How To Make Your Next Meal Your Best Meal

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t mess up this whole “fitness and nutrition” thing? What if I told you, on the record, you can’t, no matter how hard you try? Would you believe me? 

That’s the thing; you can’t mess this up, as long as you try. As long as you keep going, as long as you get back on track, as long as you do the next right thing, you can’t mess this up. Speed is your friend. The quicker you get back on track, the better off you’ll be.

I read a quote by renowned celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson, or at least I saw a quote attributed to him. It went something along the lines of: 

“Every meal, every workout is a clean slate.” 

How cool is that? You get at least three clean slates when it comes to your nutrition and another clean slate when it comes to your workout - every single day. 

Clean slates and clean plates.

There’s a reverse side to this as well. Gary Vaynerchuk, arguably the best entrepreneur in the world, has said you’re only as good as your last at-bat.  

In the context of fitness and nutrition, this means you don’t get a free pass to eat like crap or skip your workouts because you ate a salad once or spent an hour on the treadmill yesterday. You have to, no, you get to show up again and again. And the more you show up, the more successful you’ll be.

Don’t lose the forest for the trees. Don’t major in the minors. If you get around 21 “clean plates” in a week, don’t let one “bad” meal derail you from the other 20. One meal will never make or break you. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking all is lost if you’re not 100% consistent.

Effectiveness Does Not Require Perfection

You see, far too often we get tripped up on this idea that things have to be perfect to be effective, but this is the furthest thing from the truth.  

Doing something, anything, is always better than the perfect thing you didn’t do. And more often than not, 80% adherence is enough to move just about anyone in the right direction. Eat whole, nutritious foods 80% of the time but don’t shy away from enjoying an ice cream with your family on a hot summer night. That 80% matters far more than a single ice cream cone.

There’s also a misunderstanding that “best” and “perfect” are the same. They aren’t. This is about doing the best you can with what you have in any situation regardless of what’s available.

Now, even though you get an incredible amount of clean slates every week, month, and year, it can’t be daunting if you don’t know how to fill that slate or plate properly.  

So, here’s one super easy tip to help make your next meal your best meal: 

Make your next meal the best you possibly can.  

Yes, I know I just used the word itself in the definition, but the description of the tip IS the tip (but only the tip).  

No matter what you’re about to eat for your next meal, make it the best you possibly can with whatever is available to you. Seriously, even if your only option is gas station cuisine, what’s the best you can do with what you have? 

  • Can you find something high in protein and preferably low in sugar? 

  • Are there any fresh fruit or vegetables available (even gas stations stock bananas and oranges)?  

  • Are there any substitutes for heavily refined carbohydrates? 

  • Can you opt for a grilled option over fried? Pan fried over deep fried?

  • Lean protein like chicken over a fattier protein like ground beef?

  • If your options are super limited, can you eat half your normal portions until your next meal when you have more available to you? 

These are the questions you can start asking yourself before you eat and are critical to ask if you want to stand a chance at “interrupting the pattern.” 

What’s Easy Versus What Is Right

If you’ve read any of my work, you’ll know I believe long term success lies in the skills, habits, and behaviors that support the life we want. Because we’re creatures of habit, we often go for what’s easy or available over what’s right.  

In The Goblet of Fire, the Headmaster of Hogwarts, Professor Albus Percival Brian Wilfrock Dumbledore, said:

“Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.” 

While the darkness Dumbledore is referencing is a bit different than the “darkness” of our lives by staying stuck where we, the point is roughly the same. We must make the right choice, not just the easy choice, if we want to be successful. 

The questions I mentioned above might be all you need to create enough space to pause and make the right choice and can serve as the simple filter you need to make your next meal your best meal.