Macros – Paleo – Atkins – Gluten Free – Sugar Free – Fat Free – Low Carb – Low Fat – Organic – Free Range – What does it all mean?!
I have been getting a lot of questions lately asking me to help them with their diets. There is SO MUCH information out there, conflicting information, confusing information, where do you start? What is the best diet? First of all I want to try to rid the stigma of the “diet”. It still bothers me sometimes when people see what food I eat and ask me what “diet” I am on. What does that even mean anyway? Just because someone is eating healthy foods does not mean that they are on a “diet”. The next statement that follows is usually, ” You are so skinny, you don’t need to be on a diet”. Why can’t someone just be making healthy food choices because they want to look better and feel better about what they are eating. When you eat like crap, you feel like crap… enough said, I know I do at least. One day you just decide that enough is enough and you want to change. We need to stop thinking of foods as “good” or “bad”. Everything is food, some things just are more nutritionally dense than others.
You may or may not know I am in the process of getting my personal training certification, and today I am reading the chapters on nutrition and nutritional coaching and it got me thinking about this. Good nutrition will control energy balance. When you choose food that is not “nutritionally dense” say, pizza, how do you feel when you are done? Me I feel full and sluggish, and it usually leads to me wanting to sit on the couch and digest. Nutritionally dense foods will give your body vitamins, minerals, and the essential macro-nutrients (Protein, carbohydrates, and fats) that your body needs to maintain energy balance. Good nutrition achieves good health, healthy body composition, increased energy which in turn will help increase your performance in daily activities. It is so true that when you look good, you feel good! One of the best compliments is when you have been busting your butt, making healthy choices, and someone says, “you look great!” That helps keep you motivated, does it not? It fuels your mind to make better food choices and you want to keep going. It is the days where you are already tired, and just not feeling motivated that get us. Those days we tend to forget about the bigger picture and might just go through the drive thru because it is quick and easy. How do you feel after that? Ashamed, sad, disappointed in yourself? Stop that! So you had a bad day! Pick yourself up and start over again tomorrow. That is the beauty of each and every new day. We have the choice on how we are going to tackle the day to make the most of it! Go out and do what makes you feel good!
People ask me all the time about how I got started into healthy eating. Well, I was in college and I was tired of feeling sluggish. If you haven’t seen my fitness journey video you can watch that here. I go into more detail about how I got started. Anyway, I never really had to watch what I ate before and I needed a way to “teach me”. So I joined weight watchers and that really taught me to eat my veggies and taught me somewhat of balance. Did I like eating salads and veggies at first? Absolutely not… but I made myself eat it and eventually I learned to like it. Over the years I have tried different “diets” and what I have learned after all of this is what works for my body and what makes me feel good, is when I eat good, whole, “clean” foods. I first started weight watchers back while I was still in college in 2008. I say that is what sparked it all. It’s now 2016, I am still not perfect! I still have days where I eat Taco Bell, pizza, hot wings, etc, but it is all about BALANCE. No one is clean or perfect 100% of the time, NO ONE.
I found this quote yesterday and I thought this was an EXCELLENT analogy
Story time, I currently am still in contest prep, my show is 16 days away. I am currently on a carb cycling plan, tailored to me by my prep coach. Contest prep is an entirely different animal all together… I won’t get into that right now. Anyway, yesterday…. I got up, I had an all new low weigh in, and I was SUPER HUNGRY. Right now I am supposed to go to the gym and do cardio before I eat. Well yesterday, I knew I was way too hungry to go do that. So I ate my breakfast, and I was still hungry. My workout of the day was going to be with my coach and it was going to be a heavy leg day. Heavy leg days are hard anyway, but right now I am in a significant calorie deficit, which is going to make it even more difficult than usual. So I was still hungry, so I ate 2 rice cakes and some peanut butter. I thought maybe I would have some more energy with some added fat, sugar, and carbs. I went and worked out, got though it, with difficulty, but I did it. I did not have it in me to do my prescribed cardio after my workout. So I went home, had my post workout meal, which is rice and scallops, but I was still hungry. So I had a banana and some granola. I was still feeling really low energy and it was my day off so I laid down for an hour. I had yet to do any cardio that day. I am supposed to do 50 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes in the evening. I further procrastinated my cardio by preparing another meal. Shrimp and asparagus, and another spoon of almond butter. I then, went to Walgreens and got some more vitamins that I needed, and a dark chocolate Dove bar…. which I ate on the way home. When I got home I finished packing my things for work the next day and FINALLY talked myself into going to planet fitness to do my cardio. When I got home, I ate what was supposed to be my last meal, showered, and went to bed. I couldn’t fall asleep. After I laid there for an hour I got up, had a power crunch bar and some chicken, and went back to bed. I ate all 6 of my meals, plus all the extra things in bold. My point is, even though I know that my show is close, I still “messed up” NO ONE is perfect. This may not seem like a lot, but when you are supposed to be in a calorie deficit and you go and eat WELL over that, it is a lot, I promise.
I share this to maybe help someone somewhere who is struggling. We all have bad days, we all “fall off the wagon”, but do not let it get you down. Another subject that I wanted to touch on, is the subject of some people feeling like if they ate something “bad” they punish themselves with large amounts of cardio or restrict themselves the next day. Please do not do this! It will only lead to more unhealthy behaviors with food. So ask yourself right now. How do you feel like your current style of eating is working for you? I am not going to praise one diet over the other. I think all of them can work, and every body is different. So how do you know what will work for you? There is an universal best diet that is a miracle worker for everyone. These diets are good for some things:
They raise awareness for balanced nutrition and attention to what foods people are choosing. Simply paying better attention to what you eat and how you feel is a key factor on living a healthy and balanced lifestyle. When you are caring more about what you are putting into your body you will feel better about it.
They focus on food quality over quantity. This is true on so many levels. When you choose whole foods that are nutritionally dense over processed foods you are going to have more energy. Think about it. Those 100 calorie packs of snacks are just a filler. There is little to no nutritional value in those. So you are hungry and want something sweet? How about a piece of fruit or some flavored almonds. More than likely once you are done with your snack pack, you are going to be back in the cabinet looking for something else to eat.
They help to eliminate different nutrient deficiencies that we develop by helping us shift away from high processed foods. Most of these diets preach a variety of different fruits and vegetables and proteins. America is a grab and go busy lifestyle, and it is HARD. I know. Everyone is so busy all the time, but you have to make yourself a priority. Do it for not only you, but for your kids, your family, your friends.
They help control your appetite. When you are choosing more nutritionally dense foods you can eat MORE. Fruits and vegetables not only have many vitamins and minerals but they are usually low in calories which in turn means you can eat more! When you choose a variety of nutritionally dense foods you feel more satisfied, we lose fat, gain or maintain lean muscle mass, which in turn helps us perform better in our daily activities of life.
Last but not least, you can’t start a diet without hearing about exercise. ANY exercise is better than nothing. Go for walks on lunch breaks, take your kids to the park and walk around, do something to get up and moving. The more active you are they better you will feel.
Last but not least, start small. You didn’t form whatever habits you currently have overnight, so you cannot expect to change overnight. The next time you go to the store, try to show around the perimeter of the store where the foods that are minimally processed are. It has been about 9 years since I “started eating better” and slowly but surely I have been cutting out most processed foods. You can watch some of my grocery hauls to check out some things that I buy regularly here.
It is your body and your life, how are you going to make the most of it? You are worth it!