Diet and fitness reality checks

By Tia Norris, July 2019 Issue.


get straight to the point: the pursuit of a healthy diet, and related fitness

or physique goals, tends to be a hard road for many people. In fact, some might

even say it’s an impossible road for them personally (this is only because they

haven’t worked with me, yet!). As a trainer, I pride myself on managing my

clients’ expectations with the process, and giving them full disclosure on the

good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to working toward their goals.

Here are some of the most shocking, most

uncomfortable, but most important reality checks that my clients (and maybe

you) need to hear in order to get realistic about this journey toward fitness:


•Eat when you need

to eat. Not necessarily when you want to eat. Most people simply fail to

make food (aka, fuel in the tank) a priority throughout their day. They forget

and/or neglect to pack meals and/or snacks, they work through what should be

meal/snack times and prolong the window between meals for far too long.

Consequently, when they actually do check-in with themselves regarding food,

they’re absolutely starving and end up either making poor impulse choices or

drastically overeating. Does this sound familiar? Make food timing a major

priority in your program. Figure out when you’ll need to eat throughout your

day, and plan accordingly. Set a reminder on your phone, if needed. And keep in

mind that you don’t need to be uncontrollably ravenous in order to eat — for

most goals, you can and should eat at regular intervals, sometimes even

when you might not feel like you need it.

•You won’t love

your food all the time. This means I may not love the taste, texture,

temperature, preparation methods, or amount of time that I have to eat that

food, or more, about any particular meal or snack. In fact, I’d say that 60-80%

of my food throughout the day is less than my favorite! This blows many

people’s minds. Now, on one hand, I acknowledge that food can be incomparably

pleasurable, and comforting, and can add a spark of joy to our lives. However,

we need to draw a line of discipline when it comes to fitness goals:

oftentimes, to stay on track, you’ll need to eat something that tastes

mediocre, that isn’t hot or cold like you prefer, in scenarios that are rushed

or cramped or otherwise less than ideal. Get used to it — become a machine in

these scenarios and just do it.

•Extreme measures

don’t work! Slow and steady, wins the race. Intuitively, you all already know

that crash diets, cleanses, and extreme measures work in the short term but

cause significant long term damage. The fact that they work immediately but

temporarily is what makes them so appealing, and I understand that. But, if you

give a shit about your long-term metabolic health and really your long-term

goals (let’s be adults and think big picture, here), I don’t think I need to

get up on my soapbox and preach about something that most people already, deep

down, know to be true. Do the work, be patient, play the long game. If it

sounds too good to be true, it is.


•You won’t like it

every session. Aim for about 60% enjoyment for most goals. For most people, if

you at least like (not even saying love) 3/5, or 60%, of your

workouts, you’re doing really well. For higher volume programs, lower that

standard to 2/5 or 40%. Expect to have to grind through a few of your workouts

per week — it’s normal! You may have one or two standout workouts that you feel

great about and can say you love, but those are the exception to the

rule. To think that you’ll be sliding down rainbows riding a golden unicorn

every workout, is a fantasy. Get to work and suspend your emotions on the hard


•Every single

fitness program in the world involves strength training. You can’t get around

it — so learn it and learn it right. Even on the extreme end of the cardio

spectrum as an Ironman triathlete, I still need to do some strength training.

Dancers lift weights, yogi’s lift weights, senior citizens lift weights — and

you will also need to. Weight training offers benefits like muscle retention,

bone density maintenance, active mobility work, a myriad of mental benefits,

and more, that cannot be replicated in any other fitness modality. Make peace

with the weight room and learn it correctly — and incorporate it weekly at

least two times a week for most goals.

•Take care of your

body, like you would a car or any other machine. It’s mind boggling for me to

hear the level of mistreatment that the average person does to their body. Here

you are, in this incredible machine that carries you throughout your entire

life, it has the power to do literally anything in the world, and is your most

precious possession, but most people neglect to do even the basic maintenance

on themselves. You couldn’t drive a car for 100,000 miles with no maintenance —

machines need to be taken care of. Massages, good sleep, you get it. You cannot

push your body, fuel it with garbage, and otherwise neglect it and then expect

it to perform for you.

I’m a big fan of knowing the exact truth

and the harsh realities when I’m working towards something. Know that you’ll

have to do many things that you don’t want to do, when you don’t want to do

them, for longer than you want to do them — and that’s normal.

Anything worth having won’t come easily.


your expectations and keep moving forward!

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