Have you ever had an “Ah ha!” moment? That moment when something finally click, when the message you’ve been hearing finally makes sense? I totally had one last week about my fitness and nutrition and boy has it helped my mind set!

Especially in the past year as I’ve drove more into the health and fitness industry, I’ve heard many of the same messages about nutrition; eat clean, eat whole foods, eat to fuel your body. All this is great advice, but it never really sank in for me. I ate okay but never as well as I knew I should be. I was pretty much in the mindset of “I’m going to try and out-train my bad habits.” That if I train hard (which wasn’t 100% of the time) that I could have that nightly rum and coke, that I could have that second helping of mashed potatoes, that I could get away with eating cake and cookies and still look the same. But I wasn’t happy with how I looked and I knew that what I was doing was wrong but I still did it. So things stayed the same.

But last week I came across two things that really helped me shake a bit of the funk I’ve been in and really put things back in perspective. The first way a Facebook post by another Perth personal training talking about goal setting and how she personally re-writes her fitness goals every 8 weeks to re-clarify what her focus of her training is. Which made me think, while I have made off and on goals since the new year, I never actually took the time to write them down or look at them then more then superficial ideas. And it’s hard to stay motivated towards a superficial vague in my head goal, like I want visible abs. So I took an evening and wrote down my goals. Then I wrote down why I wanted those goals. Then I wrote down the most important piece of information in it all: the real reason I started training in the first place. After a hard look, I saw that I had lost focus on the big picture in favour of what I thought I wanted. I started training, way back at the age of 12, to become stronger. I didn’t care what I looked like, I just wanted to be able to get through my hour long conditioning session without having to give up on every set of 20 push ups we were assigned. I wanted to be a stronger pitcher, so I could actually be chosen as a pitcher for my softball team next season. I didn’t care about my looks, I cared about holding wall sits for minutes on end, being one of the fastest players on sprints, and throwing the elusive 60mph pitch. So that’s what I am getting back to; focusing on becoming stronger. The body will come in its own time as I build the muscles and strength to do 50 push-ups straight and deadlift my bodyweight.

My second “Ah ha!” moment came listening to a couple podcasts at work. While setting up for classes the next day solo, I try and throw on a podcast, just so I feel like I am being double productive with my time. Recently, I decided to give a couple of the nutritional talks from Barbell Shrugged a try and I am so grateful I did! Barbell Shrugged for those that don’t know is a podcast focused on health, fitness, nutrition and training. Each episode features new guests and topics, meaning there is quite the range to chose from. The two talks that have given me this “Ah Ha” moment are Eating for performance and longevity w/Mike Dolce – 264 and “Eating for Strength and Performance: How Alex Got His Ab Grooves Back – 230”. (I highly recommend listening to both of them.) During both of these talks, they focus on how nutrition affects training and being aware of everything you put in your body. That if you aren’t optimally feeding your body, how do you expect to train optimally? They also talk a lot about cheat meals, and that if you are cheating on your diet how are you expecting to get results? They pretty much compare it to cheating on your partner or a friend. You don’t cheat on your partner and expect everything to work out perfectly, so why should a diet be any different.

Further, they discuss that the first steps in any diet/food lifestyle change should just be becoming aware of exactly what is going into your body. Mike Dolce also talks about his three key principles to a better, more mindful diet: eat real food (and if you only do that you are 80% of the way there, even without the need to do fancy stuff like counting macros or intermediate fasting), eat every 2-4 hours based on activity (fueling for an activity or recovery from one), and eat till satisfied not till full. None of this is new information to me (It’s the same advice from my diet plan from Happy Healthy Foody.), but this time I was ready to hear it. I was ready to see why I need to work hard and that I don’t need to overcomplicate things. That the macro counting will come, but as long as I keep focusing on whole, healthy basics, I can still make progress. That I can get a hang of this whole nutrition thing.

So no, no fancy tricks, no quick fixes. But I was finally ready to hear the advice and actually take it to heart. If you are committed to living a healthier lifestyle, keep surrounding yourself with the health and fitness community. The advice usually won’t be anything crazy, but it could be life changing, when you are ready to hear it.

What have your “Ah ha!” health or fitness moments been?

Happy Ah Ha-ing!