10 Biggest Nutrition Mistakes
You're probably reading this blog post because you've tried to eat healthy for what now seems like forever.
You're struggling to get snatched, lose weight or build muscle.
You've tried your fair share of diets like:
- Weight Watchers
- South Beach
- The Zone
...and other "quick fixes" like detox teas, 21-day challenges, juice cleanses, fat burning supplements, meal replacements - you catch the drift.
The good news is, you see fast results at first, however, a few months (or weeks later) you end up right back where you started. 😓
If this sounds like you 🎉 Congratulations, you have a front row seat on the fitness struggle bus!
(But don't get discouraged; my goal is to teach you how to stop struggling.)
One of the most frustrating things women struggle with when starting (or re-starting 🙈 ) their fitness journey is wanting to get results quickly BUT you face 1 major problems:
You don't know how to eat properly to reach your body goals
& because you're so overwhelmed..
you get frustrated and revert back to do what you've always done and go on (yet another) diet and repeat this cycle for weeks, months or even YEARS.
I know what this is like because this used to be me.
I didn’t see results until I got serious and hired the right fitness coach who taught me all about the fundamentals of nutrition.
I finally got off the struggle bus and learned:
no matter how good my workout was or how many times I went to the gym, I had to master my nutrition if I wanted to change my body composition.
When we begin working out it feels like we're doing "a lot" because we're sweating, we feel the burn in our abs, our muscles are sore the next day and we can barely sit down after leg day.
Which is why many of us tend to focus on the workout side of the fitness equation.
However, like Myleik Teele taught us, feelings are not facts.
Just because it feels more important to work out like a slave at the gym doesn't mean it is more important.
No amount of exercise is going to cancel out shitty nutrition. & that is a scientific fact.
What makes it tough for many women is that you may not realize you're eating your entire daily caloric intake with one meal or undereating (which is very common) or "thinking your eating healthy" but still feeling bloated.
Before I spill the tea and get to the 10 mistakes, I want to begin with the biggest weight loss secret: Fat loss is primarily mediated by proper nutrition.
That means anyone (yes, you too!) can have abs, nice glutes, and a toned body if you're willing to be open-minded and practice patience.
You ever heard the quote that says "you can't outwork a sh*tty diet?"
If your nutrition isn’t on point, there's no workout on the face of this planet that's going to reverse harmful eating habits.
Eating healthy is the foundation for your results, so if you haven't mastered your nutrition yet:
- Do not pass go.
- Do not collect $200.
- And keep reading!
Mistake #1: You go on a diet
I don't subscribe to any particular "diet" which I know confuses people.
However, when you understand diet culture you realize that diets don't solve problems.
What they do is provide short-term relief to long-term problems.
Diets don't get to the root of our nutrition issues but instead provide us with a short-term feeling of relief without actually. fixing anything
It' the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a broken leg.
Diets fail because they don’t teach us:
- how to eat properly
- how to eat the right foods for our individual goals and bodies.
Instead, what they teach us is that you can only have a healthy and toned body if you put yourself through extreme restriction, deprivation, and starvation.
Slimey diet marketers trick our brains into believing that we have to be miserable and eat boring tasteless food in order to get fit.
Then we start a never-ending restriction and binging cycle:
Studies show that when we return to our prior eating habits most of us will regain the weight we just worked so hard to lose (and sometimes, even more).
This mindset could also contribute to food obsession and/or disordered eating.
I want us to remember that If you get on a diet, eventually you’re going to have to get off the diet.
& when your goal is to create great health, a banging body, and a better life, I encourage you to start thinking about developing long-term, sustainable habits.
Whatever food habits you currently have, you've created over your entire life,
Depending on how old you are (25, 30, 25) = that’s how long you've been ingraining your food patterns into your brain and subconscious.
The sustainable habits we want to replace with old habits are made up of hundreds of small, daily decisions that over time add up to create a healthy lifestyle.
Your overall nutrition should be about the way you eat every day not just the way you eat when you're on a diet.
Diets don't account for real life, therefore they're not realistic and trying to follow one is a set up for failure.
The next time you want to hop on another diet ask yourself, " could I eat like this FOREVER?"
#2. Paralysis by Analysis
It’s no wonder we're confused about what we should eat when we hear so much conflicting information about what's healthy and what's unhealthy.
We hear contradictory info every day on the news, social media, and Netflix documentaries.
- Eggs are bad for you because they raise your cholesterol
- Eggs are good for you because they're packed with protein
- You need to drink milk to get strong bones and for your calcium
- You don’t actually need milk to get calcium and milk is harmful to you
Then we get sensory overload and spend way too much time analyzing what the "right way to eat is" and do nothing.
