At Neon One, we want to celebrate anything that helps nonprofit professionals succeed in their daily life. That’s why we’re proud to announce our newest consultant partner – Stronger U. They will be helping us craft resources that will focus on wellness, nutrition, and fitness to empower employees with the tools to succeed at work and in life.
Working at a non-profit can sometimes feel like a living paradox. After all, when you work at a non-profit it’s pretty clear that everyone is there with the same goal: of making the world a better place. But the great irony to non-profit life is that it seems like the more effort you put into making the world better, the less effort you can actually put into taking care of yourself.
I mean, let’s be honest, it’s always sounds so much more interesting to get home and binge watch Stranger Things while plowing through the leftover Chinese food in your fridge instead of hitting the gym and meal prepping. There’s no shame or judgement here. You work long and hard hours, I don’t blame you for being downright exhausted by the time you get home.
But I still want to make sure that you can take care of yourself. Because after all, if you’re not taking care of yourself, who is gonna save the world? So here are a few tips to keep your nutrition on point at your non-profit job:
Log everything you eat.
At Stronger U, one of the core tenets of our program involves tracking everything you eat via a tool like MyFitnessPal. We do this for a few reasons, one of which is that our program operates around our members keeping track of the macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates). But that’s not the reason why I think it’s the first thing you should start doing.
We live in an increasingly data-driven world. Which means we’re getting much better at being able to look at data, evaluate what’s gone on, and adjust our behaviors based on what the data says. Keeping a food log in MFP is no different than just keeping a data log of what your daily eating behaviors have looked like. It’s a written history of how you’ve eaten.
That written history can be immensely valuable when it doesn’t seem like you can lose those last 10lbs. When you have data to look back, you can look back and see if your choices actually line up with your goal of losing 10lbs. And even more, that food log gives you places where you can highlight those decisions that don’t serve your goal, allowing you to correct those in the future.
Simplify your food choices
We live in a world where there are legitimately more food choices now than most of all human history, and it’s seriously awesome. Really, there’s nothing better than being able to go through the drive-thru and get anything your heart (or stomach) desires.
But at the same time, when you’re trying to take care of yourself from a health and nutrition perspective, simplifying your choices can be one of the easiest ways to set yourself up for success early on.
It’s not that we think we should say certain foods are off-limits. In fact, we make a point to never say that. Instead, we just like to whittle down our food choices into a few options that we can use to build all of our meals from.
At Stronger U, that looks like our 3-3-3 method. Essentially, we advise you pick out 3 foods from each macronutrient category (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) and use those 9 total foods to build all of your meals for a few weeks.
For example, someone might choose: chicken, turkey, and whey protein powder (3 protein choices), rice, potatoes, and spinach (3 carbohydrate choices), and peanut butter, olive oil, and almonds (3 fat choices). Those 9 total options open up hundreds of different meal possibilities, while also making it harder to go off plan and overeat.
Plan and prep more of your meals
You might be noticing a trend by now, but I’m a big proponent of trying to be in control as much as you possibly can. Especially when it comes to food choices and how you handle the choices given to you.
One of the things that we constantly preach to our members is the importance of planning out your meals ahead of time. The whole reason we make such a big deal out of planning has to do with the fact that it really just serves as a way for people to keep from making a poor choice because that’s all they have available to them.
See, in our experience, most people go off of a diet when they get stuck in a situation they’re unsure how to handle, don’t have food available, or something similar. Planning your meals provides a simple and foolproof way to make sure that you always have something around that helps you stay on track and feel good about the decisions you’ve made. Think of planned and prepared food as your in-case-of-emergency parachute. It’s something that’s always there for you to count on when you need it most.
Even better, when you do go off plan (it happens to all of us!) having food that’s planned and prepared makes it significantly easier to get right back on track. Because, after all, you’ve already got the food there.
All in all, one of the most important things to understand when it comes to managing your nutrition is that patience, consistency, and discipline are the traits that will make the biggest difference. Like many things, when it comes to nutrition we allow yourselves to get too wrapped up in the day-to-day distractions that make up our lives. Which leaves us scrambling to find a meal on the go, worry about this headline we just read, or stress about the way the scale never seems to be heading down. And that can only get worse the more tired and exhausted you are, because naturally you just have less energy to pay attention to your health in those situations.
But this is where it becomes deeply important to try and keep a calmer and long-term view of things in the picture. Taking care of your nutrition, especially in a busy work environment, isn’t about making every decision perfect. Nor is it about doing the new fancy thing that everyone else is doing.
Instead, it’s a matter of doing a few things on a consistent basis, and doing those things as well as you can. Like tracking your food choices, seeing how those choices stack up to your goals, keeping things simple, and planning more of your meals.