What Shape Is Your Diet?

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“So, what do you eat?”  It’s one of a few common questions I get sometimes. What the seeking person wants to know or might be asking is “tell me how to eat. Give me a plan/structure ’cause what you’re doing, it seems to work for you.”

First, I personally abhor structured diets that tell me what I have to eat, how much and when. This is probably why I tossed all that nonsense 8 years ago when I started my crazy adventure.

Even when I work with people I don’t make a meal plan for them. Why? They need to learn how to eat and how to make their own plan work. I want them to know and understand their body and how to listen to it.

Second, how I eat is what works for me. My nutritional needs will be different on several levels. My natural daily metabolic needs as well as what I need athletically will influence my daily diet.

Therefore, I can’t just give someone a blanket “this is what I eat” and expect it will work for them too.

There are some things I do that I think are applicable to anyone and can lead to personal success.

  1. I eat healthy 90% of the time. Meaning, I try to eat real foods as close to their natural form as I can. Of course, I leave wiggle room for those treats that make life fun or don’t make me feel restricted and deprived. This approach has worked for me and I believe has kept me successful.
  2. I drink lots of water. It’s my primary drink ( followed by coffee of course;) I don’t drink alcohol or sugary drinks of any kind. Well, only Gatorade after intense endurance workouts, but that’s a bit different.
  3. I eat when I’m hungry and I eat enough to satisfy my hunger but not make myself feel to full.
  4. Veggies or fruit take up lots of space on my plate at all my meals.
  5. I get 3 meals in and depending on my athletic load that day, healthy snacks as needed.
  6. Protein is a major thing for me at all meals and snacks to support muscle growth and maintenance as well as it doing a fine job keeping me feeling satisfied and not hungry.

And depending on my training schedule and what type of workouts I’m facing for the day, will determine what my nutritional needs are. Obviously, some days, I will require more calories than others.

See how I can’t just make a blanket statement to someone telling them what to eat?

The first step ( I believe) for anyone, is knowing yourself. Be the best student of your body you can. Know what foods make you feel good and healthy. Know what your activities are and how you need to nutritionally support them. Learn to listen to your body and it’s natural signals for hunger and when it’s satisfied. I’ve learned what foods make me feel energetic, satisfied, help me athletically and help me build a strong body. It’s been a learning work in progress.

Make it your goal to eat real, whole foods and allow opportunities for the little treats in life you love ( in moderation)

How else can you make a winning eating plan for yourself that will lead to long term success and sustainability?

* Learn to eat three kinds of foods at meals. Obviously, the bigger variety of foods you eat, the more vitamins, minerals and nutrients you consume. Learn to experiment with different foods at each meal. Include plenty of veggies and fruit.

* Choose foods in their most natural states. Foods in their natural state or lightly processed have more nutritional value and less sodium, trans fats, and other non-healthy ingredients.

* Think moderation. Make a strong foundation of healthy foods, but don’t deprive yourself of things that are enjoyable to you too. Stop thinking of foods as good or bad. Think of moderation and if you enjoy something ( like an occasional coke or whatever your poison is) it can fit into an overall nutritionally strong daily diet. You may be surprised though, that in time, when you start eating good food, you can lose the taste for certain foods you once found appealing.

Teach yourself to not just eat, but to learn to eat better. Look at a stronger, daily nutritional plan as a way to love and respect your body.

Making small daily changes will get you on the road to healthy, balanced and successful eating and living an overall healthier lifestyle.

Tell me, have you learned about yourself? How to feed your body in a way that supports your life and daily activities? What tips or tricks can you share?

 

