Bro.. My diet is so clean, that I could eat my dinner off it.
Except I can’t.
Because it contains carbs.
Clean eating isn’t for everyone.
But hey, the good news is it doesn’t need to be.
I’m a trainer, I stay in shape year-round and I openly admit I do not follow “clean eating” rules with my diet.
I eat pizza.
I eat chocolate.
I have the occasional fling with a Creme Egg.
And you know what? So do all of my clients.
I see very little point in completely blacklisting whole food groups or avoiding foods you personally love eating, just because you want to be in great shape.
Yet, in a fitness industry which is supposedly built around helping you make healthy choices, we are taught to do this.
We are taught to hate ourselves for not being as lean as we want to be. Or to punish ourselves with an extra 30 minutes on the treadmill because we licked the icing off some donuts at the local supermarket.
You know, normal stuff.
But seriously, over the years I have found that traditional “clean eating” rules are useless for the vast majority of gym trainees.
Going too strict, too hard, too fast is a sure-fire way to derail your progress and put you back further than where you started.
Hence why it’s not uncommon to see a clean eater go crazy at the weekend under the guise of “cheat day”. Here’s a post which talks about this more.
I’ve found that a more flexible approach to dieting is a much more stable way of achieving weight loss and – the golden nugget we all want – sustaining it.
The Clean Eating Myth
Yeah, the fitness world is filled with bullshit subliminal messages.
I’m sure you’ve seen them on social media, about “not wanting it bad enough” or “pain today means success tomorrow”.
But when the fuck did this become about self-torture?
None of my clients live this way.
This is precisely the reason I tell them to never call foods like pizza a “cheat meal”.
So long as they can fit it into our daily targets, it’s just a normal food. Giving it this special name breeds this mindset that we are doing something wrong, letting ourselves down, being naughty.
In fact, so long as you’re not going crazy and over-eating all the time, enjoying your favourite foods is a great way to help you stick to your diet in the long-term. And the best diet is the one you can stick to.
Those who already follow my More Diet or Classic Size know my take – instead of learning to associate exercise with torture, I’d much rather a client learns to master the arts of discipline and moderation.
So rather than all of the negativity which usually surrounds fitness – and particularly diet – information, I’ve always believed you need to build a healthy relationship with food in order to sustain a healthy diet.
Ask me last time I ate a “cheat meal” and I’ll tell you I don’t remember.
Ask me last time I ate pizza, it was last Wednesday.
I remember because the guy turned up apologizing as they’d temporarily ran out of 12″‘s, before reaching into his bag and handing us three 10″‘s as a peacemaker. Apology accepted, my friend.
To me, the first step to fitness is a healthy mind.
Your fitness routine should be a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate.
And I’ve always found that going super hard with a diet – restricting your favourite treats and cutting calories to a bare minimum – is no way to live. Despite the mental drawbacks, it’s not even the optimal way to lose weight!
Because the body adapts to everything.
Even the harshest of harsh diets.
Even a diet so harsh it would make cardboard look tasty.
No matter how strict a diet gets, the body always learns to adapt and hits a plateau. And that’s when traditional clean eating get’s rather silly.
Sure, you’re still pounding away in the gym, or going for your morning runs along the coast. And you’re still watching what you eat. But fat loss has halted.
To end the rut, Instagram advises you to cut out all sugar.
Because science, bro.
Then dairy. Then gluten. Then foods with the letter B.
Pretty soon you’re down well under 1000 calories per day and feeling like a total failure because still the fucking weight won’t come off the way you want it to.
And then one afternoon, while you’re sniffing your kids’ lunch box to remind yourself about the good old days when you were allowed to eat cheese sandwiches and Jaffa cakes, you have a revelation…
“Why am I doing this again?”
Because back in the early days – you know, when your fitness hobby was fun and not a constant battle with your inner Mr Resistance, and before you stopped attending family get-togethers for fear they would “ruin your gains” – you remember actually being allowed to have a treat here and there, right?
You recall saying things like “I work hard in the gym 5 days a week. I’m not so obsessed that I can’t have a single chocolate bar.”
You yearn for those simple times.
A time when you could venture into the fridge without grabbing your abs and calling yourself something derogatory.
A time when you would even occasionally set off on an exciting adventure into the fabled “Biscuit Cupboard”, a land full of wonder and excitement, and home of the legendary “Hob Nob”.
You want to be in shape. And in order to feel good about yourself, you must feel bad about… no, wait… damn it.
What’s your take on today’s article? Do you agree with me or do you think I’m talking nonsense? Drop a comment down below to let me know.