One Meal At A Time
As we get towards the end of the first month of 2021, most of the resolutions that accompanied the new year will have been tested, and some will have failed.
January is a challenging month to overhaul your fitness or nutrition in Australia. On top of the abyss that is the Christmas holidays until heading back into work, there is also the challenge of family and friends who are visiting on their break.
Once you’ve navigated that and seemingly everyone has gone home to start work and school, then comes along Australia Day, and you’re tested by meat pies, cold beers and sausage sizzles.
I don’t take on new clients until February for this reason.
It seems silly to try and start a new routine when your normal regime is out the window — so I’d rather wait until everything is back to normal before we start making some changes.
This also has the benefit of helping me in avoiding new years resolutioners who aren’t too serious about getting on board.
As it’s the last week of January, I’ve been busy with reviewing tracking and running strategy consultations with my new clients who are starting next week.
During one of these consultations, one of my clients was talking about how every time they try to get started with improving their diet, they get overwhelmed with information and aren’t sure where to begin.
High-carb? Low-carb? No-carb? Don’t count carbs?
There are millions of differing opinions on the internet, but this can be hard for someone who is trying to get started.
As we discussed where the best place to start would be, we agreed to focus on a single meal (breakfast) for the initial two weeks before moving on from there.
We aren’t worried about calories, macronutrients, meal timing or anything like that. All we want to do is trial some differing breakfast options over the next couple of weeks and see how it goes
I’ve used this approach with many clients over the years and it’s a great place to start for people who have been overwhelmed with options in the past.
We pick three different options for breakfast, usually, something with eggs, some type of smoothie, and some form of oats or muesli and we cycle through these for two weeks.
If the client consumes one of these for breakfast each day, they have achieved their goal.
It doesn’t matter what they eat for lunch, dinner or snacks, we only care about breakfast. They could eat two pizzas every single day but if they consume one of the planned breakfasts, it’s a win.
The reason I like this approach is that it simplifies the goals for the fortnight while ensuring the client has the tools they need (ie. the meals).
Breakfast is a good place to start because people are happy to tolerate less variety in the morning, so three options for two weeks isn’t an issue, where it will be for dinner.
The other benefit of breakfast is that it gets them off to a good start for the day. When they reach the office at 9 am, they have already achieved their nutrition goal for the day.
Instead of making people relax and eat poorly, this often spurs them to make good food choices across the rest of the day, which is awesome because these decisions are driven by the client, not me — I just asked them to eat one of the breakfast options.
So if you’re looking at making some changes to your diet in 2021 and you’re not sure where to start, or where you started back in January didn’t work out, try picking out three different breakfast options that suit your needs and stick to them for the next two weeks.
Once you’ve done that, you might switch your focus to lunch, dinner or snacks, or try to dial in your total energy intake while hitting specific macronutrients.
Either way, you’ll be making these changes after two weeks of adherence to your initial strategy, which will feed into further adherence as you progress.
My three top breakfast rotations:
- Oats with Greek yoghurt and banana
- Scrambled eggs with mushroom, spinach and smoked salmon
- Smoothie with coconut water, Greek yoghurt, frozen berries, banana and protein powder
Tom Fitzgerald is Nutritionist & Exercise Scientist specialising in body recomposition. He lives on the beach in Kingscliff, Australia, and spends his days working with clients to improve their training and nutrition, while trying to stop his Bernese Mountain Dog, Aria, from eating his notes. You can follow him on Instagram: @tomfitzgerald.ifn