So you’re telling me that I can eat fruit after my workout, does that mean it should be a banana or berries or an apple? And if it’s a banana, should it be the whole banana or half? Because you know, bananas are high in starch content. And if I can’t eat peanut butter does that mean that I can’t eat almond butter? What about whole almonds, not in ‘butter form?” And you say protein but what about salmon because salmon is fatty so would that count as a fat or a protein?
These were the questions that went on in my head at a time in my life where the stress about food and exercise was basically the only thing on my mind. To this day I get questions like this from clients and from my girls who are competing (but not even necessarily show ‘prepping’) Rightfully so they may have these questions because they want to ensure they are doing everything ‘right’ When it comes down to it, eating an apple or berries post workout will not be the downfall in seeing any sort of transformation in ones physique and fat loss. The negligable difference between these fruits is not what will change ones body, BUT with so much information out there, its no wonder why we think of these questions constantly.
Just the other day I had a client say to me that he made ‘healthy pizza’ but it wasn’t the same as a good ole’ piece of cheese pizza from his favorite restaurant. He misses pizza SO MUCH. Pizza is his favorite food.
I asked him politely “Why do you miss it? Why can’t you eat it?”
He said “well I’m prepping for the summertime and need to slim down so I’m avoiding it.”
I said “You’re avoiding pizza completely until the summer?!”
He responded “Yes”
“Wow” I said. “Well, to ease your mind a bit, I hope you know that there is nothing wrong with having a slice of pizza every now and again. The more you turn yourself away and label it as an ‘off limit food’ the more you are going to crave it and eventually burn out and eat a whole pie. There will come a time where being so strict all of the time will be detrimental toward you reaching your goals. I, as your trainer am telling you to go have a slice of pizza. Life is too short and nothing will happen to your body, I promise you”
He knew I was right and he told me he would think about getting a real slice that week.
I was somewhat sad to hear that he was so strict and cut himself off from one of his favorite foods just to get beach-body ready, which is at least 5 months away. I get that he viewed pizza as the enemy, and really wanted to stick to his regimented routine of eating and exercising, but there is an aspect of this that is just unhealthy and will hinder progress all together. I’ve been there. I know what food labeling can do to ones relationship with food and body image.
Too much stress and anxiety about food; how much, what portions, what brand, when we eat it, how we eat can take a very unhealthy and dangerous turn for those who are trying to lose bodyfat AND also still want to enjoy life!
I see this stress about food more and more and I am here to share my thoughts about the act of thinking more and doing less and why this may be the missing piece to a successful, healthier and happier 2015.
There was a time in my life where I used to stress about everything when it came to food and workouts. I never allowed myself anything that I truly wanted. I ate the typical ‘clean eats’ such as oatmeal, fruit, veggies, complex carbs, nut butters and that’s about it. I avoided social events so I could stick to the foods that I was familiar with, I avoided alcohol even though I was pining for 1 glass of wine, I never had a sweet and god forbid I even touch bread! The crackers and cheese that I was obsessed with or a good ole turkey sandwich was certainly not on my list of options! Besides just the food restrictions rules I set for myself, I was doing endless amounts of cardio-45-60 minutes a day.
I wasn’t losing fat, I was somewhat uncomfortable in my own skin, I wasn’t happy and I was also tired. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was doing TOO MUCH and EATING TOO LITTLE. The fact that I was stressing over everything and having constant food anxiety about little things like “omg I hope I don’t get offered a cookie because I don’t want to have to say no” was hindering my results.
I am sure some of you can relate to my experience. While in the process of you trying to reach your goals, how many of you have said to yourself:
I feel fat. I am fat
I can’t do this.
I’ll never look like those instagram/pinterest models
When will I see changes.
You may get super strict and live off chicken, broccoli and sweet potatoes 4x a day, cut out ‘carbs’ feel fatigued, moody, extra judgemental, push yourself too hard without adequate recovery. This is NOT a way to live yet so many of us at some point put ourselves through this experience. Why? For what? In the long run, metabolic damage will get the best of you making it harder for you to lose body fat.
Now, I am not saying that everyone will experience what I did. There are some women who will calorie restrict in an unhealthy way and of course they will lose fat in the short term, BUT what they are not thinking of is the effect they are creating in the long term; they will completely destroy their metabolism, making it harder to keep fat off going forward. Not only that, but they will get burnt out.