Greek Yogurt, Sugar, And Your Health

Greek yogurt
Ok so a food rant….
Like many trends in food, I watch and notice things.
This recent observation of mine, Greek yogurt. It’s been around for awhile now but it’s been getting more hype and as food companies go, they all want to get in on the market, well cash in on it, let’s be honest.
A year or so ago I did my own personal review on a few popular brands of Greek yogurts. ( you know I love being a Guinea Pig 😉
Honestly, there wasn’t such a vast amount of it on the market then.
But one day (recently) they had a different brand on sale… which I was looking at… then saw it had 32 grams of sugar in it’s tiny little carton! Eek. For yogurt? no thanks.
Now the companies are wanting to capture the consumer with the whole “Greek yogurt” hype but they are making them with “add ins” and other stuff and the calorie and sugar content for a little carton is ( in my opinion) ridiculous.
If I want that much sugar, I’ll have a piece of chocolate cake.
In many cases you might as well forget the health benefits of it being Greek yogurt with all the added sugar, candies, granola, chocolate chunks, “fruit” etc the are putting in it.
On a healthy level, Greek yogurt without all that stuff is a wonderful high quality, hunger satisfying, protein packed food. Not only that it’s loaded with the “good” bacteria your system thrives on.
My current “go to” is Chobani non-fat plain Greek yogurt. With only 130 calories for a cup and a whopping 22grams of protein with 6 grams of sugar it’s a breakfast staple for my mornings I eat while I’m getting ready. I add in whatever fresh fruit I have on hand ( lately it’s been blackberries 🙂 I toss in some raw almonds ( more protein) and it makes a satisfying quick breakfast that is loaded with protein and minimal sugar. ( ok we’ll talk more on protein in another post and why you should have a decent amount of it in your daily intake)
With sugar in almost every product we buy how can you determine what’s the good kind of sugar ( naturally occuring and offers some health benefits like what’s found in fruits, dairy etc) and what has added sugar?
Try this to figure out how much sugar is added to a product with naturally occuring sugars… like milk or yogurt…. compare the nutrition label of a plain version with that of a flavored.
For example, 8 ozs of low-fat milk has 13 grams of sugar ( in the form of lactose) . The same amount of low-fat chocolate milk has 24 grams of sugar, subtract the 13 grams of lactose and you’re left with 11 grams of added sugar to that product.
Take control of your health and be aware of how much sugar is added into the products you consume. If sugars are listed in the top five ingredients it’s letting you know a big portion of that product contains sugar. Consider if you really need it.
Greek yogurt on it’s own is a wonderful, healthy protein and dairy source.  Being mindful of added sugars in the products you eat is a big step to success in a healthy lifestyle and weight loss.
Do you like Greek yogurt? Do you prefer plain or mixed with fruit or other stuff? Do you have variations you use if you like plain yogurt?

Fuel Your Body Right

Food.

It’s no grand secret it’s the key to life 😉 I really kinda like the stuff too.

I mean seriously, when you are honest to goodness hungry and you want to eat the first thing that moves, doesn’t food taste… amazing ?? I don’t feel like that if I’m not hungry.

Give me an hour after an intense workout and I can do food like a piranha.

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Attractive, I know. Me….a couple hours after a serious long run….

And there’s sooo much deliciousness in this world we can choose from… vast amounts of food to handle our daily needs… aren’t we blessed?

Now here comes the trickier part… if we keep in mind that food is fuel for our body… to give us energy, balance, and stability for our day…we need to consider how we are fueling.

That can require some thought and preparation so when we are in full blown hunger mode, we can still make smart choices.

One thing I’m starting and it’s not a novel idea is chopping up all kinds of raw veggies and tossing them in a Ziploc bag. Now I know people do food prep and have cute little containers for the week or day, but I think it takes up to much space and my veggies don’t mind gettin’ all close and comfy in the same bag together 😉

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Look at all those tasty critters living in harmony 😉

This is handy in several ways for me. If I need a fast snack and those veggies are ready to go, I am way more likely to graze on them ( instant gratification) and if I’m super on top of things, I’ve also whipped up some ranch dip made with plain Greek yogurt to have with them, if I’m so inclined. On the lunch menu, I really love salads so having veggies I can just toss in with my spinach and not have to cut and chop is a huge bonus.

Now all of you out there who’ve ever wondered how you get your veggie servings in … a super salad at lunch can just about get your there.. and you can snack like a ravenous beast on veggies…wheelbarrows full for minimal calories and huge nutritional benefits.

What? You can’t do it? Don’t like them so much over say, chips? Remember that habit thing we’ve been talking about ? Just start small, with what you like, and go from there.

Veggies are a wonderful fuel source for your body, and so good for you too. I love being satisfied, but not feeling lethargic, from a good lunch. The foods we eat can make us feel good, energetic, and stable or they can leave us feeling full, sluggish, lethargic and not energetic. Consider your meals and how you feel after… determine where you might need to make adjustments.

Remember the fuel illustration. If I had a high performance sports car, I wouldn’t put junk fuel in it.  Take the same approach to your body.

Food prep comes in handy to help you make good choices when you need them and gives you the ability to make wise fuel choices when you might be weak. It all keeps coming back to the habits we build…. train yourself to reach for good foods.

Other things you can consider:

Hard boil eggs for a quick protein snack or to add to a salad.

