Would you ever bake a cake without making sure you have all your ingredients before you start?
Would take off on a road trip with an empty gas tank?
Or be caught dead getting into a boat with a hole in the bottom?
What about getting surgery from a doctor that never finished medical school?
You better believe if you are spending a ton of money to build a house, you will make sure it start with a rock solid foundation!
The point is, there is a process to everything in life. Sure, you could start baking that cake, but you would quickly have to stop what you’re doing to get all the correct ingredients, which ends up making the process longer, or you bake the cake with a missing ingredient and guaranteed that cake will turn out a little funky.
We wouldn’t take off in a vehicle with an empty tank or a boat that’s sure to sink, that would blatantly set us up for some major trouble! Even more importantly, we would absolutely never expect to go into surgery and find it acceptable that the “doctor” we were seeing skipped a few steps in med school and allow them to work on us!
So why do we find it acceptable to take shortcuts in our own lives and our own health? We take our time in so many other areas of life to make sure we do it the right way, yet we want the quickest, easiest way to results in our nutrition and fitness.
At Flex Fuel Nutrition, we are firm believers in putting in the time and the work at the start of the process to build strong roots to build nutrition habits the will last a life time and can’t be shaken. Does this mean perfection? Absolutely not- there’s not such thing! But it does mean creating habits that will get you the results you are looking for and then better yet, keep those results! Will it happen super fast or easy? Well, it happens at a different pace for every person. Why? Because every person is unique, every life is unique and what it takes to establish the habits that will work for your life are different from the person next to you.
No matter where you are in your journey, we believe there are a few foundational habits that can instantly shift your health. If you implement these habits, you will absolutely be creating roots that will be unshakable and eliminate the up and down battle in your nutrition.
So necessary. So crucial. Yet so neglected and underestimated. Quality and quantity and matter here and although calories, macros and food quality matter, sleep is just as important. This is the time where are body recovers and renews itself. This is the time where proper hormone function is restored and our body is signaled the green light to keep running at full speed. Without enough sleep, our bodies are functioning only sub-par. So, if you are struggling with sleep, here are a few ways to start improving it today:
– Set firm bedtime/waking hours. Even if you crawl into bed and can’t fall asleep for the life of you, doing this ritual day in and day out will train your body and brain that it’s time to get some Z’s! Be militant in your bedtime!
–Turn off all blue light 60+ minutes before bedtime. Blue light signals the part of our brain that tells us it’s time to be alert and awake- the last thing we want before bed! If this is absolutely a struggle, get yourself some blue light blocking glasses and where those at night!
–Brain Dump! Ever lay down and right away your brain starts going a million miles an hour, thinking of everything you need to do the next day or what happened that day? Take 5 minutes before bed to write down all of your to-do’s for the next day and journal anything else on your mind. It will help your brain to calm down, get it out on paper and eliminate the fear of forgetting anything important the next day.
–Create a relaxing environment. Make your bedroom your sanctuary. Get rid of distractions and make it a place you can retreat to, to calm your mind and body.
As you can already see, these habits aren’t going to be rocket science! But we can’t reiterate or stress these simple habits enough and water is at the top of the list. Our bodies NEED water to function and survive. Water aids in digestion, gives us energy, transports nutrients throughout our bodies, supports healthy hair, skin and nails, helps prevent bloating, curbs cravings and false hunger signals.
–Aim for 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces. If you start tracking your water and find you are way under this, start where you are and at 16oz a day for a week. Then, each week keep increasing!
–Carry around a water bottle and shoot to drink ‘X’ number of them a day. We love HydroFlask or Kleen Kanteens. 24-32 ounce bottles are usually easy to carry with you and an easy way to track how much you’ve had in the day. If you need to get more detailed you can make time markers throughout the day, for example: “drink bottle #1 by 10am” and so on through the day!
–Spice it up! If drinking water bores the living daylights out of you, try adding in some organic lemon, lime or cucumber slices or even some fresh mint!
