Some key learnings about nutrition from 2020 that I’ll be taking into 2021

A key part of my fitness journey is changing my nutrition. I love food.

However, there is no point me really pushing myself physically with workouts and challenges if I don’t get on top of the nutrition. I know I’ve said this before and deep down it’s something I know but it’s amazing how writing it like this helps to reassert it into my conscious from my subconscious.

As a result, I think there have already been a couple of major milestones in that area so far this year:

  • a significant reduction in alcohol;
  • a more macro-focused approach to my food;
  • more exploration of food rather than going for the easy option all the time.

The first point there has helped me massively. I can’t, and don’t, claim full credit for that – the pandemic has severely restricted socialising this year. However, I actually started 2020 with a self-imposed booze ban for three months, as I undertook my first F45 Challenge. The first time I had a drink this year was for my birthday, alone in my flat (but on a Zoom call with family so it wasn’t, technically, drinking alone at home!) Overall, it has made me think about drinking, in general. I can see myself restricting my drinking when we return to some kind of normality because I’ve seen that it’s not something I need to be able to enjoy myself. (Don’t get me wrong though – I’ll still get a buzz on from time to time!)

The second point is a bigger commitment to tracking my food intake. I use MyFitnessPal and I’m getting better at inputting, even on days/weeks when the nutrition hasn’t been ideal. For example, when I last posted, my nutrition had gone completely out of the window. I think it’s the only consecutive fortnight this year where I’ve not looked at, let alone filled in, MyFitnessPal.

However, in the two weeks since, I’ve got back into filling it in regularly, some days meeting my target, some days coming in under and some days coming in over. The latter in particularly is interesting because rather than feeling bad about it and driving myself into the ground, my mind just becomes more focused the next day to be more target-driven. Yesterday, for example, wasn’t the best day for nutrition (in particular, sugar) whereas today has been a great day because I’ve been more mindful (and I haven’t been starving because of the food choices I’ve made).

The third point I’ll go into a bit more detail now. I’ve tried a range of different things this year, just to test out what my body does and doesn’t need and, just as importantly, what my mind likes and doesn’t like) and then (the tricky part) finding a way to balance the two. During the F45 Challenge, I was getting pre-made vegan meals from Function Fit Food, which were great. Post-challenge, I got these meals from time to time but also used that experience to experiment a bit more in the kitchen. Recently, I’ve tried meals from Vibrant Vegan. I’m not vegan but I am trying to reduce my dairy intake, as I also try to be a bit more conscious about environmental issues. Both meal services have helped me focus on macros and making sure I’m getting enough of the good stuff we all need to keep going. In 2021, I’m going to apply what I’ve learnt and be more proactive in food prep and cooking.

Following a short consultation with a nutritionist a few weeks ago, it really propelled me into thinking more again about what I’m consuming. With that in mind, I’ve started a free Open University course, The Science of Nutrition and Healthy Eating, to really learn more. I’m hoping it will really help me become even more conscious about what I eat and my eating habits. Additionally, I’m very grateful to Matt at F45 Birmingham Central UK, who has given me great advice and support around good habit formation: cue, routine, reward.

The cue – Upon finishing dinner…

The routine – … I will log on to the course and complete one page…

The reward -… after which I am then free to stream.

The goal? I want to have a better understanding of the effects of food I choose to consume so I can make better choices long term and so the Open University nutrition course will help me to achieve this.

I’m on Day Five of doing this and have done this every day so far without fail or without it feeling like it’s a really big effort at the end of a day. It’s already become a habit. It has also made doing the course somehow more manageable. Some days, I’ve even done more than one page but on days when I’ve been quite tired, one page has been enough.

It’s been interesting to see this in action because it’s made me realise I can apply this model elsewhere in life. I need to give it a bit more thought about where else I can apply this around my nutrition.

Overall, 2020 has given me even more opportunity to learn, to grow and to continue to steer my fitness journey in the right direction. I’ve still not nailed it but I think another big learning is that I will probably never nail it. After all, there’s no such thing as 100% perfect (or certainly not maintaining that level of perfection all the time). It’s about trying my best every day, celebrating the wins and learning from the not-so-good days.

Published by njfitnessjourney

A man on a fitness mission!

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