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?

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Throwback Thursday: thoughts on Paleo, balance, and finding what works

This post has been on my mind for a while. I am going to use “Throwback Thursday” as the excuse for posting it now, even though my thoughts are still a bit scattered and I’ve got some apprehension about sharing…

Paleo didn’t work for me.

Before I started CrossFit and found out what Paleo, or Eat By Design, or whatever you’d like to call it, was, my eating was pretty balanced. I ate mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, (mostly lean) meat, nuts and seeds, and sufficient froyo with a smile on my face, and I’d been at a stable weight for a while, though I still didn’t have my period on a regular basis. I had been through my eating disorder, done a stint of vegetarianism (mostly because I read Eating Animals and got sad), and was in a super high stress state, but I was back on track—even if my body hadn’t totally sprung back to (hormonal) health just yet. Up from my lowest weight of 114lbs, I weighed a comfy 138-142lbs and when I look back at pictures, I think I looked healthy and athletic.

My half marathon, before anyone told me cardio was "bad." I ran it in 1:47 minutes.

My first (and only) half marathon, before anyone told me cardio was “bad.” I ran it in 1:47 minutes.

So what happened?

The “for me” part in “Paleo didn’t work for me” is important. I didn’t really do it right, but I did what I think a lot of people do. I also think the way in which I failed at “doing it right” is indicative more of the diet not being good for me more so than of me not trying hard enough, even if I’ve spent plenty of months telling myself I should just try harder.

When my bookshelf was stocked with The Paleo Diet, Primal Blueprint, The Paleo Solution, The Paleo Diet for Athletes, Practical Paleo, and Everyday Paleo, things changed. I told myself it wasn’t a “diet” in the traditional sense and that I was after health, which was true but I was also hoping for a six pack along the way and I certainly was not ready to gain more weight.

So, I started to make changes. I replaced the chicken, turkey, fish, and beans I ate with more and more pork, sausages, steaks and ground beef. While I did do a good job and managed to track down some free range organic sources on occasion, the vast majority of this meat was just from the grocery store.

When I ate grains, they were definitely not whole grains any more. The Paleo diet says white rice is okay if you train hard enough, so I ate more of it, usually with plenty of coconut milk and sometimes butter on top (FYI, this is delicious). But I also had the mindset that if bread was bad for me, I might as well have the white stuff, so I said farewell to the whole grain options I used to buy. French fries were healthier than a hamburger bun, right? Potato chips better than whole wheat crackers? If grains—or carbs, in my thinking—are bad, who cares about choosing well?

When I went for treats, I was never satisfied with a just a little. Dark chocolate became something like a food group for me, especially the kind of dark chocolate that I could somehow combine with almond butter, cashew butter, macadamia nut butter, coconut butter, sunflower seed butter, etc….I ate all the butters. And real butter! With a health halo around it, I started to put more and more butter on the sweet—not white—potatoes I ate. Without bread as a vessel, I’d find myself spooning nut butters right from the jar into my mouth. It’s good for me, right?

paleo desserts

I started to take heavy cream in my coffee. Formerly one to add milk and maybe a sweetener or spoonful of sugar, I thoroughly enjoyed the taste of the 30% cream and the looks on the Starbucks baristas faces when I asked them for the whipping cream to add to my highly caffeinated long Americano order (which is also delicious).

Some mornings, I’d crave oatmeal so badly that I would try to fake it. I’d microwave some combination of eggs, a banana, and almond butter. I remember worrying that I was having too much sugar and one day when I “caved” and ate two bananas, I was sure I fired up my fat storage and was doomed for diabetes. I’d make granola out of nuts to go on top of this, because the old recipe I’d used also included those oats, gosh darn it. Oats might not contain gluten, but they were still grains and everyone Paleo knows gluten and oats were probably bedfellows in manufacturing.

There were other changes, but I think you get the picture. I’d gone from what was defined as “conventionally healthy” to an attempt at a fad diet that I still think can be a fine choice—if you put in the time and effort (and moola!) to get the food from good sources, like eating meat, and are on top of food prep—that totally messed with what was a balanced approach. You have to know that I have an addictive personality and that as smart as I like to think I am, I can be easily persuaded. I took things to an extreme, and I used excuses like “It’s gluten free!” or “If I’m going to “cheat,” I may as well go big.” I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I also changed my exercise habits. I started to question whether or not “cardio” was good for me. I traded my daily swimming, biking, and running workouts for more and more time with the barbell. I loved the way I could focus on getting stronger. I also read things that told me that cardio was making me fat.

