What did I get myself into?
The world is full of nutrition advice and the TV is full of 30 day promises, but more often than not people are not satisfied with their diets. By diet, we mean the whole of what you eat on a daily basis, not one of those packaged programs you’re probably familiar with. Here at PLN we wanted to develop a way to help people get healthy and we knew a traditional system wasn’t going to work. After countless hours, days, months and years of consulting with medical professionals, working with nutritionists, and trying different methods, we developed a unique plan that can help you, and anybody, build healthy habits that culminate in a more fruitful, healthy lifestyle. We know it works because we’ve lived it personally and because it offers what others don’t, individualization, sustainability, and support.
The truth is there’s nothing basic about what we do, but the beauty is that we make it basic for you. Research indicates that upwards of 70% of diets fail, not dieters, but the diets themselves. From the beginning we’ve understood this and that’s why we aren’t offering a diet, we are supporting you through a transition to a more rich relationship with food than the one you currently have, whatever or wherever you are, and we are doing it in a way that will become a lifestyle. Therefore it is more successful because it is coaching for you, not a diet program. It works because it isn’t one size-fits-all, but it is made just for you. The fact that individualized nutrition is necessary should come as no surprise. In fact, genetics indicate that any given child could have one of 70 trillion different possible genetic expressions! That’s a lot of diversity, meaning of course your nutrition is unique, as humans we are inherently diverse and unique. PLN is here to help you find a nutritional path that meets your individual needs.
What do I have to do?
The thought, research and development that has gone into this program is complex and detailed, but the program itself is simple. You just need to put in the effort and maintain an open mind. We are going to coach you through changes and some of them may make you feel uncomfortable, upset or even seem difficult, but remember: that’s why you’re here, you wanted to change. You are taking control of your life and this is exactly what you need. Here is what the effort looks like:
Make a Plan
A failure to plan is a plan to fail. Before today, your planning has been super-involved and included shopping, cooking, packaging, preparing, portioning, and all of the other -ings that thinking about causes stress. Now you only need to plan when you’re going to eat the food we’ve prepared to keep you on track. You took a step through our doors and made a commitment to yourself. We listened and analyzed your goals and needs. Now you have a program that will work for you. Each week we will have a box of food cooked and prepared for you. You just have to follow our simple consumption strategy and come up with a plan, it is the foundation of your new relationship with food.
As a basic rule of thumb, eating often has been shown to help control appetite, boost mood and concentration, and maintain muscle mass. So how often should you eat to reap the benefits? Aim to eat every three hours for a steady supply of energy throughout the day. Don’t get too hung up on the times, we understand everyone’s schedule is different so get as close to the times as you can. The main goal is to avoid going long periods of time without eating, which leads to irritability, lack of energy, extreme hunger and the occasional devouring of an entire bag of your go-to snack. Consistency is part of the process, so whether you’re used to having coffee for breakfast and lunch, or a ten course meal twice a day, the first step is to get your timing on schedule.
PLN-Tips for Success
Now that you’ve got the basics, here are some more specific tips for success. These are intended to be tools not rules, that being said the closer you adhere to these proven strategies, the less room for error, they aren’t random suggestions but tenets that we’ve developed through research, coaching others like you towards nutrition and living the lifestyle ourselves. Our suggestion is for you to blindly follow these guidelines for at least phase one of your program: your first four weeks. We know it works because we’ve all done it ourselves. These tips will help you develop your desired lifestyle, they are not a list of eating rules, but pertain to the whole package: YOU.
#1 Do Not Fear Obstacles
You will have your challenges, change doesn’t occur overnight. This is sometimes hard to swallow in the moment, but remember your previous challenges have taught you and that is why you’re here, you’re ready to learn more. Focus on the small victories, celebrate and acknowledge each success along the way (Yay! I hit all of my meal times today! Or Wahoo! I walked past a bag of chips and didn’t even want to eat the whole thing!) You will be faced with temptation and when you persevere through it, you will be building the grit it takes to create lasting change. When you win big on the small things, the big challenges seem to work out on their own. You are worth it!!
#2 Sugar IS the enemy
Avoid all foods with added sugar content, high fructose corn syrup and limit any artificial sweetener. You will be shocked how much sugar can be added using particular additives such as artificial sweeteners (even the ones that claim they are ‘naturally derived’). Not only is it highly questionable for your health, it breeds the cravings we are working diligently to eliminate. Both refined sugar and artificial sweeteners trick you into over consumption all while providing zero nutrition and fostering a powerful addiction. We strongly suggest watching That Sugar Film by Filmmaker Damon Gameau. It is incredibly eye opening to see the effects sugar has on your mind. I will share one quick fact: when the medical community ships organs infected with cancer for research guess what they pack them in?? You got it, Sugar. To be clear we are not referring to natural sugar that is found in nutrient dense, high fiber fruits that are loaded with vitamins and minerals. We support fruit as a snack that should be limited to 1-2 times per day. Fruits that are lower on the glycemic index are ideal such as berries, melon and grapefruit.
