October 5, 2017
Why Your 30 Day Meal Plan Doesn't Work
WRITTEN BY Jesse O'Brien

Nutritional challenges and macro plans are currently very popular, especially now that summer holidays are fast approaching.

Drop everything for 30 days and eat extremely clean for a short period of time. Track progress with your friends who can keep you motivated and accountable.

Sounds like a win, right?

Eliminate all the bad foods in your life, cut alcohol completely for a month and see a lot of progress.

It sounds too good to be true and unfortunately for everyone involved, it is!

The problem that I have seen with nutritional challenges is that they work, but only for a limited amount of time.

Participants see great progress in 30 or 60 days but then feel so deprived that the moment the challenge is over, they binge on pizza and cookies and very shortly thereafter end up where they started BEFORE the challenge—thus losing all the results they have worked so hard to gain. Then they find themselves patiently waiting for the next nutrition challenge to make another fresh restart.

Does this sound like you? This used to be me and this used to be a lot of the clients with whom I work: a vicious cycle of nutritional challenge after nutritional challenge.

As a coach, I am not concerned about how much front-end progress a client makes in 31 days. What I do care about, for their health and long-term success, are the results they show consistently for months and years to come.

If you are interested in long-term progress and are tired of yo-yo-ing back and forth, the following information is for you.

The first reason why these short-term changes don’t carry over into long-term success is based on the findings described in the book The Power of Less, which states that when more than two things are changed at once, the rate of success drops to less than 10 percent.

We also know the purpose of these short-term healthy eating regimens is to change everything at once to see quick progress. Not only have the participants changed a handful of things at once in the nutrition department, but also they are working out two more days per week, which entails rearranging the carpool schedule and waking up earlier, etc.

You get the point—too many variables are changing at once, thus the chance of LONG-TERM success is null and void.

Based on the statistics above and my own personal experience with hundreds of clients, the ONLY tactic that works for long-term success is instilling positive habits, one at a time,  through patience and consistency.

Therefore, the second reason why these nutrition challenges don't work long-term is because changing and creating new habits takes time. Creating new habits does not happen overnight and also are not created in the timespan of most nutrition challenges, such as the Whole 30, Girls Gone Strong and The 30-Day Paleo.

Phillippa Lally is a health psychologist who has studied how long it takes to create new habits. What she found was astonishing because it breaks the common 21-day myth upon which most nutritional challenges are based.

But that isn't the case when it comes to science and reality. In this particular study, Lally examined 96 people over a 12-week period and the results showed that on average it took more than 2 months before a new behavior became automatic.

To be exact, it took 66 days to create ONE new health habit.

“It makes sense why the 21-day myth would spread,” says Lally. “It’s easy to understand. The time frame is short enough to be inspiring, but long enough to be believable. And who wouldn't like the idea of changing your life in just 3 weeks?”

In a nutshell, if you are looking for results that last, it’s time to ditch the quick-fix mentality of a short-term challenge.

Yes, it will give you the results you want (maybe) temporarily, but it will not create the habits and mentality needed to continue moving in the right direction toward your goals for months and years to come.

There is no quick fix when it comes to health.

At Central Athlete, we have proven this method time and time again with hundreds of clients who are willing to trust the process.


We meet each client where they are and collaborate on a plan that promotes lasting change. This entails changing ONE thing at a time.

This means creating the greatest physiological change in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of psychological resistance.

Over time, that positive and individualized change turns into a habit and clients feel successful and confident because they were compliant and thus have seen positive results. The cycle continues until eventually, they are eating in a similar manner to that of a nutritional challenge but are no longer feeling deprived —which allows them to continue the process long-term.

Sarah Spagnol was the definition of an individual whose main priority was to lose fat but was unsure how to do it adequately.

Before walking into Central Athlete, she participated in the Whole30, Lurong, various Crossfit paleo challenges and Christmas Abbott’s Bad Ass Body Challenge with little long-term success.

To her, this is a vicious and frustrating cycle that lasted more than 5 years.

“I would be really good for 30 days and see progress, but would then return to old habits shortly afterward,” says Spagnol.

When Sarah started with Central Athlete, she was once again ready to change everything at once. As her coach, I slowed her down and allowed her time to trust a process that was different.

After 5 months of individualized training and a personalized nutrition protocol focusing on changing just one thing at a time, Sarah has lost 11.6 pounds of fat mass while gaining 5 pounds of lean muscle mass.

In her case, we focused first on increasing her protein consumption, then spent weeks improving food quality and hygiene, and as of late we have been working on blood sugar management.

She has never received a macro plan and has never felt deprived. Instead of falling back into old habits, she has continued to make forward progress while gaining a whole lot of knowledge and losing a whole lot of fat in the process!

Be like Sarah and click the link below to get started today!

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