Welcome to the Becoming Relentless Challenge! This is a simple nutrition program to get you started. Down the road we’ll get into deeper depth with the ins and outs of nutrition, but for now, let’s just get rolling.
When it comes to changing your body and your life, it’s hard to start anywhere but addressing your nutrition. Since you literally are and are fueled by what you eat, it’s hard to make lasting, long-term success without addressing that structure and fuel.
That doesn’t mean that you have to live like a monk, subsisting on cold oats and wilted carrots all your life in order to get the body, health, and vitality that you want. In fact, I think that food, and the enjoyment of, is one of life’s great pleasures and that is a big part of life.
However, I don’t know anyone who operates at their peak (or at least not for long) with a diet that you’d describe as “terrible”. Even those people who don’t pay much attention to their diet but are fit, healthy, and successful still generally eat quite well, if you watch them. They just have built up (consciously or not) a collection of habits that make their eating healthy AND automatic… which is what we’re going to be working on in this course.
The goal of this course is to certainly to help you build the body of your goals, but also to teach you how to enjoy healthy food that will fuel your activity, keep your waistline where you want it, and train your brain to crave the right choice.
Ok, so what makes a “compliant meal”? In order to score points for your team, the goal is to hit three compliant meals per day.
When it comes to Compliant Meals, there are a couple of things to focus on:
*Primarily single, recognizable ingredient whole foods. This is huge because so much of our food now is highly processed and filled with junk that we don’t need. Is this stuff always harmful? No. However, lots of these additives tend to either stimulate your hunger (unnecessarily) or speed up your digestion, potentially leading to more stored fat. The body does well with basic foods that you recognize. For example, you’ll gain more benefit from a bowl of old-fashioned rolled oats with cinnamon and blueberries than you will a package of highly-processed instant oatmeal with dried blueberries, sugar, and a laundry list of preservatives.
Can you mix foods in a recipe? Of course. The idea is that you know what ingredients went into preparing those foods and it didn’t need the junk.
*The Plate Ratio
Designing your plate is pretty simple using a basic ratio:
-Eat 25% of your plate in lean protein.
-Eat 50% of your plate in non-starchy vegetables.
-Eat 25% of your plate in healthy fats OR starchy carbohydrates, depending on which meal you’re consuming, detailed below.
We have two versions of Compliant Meals: Workout Meals and Anytime Meals.
Any meal within a couple of hours of a workout, either before or after, can be considered a Workout Meal. The priorities for this meal will be to either help add some fuel to your upcoming workout or to replenish spent fuel and promote repair after your workout.
In this meal you’ll be looking for:
-A lean protein source to help build muscle.
-An easy to digest starchy carbohydrate to refuel your muscles.
-Some fruits and vegetables to help give your body the fuel, vitamins, and minerals it needs to start the rebuilding process.
Anytime Meals are meals that you eat when you’re not going to or haven’t recently trained. The big difference here from the Workout Meals is that you probably won’t have as big a need for starchy carbohydrate and instead will have some healthy fats.
In this meal you’ll be looking for:
-A lean protein source to help build muscle, enhance recovery, and to keep you feeling full longer.
-A serving of healthy fats to help your body recover better, optimize your hormones, and fuel your at rest activities.
-Some fruits and vegetables to help give your body the fuel, vitamins, and minerals it needs perform a whole host of important functions.
Extra Meals/Snacks and the “Crowding Effect”
Notice that the point goal is for you to eat your three compliant meals of the day and that they all be from whole foods, etc. I didn’t make any mention of snacks or non-compliant foods. That’s intentional.
When it comes to forming habits, it’s often more effective to slightly alter a current habit and add something, versus taking things away.
For example, you’re most likely already eating meals. So rather than try to create a totally new habit, we’re going to tweak the one you already do.
Also, as opposed to taking away your current favorite foods, which may have some less-than-helpful stuff in them, we’re instead going to crowd your plates with good food. I’ve found that with most people, as natural, whole foods increase that they have a desire for less and less of the junk foods. Not to say it never creeps in, but the crowding effect tends to create a self-limit.
If, after you’re comfortable with the healthy, whole foods diet and you want to make deeper changes, that’s something we’ll dig into and it’ll be a lot easier to do because you’ll have developed a strong nutrition habit background.
So, make sure you get your three compliant meals in and if you then want some snacks that are less compliant, have them then.
There are a couple of ways we’ll handle portion control. The Beginner Method and the Advanced.
*Beginner Portion Control
If you’re new to having a nutrition plan, this is probably where you want to start. Basically, don’t worry about portion sizes as long as you keep the following in mind:
–Eat your three whole food, compliant meals per day, keeping the appropriate ratios of lean protein, veggies, fruits, healthy fats, starchy carbs, and so on.
