No Diet Day–Should it be every day?

This will be a short post because I’m already a bit late for my afternoon run — it’s a speed sesh so maybe being hurried to get there will start the workout on the right foot? I didn’t want today to go by without putting a post out though, as it’s International No Diet Day.

no diet

In honour of that, maybe check out this article by Health at Every Size advocate Linda Bacon over at the NEDIC website.  She advocates for learning to trust our bodies, which goes in line with the kind of intuitive eating and self-acceptance/love approach that I myself get behind. I especially like the part where she hits the nail on the head when it comes to the element of control that dieting so alluringly offers:

“As long as things go well, the dieter can maintain control. But if anything gets in the way or changes, she can’t. The reason is clear: Dieters don’t rely on the normal signals of fullness to regulate their eating, so there are no brakes in place.”

…I know that when I have gotten sucked into restriction, or obsessing over/tracking my every meal, judging it, etc., there’s been a sense of control and power that I have–and it felt good. It’s nice to feel like you are totally in charge. And what thinking we need to get really strict about our food does all the time is convince us that we are otherwise out of control monsters who will binge at the first chance.

And unfortunately, after restriction, that’s what happens. I still have foods that were formerly “forbidden” that I have to remind myself–it’s OKAY–or else I end up overeating them to the point of feeling like crap. My experience tells me that I am not in fact a madwoman around food, but the more I think that I eat too much or eat the wrong things, the more likely I am to go ahead and go “off the rails.”

My hope is that some day, it won’t be the exception or the one day of the year where we don’t diet–but that we’ll learn to feed and take care of ourselves in a way that doesn’t require us to feel like failures or to give all of our energy to controlling ourselves.

two diets

 

Remember: we are not crazies. The diet industry likes us to think that, so that we keep paying them for programs. And trackers. And diet coaches. And unless these products and people teach us long term habits that make it so we don’t require them, I’m weary. Our bodies are on our side!

There’s my two cents!
What do you think about ditching diets?
Do you make a point to avoid diet talk / dieting / buying diet books, or do you just go with it?
Does controlling your food work with you? Tracking? Monitoring? 
Have you given up on diets? What have you found?
What keeps you dieting? 

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diet advice: think twice about who to trust

Yesterday, I shared an article that got me to thinking yesterday called “Opinion Stew”, which was by (medical doctor) David Katz and talked about the craziness that is the way in which we find our diet gurus and called for some common sense when it comes to deciding who to trust. The gist:

For now, anyone who shares opinions about nutrition or weight loudly and often enough — or cleverly enough — is embraced as an authority, with no one generally even asking what if any training they’ve had. This is compounded by the fact that, in the famous words of Bertrand Russell, “Fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.” It is the least substantiated, most uninformed opinions about how to eat that will come at you with the greatest conviction. That’s your first clue that something is awry, because true expertise always allows for doubt.

We have created a seething stew of opinion about everything to do with nutrition, including, presumably, stew. That leaves us with far too many cooks, many lacking credentials to be in the kitchen in the first place. I trust everyone knows what that means.”

 Some of my (facebook) friends shared the link and others commented in thought-provoking ways. I felt stressed out over thinking “I shouldn’t have shared this—I’ll certainly offend ____ [insert handful of names of people I know who dole out nutrition advice who are not dietitians and/or doctors].”

But if you read my post on why I think Paleo did me more harm than good from a few weeks ago, you’ll understand that I’ve personally been led astray by these not-so-credentialed gurus and books. I started to think maybe I would be better off not saying a darn thing about the way I feel about nutritionists vs. dietitians, but the shame I seem to be feeling about failing at the kinds of diets put out there by people who aren’t mainstream dietitians is something I’m probably not alone with. Even if some diet “works” for a 25 year old girl who is blessed with the ability to eat pretty much anything and still look “fit”—and is willing to talk about it on a podcast or blog about it or base a nutrition counselling practice off of it—that doesn’t mean that it’s healthy or that it’s the right choice for everyone. I’m a self-conscious person and sometimes I can think that because I don’t have a six pack or haven’t got the “perfect body” figured out I should just shut up. But ouch.

A couple years ago, I was en route to becoming a Registered Dietitian. I didn’t finish my degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, but I do have the (kind of crappy) orgo mark on my transcripts and the hairnet and lab coat I saved from spending a summer in Food Science to remind me that the kind of training dietitians go through is not something to be scoffed at. On top of the degree, there’s the internship, not to mention the competition those budding dietitians have to go through to earn one.

I also briefly considered taking a natural nutrition program or going through some program to become a health coach. But the warnings about those programs as “drive through degrees” or scams were enough to make me reconsider (I chose to take my Coactive Coaching instead because there are professors at Western who use it in their research, plain and simple, across a variety of issues—health and otherwise). I haven’t been through one of those “alternative” options, so I can’t speak on how hard or how easy they are. I have talked to people who have been through it and said that they don’t feel like they should be giving out advice, but then I’ve met plenty of people who do. I’ve also seen the way in which the lines of who to trust are blurry—recommending blogs and podcasts over even common sense.

