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08/21/18

6 Reasons Being A Foodie Can Actually Make You More Fit

At a glance, food seems to be the very antithesis of fitness.

Want to lose weight? You’ve got to do this diet or that detox. Cut calories and carbs. Start intermittent fasting. Stop eating out. And all kinds of other annoyingly restrictive dietary strategies. Well, that’s at least what they all say.

Good news, though. It isn’t. In fact, loving food and being fit can go hand in hand like chicken and waffles, eggs and bacon, wine and cheese.

Even better news? At Stronger U we don’t do things like everyone else, we diet differently. And we want you to diet differently too. Specifically, we want you to enjoy great food throughout your journey to better health and fitness.

Nobody is too big of a foodie to make their health and fitness goals a reality. Which is why I’m writing this. I’m here to argue that foodies who are fit aren’t fit in spite of their food love, they’re fit because of it. They’re fit because of the fringe benefits all of us foodies get to enjoy. The fringe benefits that carry over into every other avenue of life.

And just so we’re clear, this is something I feel uniquely qualified to talk about.

My Name’s Ben, and I’m a Food Lover (It Just So Happens That I Coach Fitness Too)

See, here’s the thing:

Fitness is what I do, but it’s not who I am. Loving food, on the other hand? That’s a big part of who I am. It’s a creative outlet, a way to connect that transcends language or culture, and it’s how I relax at the end of a long day… Apron on, headphones in, stovetop lit.

But wait. How does that even work?

How can someone that’s excitedly inspired watching an episode of Chef’s Table also make a living by coaching health and fitness? Based on traditional diet advice, it’d seem like there’s a serious disconnect.

Lucky for us, there’s no disconnect. Instead, I get to carve out a niche as a food-loving fitness professional who helps other food lovers get a bit more fit. Which, compared to all the diets and detoxes out there, is a pretty refreshing shift. Because let’s be honest, nobody’s excited about restrict-this and exclude-that dieting.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be an over-restrictive chore. Truth be told, you can eat whatever you want—just maybe not as much as you want. The most effective plans tend to be those that are flexible rather than rigid. Inclusive, not exclusive.

Fear not, foodies, your goals are within reach.

With the right plan in place, you can enjoy both great food and better fitness without sacrificing flavor along the way. As if that’s not awesome enough, there are actually fringe benefits for foodies focused on fitness. In other words, your love of food may actually help you get better results. Here’s how:

Fringe Benefits of being a Foodie:

In 2008, JK Rowling delivered a commencement address at Harvard. Her speech, entitled The Fringe Benefits of Failure, shows how failure actually proved beneficial in her life and the eventual publishing of her first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Maybe you’ve heard of it, 10/10 would recommend.

Just as she highlights failure’s fringe benefits enabling success, I want to highlight the fringe benefits for foodies and how they can enable your success.

By most standards, failure and success are placed on opposite ends of the same spectrum. And most people do the exact same thing with food and fitness.

Rowling showed that failure isn’t the opposite of success. Rather, it’s a stepping stone that leads to success. Now, I’m going to show you how loving food can be a similarly productive stepping stone on your path to success with health and fitness.

Here they are, the fringe benefits for foodies:

  • Foodies like learning about food.
  • Foodies are down to get in the kitchen and cook.
  • Foodies care about what they eat.
  • Foodies appreciate flavor.
  • Foodies are willing to try new, sometimes unusual, things.
  • Foodies eat.

Now let’s dive in and break these fringe benefits down. I want each food lover and every foodie understanding exactly how to leverage their affinity for flavor so that it also applies to their fitness, their willpower, their dieting journey, or any other area of life they want to see improvement.

Foodies Love Learning About Food

If you love food, you love learning about food—everything from the terroir of a cocoa bean to the history of tacos al pastor. (Tacos that, fun fact, originated from Lebanese immigrants that moved to Mexico in the early 1900s and brought their spit-roasting techniques along with them.)

Food is a subject worthy of nerdiness. If you’re a foodie, you’re probably a poindexter when the plates hit the table. And I’m betting you’re proud of it. Nutrition is just another type of food-centric nerdiness.

Better yet, truly understanding what you’re eating—general food awareness—is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to improve your nutrition. It’s a learning curve that pays dividends for the rest of your life. That’s true for anyone and everyone, but foodies are passionate about food and love learning about it. This is an advantage.

Because we love learning about food, understanding what we’re eating comes second nature. Because we love learning about food, we lean into the food-awareness learning curve. And because we love learning about food, we set ourselves up for improved success.

Foodies Get in the Kitchen and Cook

“The more you cook the better you look.” I’ve been saying it for years. Sure, sometimes I’m just trying to reassure myself that I must be gorgeous based on how much I cook. But there’s also serious truth to the saying.

When you cook, you’ve got control. There aren’t any mystery macronutrients sneaking their way into your eating and throwing you off your goals. When you know exactly what you’re eating, you can accurately track and optimize your results.

Cooking puts you in the driver’s seat of your health. And if you’re a foodie, you’ve likely logged a lot of miles behind that wheel already.

Some of that culinary experience has probably been chasing flavors, like that time I made a bacon-wrapped hot dog and put it in an inverted maple bar doughnut as a bun. Other times it’s probably (hopefully) been more healthful, like grilling steak and roasting veggies.

