While I was still planning my third trip up to the county buffet (the Thanksgiving spread) my sister-in-law’s father, Harold, looked over at me while inhaling slices of pumpkin pie, lemon and chocolate pie and said “eat up, Carmen. How will you ever grow up if you don’t eat?” Harold is usually right about everything, but in this case he was more than right. You bet your ass I stood right up and loaded my plate up with more ham, turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing. Before you dismiss Harold’s words of wisdom by saying, “nah, I’m already grown up,” here’s the key takeaway for you: you need proper nutrition to meet your true potential.

I work with a few clients on getting their nutrition right and better understanding what their body needs as far as energy. And, believe it or not, the most common poor eating habit I see is under eating. Not over eating. Seriously.

I know you would automatically think that because people come to me to lose fat and gain muscle you would think everyone starts off as overweight or out of shape. Not the case.

Most people are skinny fat.

These are the guys and girls who look OK with clothes on. Their arms aren’t flabby. They don’t have a double chin. In general, they seem to be in decent shape.

But they’re not. They are skinny fat because they don’t eat enough food to run their own metabolism. In addition to running their metabolism off sludge they continue to apply bad stress to their body (e.g., stressful work, shitty foods) and none of the good stress (e.g., resistance training and yoga/meditation). These bad behaviors only aid their skinny fatness.

If this sounds like you, it’s time to leave the skinny fat behind and grow up. And growing up means eating and lifting like a grown up, not a 17 year old who can eat anything and everything and not gain an ounce. For the record, cupcakes, bagels, pizza, cliff bars, cereal and cereal bars are not food.

Proper nutrition starts by eating from the earth and the local farm. If you don’t, you’ll never grow up to be big and strong like your mom and dad always said you would. The only big and strong you’ll ever be is your belly hanging over your belt, which will only ever assist you with shitty incline bench form.