Have you ever thought about intentional eating? Have you ever thought about how intention comes out in all aspects of our lives? If not, I want you to explore your relationship with food with me. People love food, so I figured exploring intention through the scope of food is a great place to start.
First, let's start wrapping our minds around the concept of intentional eating. What does that mean? Well it means many things. Primarily, intentional eating gets us to SLOW DOWN and consciously think about what we are putting in our mouths and WHY. That's what being diligent is all about. Diligence means to have or to show care and to be conscientious in one's work or duties. If you've ever worked with a quality trainer or coach, they will be the first to tell you that above all else nutrition is the most important duty, part, or approach to reaching fitness goals. Whether your goal is to pack on muscle, drop body fat, or put weight on then I'm sure you've heard about the diligence needed around eating right.
Before you can "eat right," think about your goal. Ask yourself right now: What is my health goal? Be specific. Keep it POSITIVE and keep it REALISTIC. For example, avoid statements like "I need to drop some weight." A statement like that has no time frame or specific amount, nor does it imply that you as you are are enough. Instead, try something like, "I want to wear my white jeans again in 12 weeks," or "I want to increase my muscle density, so I will drop 2% body fat in 6 weeks." Another good example is, "I will decrease my mile time by one minute within 4 weeks, so I will be diligent about my food choices to ensure that I have the proper energy to make it through workouts 5 days a week." When there is a goal attached to the food we eat, we tend to eat wiser and feel more confident about our choices. This also takes away the "I can't eat that" to the "I CHOOSE NOT to eat that." One statement implies too much negative restriction and the other implies free-will.
Now, if a person is trying to create life long health, think of the 80/20 concept. This means that 80% of the week is structured and the other 20% means having a little fun or refuels. To eat clean, or with goal-specific intention, then the creation of macro based menus or macro based meal plans are vitally important. When a person creates a menu or plan for their weekly eating, they are placing so much intention behind their bites. The other 20% of your eating would be to have that special dinner out once a week, or maybe a small dessert twice a week that you predetermine will be in your weekly meal planning. When we give ourselves the ability to choose "yes I can," " yes I will," or "I do not want that" we give ourselves more control. When we approach food with "I can't" statements it's easier to get discouraged, to feel left out, have more self-pity and to let of go of control because it places us in a position of restriction from our free-will. The 80/20 lifestyle makes reaching long term health goals easier. Why is it easier? It's easier because you are in control-you the have power to decide. Living with intention is all about owning and creating your own power and to have ownership of your actions. Living with intention means taking responsibility for your own health.
To live by the 80/20 lifestyle does take planning, and with planning follows intention. Yet, as we all know, life is full of challenges. To live the fit life a person does need to be prepared. These are my simple solutions: eat a small meal every 3 hours (this can mean three meals a day with two snack, but pack your food accordingly) and be sure you have a protein source with each meal to keep you feeling fuller longer, drink at least 3/4 of a gallon of water a day, move your body daily, make time to practice gratitude, and never give up. I make sure that I always have food with me, even if it's just protein powder. I always carry a jug of water with me, I plan my meals out every week, and I map out my macros every morning after breakfast. I also make sure to do resistance training 4-5 times a week, and go on long walks daily for at least one hour (or at least get 10k steps a day) Are there days I eat whatever? Sure there are those days, but I don't let them snowball. I could eat whatever, whenever, but the difference is that I want to feel and look a certain way, so I choose to be prepared and planned. I choose to live with intention. I choose to own my power, my health, and my actions.
I understand we all have a certain body type too, so what I'm capable of physically, mentally, and/or financially will be different from one person to the next. I, like all people, prefer certain activities over others. I also prefer certain foods over others. With that being said, make sure you listen to yourself. For example, a bodybuilder lifestyle might not work for you, but maybe you'd enjoy certain parts of it, like it's structure when it comes to meal planning. Also, just because your mind says "I want ice cream" doesn't mean to give in with a rapid "yes." It's important to see that a big part of food is mental and emotional. Before eating, answer this question: Is this food going to make my body feel nourished, sustained and whole? If you know that the food may taste good in the moment, but leave you crashing an hour later then make a better selection. For instance, select the apple over the Snickers bar. Both are sweet, but only one is packed with lasting nutrients. Also, ask yourself: does it fit my macros? If not, have it tomorrow. This is where the 80/20 concept comes in and will help you to manage those cravings.
Lastly, pay attention to the quality of your food. Read the labels. If you can read it and understand it then eat it. If it grows from the earth then eat it. I also challenge you to eat more intentionally by thinking about where your food comes from more than just its cost. For instance, just because something is organic does not mean that it is better. Perhaps that organic produce came from another country when your local farm is growing the same thing, but at the conventional level. When we shop locally we are reducing the carbon footprint, reducing cost, supporting our local economy, and ensuring freshness and nutrient density is in our food. If the food can be organic, local and seasonal then that's the golden ticket.
Another way to increase the quality of our eating is how we eat. One way to do that is to fully chew our food and savor the flavor. Try to take a moment prior to eating to be grateful for what you are about to consume and the energy it will give your body. To be honest and fair, intentional eating is just a way to slow down in a world that moves very rapidly.
It is my hope that you continue to see food as exciting, engaging, delicious and enjoyable no matter what your health goals are aimed toward. Having health goals does not imply that eating will no longer be fun. Having health goals means you care about yourself. I personally feel that you deserve to have power in your life and to feel incredible. Let the power you have in your life be with great intention and care. Mas love and be well!
I am a new mother who has her hands full! I juggle not just my coaching business, but I am also a full time educator. I also teach yoga in the Bay Area, and I mentor first generation college students.