And I’m mad at myself for believing the people who so confidently convinced me that everything I’d believed about nutrition was somehow wrong. But the writing is on the wall when it comes to my own story: I have been my healthiest and my happiest with my body when I’ve been working with a dietitian—not a nutritionist or someone who calls themselves an eating coach. Add to it that dietitians tend to have some experience working with people with eating disorders, and I know that I would rather spend my money paying someone who has dedicated a significant portion of their life to learning about nutrition and about how to help individuals and communities to be healthier than giving it to someone who decided to capitalize on their own success with a single diet. My biggest fear when it comes to the kind of alternative diet advice that more people will end up confused and doubting their own judgment and perhaps straying down the path of disordered eating. To pick on Paleo some more, let’s consider a nutritionist who has no formal training and then tells an individual to cut out a whole (foundational) food group. I don’t need to read the criteria of anorexia or the warning signs to know that cutting out a whole group of foods is a slippery slope. I don’t doubt that some of these nutritionists might recognize an eating disorder in their clients, but I also don’t doubt that some of these nutritionists have their own messed up relationships with food. I don’t doubt that some of them might have the guts to refer them to someone with training to help their client with their issues, but I also don’t doubt that there are some nutritionists who would just push those clients to try harder. I don’t doubt that there are some that would give up on their clients and blame them for not doing it right. I don’t doubt that there are people who are being led into disordered patterns of thoughts and behaviours around food because of the mass nutrition confusion that Katz talks about in the article I shared.

This is NOT to say that I don’t think people should talk about what they’re doing with eating and nutrition. Hearing about someone else’s experience with a diet or training program might be interesting (I read the posts that go along with the Human Health Experiment the owner of my gym is doing on himself). But I don’t think we should use that as a platform from which we can advise other people and charge money to advise them on how to take care of their own (very different) bodies.

So, that is a lot of words to come to the conclusion that I’m glad I shared that article. I want people to think twice before they share an article by someone who positions themselves as an expert—what are they really saying? I want people to think twice before they spend their money on any kind of diet or health or nutrition help or product. In short, I hope that the article—and my rambling on about it—makes you think.

Here’s the link again — “Opinion Stew” 

Did you read the article?
What’s your take on nutritionists vs. Dietitans and where to spend your moola?
Do you think there’s danger in the way things are right now?

What do you want to “get away” with?: on eating for health versus eating for a healthy weight

With Thanksgiving just in the past and plenty of opportunities around the corner for “indulging” in “fun foods” (or junk foods, if you prefer), I thought I’d tackle something that I have given lots of thought to as of late. I hear over and over again people talking about how they can’t “get away with” eating those fun foods or things that they really want.

case in point

case in point — people want those metabolisms!

I’ll admit that I used to be jealous of people who could seemingly eat whatever they pleased without a care and without gaining weight. But I’ve come to realize that there is more than meets the eye, when it comes to the way people fuel themselves: we may see a person’s instagram feed and they may not really eat what’s pictured; we may see the only meal that a person eats all day; we can’t possibly know what’s going on beyond what meets our eyes. On top of that, the more I change the way I think about the number on the scale and what it means, the less I consider eating copious quantities of junk food something to be envious of.

If you think about it, unless we consider weight the most important indication of our health (above and beyond what we’re actually doing to our bodies), we’re not really getting away with anything if the anything is not healthy in and of itself. If someone is “getting away” with eating junk food, they’re still putting junk into their bodies. If they’re not gaining weight, that doesn’t mean that that food is not still driving unhealthy processes in their body or that their insides are in good shape. We think that we want those metabolisms that will allow us to eat whatever we want, but we forget that we still need to eat healthy for the sake of fueling our bodies properly, whether we can stay thin on a diet of potato chips and cookies (or whatever it is you think you can’t have) or not.

But there’s something there worth considering: what is it that we envy about those people who can eat “whatever they want”? During my recovery and when I went about making all foods fit in my diet again, legalizing even the things I forbid myself to eat for years, I did my best to eat “whatever I want.” I didn’t always nail the “without guilt” part of the equation, and I certainly overate in the process, but what I realized is that I’m not the out of control monster that I thought I am when it comes to food. When it’s OK to have dessert, I have it. When I think I shouldn’t be having it because I’m not ____lbs or a size __ yet, then I overeat it. Conditions on the consumption of any food for me are just a trigger for me to throw my hands up in the air and overdo it. Alternatively, when I’m letting myself have it easy with food, I’m always surprised at how little of those formerly oh-so-tempting things I needed when they were OK – one cookie was enough for the girl who used to eat a whole row? If I overdid it, I didn’t feel good. I found myself actually craving vegetables alongside that chocolate. But it’s a slippery slope and I feel like I live in a world where if you’re not dieting, you’re a bit of an outcast, although “diet” is a four letter word that people don’t use to describe their approaches to food.

That being said, what I’ve realized is that what I really am jealous of when it comes to those people who appear to eat whatever they want and stay fit, or healthy, or happy, or whatever, is the freedom that goes along with it. I don’t mean freedom in terms of what they’re putting in their body, I mean freedom in terms of how they approach food and how they approach their own body. The people I envy most are not even those people who eat French fries and still have six packs, they’re the ones who eat salads and burgers and cake and kale without letting it be more than it is. They’re the ones who stop eating when they’re satisfied. They’re the ones who know that if they have a bigger lunch, they’ll probably naturally eat less at dinner—and don’t deprive themselves if they end up being hungry when that time rolls around. They’re the ones who trust themselves around all kinds of food. They’re the ones who don’t turn to food for comfort, but take it for what it is: fuel. These kinds of eaters are the ones who I envy, and lucky for me, identifying what it is about them and their approach to food that I am so jealous of gives me something to aim for creating in myself.

If we have been overweight or have struggled with our weight in the past, it’s easy to feel like we are some kind of special snowflake who could never be able to be happy around food and our bodies. Talk about a limiting perspective. All thinking that way does is create all kinds of feeling of shame, of lack of control, of failure, and all that does is drive us to continue to overeat foods we think are “bad” and to live in this crazy cycle where food is consuming us instead of us consuming it. I know from experience that moving towards that kind of relationship I envy with food is not easy, but I also know that I’m getting there one step at a time. The clearer I can get about what I want for myself in terms of habits around food and thoughts around food, and the gentler with myself I can be as I move in that direction (little steps, little steps), the better I feel in the process of changing the way I think about food and my body.