I hated this photo, but I was at least having fun with CrossFit. This was at a fun competition our gym did.

I hated this photo, but I was at least having fun with CrossFit. This was at a fun competition our gym did in the thick of my CrossFit as the be-all end-all days.

But I love swimming, biking, and running.

I love oatmeal.

I love chickpeas.

I love not feeling like I need to have a huge hunk of meat with every meal.

…I gained almost 30lbs in the process of switching my exercise and eating habits. I can’t blame CrossFit or Paleo, and I should add that I added muscle.

As strong as I feel when I am lifting a really heavy barbell, I still crave the feeling I get from going for a super long bike ride. Last year, I experimented with doing both. In the process, I found my body shifting a little more and I lost some of that weight (5-10lbs, depending on the day of course). Stepping back into the world of long bike rides and runs and dips in the pool, I found myself remembering some of the common sense nutrition notions that I used to ascribe to.

Back on the bike this year. One of my first rides of the year, in Colorado!

Back on the bike this year. One of my first rides of the year, in Colorado!

While I can’t blame the Paleo diet or the ideas about exercise that came along with it or the books or the people who exposed me to them, I can take responsibility for myself and my health habits. Instead of feeling stuck, I can work on shifting my habits and thoughts back to a healthier place. Those beliefs I picked up about carbs and grains and exercise were built. As sticky as they might be—because nut butter is delicious and sausage is amazing—,they can also be replaced—because feeling light and healthy and good in my skin is another kind of amazing.

So, I’m in the process. Today, I am “back on grains.” I eat whole grains as much as I can—quinoa, oatmeal, and rice are my favourites. I like bread and cereal, so I eat them and choose the whole grain options because I don’t think they’re rife with anti-nutrients anymore. I eat lots of fruit and plenty of vegetables, and I have less room for the meat on my plate. I still overdo it on the nut butters, but I’m working on it.

wrong road

I’m writing this because I think there are other people who have dabbled in Paleo or have given up something they love that makes them feel healthy and happy in the name of something someone told them would be better. I know that it’s hard to shift back—there’s still times when I think “how the heck did I eat that many carbs?!”—but it helps me to remember that I was happier with my body when I was eating all the carbs, and wasn’t thinking about them as a villain.

I hope your Throwback Thursday isn’t as intense as this, but I also hope that you take the time to check in with yourself and ask, about your health habits, that question I mentioned earlier this week: how’s that working for you?

Have you ever gone down the “wrong” road and wanted to get back to the fork?
What have you learned from trying diets or exercise programs that don’t work for you?

what’s microfilm got to do with nutrition?

This term, I’m working away on an independent study course that led me to a lot of reading on gender in Canada over the ages. I basically did a survey course to try to get a lay of the land and while it was overwhelmingly interesting–and overwhelming, at times–I have really enjoyed letting myself get pulled in all kinds of directions by reading. The downside to this being a course and not just free nerd-wheeling is that now I have to try to put all of the stuff I’ve learned into a term paper–or at least some of it!

I’ve decided to do a little research into representations of women’s fitness back in the 1960s or so and as such have just started dabbling in the old copies of magazines like Chatelaine in the library’s microfilm collection. After I got over the embarrassment of needing the librarian to show me how to look at the films, I’ve been getting totally into the process of digging up what was going on in terms of the messages women received about their bodies back in the day.

I’m particularly intrigued by the diet ads, the recipes, and the lifestyle advice women get. I don’t know exactly which themes are emerging just yet, but there’s certainly something interesting that I’m seeing: that “nutrition” (diet is more accurate, I think) advice has come full circle. Back then, carbs were what people knew made them fat. Fat was less of the villain and it was sort of a taken for granted given that if you overdid it on sugar and carbs, your weight would reflect it. Nowadays, people are scared of carbs again. Knowing that the diet industry just cycles through these trends and ideas makes the irony of the OMGluten situation and the popularity of low carb approaches even more frustrating for someone who just wishes that “healthy” was something we could all get back to without people trying to confuse us with messages of what’s the best for us that serve other agendas besides our health.