Have cheese cubed for an afternoon snack with some fruit.

Make your own snack mix with raw nuts and craisins ( I like the 50% less sugar ones) keep in small bags for when you’re on the run.

Greek yogurts… ready to go.

I love sweet potatoes. I usually roast extra at night so I can use in salads or for breakfast.

Mix up tuna with avocado. I love it by itself with some fruit or you can have it on a sandwich.

Keep fruit washed in ‘fridge so it’s ready to grab.

I know when I’m hungry I’m less likely to take time to do certain things, so if I’ve prepared in advance, it definitely helps keep me on the right eating track. Making good choices makes me not just feel better physically, but mentally too.

Do you do food prep? If so, what tricks do you have?

Childhood Obesity

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So I’m gonna tackle a topic that might be a lil off my usual stuff, but one that is definitely in national attention as well as making local news stories too. It’s something I believe seriously needs addressed.

I promise to resume my normal athletic(y) antics soon 😉

Childhood obesity.

It affects 30% of children making it the most chronic disease of childhood. This number has tripled since 1980.

Childhood obesity is a health issue.

More children today are diagnosed with diabetes, hyper tension and other co-morbid conditions associated with obesity and morbid obesity.

Obesity is defined as more than 20% above the ideal weight for a particular height and age.

The physical complications can be great for over weight children.  Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep disorder, non-alcoholic liver disease, and early puberty or menstruation.

Besides the over arching problem of physical effects on these children, the social and emotional complications are huge. These children can often suffer from low self-esteem, bullying behavior, learning problems and depression.

The risk factors know no economic boundaries. Poor diet, lack of exercise, family factors, and socioeconomic  all can contribute to children being overweight.

I’m gonna play the bad guy for a second and break up this word.

Child…. the first part of childhood.  Meaning they are the children who are dependent upon the adult to provide food, provide boundaries and provide guidance.

Parents are the ones who shop for food and provide for their child. Good nutrition is so important, but often, parents feel they need to provide empty calorie snacks and drinks for their child. I’ve also watched in my world at times where the children have been allowed to eat unchecked with no reminder “you’ve had enough” or maybe ” 2 cookies is plenty” .

It’s really ok for parents to say “no” to kids when they’ve had enough. To teach proper portions. The “no” word isn’t just ok for  some things, it’s ok when it comes to teaching children balance and moderation on food too.

Children will eat what we bring into the home. If they don’t have junk food to graze on, they won’t eat it. Oh I’m not the totally evil mom, I do have cookies and treats, but when my kids were in school they were the weird ones who had water bottles in their lunch instead of “juice” boxes which are often no more than glorified high fructose flavored drinks.

Although my 23 yr old wandered in one day and proclaimed “when you stated getting all healthy the good stuff went away!” ha that’s not entirely true as I still make a mean batches of cookies 😉 but I really keep the snack foods to a minimum.

As I’ve shared in previous posts, I grew up in a family with many family members being over weight. We were taught to clean our plates. I never made my kids do that, allowing them to eat till they were satisfied. My Mom flipped the first time I let my son leave the table with food still on his plate

I allowed them to learn and listen to their bodies natural signals. Alongside treats they learned about eating good foods too.

We teach our children so many things in life, shouldn’t  eating well should be at the top  of the list of what we teach them?

How do you help if you have an over weight child?

→ Improve daily diet making small gradual changes.

→ Offer water instead of sugary drinks.

→ Encourage exercise and outdoor activities.  Let your child brainstorm fun ways to exercise.

→ Focus on the entire family eating healthy and exercising.

→ Teach balance and moderation in eating. If your child is old enough, encourage them to read the labels, looking at serving size, and measuring it out to help them understand what that serving looks like.

→Offer rewards and treats that aren’t food related.

→ Allow them to have input on the types of healthy snacks and foods they want to try.

Encourage their efforts and keep the focus off numbers with the goal of being healthy and fit =)

Daniel And The Vegetable Den

veggiesOk… I hear you now getting ready to correct me. You’re thinking… “wait a sec Cathie, wasn’t it Daniel and the LIONS den?”

And yeah, you’re right, and I haven’t forgotten the story I learned as a child. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a story from the Bible where Daniel was miraculously saved from being devoured  as lunch after being thrown to the lions by the King… good people then….

Now don’t start twitching and worrying that I’m gonna preach or anything… I mean… I COULD… but it’s not where I’m going here.  Regardless of your personal view on the Bible I think we can all agree it does contain vast amounts of historical information…. and if you dig… some interesting tidbits to make you think. Thinking… is good…..

