The answer to that question, my friends, is "yes, so here’s the latest in the 11 Laws of Nutrition, a series designed to get you thinking about what, why and how you eat. Hopefully, itll inspire you to take all the hard work and commitment you use on the exercise mat and transfer it to the placemat. Here is law No. 7. (And, in case you missed the others, here are No. 1, No. 2, No. 3., No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6)
Life sometimes puts you in situations in which youre stuck eating junk. Layovers at airports, road-trip pit stops, Thanksgiving at Aunt Meryls house — you know the drill. But, frankly, how often does that really happen?
Ninety percent of the time, we have control of what we eat. We stock our own refrigerators, plan our own meals, pack our own lunchboxes and pick which restaurants we eat at (or at least make our own choices off the menu). Id like to welcome you to my next law of nutrition: The Plan.
Dont let the capital T and P intimidate you; its not as grandiose as it sounds. Its simply a matter of scheduling meals for the week, whether youre eating at home, eating out or traveling. Its about knowing in advance where you’re going, what you’re doing and how you’re going to shop.
Planning in advance creates accountability. It also saves time. Yes, I know — sitting down for 30 minutes on Sunday afternoon to plot out your eating for the week seems like a hassle. But once you have that grocery list locked in, that means only one trip to the store (and maybe a second one to the farmers market). It also means you can cook meals, or parts of meals, in advance. Hard-boil six eggs. Wash and chop a huge Ziploc bag of salad. Mix a big jar of vinaigrette. Steam a pot of brown rice. That way, itll all be ready when you need it. It also means youll have plenty of nutritious, filling snacks on hand when you need them.
And dont let The Plan slip when you eat out. Pick restaurants that you know serve healthy dishes or that cater to whatever dietary doctrine youre into, be it vegan, paleo or flexitarian. If you want to go somewhere new, hop on the internet and find their menu so you can make your choices in advance. That way, youre less likely to make a bad choice because youre hungry and/or many restaurants tend to push the greasy, fried stuff in their specials.
Another useful aspect of The Plan is food journaling. As important as it is to know what youre going to eat, its also important to know what you ate. Food journaling allows you to look back at performance peaks and sags, with an eye for what foods might have influenced those shifts.
If The Plan still seems daunting to you, you can always look to a meal service like TonyHortonKitchen.com. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was that if youre not particularly good at something or dont have time to do it, hire someone else to do it so that you can focus on the things you excel at. Im a fitness guy, and I like to spend as much time as possible helping other people join me in this passion. Sometimes, that doesnt leave much time to iron out the nutrition aspect of The Plan. Thats why I created Tony Horton Kitchen — a service that delivers a weeks worth of delicious, healthy meals to your door — for people like me. Its a great way to get a little help with The Plan.
I’ve always said that you can focus on intensity and variety, but if you don’t know what you’re doing and when, you’re toast. It amazes me how so many people wake up in the morning and have no idea what theyre going to eat, or when theyre going to eat it. We’re pretty good at scheduling when to go to work, how to make it to the 7:00 show on time or how not to be late for yoga class. But we find ourselves scrambling to grab a quick bite on the way home from the studio. The "fit it in whenever" approach might work for a little while, but if you want your workout to succeed in the long term, you need to have the right fuel — and that wont happen if you don’t plan ahead.