I shared a Geneen Roth quote with a friend the other day and I think it fits well with this and ties it all together nicely, with the reminder to trust yourself instead:

“When you believe without knowing you believe that you are damaged at your core, you also believe that you need to hide that damage for anyone to love you. You walk around ashamed of being yourself. You try hard to make up for the way you look, walk, feel. Decisions are agonizing because if you, the person who makes the decision, is damaged, then how can you trust what you decide? You doubt your own impulses so you become masterful at looking outside yourself for comfort. You become an expert at finding experts and programs, at striving and trying hard and then harder to change yourself, but this process only reaffirms what you already believe about yourself — that your needs and choices cannot be trusted, and left to your own devices you are out of control.”

trust

Where do you feel jealous of other people’s metabolisms/eating?
What is it about the way that they eat that is so appealing to you?
What is standing between you and the kind of relationship with food that you want?
What do you want your eating habits to look like?
How do you want to feel about your body?
What is a healthy relationship with food?

it’s not rocket science: my top tips for living a healthy, happy life

As a healthy living blogger, I thought it might make sense to put together a little summary of what I do on a regular basis to keep myself healthy. Thus, my top 10 tips for being happy and healthy. There’s nothing surprising or revolutionary here–I don’t think healthy living is rocket science. Enjoy!

  1. Cook for yourself. Lots of people use time as an excuse for not cooking. In reality, there are plenty of ways to get around this problem: doing a big meal prep on the weekend, choosing quick recipes (that take less time than driving to the chinese food restaurant or ordering wings), for instance. Cooking for yourself can be relaxing and usually means you end up with less junk going into your meals and snacks–a big win, in my books! Plus, you wind up saving money.
  2. Have a (rough) meal plan. I used to think that if I wanted to be an intuitive eater, meal planning was out of the question. This made grocery shopping, cooking/meal prep, and living, to be honest, more difficult than it needed to be. I’ve since realized that if intuitive eating and meal planning are mutually exclusive, it’s not for me–I do better when I give myself a rough plan for the week, including what kinds of snacks and when I’ll eat them. Whether or not I end up hungry for all the snacks and meals I plan, knowing that I will be eating again makes me less likely to overeat at each meal and snack and having a plan saves me trips to the grocery store and lots of money along the way.
  3. Eat real food as often as you can. When I make my meal plan, I try to include as many real foods that don’t come in a wrapper as I can. As Jillian Michaels (who I have a love/hate–mostly love–relationship with) suggests, if it didn’t come from the ground or have a mother, you shouldn’t be eating it. That means my snacks are things that are either as is (fruit, veggies, yogurt, nuts, etc.) or that I make for myself (muffins, etc.). I still end up grabbing a bar here or there, but I don’t plan on eating very many processed things are part of my daily routine.
  4. Schedule your workouts. I know that if I have an appointment, I will keep it. One thing that keeps me sane and moving is writing down when I’ll work out ahead of time. Sometimes I literally just schedule in “work out” (if I’m not sure how sore I’ll be or what I’ll be in the mood for), but I’m most likely to get a work out in when I schedule a specific class or plan into the mix. Bonus points if I invite someone along with me to hold me extra accountable.  
  5. Focus on the big picture. I used to stress and stress and stress over every little thing I put in my body (was that yogurt 1% or fat free?) and over the smallest details of my workouts (I should have done 3 more minutes on that treadmill!). Realizing that these things are not what dictate whether or not I’m healthy and happy—but that worrying about them actually takes away from my health—has been freeing. The big picture and considering whether or not what I’m doing is moving me in the direction of a healthier and fitter version of myself keeps me saner and calmer than getting caught up in the little things.
  6. Strength train. I cannot think of a reason why getting stronger could possibly be a bad thing. With CrossFit getting more popular and the “strong is the new skinny” motto out there (a blessing and a curse, in my opinion), I think more women are hitting the weights regularly. Yay! My favourite part of being strong and lifting on a regular basis is seeing how it carries over into my day to day life: I can move my own furniture and can carry all kinds of things up the 2 flights of stairs to my apartment. It’s the small things that count! Also, on a purely vain and aesthetic level, filling out a pair of jeans and having broader shoulders (hullo, smaller-looking waist) are not so bad side effects.
  7. Do something that gets your heart pumping most days of the week. As a recovered cardio junkie, I still think there are huge benefits to getting sweaty on a regular basis. Whether or not it helps you lose weight or maintain your weight aside, I don’t think people would be less healthy for hitting the trails or hopping on their bicycles a few times a week. Maybe it’s playing a sport or going for a hike, but whatever it is, I think there’s a mental and a physical benefit from doing activities that are aerobic in nature and keep your heart pumping. In the midst of all the “cardio is death” messages out there, it can be hard to admit that hopping on a stationary bike with your iPod and a podcast is one of your favourite ways to unwind, but for me, that’s the case. Following this kind of activity, I feel calmer, clearer-headed, and restored.
  8. Take up yoga.  From CrossFit to triathlon to climbing to just wanting to be a healthier, fitter person, yoga will help. Whether it’s an athletic style that challenges you physically and mentally or something deeply restorative and meditative that feeds your soul, there’s something to be said for doing a yoga class once or twice a week to supplement whatever else it is you do for your mental and physical health.
  9. Move every day. Whether it’s a walk or 15 minutes of stretching on your living room floor, there’s something to be said for giving yourself and your body the love you deserve. Most people, when they put in the effort to exercise or to take care of their bodies, will make better choices throughout the day—I know if I’ve gone for a run or made time for the gym, I’m more likely to choose the apple over the cookie when decision time comes.
  10. Reflect on where you’re at and where you’re going. Maybe it’s not a blog that you share with the world, but documenting your health and fitness journeys – in a diary, on some kind of forum, with photos – is one way to keep yourself honest and to give yourself something to look back on. If you end up injured or overtired, it’s helpful to be able to see what led up to it all. If you feel like a million bucks and have a great race or competition, you’ll want to know what you did to set yourself up for that success. I also use vision boards and goal setting to keep me looking ahead to how I want to keep striving and improving.

take care

What is your top tip for living a healthy lifestyle?