For example… this particular passage I’m using is known to me and I’ve thought for awhile about doing a blog on it. Recently, it’s come home to me that this passage is pretty relevant for our health and wellness today… which is why I’m using it to bounce off of.

I’ll try and keep this brief…. King Nebuchadnezzar took over Jerusalem. He requested that some children of Israel be brought to him, both of nobility and royalty to be trained to serve in the Kings palace. He then assigned to them  a daily portion of his rich and dainty food and of the wine he drank. They were to be educated and nourished for three years before they’d serve in the palace.

Enter Daniel…. one of the youth chosen to serve. I like Daniel… he had a mind of his own… he knew what he needed to do……. “But Daniel determined in his heart that he would not defile himself by eating the King’s rich and dainty food and drinking the wine he drank. He requested the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself”

Again, on a historical level, you must understand to Daniel, eating and drinking certain foods defiled him because they didn’t follow the dietary rules given by the Lord.

Can we pause on these words…. “rich and dainty foods” Now I don’t know about you, but if I applied those words to foods today it would be those things that are high in fat, or sugars, tasty treats and would be foods that make me fat and pasty looking…not to mention leave me feeling sluggish. Oh, and then toss in the wine and you’ve got some serious feeding going on… and the potential for lots of calories….

So Daniel… gets all bold…. which I totally dig…. he makes the request not to eat it… but the poor steward is all worried  and flat out tells him…. “I fear (the king) should see your faces worse looking or more sad than youths of your age….then you would endanger my head”

Check Daniels response…. ” I beg you, for ten days and let us be given a vegetable diet and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the ones eating the kings food be observed and compared by you and deal with your servants according to what you see.”

Daniel is able to convince the steward to go along with their experiment.

So what is the result at the end of ten days ? “at the end of ten days it was seen that they were better looking and had taken on more flesh than the youths who ate the kings rich dainties. SO the steward took away their rich dainties and wine and gave them vegetables.”

Just let that breathe over you for a moment….. the other guys were living the good life getting all the royal tasty foods and wines… then thanks to David and his entourage …. they get assigned the veggie diet.

I’m wondering if there was some grumbling in the ranks…. veggies and water. Actually, I’m pretty sure Daniel did them a favor.

I guess I’ve related to this story because I know how I look and feel eating more veggies, fruit, and water vs. other foods that aren’t as nutrient dense. You feel good, you look better, you’re giving your body real nutrient rich foods that shows in your appearance.

Now Daniels choice was based on his religious convictions and from what I’ve read based on the Old Testament food guidelines he would’ve been able to eat foods, besides veggies, that fit those guidelines.  This could’ve included fruits and nuts among other things. I’m not going to launch into all the possible dynamics of what he may or may not have eaten… the point is…. abstaining from rich indulgent foods and eating foods that are as close to natural has a positive effect on your body.

Get this… when I started doing a little research there are actually diets called the “Daniel Diet” or “Daniel Fast”. I don’t endorse any “diet” however, pursuing an eating plan that encourages lots of good healthy food isn’t a bad thing. (just don’t get dogmatic on it).

A couple years ago I was invited to participate in fitness  challenge for 3 months. Part of it involved doing a particular eating plan for 30 days. This plan encouraged lots of veggies, fruits, nuts/berries and some meat. No grains, dairy, pastas, beans etc. I found it to be very restrictive.

On the good side, I learned to eat veggies at ALL my meals and to experiment with new ones. I  leaned out pretty fast in that month. I liked how I felt eating more veggies.

And heck what other kind of foods can you eat wheelbarrow loads of for minimal calories ?? 😉 I’ve learned to cook them in all kinds of ways as well as just eating them raw in salads

Maybe you are ready for  your own 10 day challenge. That’s short enough to try something new and good you, right ? To see how it makes you feel ? Or maybe an experiment just to get you used to eating more veggies… to get on the right path.. You have nothing to lose and only improved health to gain, isn’t it worth a shot ?

Cookie Cutter Diets Part 2

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Hey! welcome back to the next part of my little series  =) I thought this would work better than writing a novel you’d be reading for days…. if you missed part 1…. scamper over and check it out first.

I wanna set the stage here for you… since we’re talking about diets…. maybe you’ll relate. This was my strategy for success years ago.