While I was very regimented about my workouts (I would run on various speeds for about 45 minutes a day and then go to the elliptical for another 20 minutes and sometimes throw in some ab work) I wasn’t incorporating strength training into my workout regimen. You could call me a ‘cardio junkie’ I was doing about 6 days of cardio for 45-55 minutes at a time. That was the bulk of my workouts. I didn’t do any yoga, pilates, classes and lifted weights about 1-2 times a week AFTER my crazy cardio sessions. I was eating healthy food–really really healthy food but I was eating quite a bit because I was always hungry (which is a side effect of too much cardio) My body was storing fat and I was very uncomfortable in my own skin.
(This picture was from winter 2009)
I am in no way ‘overweight’ in the above picture, but I was certainly in a place that was unhealthy physically and mentally.
I knew I was causing myself more harm than good and something needed to change. When I decided to participate in my first fitness competition, yes I took the whole ‘diet change’ very seriously, but it wasn’t the specific diet that helped me. I was already used to eating healthy and all throughout the day, but rather, It was the way I was eating that helped me. Getting to a place of eating that was regimented yet very flexible helped me to appreciate food and realize that I could eat anything in moderation and I wouldn’t blow up like a cow.
With the addition of my newfound 4-5 day a week strength training routine and only 30 minutes of cardio 2x a week, I began to see my body transform right before my eyes. How I came to a happy place with my workout routine took me years to figure out, and it is not over! I learn new things about myself everyday.
I realized that my previous eating less (calorie restriction) and moving more (excessive cardio) was wreaking havoc on my body. Eating less does not create the need to burn body fat. Instead, it creates the need for the body to slow down. The body will actually store fat when you are in such a calorie defecit. It burns muscle tissue thus, forcing the body to lose muscle, not fat.
I had to do something very brave for all of this to happen.
I had to DO LESS, stop overthinking and EAT MORE.
I never in a million years thought that this would happen and I would not only see results, but that I would be HAPPY. Finally I would be set free.
- I was going to be eating more frequently and in bigger portions with VARIETY.
- I was going to be eating bread
- I was going to be spending the bulk of my workouts in the weight room
- I was going to be eating foods that I ENJOY but have avoided
- I was going to avoid excess steady state cardio and in fact decrease it to only 2 HIIT sessions of 30 minutes a week.
To say I was terrified was an under-statement. I was about to undergo a huge transformation in terms of the way I viewed exercise and food. I trusted the process and knew something needed to be shaken up, not only for my body to change a bit, but also for my mental health. I was so focused on food that I was forgetting about the enjoyment and satisfaction of relationships, friendships, social events, trying new activities and getting out of my comfort zone. It helped me build confidence and got me out of a horrible relationship that I know was just adding to my stress. I was scared but SO excited.
Below are some things I did (AND STILL DO!) a little differently Than I was doing before.
- I always put one new item from each food group in my cart on my grocery run to increase variety.
- Once a week or every other week or once a month, (depending on when I eat out) I order something on a menu that I always used to avoid because it was ‘bad’ (if I want it of course. There will be times that I want my ‘usual’
- I no longer food labeling “good” and “bad”
- I see food something delicious that may even aid in helping me stay strong through my workouts. Now, if I want a cookie or extra slice of bread, I never say “well, time to add in 20 more minutes of cardio” Which was my thought process before. Now, I say “This will help me get through my workout” or “This will help me recover”
- In the gym, focus on quality, not quantity and all of my workouts are under 60 minutes. (besides yoga)
- I take 2 FULL rest days. (that doesn’t even mean yoga. That means NOTHING)
- I incorporate 1 if not 2- 90 minute vinyasa yoga classes a week
- I listen to some relaxing, guided meditation each night before bed instead of scrolling through my phone which helps me manage my anxiety.
- I eat chocolate when I want(dark chocolate in the evening) which satisfied my sweet tooth
- I no longer stress over ridiculous things like the calorie difference between an apple and a kiwi.
- I smile more
- I eat things that I want such as full fat cheese, sandwiches, wine, chocolate all with a moderation approach and a balanced, level head.
- I follow my 8 non negotiables
The bottomline that I want you to take away from my post today is that over-thinking and stressing about food and exercise will not get you any closer to your goals. You need to give yourself a break and realize that you are just doing your best. If you want a glass of wine, go for it. If you want a piece of bread with cheese-eat it!
The amount of stress you will feel trickle off of your body will make everything worth while. All it takes is just that 1 instance of you doing something that you haven’t done before to realize that this is ANYTHING BUT SCARY. Freeing yourself from food anxiety is one of the most liberating, healthy, sane, smart and vulnerable things you will do for yourself.
Challenge yourself to pick 2-3 items about the way you currently view exercise and food that you can work to change. It doesn’t have to be overnight. I understand that the most important things take time. Do this for YOU.
I would LOVE to hear your comments below or on my 1FitFoodie Facebook Page. (Search: Onefitfoodie)