–Stop eating when you are 80% full, which is that “satisfied but not stuffed” feeling.
Simply covering these two bases will get most people from zero portion control to a successful, well-fueled but lean body level of control. Eating enough healthy, nutrient-dense food to feel satisfied will often be enough to get most people through their initial goals.
*Advanced Portion Control
The next level of portion control will be to keep the same type of nutrition (whole, nutritious food) and the same level of satisfaction (80% full), but add in some basic hand measurements to start to fine-tune your portions a bit.
Notice that we’re not getting into technical measurements like hauling out a food scale and measuring spoons? Those tools definitely have their place and I’m not ruling out ever using them, but for the vast majority of people that is such a pain in the butt that it’s unsustainable. The goal of this course is to help you build a lifestyle change regarding your nutrition and if we start from scratch with an unsustainable process then we’re setting you up for failure.
Think of it like woodworking. A good woodworker is going to use progressively finer tools until the product is finished, bringing out the shape each step of the process.
At first, they’ll use a saw to remove big blocks of wood and end up with a very rough shape. Next comes the plane and chisel to remove more big flakes of wood. Then comes the file and coarse sandpaper. As they work, the final picture becomes more clear. Eventually they’re down to very fine grain sandpaper and taking off very small amounts of wood to bring out the finished product. Your nutrition plan and body are similar.
We’ll start with the big, easy stuff to make most of the progress and move to smaller, more refined practices as we need to until you are the masterpiece you want to be.
Here is a fairly comprehensive list of foods that make for a compliant meal. This certainly isn’t the entirety of what you can eat, but it’s a pretty good start.
Again, these are not definitive lists. Use your best judgement about items not on the list, and if in doubt… don’t eat it!
Notes and Questions
Q: Can I use a protein powder?
A: Yes. A quality protein powder is often helpful to reaching your goals and can add a touch of sweetness to a nutrition plan that probably doesn’t have much to it. Just make sure you’re getting your veggies and carbs/fats with it in order to make it a compliant meal.
Q: I like Intermittent Fasting, which will make it hard to get three meals in. Can I still get the maximum points for my squad?
A: Yes, but it has to be intentional and part of your planned intermittent fasting program. If you just miss a meal, don’t try to pass it off as “intermittent fasting”. The way to count it is to take a pic of your coffee, tea, or water that you’re drinking and make your note that it’s a “fasting meal”.
Q: What about some things outside the norm, like treats and indulgences?
A: A healthy diet has a little flex to it. If you’re getting all of your compliant meals in, the occasional piece of dark chocolate (the darker, the healthier!) or some red/white wine isn’t going to break you. The occasional hard alcohol drink won’t break you, either, but the risk there is that most mixers will have calories that are way out of compliance and the higher alcohol percentage will be tougher on your body.
If you’re not used to cooking and preparing your foods, I totally understand that. Over the course of the program we’ll be providing you with a variety of recipes and cooking/meal prep ideas to make it easier, but here are some of my favorite ways to prepare food:
*Have a “go-to” staple list. Find a handful of bulk recipes that you enjoy or that you can repurpose for other things. For example, at my house there’s almost always rice, mixed vegetables, and ground beef/turkey prepared. That makes it easy for me to grab some of each, throw some seasoning on it, and make a bowl, salad, or plate.
*Make liberal use of a crock pot. There’s nothing like throwing some ingredients in the pot before you leave in the morning and coming home to a hot, good smelling meal. A crock pot makes it easy to do a “set and forget” (please don’t actually forget it) meal and often you can do multiple servings at once.
*Double your dinner as breakfast/lunch. When you cook dinner, it really won’t be any more work to double the recipe. So cook up a double portion and then save one for breakfast or lunch the next day.
*Establish some healthy “Go-Tos” at local restaurants that are compliant and you can just go in and order. For example, a local Mexican restaurant that I love makes a killer “Paleo” cobb salad, which I get with double steak topping. If I go to more of a chain restaurant, like a popular chain wing restaurant/sports bar in my area, then I can order their chicken tenders grilled (not breaded and fried) and a double side of fresh veggies as opposed to fries, etc. Both are compliant Anytime Meals and I can get them on the quick.
As I said at the beginning of this document, your Supply S is going to be crucial to your success. The more you successfully adopt a healthy, supportive, and sustainable way of eating, the better you’ll be able to take on all the other challenges you face.
So let’s take charge, and remember that the Supply Channel in Slack is your go-to spot to give and receive nutrition ideas, ask questions, and stay on track!