Wireless-less wiaw

Soooo my apartment’s wireless is on the fritz which means you’re in for a treat: my attempts at blogging, emailing, and texting without autocorrects making something a laugh or two are pretty awesome.

For your sake, we’ll go mostly wordless on today’s! Good thing it’s a what I ate Wednesday…

Breakfast was eggs, spinach, and a sweet potato with almond butter/butter before laundry and chit chats with a friend. 🙂

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Lunch came after a noon workout–my fav time to train but not one that generally fits in my schedule–and a PR and was pork, cabbage, and a nanner with coconut and some butter. Yes, I do eat weird things. Yes, I’m okay with you judging me.

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After lunch came coffee time (it was social, don’t worry) and then I say myself down and got down to work editing and working on something that I totally forgot I needed Internet for tonight. I ended up needing more time than anticipated so I had to miss my interning at the gym. I made time for dinner-more pork this time with carrots alfalfa sprouts and almond butter-before playing instructor at bootcamp.

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After a long hot shower, some dark chocolate, and this here blog post, I’m zonked!

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Hopefully we get the wireless sorted out soon but for the meantime, I’m gong to enjoy the disconnect and read one of the many books I’ve been thinking about starting/finishing! 🙂 nighty night!

As if

First, a flashback (skip to 1:08ish for the title reference, please!):

Second, here goes…

This week’s been filled with fun and plenty of things to keep me busy, but I’ve been having a hella time sleeping. Last night, after lying in bed for about an hour, I said to hell with tossing and turning and got up and wrapped up the Christmas presents under my new tree. Is it strange to wrap gifts at 2am? In November?

While I wrapped, I listened to a podcast where Geneen Roth was talking about one of her books—“Women, Food, and God”—which really changed the way I looked at my eating issues back when I was first introduced to her work. Geneen writes in a way that takes the words out of my mouth but also has a knack for getting at something deeper. I’d go so far as to say she awakens consciousness to things I might never have considered on my own or perhaps just puts down on paper the things that many of us are awesome at avoiding.

At any rate, I’m feeling absolutely inspired by her and the book, which I paged through today for old time’s sake. One of the dog-eared pages I came to talked about the concept of living “as if” and I really think, given my posts yesterday, that it applies. Though her reference to “The Voice” might not make full sense, think of it as the beliefs and chatter in your mind about yourself (your inner critic) and reflect on this:

“I tell those who haven’t experienced themselves without The Voice that they need to live as if. Live as if they are worth their own time. Live as if they deserve to take care of their bodies. Live as if the possibilities they long for actually exist. Living as if creates a bridge to a new way of living. It allows you to see that something else is possible. That you really can walk, talk, and eat as if you deserve to be here.”

I think what she suggests here is extremely powerful.

If you’re like me, that’s a refreshing idea. If you’re convinced that you’re overweight and the itty bitty shitty committee that sometimes shows up in your thoughts drives your actions, you’re in a tough spot.

If you’re like me, you realize that that belief is absolutely misguided. Maybe you even know where the voice came from—for me, I can remember a painful time when someone who I love called me “fat and lazy”—and you’re actively trying to flip the switch to a more positive frequency.

But maybe like me, that’s tough. Seeing yourself in new light—as awesome at your core and inherently healthy—can take time. I know that in some areas of my life, I’ve certainly been able to flip that switch. Take, for instance, relationships. It’s easy for me to recognize that I deserve to be surrounded by amazing people who make me feel good and to spend less time with people who bring me down. Done and done. It’s not so easy to convince myself that, in the case of my body, my default is fit.

While it’s tough, it’s not impossible. And it’s happening, albeit slowly. I can catch myself heading into a negative headspace. I can recognize my thoughts for what they are. And while building self-esteem takes effort, the work is rewarding in and of itself. Who wouldn’t want to feel healthier and happier?  I’d suppose that if you’re reading a blog called Happy is the New Healthy, you’d be all over that!

So how about we do a little reflecting on hypothetical situation: What if you were always going to have this body—at this weight, with those thighs, and that jean size?

  • How would you eat?
  • How would you talk to yourself?
  • How would you exercise?
  • What would you stop doing?
  • What would you start doing?
  • What would you do more of?
  • Less of?
  • What would you wear?
  • What would shopping be like?
  • What would your pantry look like?
  • Where would you spend your money?

My guess is that, particularly if you’ve been dieting or “holding yourself back” you might start with an answer like “I’d eat cake all the time!” Sure, permission to eat freely might sound like permission to binge. But at the end of the day, weight or no weight, bingeing sucks. You’d start to eat the things that genuinely move your body towards health—knowing that food either makes you healthier or makes you sicker. Perhaps the talk of thunder thighs or pudge would change into appreciation of your curves or muscular build or at least into acceptance. Maybe you’d hop off the elliptical and lace up your hiking boots to move your body in a way that you’d love. Maybe you’d stop bingeing, restricting, talking about dieting with your friends, or comparing yourself to other people. Maybe you’d start taking care of your body (check-ups, adjustments, hygiene, etc.), getting more sleep, or going on dates. Perhaps you’d wear clothes that fit you and that flatter you—not baggy duds to hide yourself or things that are too tight and make you a cranky sausage. Would you dread shopping or would you find stores that sell things that you could swear were made just for you? Maybe you’d keep foods you’re certain you could never have around for fear of demolishing them in your kitchen. Maybe you’d stop buying magazines offering how to lose the last 10lbs, diet supplements that promise to be the missing answer in your weight issues.