The important part is that foodies are down to get in the kitchen and cook. Odds are, you even enjoy it. And that’s a benefit for any fitness-focused foodie because it sets the stage for you to take control of what you’re eating and, inevitably, your results.

Foodies Care About What They Eat

An award-winning chef friend of mine once gave me cooking advice he gleaned from studying classic Italian cuisine: When good things go in, good things come out. This is especially true when you consider the delicious simplicity of Italian cooking. Heck, even Papa John’s knows that better ingredients mean better pizza.

With Italian cuisine, simple ingredients wind up tasting like something special. It’s because of the above principle. When you care about what you’re putting into a dish, you don’t need that much to make it delicious. It applies to food, but also fitness.

When good things go into your body, good things come out. Progress, results, performance—you name it.

For foodies, we already care about what we eat. Like, a lot. We’re taking deep dives on Yelp reviews to make sure our brunch spot is the best choice. We’re not picky, we’re selective. We want nothing but the best for our taste buds. Because yum.

This selectivity primes the pump for making healthier choices.

Eating for fitness isn’t being picky, it’s being selective. It’s caring enough about what you eat to make the best choice for your goals. The benefit for foodies? We’re well-seasoned veterans. We’ve been caring about what we eat for years and have the food-filled search history on our browsers to prove it.

Foodies Appreciate Flavor

The biggest indicator of success with any sort of eating plan is adherence. You can’t expect to get long-term results from a plan you struggle following. Even the best program in the world is pointless if you can’t actually do it.

Enter: flavor.

If you enjoy what you’re eating, you’re more likely to keep eating it. (Which is basically what happens every time I dive into Salted Caramel Core by Ben and Jerry’s. It’s way too good.) But the same thing applies to foods that’ll help, rather than hurt, your goals too. If it tastes good, you’re more likely to keep eating it. And that can mean more success with health and fitness.

In short, a plan that’s full of flavorful food is a plan you can stick with. And that means lasting results. Nobody wants to sacrifice flavor in the name of fitness. It just isn’t worth it—no matter what the nothing-tastes-as-good-as-being-fit-feels memes say.

Flavor is like the key that unlocks long-term progress.

Because foodies are already so appreciative of delicious flavor, we’re better equipped to keep flavor at the forefront of our fitness and fuel our adherence to the plan. I mean let’s be honest, nobody that truly loves food is going to give up flavor to be fit. Which is great, because you don’t have to and beneficial because enjoying what you eat will also lead to better results.

Foodies Are Willing to Try New, Sometimes Unusual, Things

The menu said Cotton Candy Foie Gras. I was immediately intrigued. I was at a fancy steakhouse, so the foie gras made sense. But surely they didn’t mean actual cotton candy. That’s fair food and a childhood classic, not something you get in an appetizer from a James Beard Award-winning chef.

Turns out it was, in fact, a house-made cotton candy.

And after the wait staff explained it was foie gras, rolled in popped amaranth, wrapped in their cotton candy, and served on a stick to be enjoyed in one sweet and salty bite, I was sold. I had to get it. The foodie in me couldn’t not try such a new, interesting dish.

I’m betting all foodies have been there. Maybe you were literally there at Meat Bazaar by José Andrés in Vegas and the Cotton Candy Foie Gras blew you away too. Or maybe you’ve ordered something strange at a restaurant because you couldn’t leave without satisfying your curiosity. Either way, you’ve been there.

This willingness to try new, sometimes unusual, foods is yet another benefit for foodies focused on fitness.

For most people, fitness overhauls eating habits. It can be jarring to find out that most of your favorite foods are goal-busters. But eaters that are willing to branch out—like foodies—benefit from a willingness to try new things and find new, healthier staples. Case in point: A tasty dessert that won’t derail a healthy diet.

Foodies Eat Food

It’s kinda like Taylor Swift said: Haters gonna hate. Fakers gonna fake. And in my experience, foodies are going to eat food. Always.

Make no mistake, results require eating.

Starvation diets don’t work in the long run. In fact, they can do a lot more harm than good. Making progress is so much more than merely eating less. You also need to eat enough to fuel your goals, your activity, and your life.

It can be a tricky balance to strike. And being cavalier with calorie cutting isn’t the way to do it. (Quick aside: I’d recommend snagging a coach to take care of all the calculations for you. It’ll make your life a lot simpler.)

An oft-overlooked benefit for foodies focused on fitness is the simple fact that we’re going to eat. I’m never worried about unsustainable starvation strategies when I’m coaching a fellow food lover. This is actually a big deal because I want everyone I work with seeing results that last a lifetime.

Lifelong results come with a simple and sustainable approach to health and fitness. Starving yourself is neither simple nor sustainable. So eat instead. And if you’re a foodie, just keep doing your thing—eat.

“Diet Different.”

An appropriate slogan for Stronger U because it’s what we’re all about. We don’t want you to bid farewell to your favorite foods. We don’t want anyone stuck on a rigid and overly restrictive plan. And we definitely don’t want foodies feeling like they can’t ever be fit.

Stronger U: Where foodies are welcome.

Us food lovers finally have a place to call home in the world of health and fitness. It’s time for you to enjoy great food on your way better fitness. Results aren’t simply possible as a foodie, you can actually get better results because of the fringe benefits for foodies focused on fitness.

You ready to diet differently? To love food? To be fit?

It can all start right now.

Ben Johnson
Coach