Goal-setting has been a hot topic around here lately—making, planning, and achieving goals for our clients, our businesses, and our own family this summer!

No matter who you are or what’s important to you, everyone has goals. Maybe yours is as simple as eating more vegetables during the day or working out for 5 minutes a day. Maybe it’s eating more protein or getting more fiber into your diet. Or maybe you have a long-term goal like competing in a physique competition, finishing a marathon, or losing a certain number of pounds. 

No matter what your goals are, it’s impossible to achieve them without having a plan in place. As Benjamin Franklin said (and as I often repeat), “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

Having a meal plan is essential, especially if you’re competing, getting paid to be an athlete, or trying to lose weight for a specific event or occasion. But sticking to a strict meal plan long-term is dang near impossible (and honestly, it’s not always the healthiest)! We’re humans, not robots, people! So much of what and how we eat revolves around our personal opinions of and experiences with food. Our cravings, emotions, and our cultural and social traditions are all part of our natural human behavior. On top of that, each of our bodies function differently and need certain things to perform at their best. There’s just no way to find a one-size-fits-all meal plan! That’s why the Atkins diet, keto diet, intermittent fastening etc. aren’t sustainable long term.

One of our favorite things to do as a family is go out to eat or get a big tub of buttered popcorn as we head for Pineda-family date night at the movies. Constantly restricting yourself from those types of things would eventually become too much and may lead to behaviors such as binging, falling off the wagon, and thinking “This healthy eating thing is too hard and NOT for me!”

It’s a fine line, because for some, it’s easy to become obsessed with clean eating to the point where it can create an unhealthy relationship with food. No matter who you are or what you’re working toward, it’s important to take a step back and really evaluate your personal goals to try and find the right balance for you.

In the Pineda household, we follow the 80/20 rule (referred to as : Flex Dieting). I eat healthy 80% of the time, then I indulge the remaining 20%, because I know how much I love my treats and couldn’t live without my dose of ice cream. This 80/20 rule isn’t for everyone – but it works for us. 

So where am I going with all of this?

I told you that I create meal plans, but in the same breath, I told you they stink. Ha! Feeling a bit conflicted?

What I want you to realize is that finding a healthy lifestyle you can actually maintain is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and for your family. I say this often: “If your plan is not sustainable, your goal is not attainable!” Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all plan! We are all unique, and our bodies and innate behaviors respond better to different ways of eating.

I want to lay out and break down a few different approaches to a nutrition lifestyle. But before I do, I want you to keep in mind that you don’t have to go from 0 to 60 right away. Making big changes starts with baby steps, and you might be surprised to find that it doesn’t have to be difficult OR boring! You can still achieve optimal health while enjoying the things that bring a smile to your face. I’ll dig in to some specific ways to make those doable changes next week. For now, here are the four types of meal plans you’ll usually encounter:

Four Approaches to Healthy Eating:

  1. The Super Strict Plan. This is the kind of plan that tells you the exact amounts of food that should be eaten at exact times, along with a specific list for every meal of the day. Every single thing you’ll eat during the day is laid out for you. It doesn’t take into account your preferences or allow cheat foods. It may even eliminate certain foods that are considered healthy. Some people like the “no thinking required” part of this plan, and that can be nice for a while. But it WILL probably get tiresome. And although you might see results, you’ll eventually start to rebel against the rigidity of this plan and miss the foods that aren’t included in it. Most people will stop following this type of plan because of how uncompromising it is.
  2. The Kind-of-Strict Plan. This plan includes a list of items to choose from with specific amounts and suggested meal times. It may take into account your preferences, or it may not. Again, it might be fun to follow for a while, but this plan can also become rigid and boring. You’ll probably start to miss those “forbidden” foods, and eventually, you’ll stray.
  3. The Not-so-Strict Plan (Flex Dieting).This plan offers suggested macros for the day, and you get to choose how you fill them. This type of plan gives you a lot of freedom, but for some, it takes too much time and effort to figure out what to eat and when to eat, and to pre-log and keep track of your macros. Most of the time, people won’t want to dedicate the time and they’ll bolt. (This is my go-to style of meal planning)
  4. The Eat What You Want, When You Want, However Much You Want Plan. Otherwise known as the newly-hyped intuitive eating approach. Yes, it can work, as long as you’re being honest with yourself about how much you’re really eating, AND if you’re making sure you’re actually choosing healthy foods 80% of the time.

So which one is right for you? Only time, trial, and error will tell. If you’ve tried Super Strict for a while, and time and time again you find yourself failing, drop the yo-yo and TRY SOMETHING THAT ACTUALLY WORKS! Find a feasible that makes more sense to you, your body, your lifestyle, and your goals.

If you have any questions on diets or how we can build a lifestyle diet together, contact me to see how I can help guide you.

Okay! So now I’m dying to know…what plan (if any) have you been following, and what have you found that’s working or not working? Leave a comment on the Body Zone Fitness Consulting Facebook page 

In Health, 
Lisa Pineda 
IG: @Lisa.pineda.fit