Maybe you’d start to live a whole different life.

If those questions shook you up, I encourage you to start doing some of the things that I listed (or if you thought of something that you’d do if your weight didn’t matter)—maybe not the cake one. The things that you’d do for the sake of being healthy and happy—the stuff I listed as the answers—are the things that I absolutely must do if I want to be healthy and happy. Anything else is trivial. What would happen if you asked yourself the first question as it applies to the things you do daily?

At the end of the day, whether you’re 20lbs overweight, underweight, or exactly where you think you belong, you’re not healthy if you don’t take care of yourself. Regardless of what your body looks like or weighs, you’re wonderful. You deserve everything good and lovely in the world. Using food to make yourself miserable—fat, skinny, obsessive, etc.—distorts that. It gives you a problem, something you can wave in your face as proof that you’re not so amazing.

But you are amazing.

Whether or not you have weight to lose or gain, giving up the idea that that weight is a problem is a big deal. It offers you the chance to make a radical shift to how you approach yourself and your day to day actions. It takes you from a living against—problem-focused—approach and creates the space for you to instead live for.

Rather than an excuse to be fat and lazy and all things people like to assume not being attached to your weight mean, letting go puts the focus back on our actions. It gives you the right to do what’s healthy for healthy’s sake. Sometimes our weight can distort things. Consider the skinny fat person who eats like crap and never moves. With weight as a distorting lens to judge whether or not they’re healthy, they’re winning. Without it, they’re shit out of luck.

Weight is just an outcome—and as the skinny fat example suggests, it’s just a part of the picture. It’d take a certain kind of person to suggest that appearance trumps everything else and I’d like to punch that kind of person squarely between the eyes.

Lose the lens. Take some responsibility for taking care of yourself and be proud of the fact that you’re doing it.

All of this is asking you to take a step. To start to live for being healthy and happy and fit and strong rather than to live against being fat, sad, out of shape, or weak. Instead of avoiding the things that you think will bring you down, go after the things that will lift you up. Instead of avoiding whatever it is you’re scared of in life, create what you want.

Are you ready to live “as if?”

Finally, some more cheese…

It’s about time

This post has been coming together in my mind, on napkins and scrap paper, in journals, and all over the place for a while.

It’s about time I put it all together and just got real about what’s up with me…

I think the life coaches and inspirational junkies of the world might be out to inspire me:

  • Monday’s quote from Andrea Owen, in my inbox:

  • Last week’s behappy.me daily quote, also in my inbox:

So I’m going to do it….

So after a whole lot of thinking, blogging, journalling, talking, reflecting, etc. etc. I can say I’ve had a hella summer. It was filled with awesome things–travelling, meeting all kinds of people, making mistakes and learning lessons, having more fun than ever–and it brought me a lot of insight.

This week is the start of that Life By Design Challenge I mentioned earlier in the month. If you’re not familiar with Life By Design yet, puh-leeeeeeze check it out:

I’m telling you — whether it found me or I found it, I think there’s a match made in heaven here. This is my interpretation and what I’ve taken from being exposed to all of this –> Living by design means realizing that we’re MEANT to be strong, fit, healthy, beautiful, powerful, successful, _____________ [insert great adjective here] and then going after it. It’s about living on as awesome a level as you can and being awake and conscious of your life–not just settling for being okay or going through the motions but actually taking responsibility and stepping up!

I think it’s safe to say I’m pretty hooked. I am drawn to these people–and not just because they’re jacked and fun to be around (this stuff works!). There’s something about the energy and the fact that they’re doing something on purpose that’s really refreshing–cuz it’s rare (but it shouldn’t be this way–how great would it be if we all woke up and actually lived?!) and cuz it’s inspiring! Safe to say I feel lucky to have met Dr. K at Starbucks one day and had an impromptu coaching session when I timidly talked about not being sure about becoming a dietitian and mentioned that I have a blog (without any confidence or feelings of deserving–in short, with much lower self esteem than I have now!).

So at the same time that I am really energized, motivated, and excited about all of the changes I’ve made, I feel like there’s a part of me that’s been holding back. Yes, I’ve made serious changes. But I’m frustrated and I feel stuck–and I know it’s up to me to change it!

As far as I’ve come, I still don’t feel like I’ve got it together. And that’s fine and dandy–you have to be okay with where you are to get anywhere better–but I’m not going to hide it: I want to be stronger. I’m sick of feeling soft and pudgy. I’m done pretending that I’m really fit when I realize I’m neglecting a whole lot of what it takes to train properly. That being said, I’m already working on these things, but I haven’t really announced it: I’m eating by design, I’m giving up my old approach to working out and training, I’m getting my power turned on with regular chiro visits, and I’m waking up for all of this. In short, I’m working on living by design.

Starting point:

It is what it is. I weigh 142lbs. I don’t lift weights very much, but I do a lot of body weight stuff. I don’t do 2 hours of cardio like I used to, but I still fall back on cardio workouts and sometimes think I need to do one every day. I like yoga and I do more of it. I play sports every once in a while. I read books, I spend time with friends, and I think I’m pretty conscious of what’s going on in my life. I’m actively working on my values, I’m defining my mission, I’m setting goals. I eat a lot of real food but I also have a lot to learn. I drink a lot of beer, eat a lot of froyo, and I sometimes let my emotions drive my food choices. I look like this:

Again, it is what it is.

So what’s it all mean?

