Gaining full control of your diet is not a game of checkers…it’s chess!
The game of chess is not won with cookie cutter step-by-step instructions for every single person to follow against every single opponent, and that’s the same reason you shouldn’t follow a step-by-step, or day-by-day, diet.
“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” -Albert Einstein
You learn strategy. You learn how the big picture can lead to small wins, and ultimately you learn to destroy the opponent.
The complicated game of healthy-eating takes intelligence, strategy and perseverance. The chess game, here, is learning how to make quick and easy healthy decisions (intelligence), putting yourself in good situations (strategy), and not always giving into what you want (perseverance).
Luckily, for most every chess move there’s a countermove to destroy the opponent. And before I wrap myself too far into this chess metaphor, and start talking about pawn to queen four, let’s just make it simple: You are playing chess against yourself because YOU are the only reason you don’t eat healthy.
So, learn the game and play better than anyone else.
Let’s put your terrible diet in checkmate!
Healthy Eating Equation (Better Humans Only)
To be good at any game you need to learn the strategy, or the big picture.
So what’s our strategy??
Our strategy is choosing a very simple way to eat healthy. We aren’t going to worry about gluten-free, is it paleo?, zone blocks or anything like that. Our strategy will help with meal planning, grocery shopping and actually follows a very simple equation:
Protein + Veggies and/or fruits + Healthy Fats = Healthy meal.
- Protein – eggs, chicken, fish, pork, or steak
- Your choice of vegetables and/or fruits (limit fruit meaning more veggies than fruit)
- Healthy fats – almonds, walnuts, almond butter, cooking with things like olive oil or coconut oil
Don’t forget the quality of your foods do matter! I could write an entire post on grass-fed, organic vs. all natural, etc. But we are just talking big picture right now for the macros. We will get into quality a little later.
Wait, Jerred, you forgot about my bread, I mean carbs…I NEED carbs!
I’m not going to lie, I eat a good amount of carbohydrates and they aren’t all fruits and vegetables. I try to eat my carbs at the RIGHT time, like after really hard training sessions when glycogen stores are low and need to be replenished.
But I try to focus on things like tubers for my carbs, when I can. Do your best to cut the grains.
Is this equation easy to follow?
No, especially if your diet is the complete opposite of this. But if you can start to follow this equation you will see huge changes in your life. The above equation, if treated as law, will help you save money on snack foods and junk foods YOU DO NOT NEED.
It’s not an equation for those who need to lose weight, gain weight or perform…it’s all of them:
- Need to lose? Follow the equation and strictly limit carb intake with minimal fruits and a lot of vegetables.
- Need to gain? Follow the equation and increase tuber (and fat) consumption
- Need to perform and recover like a better human? Follow the equation to balance your bodyweight and consume A LOT of vegetables
It’s a strategy. It’s not a diet plan.
Focusing on your nutrition this way will put the right macronutrients in your diet and enough veggies and (some) fruit will help put the right micronutrients in your diet…giving you one pretty well-rounded, healthy daily diet. Cut the sugar, cut the grains and limit the dairy. Don’t try to be perfect, but do your best!
So you have the strategy…Now your opponent (you) comes in with a few powerful chess moves!! Watch out!
I don’t have the money for healthy eating
This is my favorite chess move (excuse)!
It appeals to the logical thinkers out there. The logic looks like this…Healthy food = expensive. I don’t want, or I can’t, spend a lot of money = I can’t buy healthy food. If you follow this logic your healthy-eating lifestyle is put into checkmate before it even starts.
So how do we fight back??
- Quit Eating out. You know how it goes once you start eating healthily…one meal out, turns into two which turns into your diet going downhill quickly. You get off track, so you don’t seem to care as much because you have already broken the cycle. Even if your meal out is at the organic cafe, it doesn’t matter. You are now wasting precious money on ONE meal that could have purchased you MULTIPLE meals at the grocery store. If you are short on cash and want to save money…stop wasting it.
