Guest post by Melanie Rhinehart
I've had several clients ask me for meal plans lately. So I just wanted to talk about why I don't think they are the answer.
Think for just a minute about how many diet or meal plans or templates there are and how much money they are making. If that is the answer then why do we still have a problem? I finally got to a point where I decided I would no longer do anything that I could not see myself doing 12 months from now. That means no more extreme ways of eating or cutting out entire food groups. If it's a temporary way of eating with temporary results then what is the purpose? If you can start to look beyond the immediate results and start looking at the long term results, it changes everything. I started understanding what I had done to myself with years of living that way. And I started to see a different future. As with most things in life, the very best things come with time and hard work and patience. My new rule became finding something that would work long term. Because short term messes with you physically and ends up tearing down your self worth.
First I want to say that low calorie meal plans do work and will work. I get why people are drawn to them. They just want to be told what to do to produce results quickly. Just tell me what to do!! And they work for a very short time. If this is your first time trying it (have you ever noticed that the exact same diet that worked for you last year no longer produces the same results this year?). If the goal is to quickly lose a lot of weight at the expense of quality of life. If you aren't worried about what you might do to your future metabolic health. If you don't care what you weigh and what you feel like one year from now and only care about immediate results or the vacation next month. If you are ok with being hungry and angry and frustrated with your family and you don't need very much energy to get through the day. If you are ok with being skinny-fat. Which means yes, you might look good in clothes because you've managed to starve yourself down to a smaller size, but you probably lost some muscle and might not like the way you look in a swimsuit.
Why don't they work over time and produce lasting results? And why don't they work for everyone the same way?
Diet plans are very generic. They assume all people who weigh 150 lbs are exactly the same. Same history, same hormones, same needs, same workout intensity, same life stress. You are essentially no longer an individual with individual needs. They also fail to take into account that our metabolisms are ever-changing. They are a moving target and our nutrition must be adjustable to account for that.
When a diet or meal plan does not work or stops working it usually leaves us feeling like a failure. Our brains tell us we failed because of the one time we went off the plan and ate a cupcake for our kid's birthday. It must be that one single cupcake that causes our weight loss to stall. That makes no sense but it's what we tell ourselves. After many cycles of this we believe we must be weak or flawed somehow or deep down we secretly believe we must not be worth it.
Weight and nutrition are very emotional and hard to navigate and we tend to lose all rational thought!! In reality, your diet plan has failed you because it failed to take into account your real life. The joy and happiness and even comfort that come from social situations and being able to eat and feel normal. The physiological responses of your body trying to tell you what it needs. If your meal plan does not address the emotional and very personal side of your life, it will fail you. If it does not address your unique situation and needs and hormones and your body's feedback, it will fail you.
YOU are not the problem and YOU are not a failure! You deserve whatever body you are striving for and you deserve to be happy and well taken care of along the way to getting it. Don't sell yourself short and accept what someone else tells you your nutrition should be like. Don't blindly follow what the person sitting next to you is doing because it seemed to work for them. Don't be desperate for results right now. Take the time to value yourself enough to figure out what works for YOU. Demand better! A good nutrition coach will take the time to know you and care about your history and your unique situation and they will help you navigate the path to better body composition in a healthy way not causing any future damage. I am so excited to see the tide turning away from diets and towards a better approach. People are finally starting to see and understand that there is so much better. Starving yourself is not the answer. I'm so thankful to be a part of it and that I get to learn how to coach people through it from such an amazing mentor, Jason Phillips who truly wants to pay it forward and change the world. And I'm so thankful for my nutrition coach Brandy Wann who keeps me on the right path even when I get distracted or get impatient and want quicker results! It is almost impossible to truly be objective when it comes to your own nutrition.
Remember, you are worth it! You are worth so much more than a generic plan!