& here's a secret = every "diet" works as long as you create a calorie deficit. When you're trying to decide which diet to go with, I encourage you to do what works for you based on your lifestyle, specific goals, and your bio-individuality.
Joshua Rosenthal of Integrative nutrition coined the term bio-individuality.
Bio-individuality is a fancy way of saying we're all different, therefore what works for you MAY NOT work for me and vice versa.
In one of Joshua's talks he goes on to say, "In my heart I could feel that no one way of eating could possibly be helpful for everyone, yet medicine and science are constantly in search of the magic bullet – the one perfect way of eating that will solve all of humanity's problems related to diet. "
When I heard this it made so much sense to me. Here's why I know it's true:
- Some people are allergic to strawberries. Does this mean that we all need to stop eating strawberries? No.
- Some people have strong allergic reactions to peanuts/tree nuts. Does this mean everyone needs to stop eating nuts? No.
- Most people have negative reactions to dairy (that they aren't aware of) Does this mean we should all stop eating dairy? Probably (but that's a different post for another day!)
Instead of spending weeks or years debating on what the "best" way of eating is let's start focusing on what actually matters = How you FEEL and quality of life.
- Are you aware of how food makes you feel when you eat it?
- Do you enjoy what you eat?
- Do you have access to healthy and nutritious food?
- Do you make time to cook at home?
- Do you have energy at the end of the day/week?
Let's focus on the things that matter. Try out different styles/ideologies depending on what peaks our interests, read a lot, and then do what works for you!
#3. You Don't Track What You Eat
- I don’t have the patience
- I don’t think about it
- It’s too time-consuming
- I don’t remember to track
- I don’t like to be restricted
- It reminds me of being on weight watchers
So here’s the thing ladies (time for some tough love from your virtual fitness coach)...
You cannot change what you don’t track.
Just because you ignore a threat doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Research shows that one of the most powerful ways to successfully change your eating habits is to keep a daily food journal.
Writing down what you eat helps you create instant awareness and gives you a sense of accountability.
Ignoring your food log only keeps you unaware, and keeps you in the dark, and when you are unaware it threatens the baby steps that it’s going take to alter or change your existing behavior.
I know that meal logging can seem like such a nitty-gritty task, but meal logging isn’t a long-term strategy.
Instead, I want you to think of it as a mindset shift.
It helps you to start connecting the dots. I would never suggest that you track everything you eat for the rest of your life, because that’s not sustainable (and it also creates food obsessions and a bunch of other stuff), but I want you to do it for a little while and start getting clear on what’s happening.
The purpose of tracking your food is to become aware of what you are doing and making it a priority.
Logging your meals not only allows you to self-monitor but it also allows your trainer or coaches the opportunity to give you accurate feedback and offer you suggestions on what you can change, improve, or swap out.
I have my clients submit daily and weekly meal logs, and I am going to tell you that 100% of my clients think they are eating healthy, but they're not.
They think they’re having enough of certain kinds of foods but they’re not, and again, this gives me an opportunity to give them instant feedback.
It also alerts them to what is actually going on and what their problem areas are and what tweaks they need to make to get to that next level.
#4. Black and white thinking
You say to yourself, "I can’t eat this cookie."
I'm not going to eat this cookie.
Oh well... maybe just one cookie.
Then you say shit, I might as well eat the whole box!
Then you say, you know what, I am just going to start this diet again on Monday.
And then you eat as much bad food as you can before Monday to get it out of your system.
If this sounds familiar, you may be experiencing black and white thinking. Many women who suffer from food and weight issues also struggle with this type of mindset.
Black and white thinkers swing back and forth between two extremes.
You either see yourself as on a diet or off a diet, as being perfect or a failure, and all you can think about is good or bad, black or white, all or nothing.
There is no grey area in your mind.
You even have trouble imagining that there could be options or compromises or anything in between. This leaves you living in what I like to call fitness limbo, where you haven’t seen any results but you refuse to change your very strict ways.
The Perfection box
If you were driving down the street and you got a flat tire, you would probably call AAA, or somebody, to come to flip your tire around and give you something new.
You would not go and throw away your entire car. If you fall into this category of black and white thinking, your objective is to be perfect.
Be a perfect eater, have the perfect body, be a perfect wife, be a perfect girlfriend, but I want you to remember that perfection is impossible.
There is no such thing as perfect eating.
When we put everything in a perfection box then we start building up things like food guilt. Every time we eat something that is “bad,” we feel bad about ourselves and we feel like it’s a reflection of who we are.
That leads you to never feel satisfied with what you do and you downplay even your small successes.