- Create a budget. Too easy, right? All of your money WILL go somewhere, be in control of that direction. Determine how much YOUR healthy diet will cost and how much you need to set aside for your health.
- Get out of Debt. This is a big one. My wife and I barley had any consumer debt when we got married, it was pretty much student loans that were killing us. Now that we are debt free it gives us a lot more options on where we want to spend our money. Even if you only eliminate one small debt or a credit card, etc that is extra money in your pocket every month.
- Shopping. Shopping around really can mean just Internet research in your local area. Find out where meat will be cheapest this week, what produce will be best priced and see what kind of coupons are available.
- Buy in Bulk/Go Local. You know how it works…spend more to spend less. This is a great option especially with meat. Buy ground beef instead of steak and check out this site to help. If you find a farm near your area you can normally snag eggs, meat and produce at a good price, but I realize that is not an option for everyone. But buying in bulk is!! Another site worth checking out: HERE.
- Eat it all. Lastly, eat it all!! You should not have a full pantry and refrigerator and say…”I don’t have any food”. You should run pretty low when it is time to buy groceries. Do it right and avoid eating out!
Aside from making more money, the only option to have more money is to spend less money. So step one of eating healthy on a budget: Spend your money where it counts…Then watch as more healthy options become available with your new-found cash.
Healthy eating takes too much time
Alright, if we defeated the big excuse of money, what’s next?
So maybe you have enough money to eat healthy, but surly you don’t have enough time…we’re all busy, right?
- Plan, Plan, Plan. This is a reoccurring theme in health and fitness. If you plan, things will happen for you. Plan out where you are going to shop, what you will eat for the week and plan all of this based off of the deals you find shopping around.
- Learn to cook. Practice and learn how to make large quantities of healthy food you can eat throughout the week. One hour of prep and cooking on Sunday, before the week begins, can really give you a lot of options.
- Change your brain. For most who “don’t have enough time”, really are just saying healthy eating is not a true priority. We all waste a good amount of our time during the day or weekend. Change the priority level of healthy eating and you will all of a sudden have more time.
- Pantry Purge. If you truly have limited time at your disposal, then you are probably more prone to grabbing the quick carb-heavy snack. But guess what? If those carb-heavy snacks do not even exist in your household, then you can’t grab one! Clear the pantry, clear the freezer of sweets and only put in your pantry and fridge items which fit into our “healthy meal” equation. You will then force yourself to always be reaching for the better options (only options).
- Become More Productive. Everyone thinks they are incredibly busy, and you may be. But once you realize busy is NOT productive, you can actually start to make some strides in the right direction. For fitness and health we put in the time, but when it’s about being more productive it’s about hacking, cheating and taking as many short roads as possible to become a efficiently productive machine that grants you the ability to do whatever you want! Read more on this subject HERE.
You can make more money, but you cannot make more time. We all have the same amount in a day. You have to choose wisley on what you want to focus on and what is important to you. You need to make it a priority.
I regularly reference Rule #76 (No excuses. Play like a champion.) here at End of Three Fitness because I hate it when people point out a problem without a proposed solution, complain just to complain, or make excuses for themselves which makes them feel comfortable with a poor decision.
The game of “nutritional chess” is high stakes; much more than a board game, or any game out there, for that matter. You have to know there are real consequences for eating crap on a daily basis.
If you don’t care to learn the rules of the game…you won’t like the outcome. But don’t worry about being perfect or doing everything the “right” way.
No one will ever feel like they have enough time, enough money or that they are doing everything they need to do to be perfectly fit and healthy.
But don’t complain, don’t dwell on these facts – just keep moving. Keep trying to be a better version of yourself.
No excuses. Play like a champion. Become a better human!
P.S. – I’m here to answer any of your nutritional chess questions, so leave them in the comments and I will help out!
photo credit: simpleinsomnia, jonny goldstein, nicholasjon, Alexander Rabb, JasonBrown2013