I just made this kind of a bigger deal since I want to get even more conscious about what I’m doing. My posts are going to be more forwardly talking about applying the stuff I’m sure you read about — eating, moving, thinking, brain body connection, by design:

  • Health –> Not waiting for something to be wrong to care. Keeping a clear connection. Sleeping.
  • Eat –> Eating more real foods that are by design. My new idea is “nonfiction” food — real stuff that I can actually say where it came from. Sure “by design” foods from WalMart are better than BigMacs, but I have the resources and time and motivation to seek out stuff from real farms and producers that aren’t so far removed that I lose sight of where my food/nourishment is coming from. Recognizing that froyo and treats are fine–but they’re not “food” or fuel.
  • Move –> Working on that broad definition of fitness. My decision to get crossfit certified + being willing to make a little bit of an ass of myself learning the stuff that I don’t know (mainly: olympic lifts) and to play around with things (finding a balance between the cardio I love and the training I need to be strong and fit and all those good things) = next steps.
  • Think –> Focusing on the good stuff. The motto is “Focus on what’s strong, not on what’s wrong.” Working on my values, my purpose, and then acting on it. Reading more things that lift me up and less that just fill my world with fluff. Spending more time doing the things I like to do with the people who lift me higher.
  • Other –> Using my energy for the things that matter. Freelancing, teaching fitness, and blogging = doing more of what I love. Not signing up for a course this fall just because. Applying the if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no theory. Living out loud. Simplifying. Moving. Learning how to budget. Spending more time outside. Trusting the process.

NOW I feel ready for that 30 day challenge. Might as well start early, might as well go big, and might as well blog the heck out of it. There’s inspiration in seeing someone else’s trials, successes, progress and all that jazz and that’s what I want to do with this and that’s why I’m giving you this novel of a backgrounder. Accountability, motivation, something to reflect back on–those rock too!

Making progress

Howdy there…this time from London and my futon. Boy oh boy did I miss my space!

Right now it’s a bit of a disaster since my suitcases exploded with laundry…

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…and we all know how I feel about laundry.

Needless to say, I don’t feel too bad putting off the finishing touches of my unpacking and cleaning til tomorrow when I’m fresh…

Now for the good stuff.

Today was amazing. Warning–I’m terrible at race recaps, so bear with me!

Bluewater is like Christmas. Going home for this race means seeing so many familiar faces and being literally outside where I grew up. I did the duathlon for two years before making my switch to triathlon last year, which makes this my fourth time doing the event. It’s one of the ones people do year after year after year, and not just because the church ladies cook up a storm (too bad my camera was dead and I didn’t get any photos from the post-race spread). This year, I finished in 1:05 on the dot, which was almost 2 minutes faster than last year! It’s not a massive improvement, but I’ll take it. The results went up quick but I was mostly pleased that my stomach cooperated, I felt strong, and that I got to do the race!

I did snag some photos from the race (my mom took some, I took some, friends had cameras!) and it was all smiles and sunshine.

That pretty much sums it up, although I did have a near heart attack about 5 minutes before the start when I lost my goggles. And of course I didn’t have my spares. I asked all around the people on the beach and then finally with 3 minutes to go ran my butt up to transition area and offered to kiss the first person to lend me a spare. Luckily a kind kind soul gave them to me (and only teased me about following through on my offer) and I was able to adjust them and swim! AMEN for nice triathletes.  The 400m took me 9:12, but there’s a nice chunk of time for the run back to transition in there. I was faster than last year and felt loads better, so that’s a good thing, especially since I’ve done ZERO open water swims.

The bike felt awesome. I passed a lot of girls and guys alike (that’s normal — I am a cyclist and not much of a swimmer so it’s bound to happen). I even spent some time in my drops…which was new for me. What better time to experiment than during a race, right? (joke) The 18km took me 34:22, which is one of those times I’m proud of but nothing out of this world–though considering the biking I’ve been doing, I’m happy my legs were feeling good and not too tired from the mountains. Yay!

Another thing I’ve done NONE of this year = bricks. I guess all the bootcamp workouts have confused my muscles enough that a casual 4km run after the swim/bike wasn’t too much of a shocker. Maybe I should have run harder, but I finished up in 19:05, which really surprised me. Faster than 5:00 kilometres without training on purpose? I’ll take it with a smile!

Like I said, I ended up coming in faster than last year. I placed second in my age group again and this year I was third overall for the girls. That felt awesome–it was like the icing on the cake, especially since I went in with no real “training” per se! I also won a raffle prize–a $25 gift card for running room. Lucky bum, huh?

Props go out to all of the people who raced today! There was a lot of first timers, some comebacks, and a whole lot of great work out there. I was so glad to see SO MANY people I know. Did I mention I love this race?

Justin’s a friend from Western tri club – matching age group plaques!

Look who showed up — Dave and his wife Dina made their way out to say hello! 🙂

Amy’s a yoga instructor who makes me smile every time I see her! She killed it this year and was such a ray of sunshine/cheerleader even while neither of us could really breathe…

Haley also did great and cheered like a champ even during the race!

…since my stomach was off, I stuck to a bland tuna sandwich (blechhhhh sums up how I feel about this) and a cookie. My dinner tonight was delicious and brought me back to how I normally eat. Snacks today were all over the place: dried fruit, an apple, two bananas, a LARA bar, a granola bar. I’m so ready to not be flying by the seat of my pants, it’s not even funny!

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first things first, back to my kale!

20120721-204449.jpgBack to the good stuff..

The post-race fun just made things even better. We started off on a patio…

And then made our way for a refreshing dip in the river. This is kind of a Sarnia rite of passage and it felt so good today.

someone’s on their own countdown!

Made it!