#3 Clean House
The average American diet is touted as conventional wisdom, the problem is it’s extremely flawed when it comes to how it impacts insulin response, weight gain and overall wellness. The first step is to eliminate these foods from your home and shopping list permanently. Some will be easier to identify than others. Of course we know junk foods such as chips and cookies are obvious, but others might be easy to miss. Many staples in our homes are taking us and our families further and further from the healthy lifestyle we all hope to provide. You’re here because you’re ready to change this so start removing things from your pantry such as high sugar cereals and baking products. Then remove sweetened beverages of all kinds even juice (yes we are serious.) Remove anything with trans or partially hydrogenated fats, highly processed deli meats, packaged snacks and low fat dairy products. When your body acclimates and you fully experience optimal health we are confident you will not miss these things. Finally it’s easier to be tempted when your pantry is the devil’s bakery so make it nature’s garden instead.
#4 Ditch The Scale
We strongly encourage you to check in on weight loss monthly even if weight loss is the reason you’re starting this journey. We understand this is a tall order and many folks compulsively jump on it daily (we’ve been there). We find our most successful clients measure success on at least half a dozen data points, such as energy, focus, performance, mood, cravings, confidence, and the way their clothes fit among others. Of course weight loss is a huge benefit to our philosophy, but our core focus is to solve the underlying issue by pursuing health. We find obsessing over the weight limits the bandwidth that can be invested in keeping the focus on the big picture of pursuing and adopting long term holistic healthy strategies. Plus, a lot of those failed diets we mentioned earlier actually come with weight loss… that comes right back. So, weight loss isn’t the only indicator of winning, it’s the whole package, the lifestyle.
#5 Run Your Own Race
Your new commitment to nutritional success will surely get the attention of others. Ask them to join you in your mission as supporters or active participants. Some might not be as supportive and even challenge your commitment at times, with things like, “you can have just one cookie” or by making fun of your prepackaged meals. It may shock you to find out it will be the ones closest to you who do it too. Take honest assessment, these may be the relationships that are lending to your poor health. This is a season of your life where you are laser focused on your relationship with nutrition and how it impacts every area of your life. Do not fall into the trap, stand strong and have the mental fortitude to stay true to your mission. One day when they are ready, you will be their trusted advisor. Be a persistent advocate of your own health, get a little crazy and go third party if you have to “Leslie doesn’t eat cookies, not even one!”
#6 You Are Responsible For The Effort
Optimal health, body composition, performance and disease prevention takes effort, accept it. There will be a certain amount of planning and preparation, don’t worry, you will get much better at it as you see the benefits. It’s not going to be immediate, so be patient and keep the motivation grounded in the quality of life you desire to experience. Avoid the addiction to instant gratification whether it comes to eating something that isn’t in line with your goals, skipping a meal, or doing extra fitness to earn more: it’s a trap and you know it. Abandon trading what you want in the moment for what you want most. Take time to visualize daily how you want to look, feel and perform 5 years from today. Become intimately connected to the future you. You alone are responsible for the daily effort and the results will come, often faster than expected. Do not “try” our program, fully commit to yourself to dial in this area of your life. Once the decision is made it becomes so much easier and the truth is you’ve already made it – that’s why you’re reading this.
#7 Get Moving
Food is your numero uno, but it isn’t the only thing. This is about a healthy you, not just a nourished you. Challenge yourself to build strength and endurance. Discover what functional fitness discipline keeps you engaged. It should be an added bonus, like the proverbial whipped cream on your nutrition Sunday! Find a movement that brings out the best in you and have fun doing it! Many of the things you learn about yourself and your food will cross over into other areas of your life. This is one of those things, just like we make you eat broccoli because it’s good for you and we know that eventually your taste will change and your body will crave it, fitness can be like that too! Try something new, you just might like it.
#8 Ditch The Drinks
Avoid alcohol for at least the first four weeks. Not only does booze have a negative on affect on hormones, it lowers inhibitions and increases appetite (Yes, this includes wine and if you say, “it’s just grape juice”… remember: ditch the juice too!). Alcohol has no redeeming health qualities, not one. Just a few drinks can impair your ability to make choices well into the next day. The long and short of it, a handful of drinks Friday night can spiral into a weekend’s worth of poor nutritional decisions. In addition, alcohol interferes with our hormonal response to glucose. Not only does it fall into the category of bringing nothing to the table, it can clear the table all together.