Along this same vein, I read a blog post that did a good job of pointing out what’s problematic about one of today’s biggest carb-villifying, dogmatic diets–the Paleo Diet–earlier this week. You should check out what Tommy had to say about it, but if you want the summarized version, here it is:

“I’m not saying that there aren’t great aspects of the paleo diet, because there are. Avoiding processed foods and eating real food as much as possible is a great thing- but why don’t we just say ‘eat real food and avoid processed food’ instead of making up all of these ridiculous rules and justifications for dieting a certain way?
Adding a label to a logical way of eating only allows companies to profit from food fads, which you can now see with low carb, gluten free, and other shitty paleo spin off foods.”

Another post from a while back from the National Post made a similar point: the dogma’s not helping us in our pursuit of healthy living! 

The point of this post was to serve as a reminder to myself and my readers that just because the magazines, the media, or the people around us say that ____ is for sure the reason we’re fat/unhealthy/unhappy/whatever does not make it fact–it makes it a trend, an ideology, a whatever–but it’s still a matter of opinion. That being said, I think it’s a safe bet to say that eating mostly unprocessed diet made up of foods that you enjoy and that you get from the best sources that you can will be the safest, most sustainable way to go about “getting healthy.” Trust me on that one!

If you still want food rules, I would refer you to two people I trust:

1. Michael Pollan – plants

2. Geneen Roth –

eat rules geneen

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s back to my nerdiness research.

bonus: This (timely) post came up this week on Sociological Images (one of my favourite spots to nerd things up!): Is Sugar a Diet Aid? The Answer Depends on the Decade is what I’m talking about!

What do you think about the diet industry trends coming full circle?
Do you have a stance on the Paleo Diet?
What food rules do you agree with, if any? 

Tis’ the season

November 1 is one of my favourite days of the year. At least in Canada, there’s nothing between now and Christmas, which means my Christmas obsession is less frowned upon. It also means Christmas music is semi-acceptable, anything and everything that can be red or green should be (festive socks, anyone?), and that it’s time for me to start digging out the Christmas decorations.

I noticed a few posts around the blogosphere lately talking about how to approach the holidays. With a few months of paleo-esque eating under my belt and about 23 years of experience doing what doesn’t work, I think it’s time to share my strategy for special occasion dining and my thoughts on how to approach the most wonderful time of the year!

Just like you can be sure your Aunt Edna’s going to make an inappropriate comment about why you’re still single, the holidays guarantee one thing: there will be goodies. Cakes, butter tarts, candies, pies, eggnog, hot chocolate, loaves, cookies–name it and it shall appear.

Chances are, you’re going to be facing some of your favourite treats and this time of the year is the only time you’ll see ’em. While there are plenty of advocates for aiming for perfectionism and avoiding all things tempting–we’ve all heard the advice to snack on an apple or a bowl of soup before heading to a holiday party–I’m going to advocate something different. As someone who’s had the soup, the apple, and a plate of cookies anyways, I can tell you–it doesn’t matter if you’re “full”–if your favourite thing is in front of you (and it’s not really “food” so much as delicious foodlike stuff), you’re going to find room for it.

For years I aimed for perfectionism when it came to holiday dinners. I’d eat white meat turkey, no gravy. I’d skip my mom’s delicious candied sweet potatoes in favour of eating a huge “ceasar salad” (romaine with reduced fat dressing)that I’d fix for myself—and of course receive looks for eating (and I get it – why would I fill my belly with boring old salad when I could be eating all kinds of once a year dishes?).  During the meal, I’d have no problem holding it together.

After, it was all bets off. I’d volunteer to put things away so that I could eat more turkey—the good dark meat that I really love. I’d leave some sweet potatoes in the dish so I could eat a few. I’d lick the spoon after I finished putting the mashed potatoes into a Tupperware. It was like since none of these were on a plate, none of these counted.

I’ve mentioned this phenomenon before—and I call it “sneaking” because Geneen Roth writes exquisitely about this kind of eating without eating. FYI, if you’re like me and you catch yourself nibbling on things as you put them away, prepare them, pass through the kitchen, etc., you’re not alone. But also FYI: you are eating that food. And if you’re eating it, why not just sit down and own your decision?

This year, I’d challenge you to eat what you really want—in full view of your family, friends, and yourself.

The worst part of the “sneaking” isn’t the food itself. If you’re like me, you’ve obviously been doing okay with your weight regardless of whatever weird behaviors you’ve had with food. The worst part is by far the damage you’re doing to your self esteem. When you sneak that food that you’ve told yourself you “can’t” have, you’re reinforcing that it’s something you shouldn’t be doing.  If you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing, you’re going to feel bad. There’s no way to win here—except going in with a different mindset.