So if you’re not feeling good about the way you have chosen to eat, you are doing this all wrong. Please let go of the need to be perfect.
I know you may not have heard this from a trainer before, but if you want that cookie during a work event, go ahead and eat it!
It's ONE cookie. One cookie is not the reason you're struggling with your weight.
I give you that permission. (not that you needed it from me but just in case it helps you move the needle)
I have just one requirement while you indulge: Mindfulness.
I encourage you to look deeper and understand the science behind your cravings and what's going on in your body.
Ask yourself if you had enough water today? Did you eat a full breakfast?
If you are present and mindful of what's actually going on you may find that your cravings are coming from STRESS and a lack of proper overall nutrition.
When we focus on improving our overall health, we start feeling satisfied, stop having insane cravings and the urges to binge eat lessen.
You may even realize that you have more control than you think!
#5. You Don’t Swap, You Eliminate
If your goal is to never eat pizza ever again or to go to the gym for 7 days straight (even though you haven’t hopped on a treadmill since the 9th grade), then girl, your goal is way too robust!
You don’t need to be radical and cut out entire food groups to see results.
Creating a healthy eating pattern is a gradual process. What you need to do to lose that stubborn fat is to slowly create a calorie deficit.
The key word here is slowly.
Changing just a few eating habits can lead to huge returns on your investment if you’re consistent.
The goal here is to create healthy relationships with food.
If you've been eating a certain way your entire life and now want to change it, you need to remember that it’s going to be a journey, and it’s going to take some time to build those habits into a way of life. So swap foods slowly over time instead of eliminating.
#6. Restricting all week + binging on the weekend
When we start going HAM at the gym but binge on the weekends, what we're failing to recognize is that exercise is one of the smaller components of fat loss.
If you want to see results, binging on the weekends is not going to get you there.
A few months ago, I received a frantic message from one of my new clients.
Before hiring me as her personal trainer, she'd just finished a 6-week intensive workout program that she got for free online.
Here's what she wrote, “I tested a few of my reps/max today, and I can tell that I'm stronger but my body looks exactly the same after six weeks due to my shitty inconsistent eating on the weekend. I legit wanted to cry yesterday. I compared my before and after pics and they look identical. No lie. That was a slap in the face, and a reality check that nutrition is key.”
What's the lesson here?
If you're restricting and binging what you're really doing is creating stress.
Stress is toxic to the body and makes it 10x harder for you to get to your goals.
Instead of binging, start by giving yourself permission to indulge and not feel bad or guilty.
Restricting your food from Monday through Friday, trains your subconscious mind to believe that eating healthy is negative.
Therefore, all week long "you're doing good" but on the weekends you binge and that doesn't lead to sustainable results.
I know about this all too well because me and my best friends used to do it all the time!
We had a little "fit" crew. & to be honest, it was SOOOOO fun. We would go hard at the gym together all week long, eat clean, swap recipes, take sweaty selfies together and keep each other accountable. This part was AWESOME!
However, on the weekends, we would decide to have our "cheat meals" together that turned into a "how much food can I stuff myself with" session. #QueVerguenza LOL
So when I say "cheat meal," what I really mean to say is a cheat feast.
Instead of eating 1 portion of that fatty food we loved we would try to stuff our faces with as much food as possible in one sitting.
I remember one night I invited the girls over to my apartment for girl talk and our cheat meal tradition.
We ordered a large pizza, soda, dough dots and some wine (because HELLER! we can’t leave the wine) and ate the ENTIRE BOX until we literally felt sick.
A version of this happened for months until one of my best friends, Elibel Laureano became a health coach with Integrative Nutrition.
Elibel started sharing what she was learning in school, "You can eat all the healthy food in the world, but if you're unhappy you're not healthy. I like to eat a small piece of chocolate every day because I feel like it keeps me on track."
I was mind blown. 1) WHO TF eats chocolate every day and can stay snatched? 2) The concept of a well rounded nutritional routine was so interesting to me especially because I was miserable on my current diet.
Here's what she told us being healthy was really about:
- mental health
- physical health
All the things that affect us are interconnected. BINGO! Eating healthy goes beyond just eating Kale and living a hyper-restrictive lifestyle.
Instead of binging on the weekends, I began to think about all the ways I could enjoy the food(s) I liked during the week (just in smaller portions.)
This helped me taper down on cravings, actually feel GOOD and see results at the same time.
7. Drinking Your Calories
Many women haven’t been able to lose those extra last few pounds because they're drinking all of the calories on the weekend that they spend burning at the gym.
Soda… Girl, if you are drinking soda you are really hustling backward.
If you had a can of soda today, it would take you about 1 hr and 15 minutes to burn that soda off on the treadmill.
