Fitness · Healthy Food

My Kind of “Diet”

Blog on a plane? Okay.

I’m currently in the 2nd half (Thank Goodness!) of my 2 hour flight on one of those teeny tiny planes that are clearly made for really small people. For crying out loud I am only 5’8” and I can barely stand up in this plane! I feel incredibly bad for anyone taller than me. They have to literally be wedged in their seats.

I suppose that is my consolation prize for booking my flight just 4 weeks ago.

Anyhow, it occurred to me yesterday to download some podcasts for my flight. Genius idea! If you remember, I listen to TED talks from time to time, so this seemed like a great opportunity to get caught up.

I listened to this amazing one by Sandra Aamodt. It is only 12 minutes long and linked here if you would like to listen to/watch it.

She talks about dieting. And she does so excellently.

As an employee of 24-hour fitness, members routinely ask me how they can lose weight. What sort of training they should do. What workouts I would recommend.

I am not a nutritionist. I am not a scientist. I am a nurse who teaches Zumba classes a couple of times each week. I am not an expert. I do think dieting is completely ridiculous. It seems to be a waste of time, takes a toll on our bodies and many times, the results do not last.

Sandra Aamodt discusses weight management as it relates to our brains. The idea in this talk is that our brains have a pre-set weight range that is appropriate for each of us. Our bodies tell us when we are hungry and what we need. Now this does not mean I think we should eat whatever we want whenever we want. But it does mean that I think our bodies tell us we are hungry for a reason: because we need nutrients.

I don’t promote dieting. I promote lifestyle changes. So when people ask me what I would recommend, they are sometimes disappointed that I don’t have a “quick-fix”. 

Be Active:

No one needs to start working out by hitting the gym for an hour or running 5 miles every day. Many times with the pace of our lives today, this isn’t a reasonable task. And if you are just starting out, you are going to get worn out fast. Take it easy. Don’t push too hard. Exercising a few times a week will improve anyone’s life greatly. Being active is exercise. Go for a walk. Go hiking. It doesn’t have to be intense.

Eat Well:

I am a pescatarian. You don’t need to be. But be mindful. The best advice I ever got regarding food was to buy my groceries on the outer edges of the store. These products are typically fresh, raw and preservative-free. We are talking fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat and cheese. The farther you get into the store aisles, the more chemicals appear in your food. They not only have preservatives, but are usually high sugar and sodium content. Not good for you. It may seem more time consuming and more costly, but we can make all of the products in the center aisle from fresh, raw foods. (tip: if you hit your local farmer’s market, the prices are usually much cheaper AND many farmer’s markets accept food-stamps now). Plus, with technological accessibility, there are many webpages full of recipes that prepare food in this manner.

For example: Your kids love Kraft Mac-n-Cheese. (ummmm who doesn’t?”). Instead of pumping their bodies full of chemicals they don’t need, make it from scratch. Buy some dry noodles. Cook them on the stove. When they are prepared to your liking, add some milk and fresh cheese (no, not American slices or Velveeta!). Super easy mac-n-cheese in the same amount of time as Kraft!

Try to avoid refined sugars. Sugars feed bacteria. Yuck! (so especially avoid it if you are ill). Fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with natural sugars. Delicious and good for you. If you must have a chocolate fix, I recommend dark chocolate (at least 75% cacao). Your body will adapt and soon, those store-bought cookies and cupcakes won’t be appealing anymore. Once in a while they appeal to me, but I have a stomach ache almost immediately following consumption.

Give yourself a break:

We are human. We mess up. And pressure doesn’t always make us thrive. Telling yourself that you can’t have any chocolate or cutting yourself off cold-turkey from your Blended Caramel Frappuccino isn’t necessary and probably won’t end well. So try for 80/20. 80% raw, healthy, preservative-free meals and snacks and 20% giving into cravings. If you are feeling more ambitious, do 90/10.

I drink coffee on the reg. I know it’s not great for me, but I have a cup each day with a splash of soy-creamer. No sugar. And none of the chemicals that energy drinks contain. On the last day of my work-week, I allow myself to go to my favorite coffee shop and get a latte. I still don’t get syrup in it (It’s too sweet for me nowadays). But it is my weekly treat. And that is totally acceptable.

If we live are lives focused on a strict diet, we aren’t living. I know for me, I get irritated and constantly feel pressured. In turn, I constantly feel bad about myself if I eat something I “shouldn’t” have. I actively have to tell myself to stop obsessing. It is okay. You will have hiccups. Every day won’t be perfect. Just be the best you can be each day. That is all we can ever do for ourselves. Try changing one thing at a time and do what works for you. If anything is going to hurt you in adapting to a new way of living, it is frustration.

Maybe start small. Involve your family in the changes you are making. This has really helped me. Living with two other people who follow a loosely paleo-based diet make everything easier. We don’t buy food products containing preservatives or refined sugars. We also choose to avoid gluten. When I am home, avoiding these items is much easier because I am supported. We are all taking the journey to healthy eating together.

Take it one day at a time. Before you know it, you will feel better. You will feel healthier. And may even be down a few pounds!

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