On that note, I encourage you to stick to your guns when it comes to eating well during the holidays. By no means should being gentler with yourself mean eating cookies for breakfast lunch and dinner—but it does mean that eating a cookie should be a treat. If it’s not a treat, why would you do it? If you don’t actually want it and want the world to know that you’re gonna eat it, could you skip it? Is it really feeding you in a way you’d like to be fed?

I know that there’s a lot going on in this post but I thought it was worth posting. I found this handy chart on the Whole 9 site yesterday. I like how it forces you to slow down before you eat something that you know is “off track”. I like how it doesn’t refer to these kinds of eats as “cheats” or make them seem like “bad” foods and it makes the decision to eat something that isn’t moving you towards health one that you totally own and do because you genuinely want to.

At Thanksgiving dinner this year, instead of snarfing my normal ceasar salad white turkey combo, I ate intuitively and added a tasty but totally whole food treat into the mix. Leaving the ceasar salad (and all its funky fat) out of the mix left more room on my plate and in my belly for the brussel sprouts, squash, cranberries, and bacon with maple syrup dish I threw together for the whole family to enjoy. I had some of my mom’s sweet potatoes, skipped the gravy on the turkey (she tosses flour in to thicken it up), and I served up some pumpkin pie and chose to skip the crust. I had some candy corn to round things out.

Verdict? It worked for me! This Thanksgiving was one of the first holidays I didn’t binge. Guess what? I’m the same awesome Cheryl I was a month ago—if not more so! I haven’t “let myself go” but I’ve let myself be—there’s a big difference!

I’m looking forward to all the festivities this year. I can remember obsessing about what I would or wouldn’t eat at parties and often I’d go out, come home, and binge. I’d let the food take away from the fun. It’s supposed to be about the company, the family, the friends, the fun–the food is just a bonus. Keep it that way.

If you take one thing away from this, please take this advice that a friend of mine mentioned in one of his talks earlier this month. It’s not so much about  what you do between Christmas and New Year’s—it’s the New Year’s to Christmas stretch (the rest of the year) that matters. Make most of your choices move you towards health (because food that you eat either makes you healthier or it moves you away from health–there’s no “neutral” or “sideways”) and you’ll be golden.

This post about your Christmas eats on Naturally Engineered’s blog echoed this:

“One day out of the year is not going to break you, it’s a lifetime of chronically bad eating which wrecks our metabolisms or makes us sick. So, if you’re having trouble coming up with paleo recipes or trying to afford all of the food you’re buying for your holiday dinner, don’t worry about it. Do what you can, and make do with the rest.”

Amen to that.

This post is just a jumping point and luckily we have 53 days of festive time for me to keep writing. I’ve got a whole lot of thoughts on on “paleo-ifying” your favourite treats. Hint: while I think almond flour is pretty awesome—and I’ve made some pretty tasty treats that don’t call for flour of any sort—a cookie is still a cookie, candy is still candy, and a treat is still a treat!

On that note, I’ll leave you with this.

Happy halloweenie

This post has nadda to do with Halloween but I bet you giggled at “halloweenie” – no?

Maybe this will get you giggling then…

If that fails, this one compliments of my sister might do the trick…

Classy.

Other than those photos and a few pumpkin treats, there wasn’t much about my day that suggests it was Halloween. I’m not too upset…

I started my day sweaty, not spooky, with a session at crossfit. Deadlifting day is my fav and today was no exception! My 5RM is up to 215 and I managed to eke out 4 consecutive pull ups again today. That in itself would make for an accomplished morning but we also did rope climbs (love!) and the conditioning was 50 burpees for time or 3 minutes of awesome suck (3:06 to be particular)!

I popped into GFC to get checked and then was ready for a busy day. I also fuelled up with a banana and some raw almonds while I ran a few errands this morning.

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Does anyone else think raw almond suck? I’d much rather have them roasted. And roasted in a nut butter would be best…but in terms of overeating I’m sure it looks like this in terms of worst offenders: peanut butter (roasted, salted, sugary, hydrogenated, etc.) = all holds gone > roasted natural nut butter > roasted nuts > raw natural nut butter > raw nuts. Hmmm…

I think I’ve gone through a half a jar of almond butter this week and you’ll see why if I fill you in on my meals for the day:

  • breakfast: eggs (with coconut milk), almond butter, apple, dried cherries

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  • lunch: pork with kale, squash and raisins and cinnamon

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  • snacks: 2 almond flour muffins (one with chocolate, one with raisins) + a pumpkin cookie I didn’t snap a photo of (but my bootcampers and my fellow CrossFitters approved of my second go at my paleo pumpkin cookie recipe)

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  • dinner: pork chop and almond butter, straight out of the jar

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At least I know what I could have done better: less nuts, more veggies.

