By Naomi Rabon, NW Fitness Team Trainer

I’ve said it before, and so has Nicole and Maureen and probably every other fitness professional in the industry: nutrition is by far the most challenging aspect of physique transformation and body recomposition for most people (there are a few rare exceptions).



Simple: Food for human beings – unlike most other living creatures on this planet – encompasses so much more than just basic survival. We are, to my knowledge, the only lifeforms on Earth that don’t instinctively know what, when and how much to eat. A squirrel doesn’t question its own eating habits – “What are the best food sources for me to eat?” “What time of day should I eat my first meal, or my last meal?” “How much am I supposed to eat?” But we humans do. We question all aspects of what should be one of the most basic survival skills, and we even go so far as to eat things that are extremely unnatural. How did this happen?

I’m pretty sure we lost touch with our hunger signals and other instincts pertaining to energy and nutrient intake as we became more civilized, incorporated more traditions and adopted many holidays involving food. As we became more civilized, and industrialized, food companies jumped on the bandwagon and started marketing various foods in conjunction with these traditions and holidays. Before we knew it, celebrations and festivities throughout the year with family and friends just aren’t the same without certain foods that have been passed down from generation to generation. This scenario creates memorable and emotional ties to specific events that all center around these foods.


It’s highly likely that no other animal on the planet eats food as part of celebrations and traditions, but just out of the need for energy and nourishment ensuring their survival.

With all of that being said, I am going to be brutally honest about one aspect of nutrition that is an absolute must if you are dead set on transforming your physique: you have to know what you’re consuming every day. Make no mistake, you can’t just leave this up to chance, eat what you think is healthy food and in quantities that you think are healthy, cross your fingers, hope for the best and just see what happens. Trust me, it does not work that way.


If you want to change your body composition so that you look more fit (and are more fit), muscular, symmetrical, lean, strong and healthy, you have two choices:

Follow a daily meal plan Have a written meal plan that you follow to a T, weighing and measuring portion sizes, making occasional acceptable food exchanges and not straying from the meal plan.

Food journal Have a set number of calories and macros, and follow an “If It Fits Your Macros” approach with all or mostly all healthy, whole, natural foods.

In order to achieve your goals, you have to do one of those two things. I often hear people say things like: “I don’t want to food journal the rest of my life” or “I don’t want to follow a specific meal plan for the rest of my life” and that is completely fine. But when most people stop following a set, structured meal plan or stop food journaling, more often than not, they stop progressing and stray away from their physique goals as well.


If you don’t have any plans to compete in a physique show or aren’t super focused on achieving specific physique goals in a certain time frame, then it is not a big deal if you don’t food journal every day or follow your meal plan to a T all the time. But if you’ve stopped seeing progress, or aren’t seeing as much progress in a realistic time frame you had in mind, then guess where you are probably going wrong in your fitness program? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not your workouts or cardio. And no, you don’t need more cardio, you just need to get back to following a structured meal plan.

1. If you aren’t food journaling or following a structured meal plan with a set number of calories and macros to achieve your goals, I can assure you that you have no idea how much you’re eating. I’ve been food journaling consistently for over 6 years and if I had a day where I ate without food journaling, I couldn’t tell you where I was at with my calories and macros. We simply can’t add all our meal totals in our heads or keep a tally of our meal totals and add them all up in our heads to get our totals for the day.

2. Are you eating for pleasure, to create memories and experiences, to honor traditions? Or are you eating for your physique transformation goals? Really “chew on” this question and answer yourself honestly. Are you feeding your face or are you feeding your muscles?

3. You are the only one who controls – and only one responsible for – your hand movements and your mouth movements (and what your hand puts in your mouth).

Can you enjoy occasional holiday traditions and celebrations and still reach your physique transformation goals? Absolutely. But without food journaling or following a meal plan, you have no structure or accountability to make sure you can enjoy these occasions without straying from your path to progress. So, in a sense, you can have your cake and eat it too. Just make sure you food journal that piece of cake!

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Naomi-lighterBIOOne of the trainers on Nicole’s elite NW Fitness Training Team, Naomi is a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a NPC Figure competitor who has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years.

Go here to find out more about training with the NW Fitness Training Team!