The river run was on my summer bucket list, along with a whole whack of other things I’ve been crossing off. Like drinking long island iced tea (it’s a rough life, ya know!)…

Now that I’m back in London, I’m feeling better and better–and I don’t just mean my stomach. This morning and the past few days, I’ve been feeling so gross. Dreading coming home and feeling fat and miserable. But ya know what I realized today?  When my friends asked me to stick around after the race, I wanted to say no. I wanted to come back right away and do…what? I don’t know. Be miserable? Binge? That’s definitely where I was at a year ago…but it’s not where I am today. There’s something empowering about realizing that you can choose something different and even if you start to stray from your healthy/happy/new ways, you can get back to where you need to be. Since it feels so good to choose the happy thing (going for a drink even though I felt “fat”, racing even though I hadn’t trained and thought I’d end up “slow”, spending time with friends instead of being miserable), it’s starting to become my automatic choice, I think. And that’s the way it should be…apparently happy is not only healthy, it’s also faster than last year, friendly. and all around awesome. 🙂

And now for the perfect ending to a pretty much perfect day — first my decaf coffee/nightcap (cuz I bought a bottle of deliciousness and had to give it a go) and then the face plant into MY OWN BED!

Have you ever done a triathlon? What’d you think? I love it — the physical part is challenging, the camaraderie is unbelievable! Nothing like any other kind of race — there’s competition but it’s such a different kind. LOVE. I think I re-caught the bug here…

What are you doing this weekend?

PS: Speaking of Christmas…

Silver linings

At one of the gyms I work, we often do an exercise at our staff meetings where we go over “The good, the  bad, and the ugly.”

Yesterday was good, bad, tiring, and weird. That’s the best summary I can give.

I’ll start with the good:

  • I got to go on a pretty awesome, sunny bike ride to Port Stanley with my friends. It’s about 95km round trip, so it was nice to have company! 😀
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THREE BIKING BOYFRIENDS! JK. But three biking friends = still good!

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  • We slept in and hit the road later on (as it was not sticky hot for once!). This means I got to eat breakfast first. Simple pleasures.

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  • I felt pretty good during the ride, even if the hills and anticipation of Virginia got me a litttttttttle discouraged. I did a good job of eating and hydrating, methinks! Bonus.

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  • There was a flat tire but there were also plenty of tubes, CO2 cartridges, and skills (none of these on my behalf) so we didn’t get too held up!

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  • I went to Sunfest yesterday afternoon–it was a “cross cultural arts festival” and a big ol’ party all weekend in the park! There was the most delicious lemonade of my life (hello re-hydration and carb refuelling), friends, and sunshine. Win, win, and did I mention win?
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  • My other eats (a bedtime snack of cottage cheese and nut butter and leftovers for dinner) were not so beautiful in photo, but pleased me perfectly!

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  • My mom came down and spent the night. We had a bunch of quality time and of course that meant stupid pictures.
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  • I got to hang out with another friend for a few hours yesterday and got to look at some very cool photos he took–a sneak preview in his words. 🙂 Aren’t I special? Well, you don’t really need a sneak peek to see his work, but still.
Now for the bad…
  • I fell at the end of our ride. My scrapes don’t really phase me — war wounds are cool, right? — but my head hurt a lot yesterday and my helmet showed the damage. Falling off your bike sucks. 90km in I was tired, there were geese, it was bumpy, and that’s all I’ve got in terms of an explanation. All of a sudden I was on the ground. Hmmmm….

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I don’t know how but I managed to scrape my lip. I guess I was smiling or laughing when I went down. Moral of the story is–I’m okay, I could have hurt something serious, and at least I got hurt on a really awesome ride and close to home. 🙂 Oh, and wear a fucking helmet. And yeah, f bomb necessary. My brain would have been donezo if I wasn’t wearing it, and I was going “slow” on a trail, so you KNOW I’m not taking the excuses you’re trying to dummy up in your brain.

So I really like the good bad and ugly exercise and the chance to vent, but I really want to change the ugly for me to the silver lining.

Like I said, I got quality time. ER trips are more fun with friends — my photographer friend broke his finger (not fun) so I took him. I was going to get checked out at my mom’s urging (can you see where this is all making sense now?) but after 4 hours in the waiting room and more to go, I gave up. Bedtime was 2am, but whatever.

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I feel better today, by the way, so I think my head is okay! My mom woke me up a few times and there was nothing wrong – other than being sore, nothing to worry about, I don’t think. I have the advice of countless google searches (;) – kidding!) and some friends who know what they’re talking about. Andddddd I have an excuse to buy a new helmet. One silver lining! Amen. The thought of hurting my brain conjured up these images of the slides from my sports injuries class back in 2nd year. Sit in a dark room with no TV or computer or thinking. Hi, isolation. I realized how much worse that would be than a broken arm or not being able to bike or getting hurt. And then I felt a twinge of “holy shit, stop complaining about your hip, stop complaining about the cellulite on your thighs, stop worrying about whether you’re 130 or 150 or 170lbs and start appreciating the fact that you have a working body and that you can literally do whatever you want with your head”. If that’s not a silver lining, I don’t know what is!

Now that that’s out there, I’m letting it go. Like I said, I’m sore today so I’m going to keep my teaching to just a bootcamp (come on out if you’re in London) and I’m lucky enough to have someone covering my spin class. Too intense, I think, and I’m appreciative that I can take the day off. I’m going to run my errands today — since I leave tomorrow, I need to get things checked off. Any exercise I do is going to be light and I’m good with that. I’ve got tons of biking ahead. 🙂

First on my agenda: breakfast, obviously. Caffeine: check. Next up: as many to dos as possible to fill the day til it’s time to kick butts in the park.

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One last time: wear a helmet. Be grateful. It could always be worse — I got a big ol’ reminder of that!

Have you ever had a fall on your bike? I fell a few summers ago. 1/3 years is not a bad ratio and I’ve not been seriously hurt so I’ll take it!
What did you do this weekend?
When’s the last time you went to emerg?

Get real

You’ll be happy to know this is a project-related rant that’s about to go down here.

