Today is Day 3 of my lean eating adventure. I’ve received some questions and comments both in real life and online about what exactly this adventure is, and I thought I’d address them here.
You see, when I tell people that I started doing Lean Eating, they tend to ask, “So what is the diet? What are you eating?” When I explain that is no meal plan, then they think I’m crazy for paying for nutrition coaching. There are so many free diets on the internet! I could just follow any of those and “get healthy”.
Except, I know that! I’ve done keto and Paleo. I’ve done low carb, no carb, carb backloading and carb pre-loading. Most of the time I’m just carb overloading. I’ve counted the calories I eat and with the BodyMedia Fit, I was even counting calories burned. I’ve tried a PSMF, which is genuinely an eating disorder by any other name. I’ve done variations of LeanGains and Intermittent Fasting. I have a cupboard overflowing with half-consumed supplements that are supposed to be taken pre-, post- and intra-workout.
In short, I have been around the block when it comes to dieting. You name it, and I’ve probably done it. I’m certainly not proud of that fact, but it’s a reality. Yet here, I am: I’m still fat. I’m sick and tired of dieting. I have no idea how to feed myself and worst of all, I still really, really hate my body.
So, I’m giving Lean Eating a try. There is no meal plan. There is no calorie counting. I have tried enough of those to know by now that they are not what I need for long term success. If you aren’t familiar with Precision Nutrition’s Calorie Control Guide, you should check it out. They have a system for eyeballing appropriate portion sizes, without neurosis or restriction, and I think it gives a pretty good overview of how reasonable they are as a company.
I’ve been trying to follow their portion control guide loosely on my own since before the program started. Right now it has not been introduced as part of the LE program – in fact, I’m on my third day of a diet program and no one has given me any dietary guidelines. A part of me is panicking, but on the whole, I feel very at peace because I know that I will continuing forward with small steps for the rest of the year.
The actual program itself has three main components: First, I log in each day and read a short lesson. Part of the reason I agreed to this journey is because I know it will promote critical self reflection, education and growth. Those things are integral for my happiness as a person, but they are often lacking in other diets and workout plans.
Second, I do an assigned “habit” each day. Right now I’m supposed to be taking fish oil every morning. It sounds simple, but fish oil is one of the supplements I already had in my cabinet and I never remembered to take it consistently. In a couple of weeks, when I’ve mastered this habit, I’ll move on to something else that will be equally simple. I don’t know what the next habit will be, and I don’t need to think about it yet, which is a bit of a shift in thinking for me.
I am the type of person who tends to set a goal and then right off the bat, I try to do a long-jump and land as close to the goal as possible. Sometimes this approach works, but more often than not, I need to stop and re-evaluate because I’ve missed the mark and done a faceplant. I need a navigator to help map out the directions to reach my goal – all of the stuff that comes in between now and the end. I never stop to ask myself, “How will I get there?” I only ask, “Where am I going?” So in a lot of ways, the coaches at PN are handing me driving instructions. I am still the driver and I will get there in the end, but maybe I won’t accidentally take a detour to Mexico and get lost along the way.
The final part of the program is an exercise routine. There is a strength training component, though the rests are much shorter and the sets much longer than I’m used to. The first phase is also very focused on mobility work. On paper, the routines look simple. I’ve squatted 305lbs! I should be able to handle some body weight split squats!
In reality, I have a long-standing hip issue that needs rehab and it’s basically getting a crash course in hip flexor and adductor strengthening. Lateral squats? I can only do them on one side of my body, which is a sure sign of a problem. Although I’m still young, I have a feeling that’s the type of thing that haunts a person into their old-age, which might be why I was able to give myself permission to step back from my squat goals for a while. I can go back to squatting when my hip is fixed.
One other aspect of the program that I should mention is that I have access to a coach and a team of women who are all undertaking the same journey. My coach, Denise, is really great. Not only can I ask for help when I need it, but I have someone e-mailing me daily to say, “You’re doing great. Focus on doing what you can do today.” That’s always a nice message to wake-up to, and very reassuring. For the first time ever, I feel like I’m doing really well and I feel relieved that someone finally removed the burden of the future.
And when I explain to people like that, they all seem to agree that I’m not crazy for doing this – and it certainly beats calorie counting!