If we pay attention, the topics of nutrition, fitness and health seem to be all the rave. Magazine covers, new book releases, talk show guests… people are always promoting the next best thing for weight loss, strength gain, or how to feel better, younger, hotter. Sometimes they get us. They reel us in and next thing you know we are buying whatever they are selling in hopes of this being the answer to all of our problems. Only to wind up one month later with less money, and still feeling hopeless. Oftentimes, the problem is not with the product, but it lies with the individual.

With nutrition specifically, people are so caught up in a quick fix that they overlook the successful strategy lying right in front of them- maintaining a balanced diet. Think about someone that you know that has always been fit, strong, felt great or whatever your desired outcome may be. Now, to what do they credit this long lasting success? I guarantee that most individuals are in the shape that they are in due to an ongoing, forever-style mentality of doing the best they can each and every day. They do not set impossible goals for themselves and if they slip today, they will pick it right back up tomorrow.

So rather than write about the newest “take this pill”, “read this book”, “drink this magic shake”, “do this detox” way of life, I am going to write about something that will work for us all. Elimination diets or fancy supplements usually don’t last for any of us, so why waste money and time? Instead, we should focus on adopting a balanced diet and keeping it forever. A balanced diet in its entirety may include baked fish, salads and sweet potatoes, but it also may include an occasional milkshake. Balance is consistently making smart choices that will benefit our bodies, but also allowing forgiveness for some not-so-beneficial choices as well.

Over time, we have made food something much more than it was originally intended to be. All the different flavors and varieties are so enticing that we are no longer just eating to live, we are eating because it is enjoyable, because we’ve had a bad day, because we’ve earned it. I’m not saying that this is always a bad thing, but I am saying it’s important to remember what food was originally meant for. Food is meant to fuel our bodies to be the best machines they can be. To give us the strength and energy to live out God’s plan to the fullest. Food is not meant to make us roll around in agony, have to unbutton our pants, skip the gym, play on Facebook at work, or go to sleep early because we overindulged and can’t function properly. Our nutrition can make us or break us, so to speak.

When approaching each meal, we need to think about how the food choices we make will make us feel later on in the day. Will this piece of cake help or hinder my performance at work this afternoon? Should I be having this coke 2 hours before I hit the gym… will it be the cause of my cramping during today’s run? I wonder if the reason I feel bad is because I didn’t put any food in my body until dinner time? HOW MUCH BETTER COULD I FEEL/PERFORM/THINK/BE IF I JUST PAID MORE ATTENTION TO WHAT I’M EATING AND DRINKING? 

Oftentimes when we don’t feel 100%, we will attribute it to almost anything but our diet, when what we ate is likely the culprit. So, my challenge for you is to become more mindful of the foods that you put into your body. I am taking on this same challenge. Take some time at each meal and actually think through the choice before it is made. For some of us, this may mean more planning and prepping meals. For some of us, this may require looking up the menu prior to going to a restaurant with co-workers, in order to avoid becoming a crowd pleaser with our meal selection. For some of us, we may have to take a different route to and from work to avoid that three times a week habit of grabbing a frappe. Whatever it may be, I encourage you to begin thinking of each choice before you make it, and then stay tuned in for the differences you notice in your energy levels and functionality. Life is too short to live improperly fueled, and our nutrition is the absolute base of all things we do. No question. No way around it.

So, how is your base looking these days? And is your performance paying the price?

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