5 Nutrition Rules for my 40th Birthday Diet

Happy October 1st! I want you to treat today as if it were New Year’s Day. I want you to do what is RIGHT for you, and to choose to make big changes starting now. It’s up to you…not the calendar. You can change your life just as well today as on any day of the year.

No matter what happened yesterday, or on the weekend, make today the day to get back on track to your big goals and dreams. Every step forward takes your farther away from the mistakes of yesterday. You can’t change the past, but you can learn the lessons, move on, and get better today and tomorrow.

With each victory you build momentum, you harness the power of success, you overcome obstacles in your life, and you get closer to success. I believe in you. I know you can do it. Start with little bets, small steps, and mini-victories today and turn that into bigger momentum for tomorrow!
Stay strong and never give up on what is important to you. Let that inspire you to take action with today’s BIG nutrition lessons.

While today marks a new beginning for us all, it is also the LAST day for my NEW ritual. I’m a little sad. I’ve been lucky enough to have been staying at my friend Joel Marion’s near hot & humid (and stormy!) Clearwater, Florida.

Each morning I start the day with a garage gym workout – using the unique bodyweight exercises I’ve developed over my 20 year career in the fitness industry. Immediately after I go for a quick swim to cool-off, and then I head inside for some fresh fruit and breakfast.

It’s a beautiful life. 🙂

But my trip is over. Now I must get back to my old rituals of walking crazy ol’ Bally the Dog and backyard workouts in the fresh air of Southern Ontario, Canada, where I also have a beautiful life.

The great thing about bodyweight workouts is that you can take them with you wherever you go. Over the years I’ve built up hundreds of workouts, many of which I’m filmed in follow-along video format, and others that have gone into magazines like Men’s Health or Prevention. I’ve done bodyweight workouts in over 20 countries, from Norway to New Zealand.

I’ve also learned a lot about nutrition in the past 20 years. My diet is always evolving and improving, helping me stay as lean at 40 as I was at age 20. It’s possible. We can all keep on getting better – while ignoring the calendar.

Last Friday night I went to the movies with Joel and a few other friends. We watched his favorite actor, Denzel Washington, in The Equalizer. It was over-the-top with violence, but I liked it.

In the opening scene, Denzel’s character makes a blender drink with whey protein and blueberries. Twenty years ago I would have thought that was strange. Today that’s just boring. I would have added spinach or Athletic Greens, and cacao nibs or almond butter.

Denzel’s blender drink inspired me to think of the most important Nutrition Rules for Fat Loss and Health that I’ve learned in the last 20 years. They are:

1) Start Your Day Right
My friend Bill Phillips, author of Body for Life, once said that “if you don’t start your day with a good breakfast, it sets a poor precedent. Your mind starts down that dreaded path of, ‘Oh well, I’ve already blown it, I may as well keep eating whatever I want.’”

Research also shows that if your first meal of the day contains protein and fiber, you will make better food choices over the rest of the day.

Plan ahead the night before and you will start on the fast track to fat loss each day.

2) Read Labels: The Truth About Whole Foods & Chipotle
Last week I was in Whole Foods for lunch and was going to take advantage of the hot buffet. However, every single protein item had an ingredient list that was dozens of items long. The chicken wasn’t just chicken. It was chicken with oils and ingredients that didn’t belong in my diet.

You’ll also find many so-called ‘health foods’ packed with SECRET names for ingredients you want to avoid. For example, avoid foods with ‘organic cane juice’. This is just a fancy name for sugar, and you’ll find it in many nut butters, pasta sauces, and even covering cacao nibs. Check your labels!

On the bright side, my beloved Chipotle is one of the best restaurants out there in terms of keeping things simple. Better yet, they also post a complete ingredient breakdown for all menu items here:

Read a detailed list of Chipotle ingredients

Read your labels and educate yourself about your food choices. It will make a huge difference in your fat loss battles.

3) Prepare Your Meals in Advance – Even When Going Out to Eat
As a long-time TT reader, you’ve heard me preach about the importance of planning your grocery list, doing all of your shopping for the week, and then bulk-preparing your meals in advance so that you are always eating healthy.

But what about when you go out to eat?

Going hand-in-hand with reading labels is the next rule. Whenever you go out to eat, go online and review the menu first. Almost every restaurant posts their full menu online, and you’ll be able to plan a smart, healthy order in advance rather than relying on willpower and quick judgement when you are out with your friends and rushed to make a decision.

4) Look for the Victory in Defeat
Sometimes we make mistakes. I do. You do. It happens. You decide to order the pizza instead of eating the healthy leftovers. You give-in and eat the high-calorie appetizers at Applebee’s, doubling your calorie count for the meal. You devour a bag of trail mix. Or you can’t stop at just one cookie and you put away three or four.

That’s okay. I’ve been there and done almost all of those (especially the trail mix with M&M’s mistake!)


Even in these defeats, you can find a victory. You can stop at 3 cookies. You can throw out the last two handfuls of the unnecessary trail mix.

You can box up your dinner at Applebee’s when you realize you’ve had enough.

Find the Victory in Defeat. Stay positive. Don’t beat yourself down.

Retreat as soon as you realize things are going wrong and then get back on track as quickly as possible.

It’s okay. It’s just minor damage that can be dealt with.

5) Have a Cut-Off
One of the best tips my clients use is to have a Personal Cut-Off Rule for when they stop eating at night. For example, my friend Steven does not eat past 7pm. Other clients that do Intermittent Fasting have a rule that they go 16 hours from dinner before they eat again. These cut-offs and rules help people control their late night calorie eating and are a lifesaver for those folks that struggle with night eating.

Those are 5 simple, but powerful nutrition rules that will help you lose fat.

Here’s how to apply these Rules to the real world. This is an actual question that was posted on my TT Forum last weekend, followed by my reply.

Q: I have about 7 weeks to go in my TT Transformation, and one major change I need to make is diet. I am eating about 3,000 calories a day. That’s way too much, and they are the wrong kind. I am surrounded by sweets, my assistant eats chocolate daily, my mom brings candy in the house every time she babysits, and I give into temptation every time I go in to the grocery store. What should I do to fix my diet? – Blake
Thanks for sharing your struggle. I know these five ideas will help.

1) Plan to eat protein, nuts, fiber, vegetables, and fruit at your meals at work.
2) Have 2 solutions for every obstacle. What can you do to defend yourself against your co-worker’s chocolate?
3) Brush your teeth after meals to avoid eating unnecessary calories.
4) Create your own nutrition rules and cut-off time.
5) Step-up and communicate to people about your plan. Be clear, be concise, be courteous, but be courageous. Be strong. Do what is right for you.
It’s tough, but fair advice. I give it because I care.

That’s the type of advice I’m happy to give TT Lifetime Members over on the TT forum. We often need more than just exercise suggestions or to know what type of protein is best. Sometimes we need a lil’ kick in the butt, and sometimes we need a friendly helping hand to steer us through the nightmare nutrition maze that surrounds us every day.

No matter you need, you will get as a TT Lifetime Member.

Get an incredible deal on LIFETIME access to me and my TT secrets

Keep on pushing on,
Craig Ballantyne, CTT
Certified Turbulence Trainer

PS – You CAN do it.

I believe in you.

Ignore everyone else.

“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.” – ancient proverb #truth