* determine I was tired of being fat  (yes, I’m using that word)

* decide that,  “Monday was gonna be it…time to start”

* proceed to eat all random, crappy, junk type food I could shovel in to “get rid of it”  over the weekend ( because all that food would never, ever be available to me again. Ever.

* decide which seriously calorie deficient diet I was gonna do, and there were LOTS to choose from.

* start on Monday with lofty expectations of being slimmer by the next weekend. Engage some furious exercise. Think of all the foods I was gonna miss.

* Tuesday… hunger is my new best friend. Food is always on my mind and I  have fantasies about my next meal more than a teenage girl does Justin Bieber. Get on scale and check for weight loss. Get mad when it hasn’t changed.

*Wednesday hop onto scale… first thing early… naked… carefully balancing and holding my breath. Yay…  a pound or two gone. It’s gonna be a good day. I can do this. When do we eat again ?? Weigh again later in day hoping for more good news…think about when it’s over…

* Thursday no new change in the weight. I’m getting kinda sick of a piece of fruit, an egg and water for breakfast and similar things rest of day. Hunger sticks closer than a bee on honey. I think about…cake… and cheeseburgers… and all things fat.

*Friday almost have a week down. I’m getting used to the light headedness from not enough food… besides the scale told me another pound was gone… I can handle being hungry…. I’ve been thinking about “when this is over” and getting back to normal.

* Saturday… I’ve been good! I deserve a treat, or two, or three… right ?? And the whole day turns into a happy eating feast of all things that have been banished in the past week. OMG… it all tastes sooo good.

*Sunday… I’m not realllyyyy needing to lose weight, am I? I mean, I never will be able to anyway…so… I might as well just do what I’ve been doing…. maybe I’m supposed to just be like this. I  just don’t have the will power or strength to be successful.

* Monday…. resume my old ways. Resolve to try again another day.

Do you relate ? Have you done things like this ? You can tell me in the comments section.

I’ve since learned a lot. There were several flaws with my plan for weight loss.

→ Not understanding my needs or exactly how many calories my body required to just be alive on a daily basis. At the time 1200 calories was standard diet fare ( sadly it still is today) If you were living large, 1500. Imagine my shock when not to long ago I learned that my daily BMR (basal metabolic rate which we’ll talk about later) was actually 1500 calories. This is if I were to sit on sofa doing nothing and to support the normal functioning of my body. No wonder I was hungry all the time! There were no extra calories for my daily living or exercise built in.

→ Removing, depriving and taking away everything I perceived as “bad” Giving power to foods and not keeping them in a proper  perspective. We  are living life and have to allow for it even as we pursue our weight loss goals. Occasional treats keep us on target and cut off binging. Putting foods on a banished list only made me think of them more.

→ Not treating my body with respect by giving it adequate food for health and living. Being hungry is a God given signal to feed our body.

→ Not having realistic goals for myself. I would not reach a slim status in one week. That set me up for failure…. as if  not enough food wouldn’t.

→ Not setting long term, permanent, life goals instead of just weeks out goals.

→ Trying to fit my body into that standard diet and not knowing my own needs.

When you and I began to grasp and understand that we should be focused on all of our lives and not just a few weeks or months, we’ve made huge progress. Eating well and movement  are, or should be, what we do all our life.

Now, remember your homework you had from last post ? You were supposed to set a goal and determine what your weight loss fitness goals are

Now along side that I want you to consider what your needs are. Could you relate on any level to my story above ?  What mental changes do you need to make for success ?

Finally, think about your life. Your work , activities, hobbies, exercise etc. and consider what kinds of food will give you energy and help you on your weight loss journey.

In our next post we will look at how to figure how many calories you personally need to reach your goals and most importantly how to make it your plan for success.

Cookie Cutter Diets Part 1

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As I shared with you in another post, one of the questions I get from seeking people is :

What do you eat?

They know I’ve been on this journey for a few years now and they are wondering what “formula” I use and would that be successful to help them achieve their fitness/health goals.

Overall, I think I eat fairly well, but will freely admit I haven’t “arrived” in a perfect nutritional way ( I still like my occasional treats 😉

I don’ t micro manage macros and micros and obsess over every single calorie. Personally, I find that really freeing, but it is a process I’ve learned for myself these past few years.

Now keep in mind, I certainly wouldn’t be offering them a horrible food plan. In fact, it would (overall)  probably be very beneficial to them. I have enough knowledge to help them figure out basic daily calorie needs and how to operate within that structure.

