I eat chocolate. And I eat salads. I don’t count calories, but I pay attention to my portions (i.e. I know when I’ve eaten too much). I try to eat slower, a constant battle considering my genetics. I drink diet soda a couple times a week, but I drink a lot of water every day. I drink a glass of wine or beer on occasion. I drink a green smoothie most mornings (thanks to meeting my wife). I exercise a fair number of days per week, but I’d always like to do more. And I’ve maintained my 30+ pound weight loss for the past eight years which got me into this whole fitness and nutrition field to begin with (I used to be an engineer). These are my habits, and they allow me to achieve what I want in my life.
Will things change in the future? Sure they can. And then I’ll tackle those goals when they come. If I wanted to train for a marathon, I’d have to change some habits. If I wanted six pack abs, I’d have to restrict a lot more. In fact, I went for them back when I was losing my weight in 2005 and when I got to single digit body fat percentage and a good outline of 4-pack abs, I felt like food was becoming my enemy not a good feeling. I guess that’s why most bodybuilders are miserable right before competition. So I’m ok not being ripped. I can still deadlift 300 pounds. And I can run. And I can spend time with my family. And most importantly, I’m happy with all of those results because no one is the judge but me.
This is why the glut of fad diets and misrepresented nutrition research infuriates me. People stop listening to the most important part of the healthy eating and living equation themselves. Yes, I have the background in nutrition and exercise science that can help someone run faster, jump higher, drop inches or recover from training better. But in the end it’s not about me. It’s about you. I can’t force someone to be motivated and accountable (a.k.a. the dream client, or a fair number of athletes). I can merely explore the hopes and dreams a person has and figure out how eating and exercise can best complement them in that pursuit.
When I meet with clients, I always remember there are two experts in the room: I may be an expert in nutrition and exercise. But my client is the expert in their own life, preferences, routine and habits. And to get long-lasting change, we need a partnership. I promote people, not plans.
Tell me: What’s your dream?
Jason Machowsky is a sports dietitian, certified strength and conditioning specialist, and certified personal trainer at the Tisch Performance Center. He has an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a masters degree from Columbia University, and has authored a book on nutrition and wellness.