#9 Put Down The Squeeze Bottle
Avoid adding condiments without reading the label closely. Many of them have added sugar and high levels of sodium. Things like barbecue sauce, dressings and other enhanced toppings need to be avoided. They all negate our goal of keeping our meals within a low glycemic load. Adding lemon juice or some hot sauce is cool. If you love flavor look to the spice cupboard instead (but limit salt – it encourages water retention among other things).
#10 Keep Things In Perspective
Our program is not hard. Lifestyle choices that limit us and go unchallenged are hard, they end with consequences. Facing illness due to poor health or taking long lists of medications in efforts to treat symptoms that could have been prevented can be avoided and you are doing that by taking control of your health and seeking us out. Skipping a sugar laden dessert disguised as a coffee or skipping a piece of birthday cake at the office, that’s easy. Eating our prepared meals and following our plan, that’s easy. Providing a healthy example for our families is easy, fighting cancer and other illnesses is hard. Keep it in perspective.
#11 Rest and Recovery Matter
Get plenty of quality sleep. Our lives are so hectic and full of things to do after the sun goes down that it’s often difficult to get enough sleep. Yet, sleep is one of the most important factors in maintaining good health, vibrant energy and a strong immune system. When we don’t sleep enough, good food choices become difficult from both a psychological and biological standpoint.
With proper nutrition and rest you’re going to have extra energy, use it to exercise your brain daily as our ancestors did. Be inventive, creative and aware. If your work is not stimulating (or even if it is), find time to read, listen to books, write, and interact socially. Developing the mind is as important as developing a healthy relationship with food. The more you become mindful of the little things in life, the less dependent you will become on deriving pleasure from what you eat.
#13 Don’t Be a Cheater
We can’t think of one area in life where this creates progress. Often “Cheat Meals” morph into “Cheat Day” and then “Cheat Weekends”. It’s a slippery slope and its likely to lead to a desperate conversation with yourself on a Sunday night, professing your commitment to the new you Monday morning. When you are counting the minutes until you can indulge in poor food choices you’re already setting yourself up for failure. Additionally, you will consume foods that you normally wouldn’t and in epic portions, mostly because your have tricked yourself into thinking it’s ‘the last supper’. Now for the science, taking in highly processed foods packed with sugar will cause psychological and physical cravings for days. This small “cheat” will negatively impact energy levels and mental health, which can lead to even more poor decisions. It’s a vicious cycle. Now we can condone a “Social” meal when you are out with friends or family. This would be a meal outside of your program that you would make an effort to use your PLN meals as a guideline to make a healthy decision by choosing foods and portions similar to what you would be eating from us. There will be times when you can give honest assessment to a situation and make a decision to enjoy and experience, for example: if it’s your niece’s first birthday and you’re beating yourself up over whether you can have a piece of cake, that might be a time you can participate because it’s about the experience, not the food. If you’re at the office and you hear its was a co-worker’s birthday yesterday and there is still carrot cake in the fridge, that is not about the experience, it’s about taking steps further from what you hope to achieve. This journey is about your relationship with food, and relationships are work and reflection mixed with fun, this is no different.
#14 Connect To The Community
Many see ‘dieting’ as a season of sacrifice where they hide from being social while they suffer through the loss of a couple superficial pounds. For one you are not on a diet, this is a lifestyle, one that can be highly effective and sustainable. We promote connecting to a highly supportive network, people who believe in you and share the same enthusiasm for adopting healthy change. This can include the Project Lean Nation community in both our retail outlets and online (but should not be limited to us). Our aim is to educate, motivate, inspire and encourage, all while providing a high level of accountability. Additionally, we strongly support fitness disciplines that foster a strong sense of community, find your tribe. Cultivating the support of your friends and family during this season of your life is mandatory. Some will blindly support your decisions while others may be resistant. We feel communication is key to fostering a highly supportive peer group. Express the intent of your journey and lead by example, you will be shocked who might follow.
#15 Education is Key
Be an active participant in your health, cultivate a high level of self advocacy when it comes to educating and preventing nutrition related illness. It’s important that on this journey you are taking continued steps toward holistic health, keeping all things in consideration, not just your waistline. We are living in times where a physician is trained and often incentivised to treat symptoms, not discover solutions. This is a major problem, symptoms are our body’s natural way of letting us know our system is under attack. Most doctors are treating or silencing our symptoms, not truly addressing the underlying issues that can typically be prevented by healthier lifestyle choices and you guessed it- healthy food. Never fear asking your trusted medical advisors to further explain their diagnoses. Through some personal exploration coupled with a balanced nutritional strategy, soon you will discover what works best for you.
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