But here’s the deal. Just because what I’m doing works for me…. doesn’t mean it will work for every person who approaches me. I’ve really developed my own thing over time that allows me to live my life, and do my athletic(y) stuff too. I’ve gotten a pretty good balance of how much food I need to lose or maintain my weight and operate in those boundaries.

You know what that’s called? Sustainable.

I’ve worked out a healthier way of eating and living that is easy enough for me to keep at day in and day out. It allows me to eat overall healthy 90-95% of the time and still lets me have some of my fav treats when I want them ( like those Peanut M&M’s 😉 and I’ll tell you, the less you eat it, the less you want it. Your tastes really do start changing with a healthier diet.

As far as nutritionally from an athletic stand point, I’ve really had to teach/train myself more to take in adequate food for training because my needs really can vary day to day. Obviously, doing a 20+ mile run will require more than a 4 mile run. It really becomes a matter of learning to fine tune what each days needs are. And I’m pretty sure, you, my lovely reader, are no different.

So what would tips/suggestions or helpful advice would I offer up to someone asking ?

First, let’s start with this.  It’s important to really know and understand your goals. What are you wanting to achieve ? Have something clearly defined… write it down or post it where you can see it.

Is it primarily weight loss with the goal to improve your lab results? to lose fat, lower blood pressure, prevent disease, to have more energy, less aches and pains, and better quality of life ? To just… move better ?

Do you have a specific athletic goal in mind ? Training for a 5k, or maybe a longer race? Maybe you want to learn to run. It could be cycling or maybe a triathlon. It could be you’re wanting to get stronger, build some muscles.  Perhaps it’s just to get out and walk for a couple miles and not be out of breath doing it… or hurting and exhausted.

You might be at a place where your weight is managed but maybe you’re wanting to focus more on building and defining what you currently have. More aesthetics. You could be highly motivated and want to do figure competition.

Defining your goals are very important to help identify where you want to go before you just jump into a standard 1200 calorie per day diet ( please, please don’t do that.. we’ll talk more on that later)

There’s a reason I titled this  Cookie Cutter Diets our nutritional needs are not all alike! And depending on what our lives involve, those needs can change day to day.

I believe one of the keys to success is not just jumping into a horribly restrictive food plan, cutting out all things you love, and hoping to grind it out for maybe 2 weeks, getting frustrated you don’t see instant results, and then **with a sigh of relief** at the end of those weeks, you go back to what you know and what you’ve been comfortable in.

Once again you…. abandon your weight loss attempts and determine it’s to hard and you’ll never accomplish it.

BUT, if you make small gradual changes, and add slow and steady exercise that doesn’t kill you on day one, your chances of success greatly increase.

Now, you’re job is to determine what you want and how to go after it.

That’s your homework.

Think on it, and come back for the next part where we figure out what kind of calories you really DO need each day to reach your goals, and sustain them.

So Much Food. What To Eat ?

So today’s post is coming from questions I sometimes get… and there can be some interesting ones 😉 one that has come up several times is this :

In regards to health and wellness, it’s the “what do you eat / do for meals ?” question

Let me say first, what works for me, might not be the “thing” that works for you.

Also, on any given day what I eat depends on the training I’m doing. Obviously, my needs are greater with a 20+ mile run, versus a strength training day so my caloric intake can be quite different.

And the other thing…. it will also depend on our likes and dislikes and overall personal tastes. I don’t follow any current “trends” of don’t eat this or that. Unless you have a food allergy/health reason, eat the food. It disturbs me how many people today follow a certain trend without even knowing the why’s of doing it….

There are some things that I do which, I believe, are beneficial to everyone….

I rarely eat fast food. I don’t do a lot of processed, refined or fatty foods. I keep sugar to a minimum. I don’t drink alcohol or sugary drinks or fake sugars. I skip creamy stuff like mayo, spreads, and those sort of items. I prefer whole grain/brown foods over “white”.

I do drink a ton of water (’cause I really do like it and it’s the best thing for your body)

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Side note…. I don’t use bottles… I really run around with a big glass full of ice water.. it travels everywhere with me.

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One of my fav healthy breakfasts….

Fruits and veggies make up a large part of my daily nutrition. Not shown here are sweet potatoes. Such tasty little suckers. I often roast them with some olive oil for dinner, and use the cold ones with my breakfast or toss them in with my lunch salad. These are a great nutritional super food.

