It is well known in functional fitness that we must have a solid foundation of quality movement and strength before we can move to more complex exercises. At OPEX North Scottsdale we take this same approach to nutrition. Mastering the basics, rather than fast-tracking you to macros and supplements, which do not lead to sustainable results. Practice the following 10 steps and you are well on the way to excellent nutrition.
Whether your goals are performance, weight loss, increased muscle mass or just "feeling better", sleep is essential for success. Assess your sleep and how your lifestyle affects its quality. Do you sleep with the moon and rise with the sun? Are you getting 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep (actual sleep, not just time in bed)? What about the environment — are you avoiding blue-light-producing electronics before bed and sleeping in a cool, dark room? Before anything, become obsessed with the pursuit of excellent sleep.
Consider the environment in which you eat. Do you sit down to eat slowly in a distraction-free environment? Chew your food thoroughly (30+ times) and allow saliva to help break down your food, rather than eating large bites quickly and relying on your stomach to do the rest (news flash - it CAN'T). Mindful eating practices may not be exciting, but they are essential for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Prioritize lean quality proteins, veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds, and avoid processed foods with unknown ingredients. Keep the whole foods you eat varied (vegetables AND meats) to expose yourself to a wide range of micronutrients. Learn where your food is coming from and do a cost-benefit analysis on locally grown, organic foods. Local farmers markets are a great place to find affordable and quality produce.
Daily Energy Rhythm
If our circadian rhythm is in balance, we should experience a peak of energy in the morning, steady energy throughout the day, and a decline in energy as the sun sets. Energy slumps throughout the day, being wired before bed, or feeling like you need caffeine to get you going, are signs that your rhythm might be off.
Know your poop and strive for normalcy and consistency – bloating, gas and irregular bowel movements may be common, but they are not normal. The first steps to proper digestion are just observing and knowing how you react to certain foods.
Are you drinking water throughout the day? Shoot to consume ½ your body weight in ounces as a target. Proper hydration is essential for energy balance, nutrient usage, and cleansing.
Awareness of Purpose
This is a big one. Question and develop awareness around your priorities and understand what ‘living a larger life’ means to you. We must know our priorities in order to develop nutrition practices that align with them.
If we stay still, we die. Blood flow through regular movement is critical for proper bodily functions and detoxification. Do you only move for the hour a day you are in the gym? Assess your blood flow throughout the day and figure out how to make regular movement and sunshine part of your lifestyle.
Do you eat at regular times throughout the day, or do you frequently skip meals because of your busy life? Look at your day to determine when you have time to devote to eating mindfully. Our bodies love consistency, even if it’s a departure from a traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Emotions and Behaviors
How does nutrition make you feel? Can you recognize any behaviors that you have created around food? There is a huge emotional component to nutrition for many people that should not be ignored. You must recognize potentially self-sabotaging behaviors and ‘triggers’ if you want to create positive and lasting change.
Take an honest look at your nutrition according to this 10-part checklist. Are there any glaring areas where you fall short? If so, sit down with a coach at OPEX North Scottsdale, and they’ll take a thorough assessment of your nutrition. Together, you’ll develop an action plan to make small, sustainable changes to help you nail these basics.