Whatever is your goal, get rid of sweet cravings, improving your sleep hygiene, increasing your energy, stabilizing your mood, losing weight, gaining muscle mass, etc., you will only see results if you stay consistent with the habit.
A routine might not sound that exciting, but our bodies thrive on it when it comes to basic physiological processes. The same processes need to happen every day to ensure that our bodies function optimally. And these processes happen thanks to the 50+ different hormones in the human body.
But what are hormones?
Hormones are the chemical messengers in your body. They tell cells which process needs to happen.
For example, the hormone insulin tells your cells to take up glucose when blood sugar is elevated after eating a high-carb meal.
When you spend years asking your body to perform normal physiological functions, like regulating your metabolism, repairing your damaged cells, refreshing your memory, and millions of others happening daily, with sub-optimal conditions like lack of sleep, poor diet, stress overload, and physical inactivity, then your hormonal responses get out of balance.
And you feel that your metabolism is “broken”. Indeed, your body is no longer running efficiently!?
The body is resilient, and it needs to be reading the same messages over and over to respond. If you have been neglecting your sleep, skipping meals, hitting the gym sporadically, and letting stress be unmanaged, you are sending your body mixed signals.
And guess what? It does not know what to do!?
Long-term unhealthy lifestyle and nutrition habits eventually lead to insomnia and sleep disruptions, weight gain, moodiness and irritability, cognitive decline, and metabolic dysregulations.
As a nutrition and lifestyle coach, it is my responsibility to keep people on track and support people throughout the process. Often, when I start a nutritional plan with someone, the first week or two they seldom reach their calories and macronutrients goals. It takes some trial and errors to find the right combination of foods to hit your targets, and not left out with only proteins at the end of the day, or completely busting your calories goal.
Obviously, during that adjustment period, I don’t expect to see any changes in the body composition. The body is resilient, and needs to be reading the same message over and over to respond. In the case of foods, it needs to know that you are feeding it a certain amount of calories daily and it has to deal with it; either to lose or to gain weight. If one day you overeat, and the next day you undereat, you are sending your body mixed signals, and of course, your metabolism does not respond in allowing energy to be burned!?
I often observe people starting an exercise regimen with the idea of losing weight. Although exercising does provide beneficial changes in the body, like gaining muscle mass, increasing cardiovascular endurance, and improving agility and coordination, among others, it does not compensate for a poor nutrition.
People constantly make the mistake or have that misconception that you can out-exercise a bad diet. Hence why I coach people to weight, measure and log your foods, hit their individual ideal calories requirement, and play Tetris with their macros!
I like to measure consistency with the 80/20 rule. It means that you need to stay consistent with your nutrition and lifestyle habits 80% of the time and tolerate 20% of divergence from the goal. By tracking your compliance and ensuring that you are hitting this 80% minimum requirement will ensure consistency and then you will start to make some beneficial hormonal changes in the body and eventually see the desired results.
For example, if you follow the 80/20 rule for your meals, it means that 17 out of 21 meals per week (3 meals a day) have to be compliant. That allows you freedom at 4 meals per week! That is fun!
For sleep, that means that you should aim for 5-6 good night of sleep per week where you allow yourself enough time to feel rejuvenated. That means that 1-2 nights per week can be suboptimal but yet your body will continue to thrive and not make hormonal shifts that are sabotaging your health and mindset.
Decide on a metric and a way to keep track of your habit. Use your phone, like the Way of Life app or the Coach.me app or a piece of sheet that you put somewhere you can see often.
Now, it does not mean that you have to aim for consistency all the time. There are some times you may not want to, like on vacations, Christmas Holidays, or after finishing a sport event, like a triathlon race, or making weight for a sport event, like a powerlifting meet. This is normal.
If you are consistent with your food intake for a long period of time, you will realize that you will be able to have a memorable cheat meal, go on a vacations, or survive the Holidays without gaining weight other than some extra water retention. Because your body will be so accustomed to a regular food intake that it will burn off the extra calories quickly to ensure it stays in homeostasis. This principle only applies if consistency is the rule for your body and not the exception. This is the principle I refer to damage control. It is a great place to be in! It brings you freedom of mind!
Consistency with respect to your health habits
In my signature Nutrition & Lifestyle Reset Program, I provide individuals with the framework to establish what I consider the most important health habits that will ensure long-term health and an optimal metabolism. Some of these habits are:
Eating nutritious foods and avoiding preservatives and artificial sweeteners
Getting adequate sleep
Moving throughout the day
Practicing a stress management
Now, within the context of my Flexible Dieting program, I also include the notion of food tracking, calories balancing, and macros counting. Although these habits are not necessary to achieve optimal health, I believe that people gain a deeper understanding of the impact of nutrition on body composition, performance, and recovery after doing this exercise for a short term.
By implementing long-lasting healthy habits, you can ensure optimal health and longevity, as well as an ideal body composition!