I believe dairy is important (especially for women) so I try and get in a couple glasses of milk a day and my Greek yogurt snacks 🙂

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seriously, the best. I also add a few roasted coconut almonds into it for a tasty midafternoon snack

Protein is very important with my training to make sure my muscles have enough to grow on =) I know it’s not currently trendy, but I love real milk. No apologies.

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Eggs are a perfect breakfast food for me. I also keep them hard boiled for afternoon snacks.  I eat the whole egg… the most important nutrients are contained in the yolk. I find protein does a much better job to keep me feeling satisfied and “level”.

I have no issues with “grains” and enjoy multi whole grain breads/bagels, oatmeal and some cereals.

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Keeping foods that are easy to quickly grab in your ‘fridge is a first step to making good snack choices =)

Basically, I try and eat, the majority of the time healthy foods. I don’t believe in eliminating food groups unless you have a valid health reason to do so.

Oh, and some treats are allowed and completely enjoyed at times =)

And of course, this is always a part of my day. Isn’t coffee a food group ??

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I’ll tell you this, of myself and people I know who have it going on nutritionally, they have a strong foundation in their daily diet of lots of fruits and veggies. These not only fill you up with less calories, the nutrients they deliver to your body contribute to your overall health,wellness and appearance.

If you don’t currently eat a lot of these tasty food items do this:

Start by eating more of what you like.
Try something new every day or two.
Cook veggies in different ways. I love roasting or sautéing mine
Experiment with new recipes to get more veggies in.
Do fruit salads instead of veggie salads in your meals.
Reach for these things as snack items…understand you must train yourself to do so.
Stop treating these foods like they are the enemy…they are health and wellness for you.

Oh, and if you can’t STAND a certain veggie/fruit… then.. don’t eat it! There’s a lot more out there to choose from.

Making slow shifts in your daily diet and replacing not so good foods with better choices will get you on a healthy lifestyle path =)

That Nutrition Thing

What came first? The chicken or the egg ?

I think it’s like asking in the health and fitness world, what came first?

The knowledge  your body needed movement and exercise for better health? Or that you needed to eat better and make intelligent food choices for better health ?

We all arrive in different ways. If you are gonna get out there and kick your butt in some hard physical activities , do you really wanna come back in and feed it garbage ?

Oh, in the beginning it might be like that. “I worked out today! I deserve this!” as the cheeseburger and fries go down… or the fancy sugary coffee drink or whatever your poison is. There’s a sense of entitlement.

It might take awhile, or not so long, for the shift to occur. To realize if you’re doing this hard work you don’t want to undermine your efforts. You start looking at things in a different light.

If your physical activities are really hard and demanding it doesn’t take long to understand that what you put in you IS fuel and you need a) enough fuel and b) the right kind of fuel to sustain your activity level.

Last year I picked up a sports nutrition book for endurance athletes to read and teach myself more of what I needed to do. Training for that 50K I knew I needed to really eat…. intentionally.

Let’s just say, there were a lot of days I wasn’t eating enough for what I was physically doing. It takes planning and forethought to consume foods to not only support your daily living and activities but also your purposeful exercise.

I’m learning. I’ve learned a lot and don’t think I’ve arrived at getting it right. It’s a constant work in progress.

Anyway on my journey of the foods I eat, salad has always been a standard for me. Not as a “diet” food. Not because I “had to”… I’m a weirdo… I just enjoy them.

Before I became somewhat knowledgeable of foods and nutritional content one of the food groups I enjoyed in my salad was…… Ranch… yes, Ranch dressing.

It is a food group, isn’t it ? 😉

Then I started getting smarter and realized I was killing and totally negating any positive effects of salad by the dressing on it. Now I was horrible about it, not like some salads I’ve seen where the lettuce is buried under a sea of white dressing, almost no longer visible….

Over time, I slowly weaned myself away from it. Oh, I have it occasionally ( I like it with my salad and pizza 😉 but this is rare for me.

Let me say this. I often eat salads. Most days of the week they are my lunch staple, because I really, honesty, enjoy them. And, you can seriously get all your daily servings of veggies in with it….. double win.

My salads are not just the standard lettuce, tomato, cucumber kind of salads. I throw all kinds of colorful veggies in, sometimes a fruit of some type, some nuts, seeds or other crunch along with some protein. I’ve learned to use spinach as my “lettuce”. It’s a creative venture for me each time 😛

Seriously, spinach is like a powerhouse of amazing, good for your nutrient rich stuff for almost zero calories. You wanna eat that stuff. Our store has been carrying locally grown and it’s spoiling me!