I spent the afternoon on campus talking to some of my former writing professors about journalism, grad school, and all that kind of jazz. It feels good to be moving forward with my applications–I’ve got a lot of work to do but I’ve done it before and I am excited to write them again! It also felt good to be on campus, even I dare say it to be in the library working on my next freelance article about the paleo diet and cycling. It’s due in a week so I’ve got to get an outline and a draft together soon–it’s not like I’ve got a whole lot of free time to work on it!

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I did some work but I definitely could have been productive. I got sucked into the Whole 9 website again and was reading all kinds of entries on it when I “shoulda” been working. Whatevs. Now I can share with you the link that got me sucked into the website…it was the blog “Lies We Tell Ourselves” and sheesh it was awesome. I clicked over to the posts about being addicted to stress, which really rocked my socks. I like that they include actionable things in their posts and that they’re personal about their writing. I like that The Whole 9 takes a big ol’ simple approach to things: either something makes you healthier or it doesn’t. Remember my realization that there’s no sideways/standing still in life? Same thing! What they talk about is a lot like Eat by Design and is probably the most user friendly stuff I’ve found in my reading. I have “It Starts With Food” and of all the “paleo-ish” books I’ve picked up, it might be my favourite recommendation for someone thinking about experimenting with their diet.

Anyways, now that I’ve rambled a bit…back to my day! I called it quits on campus mid-afternoon and came home to clean my apartment a bit. I was greeted by my level 1 certificate from CrossFit! I already knew that I’d passed but to have the certificate in the flesh feels pretty legit. 🙂

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This evening I made it to a Moksha Flow class across town by the gym where I teach bootcamp. It was a sweaty hot class (I’m aware this is obvious) and we did lots of hip openers in what felt like an “easier” flow class. I really can’t complain–I probably needed more of a yin class than anything today since I’m pretty sore! The time was perfect though and the owner of the studio was teaching (always a treat!) so this class could become a regular thing for me. I had just enough time to shower and to eat a nanner before I headed across the street (literally) to teach bootcamp. I put my recruits through a tabata workout today (squats, pushups, lateral jumping, running, step-ups or box jumps, and planks). They didn’t like me but I had the pumpkin cookies to win them back over once we had stretched and cooled down!

And now here I am…ready for bed. For a day off, today sure was busy! Tomorrow I’ve got plans to get writing, a bootcamp to teach, some shopping plans with a few lovely lady friends, and a workout in the mix. If I’m feeling too much writer’s block a yoga class in the evening (yin, maybe!) could be just what I need. 🙂

Have a happy halloween!

What’s your favourite kind of nut butter?
Did you do anything to celebrate Halloween?

Pumped for Pumpkin

I love fall.

I know my blog’s behind – I’ve still got a Summer 2012 (bucket list) page – but the chilly weather and the changing leafs leaf no question: fall’s here!

Besides busting out scarves and boots, I’m also busting out the festive eats. Rather than sugar myself up with pumpkin spice sauce from Starbucks (seriously, I used to get 4 good old pumps in my coffee at least once a day!) or whip up pumpkin bread, I got ambitious in the kitchen and whipped up a batch of paleo pumpkin granola this afternoon.

I credit Sarah for recommending the recipe from PaleOMG that served as my inspiration, which means I will also blame her if I look like a pumpkin after I eat it all. Besides drooling talking about this stuff today, we bonded over our mutual girl crush decided that we’d get along with Juli. If you haven’t gone to her blog, do it now but be ready to leave hungry.

Anyways, inspired I was so I busted out my apron and made like Martha…

Paleo Pumpkin Granola

Ingredients:
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
½ cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1 tbsp. of flaxseeds
¼ cup raisins
10 chopped dates
pinch each of nutmeg, salt, and cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine wet ingredients in a large bowl, mixing to blend.  Set aside.
Combine nuts, seeds, and dried fruit in a bowl. Add to wet ingredients.

Add spices.
Stir til moistened.

Spread on a baking sheet lined with a layer of parchment paper.


Bake for ~40 minutes or ‘til just starting to brown, turning once or twice to ensure even cooking.


