Over the past few weeks I have been fortunate enough to deliver a number of presentations on nutrition and wellbeing.
The people I delivered the sessions to ranged from P5 children, an U18 elite football squad and a senior football team. Throughout each presentation the big take home message was that everyone is different – that was clearly evident even from the audience I was delivering to each time.
We hear this all the time but yet we all seem to follow the same thing that someone else is doing and think that it should work for us. This is especially true when it comes to exercise and nutrition. We tend to follow the latest fad diet or fitness DVD from a celebrity who has lost a lot of weight after coming out of the jungle or winning Big Brother.
When I speak about nutrition I use examples from my own experience and what I have read, but what works for me may not work for you. Even the amount and when you eat food can affect people in many ways. I am a big advocate of not missing breakfast and would always have some form of protein and green veg with my breakfast either through whole foods or shake form, from here I would aim to eat two more main meals and snack at least twice throughout the day.
Other people I know have seen great gains from intermitting fasting – this means after they wake up they may not eat until 10/11am because they want to wait at least 12 hours from when they last ate the day before. Others give themselves a few hours window where they consume their daily nutritional intake. Which method is the right one or even the best? That all depends on you; what suits your lifestyle, what you can sustain and most importantly how do you feel.
We all seem to neglect how we feel when we follow a meal plan or exercise program. When it comes to this I always remember a simple comment made by Olympic long jumper Greg Rutherford who suffered a lot of injuries in his career. After winning his Olympic Gold in 2012 he was asked how he overcame all his injuries and kept going, he responded by say “I just learnt to listen to my body”.
Sometimes it can be that simple, if you are following an eating plan but find your hormones are all over the place, you lack energy or you can’t sleep at night, isn’t it worthwhile looking at what’s causing the problem? It could be your diet so rather than thinking some celebrity got great results from this so you should just grin and bear it, why not change it up and see if it makes a difference?
When you feel you’ve got your nutrition right ask yourself one thing, can I sustain this for the rest of my life? There may be times when you are looking to reach goals in a short space of time so you have to be extreme with your diet but do you have a nutrition plan in place that you can always fall back on and follow.
When it comes to training one of the best examples I can use is from Usain Bolt’s trainer who let Bolt train when he liked. This is the fastest man in the world but he still had control over how hard he wanted to push himself. Because his coach couldn’t feel what was going on within his body, he trusted Bolt enough to make the call on how hard he wanted to train. This can be a dangerous game to play but when you see the determination Bolt has to be the best and the quickest in the world, no-one really has to tell him he needs to train.
We are not all like Bolt and most of us need a lot of guidance and encouragement to train, but there are people who take it to the extreme and feel they need to push themselves everyday because they are following some program from the internet. Again listen to your body.
Are you breaking down all the time, are you not seeing progress or has your progress stopped? Asking these questions can be the difference between a decent training program and a great one. On the other side of this, people will use it as an excuse that their program is no good and doesn’t work, but ask yourself did you really try it, and instead of dropping the whole routine are there just specific exercises that may or may not have worked for you?
There’s no one size fits all when it comes to nutrition, exercise, fitness and well-being. The hardest thing for anyone to do is find out what is right for them. This may take weeks, months or even years. You will make mistakes along the way but instead of giving up learn from them. Mistakes only count if you keep making them, if you fix the mistake then it becomes a lesson.