3. PRIORITIZE REAL FOOD! We are meant to eat real foods, end of story. Are processed packaged foods ‘bad’? No! (Remember there is no such this as good or bad food!) Rather, ask yourself if that food is truly benefitting you. If we fill our diet with mainly whole foods, we will be much more satisfied, balanced and leave less room for snacking on those foods that aren’t serving us. We will get the nutrients we need, will have better digestion, energy and fuel to do the things in life that we love. If we are filling our daily calories with processed, packaged foods, it is much more likely that our bodies will have an adverse reaction and lead to a host of problems!
–Aim to get your proteins from organic meats and whole carb and fat sources with protein sparing nutrients. Organic animal protein is the quickest way to get a substantial amount of protein in and having a serving at each meal will help you hit your goal easily! Don’t forget that eating foods like veggies, beans, potatoes will also have protein sparing nutrients that will help add to your daily intake!
–Get the majority of your carbs from veggies, potato, squash, grains and fruit! Everyone needs their greens! So put this at the top of your list! We all respond a little differently to different carb varieties so pay attention to how you feel after eating them. This is where we get our daily fiber intake, which is crucial for digestion and moving toxins through our body! Be sure you are getting enough fiber and keeping sugars within a healthy range!
–Healthy fats are not the enemy! Fats tend to get a bad wrap, but let’s be real, fat is delicious! If we don’t have to eliminate it, why would we?! We need fats for healthy hormone and brain function and it’s a great source of energy, so eat up butter cup! Of course, keep in mind that 1gram of fat has over double the calories of 1gram of carb or protein, but a small amount really does go a long way! Eat in moderation and you will be in a happy place! Find your fats from foods like avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut oil and olives/olive oil!
4. MOVE EVERY DAY. Walking from your couch to the kitchen doesn’t count! Move with intention every. damn. day. We were not meant to sit all day every day at a desk, a computer, on a couch, a car or a plane. In today’s society we have to actively combat being sedentary.
–Track Your Steps.
This is an easy way to make sure that you are moving throughout your day. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily tasks and realize you haven’t moved all day long! There are tons of devices like Fitbit or Apple Watches that you can easily track you movement with. Start by tracking a normal day, see where you land, then try to increase your day by 1000 steps each week. 10k a day is a great goal and is an significant amount of daily movement!
–Find something that will keep you interested!
If you are forcing yourself to do a workout you hate, that habit is a means to an end. Just because your family or friend loves a certain form of exercise doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right for you! Find something that is appealing to you that you can stick to! As long os you are challenging yourself and moving your body, you are doing something that is healthy for you!
5. TRACK YOUR FOOD
This is a great first step if you have a specific weight loss or performance goal, to finding out what your next step should be! If you have no idea how many calories you are currently intaking or what the balance of those calories are, then how do you know what your next steps should be?
–Get a food tracking app!
We love My Fitness Pal but there are others like Lose It or Chronometer that work well too! Input the food you eat daily, to find out where you currently sit with calories. Doing this can teach you a lot about the food you eat! Track your food for 7 days so you can see the pattern in your intake.
–Look at average calorie intake over the week.
If you are eating super low calorie, high calorie or somewhere in between, knowing where you’re currently at can then help you figure out which direction you should go in terms of calories from there.
–Look at balance of proteins, carbs and fats.
Tracking your food is a great way to see where your calories are coming from. Maybe you’re getting a ton of carbs but hardly any protein? Or maybe you love fats but aren’t getting enough carbs to fuel your activity level? The balance of our calories is crucial to making sure we are properly supporting our goals and lifestyle.
These are just a few starting points to changing your habits long term. We don’t need to overcomplicate it! We recommend nailing these down for a solid month and then start challenging yourself more and more from there. Too much too fast can result in overwhelm, so remember to create small wins and then build from there!
If you are ready to make a change, but aren’t quite sure how to structure it or where to start, we created our 4 week course, Flex Fuel Roots, that can help you with exactly that! If you aren’t quite ready to hire a coach but need some guidance establishing core, foundational habits, this course will take you step by step in establishing those!