I never thought I would admit this, but I miss my parents’ nutrition and exercise wisdom.
Were they nutrition experts or co-authors of fitness books?
They didn’t need to be. They had basic, traditional rules for healthy living. Maybe you had the same experience when you were a kid.
Do the following rules sound familiar?
- No more second helpings (unless it was more veggies)
- No eating all of your Halloween candy in one night
- No dessert before dinner
- No dessert every night
- Finish your vegetables
- Eat a salad when you have a burger
- Go outside and play with your friends
- No video games, TV or computer all day
- If you want to buy something, use the money you’ve saved in your piggy bank
- Don’t stay up all night
These are genius rules. Do you remember some of them?
Ahhh, childhood. Those were the days. We had our parents setting limits for us, and the limits were simple. No second guessing required.
My parents didn’t stop me from playing sports because of overtraining fears or insist that I must reach 90% of my maximum heart rate during a workout for it to be effective.
My parents didn’t say I had to eat every 3 hours, get at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, eat 35% of my calories from carbohydrates, or cycle my calories.
Nevertheless, I was lean, healthy, energetic, and fit.
Why is it that when we reach adulthood, we make everything intricate and complex?
Do you want to read some of the reasoning I get from adults who aren’t succeeding with eating, exercise, and health?
- I’m not muscular because I’m overtrained
- I’m not lean because I don’t reach 90% of my max heart rate during training
- I’m not lean because I only eat 4 meals per day instead of 6
- I lost muscle because I only ate 0.8 grams of protein per pound instead of 1.0 grams per pound
- I’m not lean because I ate 37% of my calories from carbohydrates
- I’m not lean because I didn’t cycle my calories enough last month and do periodic re-feeds
What? Seriously? I highly doubt it. Those are some highly advanced and often unnecessary nutrition strategies, my friends.
Before any of us worry about those advanced strategies, maybe we should review the lessons from our parents.
- Are we eating second helpings (of foods others than veggies)?
- Are we eating all of our Halloween candy in one night?
- Are we eating dessert before dinner?
- Are we eating dessert every night?
- Are we finishing our vegetables?
- Are we mixing in a salad with the burger?
- Are we going outside and playing with our friends?
- Are we playing video games, watching TV or hanging on the computer all day?
- Are we spending money that we don’t have in our piggy bank?
- Are we staying up all night?
How about we tackle those basics before tallying carb grams, computing glycemic index, weighing food, or using the credit card to buy the next big screen TV?
Watch those kids
The next chance you have, observe young kids.
- Most of them eat when they are hungry
- Most of them stop eating when they aren’t hungry
- Most of them are engaged in life
- Most of them aren’t obsessed about food
- Most of them aren’t eating for a fix
- Most of them aren’t eating cookies when they had a “stressful” day at kindergarten
Kids have basic limits set in place by parents. They face them and move on. And if they don’t, they go sit in the corner until they calm down. Do we need to send ourselves to sit in the corner?
Furthermore, kids play. They use their bodies. They move around. When they feel like jumping, they jump. Kids can do full squats, handstands, and run without meeting a personal trainer 5 times each week. It’s called practice and repetition.
“Ryan, kids are so active, that’s why they can eat whatever they want!”
Hold on. Remember that kids observe hunger cues much better than adults, rarely eat for a fix, and have basic limits in place by their parents. Eating “whatever they want” is much different in a kid’s world. They might request macaroni and cheese every night, but they don’t force it down if they aren’t hungry or to numb emotions.
Times are changing
This phenomenon with kids was nearly universal a decade ago – but if you’ve been out of your house lately, you’ll now see kids acting like nutrition degenerates. They eat when kindergarten was unfair, they eat the entire bag of Halloween candy in one night, they eat dessert before dinner, they play video games all day, and they don’t have money in their piggy bank to pay off the credit card.
Is this the kids’ fault? Probably not. It’s the parents’ fault.
The parents are role modeling these things. The parents are allowing these things. And then when “kid x” turns 30 and is fat and unhealthy, s/he has no idea how to set self-imposed limits on eating or how to challenge themselves with exercise.
So, is it time to become your own parent? Is it time to set some basic guidelines for yourself? Are you worrying about carb timing even though you still eat dessert before dinner?
Or maybe you need to “hire” some new parents? Maybe you can enlist a coach, trainer or nutritionist to provide you with some parental like instruction.
Whatever you choose, do what you need to succeed.
Just don’t keep blaming macronutrient percentages, target heart rates and amino acid profiles. Build the foundation first.
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