So I learned, if you add enough texture and variety of tastes and flavors to your salads, dressings are only needed in very minimal amounts.

But, as mentioned, when you are on a health and fitness journey, you do begin to look critically at how and what you eat to support and sustain those goals.

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A sample of a lunch salad…lots of fresh spinach!

One of the main “suggestions” I offer to people who are wanting to lose weight, is to keep a record of what you eat for about a week, and really consider all the little “extras” you might consume but don’t consider empty calories piling into your days.

Things like an over abundance of salad dressing, mayo, and other creamy sauces and the like really do add up. When you can see from your food journal what your consumption of certain items are, you can then begin to examine what you don’t need or could eliminate to help you on your journey to shed weight and get healthier.

Small steps can lead to big, long term changes!

No, I’m Not Eating My Emotions

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Food. I like that stuff.

Now days, my food choices are vastly different than those pictured above.

I’ll freely admit that I’ve had to get it in it’s proper perspective over the last few years. Growing up food was the “thing” that you celebrated with, gathered on Sundays for, had extra helpings of, and most importantly, you always, always cleaned your plate. It didn’t really matter you weren’t hungry anymore…  just ignore your bodies natural signals of being full and clean your plate.

Happy, sad, angry, depressed, bored, restless, frustrated, holidays, bad weather, stressed, whatever……. all opportunities to eat.

My grandmother and mom were great cooks, and it needs to be mentioned, bakers too. I freely admit to being a baked good snob and can often pass on  store bought goodies and cake mix cakes and bagged cookies. I mean, no offense, but when you’ve had a made from scratch 3 layer German Chocolate cake, anything else is simply an imposter.

They ruined me.

I mean, not totally, ’cause I’m a pretty good baker myself and can make cakes that grown men offer marriage 😉 and my sons friends immediately sought to raid my cookie jar because ( according to them) I was the “only” mom who baked real cookies haha

So yeah, food, it was a big deal…. used on many levels in a completely improper way.  I hadn’t come to the knowledge (yet)  that food was to primarily be fuel for my body.  Not a sporting event.

As I got older, I realized that my family definitely was a family of “emotional eaters”. My grandmother was very over weight as was my mom.  Actually, if I’m being honest with you, they were considered obese. My brother struggled with his weight most of his life. I had steadily gained weight for a few years when I finally got the kick in the butt to make some changes before I might too have to deal with health issues that plagued my mom, grandmother and brother.  I had watched my family use food for comfort and a distraction from boredom for years but was fortunate to have my eyes opened to that.

I often referred to it as mindless eating.

It might look like this: constant grazing while cooking, continuing to eat and pick food from bowls after the meal was long over (and large seconds had been had) eating during the clean up process, basically just consuming food without any thought of what was being done…. or an awareness you’re eating when you aren’t even hungry.

I knew I needed to make myself intentionally mindful of this process to avoid the downfall of a lifetime of emotional eating.

It wasn’t easy. I became aware of the weak part of my days/nights where I’d look for food and not be hungry or when I thought about grabbing something ’cause I might feel stressed, angry, or bored.

Over the past few years I’ll say I think I’m pretty on top of it now…. and I’m very conscious when I let myself do it.

I remember one night after a rather stressful day my husband walked into the kitchen… I had a bag of BBQ chips out on the counter (for the record… I LOVE BBQ chips… but I’m pretty sure they have crack in them) and I was standing there just munching them down… I looked at him and said….

“I want you to know that I’m fully aware I’m totally emotionally eating right now”

I was being kinda silly about it but I was serious too. I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t need to eat them.

It’s a huge step to identify things in your life that are a stumbling block to your health and fitness goals. Once you know your triggers you can make those slow steady changes to freedom.

To break free you must first:

Be real with yourself. Stop making excuses for eating what you don’t need.

Call it what it is… emotional, mindless eating. An unnecessary and unhealthy habit.

Remove yourself from temptation. And that means…get outta the kitchen.

When it was evening and I had eaten and wasn’t hungry, I just brushed my teeth. I knew I wouldn’t get anything after going through that process.

Write down times you feel most vulnerable, or things that drive you to eat when you aren’t truly hungry. Doing this for a week or two will show you patterns that you can then use as a defense strategy.

You love your family… but look at ways you may be influenced to participate in doing this just because it’s always “what you’ve known”. You can still be a part of the fam without engaging in this 😉

Finally, be kind to yourself as you move through this. Awareness is the first huge step to success. Press on and use each day to move forward to freedom =)