I’ll start with some background on the project. Basically, it’s a two part menu planning assignment.

First we had to keep track of our eats for 3 days, calculate the cost of them, and input them into a food processor. It analyzed our intake and spit out our results vs. recommendations in terms of all the nutrients you could possibly care or not care about and then we compared our own records to Canada’s Food Guide and to a budget figure set out by the Montreal Diet Dispensary. FYI my daily recommendation for spending on food was a mere $8.30 (or the cost of about 3 starbucks venti coffees, for comparison’s sake). I think the biggest thing that stuck out to me wasn’t that I wasn’t eating enough grains or that I was eating too many servings from the meat and alternatives group (big surprise, right?) but was the amount of money that I spend on my food. And I remember mentioning and posing a question about how valid an external food guide can be for you when it comes to eating healthy, so I guess this project opened up my mind and at least ignited some critical thinking.

The second part is a little bit more work but this time we are to plan a 3 day menu and then cost it, trying to fit within that spending allowance and trying best to manage to the food guide recommendations for our age/sex. We also have to comment on how we will use the leftovers we make, the food that we don’t include in the meal plan, etc. It’s a bit tedious–calculating the market order costing, thinking about how to match the food guide, etc. It dawned on me that it’s all kind of ridiculous. I get it–there are people who need meal plans, but are there?

What if we didn’t? Aren’t we born knowing how to eat? Aren’t we hardwired to like the foods that are good for us? Somewhere along the way I think I lost sight of this and started to look for the answer outside of me. A diet book. A dietitian. A magazine. A friend. Whatever, whoever, wherever. And it took what felt like an eternity for me to find out how to start to feed myself for me, but I think I’m there. Yes, I’ll read your article about going vegan and I might be swayed a bit. I’ll read a Paleo book and start to embrace some of their philosophies. But if someone tells me that there’s a plan out there, a guide out there, an expert or a whatever out there that knows better than I do what I need to eat? I think that’s silly. PLEASE NOTE that I don’t think a year ago I could have been here — I was using food for reasons besides fuel/nourishment. When I was emotionally attached to things and still active with my eating disorder, food took on a whole new power — it carried with it fear and so much more than the nutrition I know it provides me with today. There was good food and there was bad food and I was good or bad based on what I ate. Then I got to the point where I thought that there was no bad food. But what I’m realizing more and more now is that there is such a thing as stupid food. Bad might be the wrong word for it — and eating something that’s junk doesn’t make you junk, but now that I’m out of the depths of things I feel alright saying this: there is such a thing as crappy food. And if you eat TOO MUCH of it, you will feel like crap.

Sorry if you have your hand in a bag of chips or something right now and that came off a little blunt.

Common sense says this: eat real food. ED says: don’t eat food, don’t eat fake food, eat fake food to prove you can, eat only this kind of real food, avoid that food, blah blah blah. But remember something: ED IS STUPID. We are smart. If you’re eating something, ask if it’s food. Does it have an ingredient label you can hardly make your way through without getting confused or flashing back to organic chemistry? Will it last forever (food is supposed to go bad)? Did it come from the ground or have a mother? Is it recognizable? Could you buy it at the market?

Let’s just get real and honest and to the point: we should eat real food. Saying that doesn’t mean froyo and candy bars are gone forever, but it does mean that you have to get real with yourself if you want to get healthy. That goes for you whether you’re overweight, recovering, or whatever. I spent a lot of time learning by making mistakes. I guess what I’m trying to do here is to share with you what I’ve taken my sweet arse time to learn in the hopes that you can learn it a bit faster yourself. I’m grateful that I learned this “the hard way” through all the struggles and experimenting, but that doesn’t mean I can’t shout what I’ve learned from the rooftops or tell you that if you feel like you’re constantly trying new things out and not getting any answers that you’re probably en route to an epiphany and that you should keep going!

…or so you can argue with me and tell me to shut up and eat a granola bar. I have a good friend who sent me a private message a few months ago that came entirely from her heart. At the time, it caught me off guard because she called me out on some of the things she saw me eating on a regular basis on my blog that were, looking back, that stupid food that I mentioned earlier in this post. But now I get it: she was trying to reach out and help me. Not saying that I think everyone needs to get real with themselves and ask themselves if they are really eating right because I’m scared of offending someone might rob me of the chance to get through to someone who’s on the same wavelength as me: if that’s you, EAT REAL FOOD. Don’t be scared. Scared is for wussies. Get real!

I’ve held back on posting this for fear of coming off as mean or as high and mighty. I don’t think I’m better than you. I don’t think eating a candy bar makes you a bad person. If you think it does, that’s an issue. If that’s how this sounds, I apologize for not getting my point across but I have never really held back before so it doesn’t make sense to do it now.

So I guess I’ll say it one more time:

  • We don’t need fancy meal plans.
  • We need to eat real food.
  • We don’t need a diet label — paleo? great. vegan? awesome. vegetarian? cool. lacto-ovo-pesca-vegetarian? you go girl! Regardless of your label, you better be eating mostly whole foods if you want to be healthy.
  • The food guide is generic and right now I think it’s crap.

Now that I’m not scared of gaining weight, I can eat real food. Now that I don’t care if I have a six pack or not, I can eat real food that makes me feel good. Now that I don’t think froyo has some magical powers, I can go get it and leave it at that. I can make mistakes. I can eat too much and end up with a stomachache and not do it again–or accidentally do it again. It’s all good. It’s just food.

Where I’m drawing inspiration these days:

Phew.

You know those rapid fire posts where you literally can’t type fast enough? That just happened. If you could follow along, congratulations. If you need a recap, it’s this: this project is stupid. 🙂

Have a good night!

What do you think about this real food approach?
Have you ever gotten to the point where you’ve had to tell yourself to get real in some aspect of your life?