it’s family or being healthy. After those priorities are met, we can then add in other things that are less important (ie: fun) things.
Your Nutritional Rocks, Pebbles, & Sand
For our purposes, however, that mayonnaise jar is your caloric budget. Calories are made up of macronutrients, which are protein, carbs, and fats.
Continuing with the analogy, protein (4 calories/g)-necessary for muscle retention and growth-are the rocks. Fats (9 calories/g)-necessary for hormonal benefits-are the pebbles. Carbs (4 calories/g) sand-necessary for energy- fills the rest of your calories.
Now, remember that proteins are usually found in meats and, to a lesser extent, dairy. Carbs are usually found in grains, breads, pasta, fruits. Fats are usually found in oils, nuts, nut butters, in meats/fish, and dairy.
Meals tend to consist of a combination of two or three of these macronutrients.
Physique-friendly meals usually consist of protein mixed with either carbs and fat. In fact, we usually advise clients not to mix fats and carbs in a given meal.
Not because this combination is inherently bad. Rather, it’s because this combination is inherently yummy, thus making them difficult to resist.
That’s right: the secret to happiness, the Holy Grail of dietary indulgences are found when carbs and fat make sweet, sweet, delicious love.
Ice cream? Carbs and fat.
Donuts? Carbs and fat.
French Fries? Carbs and fat.
When not used with caution, these foods can really derail your fitness goals. However, when you have plan, it can help you reach your fitness goals faster and more enjoyably.
So, now, let’s assume that you’re cruisin’ along on your diet and now you get that call from your college buddy.
Here’s the plan…
Before embarking on an evening of dietary debauchery, consume as much of your required protein for the day.
That’s it. Really.
By prioritizing protein, you can leave yourself some wiggle room to enjoy the foods you love without worrying so much about how these will affect your physique.
Let’s assume that your current macro breakdown is 180g of protein, 65g of fat, and 120g of carbs for a total of 1785 calories.
Not a ton of calories to work with, but here’s how we make it work:
- Breakfast: Greek yogurt and protein shake (65g of protein, 15g of carbs, 2g of fat)
- Lunch : Grilled chicken salad w/no dressing (35g of protein, 5g of carbs, 2g of fat)
- Right before you leave: a single scoop (25g) of protein powder if you know you’re going to eat meat or if you’re a carnivore, or two scoops if you’re not sure what the night will bring and you want to play it safe.
So, out of 1785 calories, we’ve already used 600 calories on 150 grams of protein, 80 calories on 20 grams of carbs, and 18 calories on 2 grams of fat.
That leaves us with over 1000 calories to spend on dinner. More than enough for a good time.
When you leave room in your macros, there’s really more room for ice cream, more room for pizza, more room for donuts.
There’s no need to live life like a hermit just because you want to lose fat and gain muscle. Life is too short, and the time we spend with those we love is too precious to spend obsessing over every piece of food that we eat.
At the same time, there’s also no need to ditch your goals because you wanted to enjoy yourself for a night.
Finding balance can certainly be a challenge. But when you understand how to make your plan come together, you’ll see how enjoyable reaching your goals can be.
Do you have any stories about how trying to diet took over your life? Any thoughts on how this plan could be used to help you with an upcoming social event? We want to hear from you, so comment below, and let us know how we can help you.
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