Now... I don’t know about you, but I do not have that kind of time!
Juice… If you have ever had real juice, it tastes very different from the store-bought juice. Store bought juice, typically, has a significant amount of added sugar and preservatives.
Alcohol… A lot of us girls go out for the night and we drink our entire caloric intake (in other words, what your body actually needs to sustain itself) in one night of drinking, plus the nachos and the dip that you couldn’t resist.
Especially because alcohol has what I like to say, 7 empty calories per gram and has twice the number of calories than food.
Which in English means that those calories don’t give you any essential nutrients that you are going to need to build the muscle mass that you want.
Most people do not struggle with working out, they struggle with eating healthy, so it doesn’t matter how hard you’re working out if your nutrition isn’t on point.
Nutrition also includes what you’re drinking, and you’re never going to see the results that you’re looking for if you are drinking the extra calories.
It is critical to becoming more conscious of exactly how much you’re drinking when you’re out and use moderation.
Coffee… Now I am not going to tell you that you need to give up your coffee because coffee, in and of its self, is usually not the problem.
The problem is all the extra shit that you add to i:
- The seven extra pumps of caramel
- The whipped cream
- The Splenda
- The half and half
and all that extra shit is messing up your goals!
Be conscious of what you are drinking read your labels and use moderation.
8. When you hear healthy eating, you think lettuce
If you're eating lettuce every day and think you're eating healthy = Houston we have a problem.
The nutritional value of Iceberg lettuce is very low.
There are a plethora of vegetables we can begin to incorporate into our diets that do not include lettuce. But often, Lettuce (and maybe Brocolli) are the only veggies you've ever eaten or been exposed to and can't think of what else you can eat that you'll actually like.
My suggestion is to retrain your brain, as well as your pallet by incorporating more dark leafy greens into your diet.
Greens are low in calories and high in micronutrients, give you more energy, vitamins, and minerals and they're going to make you and your skin feel and look better.
There are tons of greens that you can eat that are not lettuce and here are 5 of my favorites:
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
- Swiss chard
These are 5 dark leafy greens that you can add to your diet today that are going to be more helpful than lettuce ever will.
The next time you want to make a salad, don’t even think about lettuce at all.
Take it out of your brain and your diet this quarter and think outside the box
Try the five greens that I mentioned above (or any others that you like) and remember to make it the basis of your meals or add it to different things while you cook.
There are tons of ways to make your greens - sometimes you just need direction.
9. You Don’t Understand Your Food
One of the reasons you're missing the mark when it comes to getting the body you want is that your diet isn’t as healthy as you think it is.
Studies show that about 60% of the American diet comes from processed food.
The food companies have created so many “food-like substances” that we literally have no idea what we are eating!
When we track our food and look at our food log we can see that we are actually eating a lot of junk.
When you eat junk and processed food, you're depleting your body of the energy it needs to fully complete a workout at its most optimal potential.
Knowledge is power.
The more accurate information you learn about, the better you are going to look and feel in the long run.
10. You’re Not Meal Prepping
Your metabolism is a stress barometer. Traffic, deadline, eating too little, being sleep deprived.
Meal prepping is the real MVP and if you’re not doing it you’re setting yourself up for failure.
If your goal is to get a snatched body, you need to have a clear system for how you’re going to get there, and food logging is essential in this part of your transformation.
Stop making real-time decisions about what you are going to eat every single day.
Why? Because motivation and willpower are not long-standing emotions, and instead of hoping it’s going to be “on” at all times, prepping your meals in advance helps you just grab and go.
The other thing about meal prepping is that it causes us to make a conscious decision about our food instead of being on autopilot.
On average, we tend to make 15-20 beverage or food-related decisions each day & make over 200 food decisions in a day that are unconscious and on autopilot.
The best way to protect yourself from making decisions on autopilot is to prepare your meals in advance.
A lot of women tell me that they don’t have time to meal prep, but I am here to tell you, it actually saves you time to meal prep.
Three hours prepping on a Sunday is going to save you 15 hours of preparing your food during the week.
Although our human nature is to want change to happen immediately, I want you to remember that your body is not a microwave.
Stop letting your mood determine what you do. Your success in this fitness game is going to require planning and some discipline.
The reality is that to see visible results most people need to be on a consistent nutrition, fitness plan, program and/or routine for 8-12 weeks minimum.
Nutrition on its most basic level is quite simple but it’s one of the most difficult things for us to implement and meal prepping can help!
Enter your name + Email to sign up for my free Meal Prep 101 Class!
Did you learn anything new in this post? If so, please let me know in the comment box below. I'd love to hear from you!
Your virtual Fitness Coach - Masiel Encarnación