Let cool/harden on sheet before devouring placing in an air-tight container.

Thoughts while consuming copious quantities taste-testing:

  • I am such a good cook.
  • Sarah better fund my new wardrobe in a size up.
  • Toasted pecans might have addictive qualities similar to those of heroin.
  • My apartment smells like heaven.
  • Juli is a genius.
  • I look hot in my apron.
  • I need to make granola more often.

Basically, the recipe was awesome. I made some switches—left out some cloves, added in some flaxseeds and raisins—and I’m happy with the turnout. I think I’d like it a little crunchier if I make another batch.

Since I’m just festive out my butt, I tossed the granola on top of an apple this evening. Deeeeelish!

If you make this, I recommend teasing your friends with it on instagram. Or tossing it over an apple–can you say festive flavours for fall? (You can, but maybe you shouldn’t). It’s breakfast. It’s a snack. It’s a dessert. It’s whatever you want.

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Have you ever made a paleo/grain-free/gluten-free granola recipe? Was it crunchy?
What’s your favourite way to use pumpkin?

Off again

To Grandmother’s house I go…but not before a quick post…

Update on the post-Tough Mudder recovery–slow and steady?

After my post last night, I went to Yoga Shack for a sweaty hour of awesome stretching. We did all kinds of hip openers and even the splits — hello hamstrings — so it was pretty much perfection for my body! I got pretty emotional at the end of the class (it happens!) because I realized that it was my last class with Kat before she leaves for her next step in Sudbury. And that makes me sad ‘cuz she definitely helped me get over taking myself and yoga too seriously. Funny enough, I’ve done things in her class that I never could do when I was too busy TRYING to have fun and to explore stuff and risk falling over. That’s a pretty big lesson/reminder: it’s supposed to be fun, too! 🙂 She also introduced me to Trevor Hall, so you know I owe her more props than I can describe…

Anyways, enough rambling.

Last night I had a bedtime snack and then went to bed (exciting?).

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greek yogurt, honey, flaxseed

I also had some more chocolate. And when I laid down I decided on something: I’m going to bring back my food journal, cuz I think I’m off again in more ways than one. I know that since I’ve been embracing a more paleo-like kind of eating I’ve started eating different things. I know that I’ve also not totally embraced it. I know that when I’m nervous I still eat chocolate and dried fruit or whatever candy I can get my hands on and almond butter by the spoonful. I also know that this is FINE but that it’s not necessarily THE BEST. And that awareness comes first. Don’t worry, I’m not beating myself up, I’m just curious and I feel like I’m at a good point to hold myself a little bit more accountable. I don’t think getting a significant amount of my calories from chocolate and almond butter and coffee cream is all that healthy…and I think that’s what is going on. I don’t want to be at a healthy weight, I want to be HEALTHY — and there’s a difference there.

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cute, simple, small food journal

breakfast = yogurt, almond butter, raisins, banana, flax seeds

I snapped a photo of my legs last night. Bruises keep popping up but it’s okay. It’s chilly and feels like fall (and I love it!) so I busted out some winter-y socks just cuz I can.

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Bruises and scraped, consider yourself covered. Gosh I love socks–I think I have a problem. But of all things to have a problem buying, I guess socks are a small thing to worry about…

I’m hoping that we get a little bit of shopping in this week at my grandma’s too. There’s bound to be some good back to school stuff and even if I’m not going back to school I’d argue that it IS the season, after all!

I read a funny post over at The Great Fitness Experiment today about health regrets. I can totally relate (the cardio, the health food, etc.) but I also think that all those “regrets” taught me things–and that since I’m always trying to get better (if you’re not TRYING to get better, what are you trying to do?), I really can’t look back and wish I’d done anything differently. Still, I love Charlotte’s posts and I laughed when I read the post! 🙂

Have a terrific Tuesday!

What do you find yourself eating a lot of lately?
Do you have health (or other) regrets?
What’s a random thing you love to buy? 
socks for me!

 

Here we go again

I think the name of the game this summer is living out of a suitcase.

While it makes me feel a bit off — what day of the week is it again? — I’m loving it, especially since when I was in deep with ED I never ever went away for fear of not being able to work out or not being able to control my food.

Now I know: I can always go for a walk and I always get to choose what I’m eating and how I’m eating it. In short, I really am applying that whole “vacation isn’t an excuse to go wild” but more importantly “if you figure out how to live healthy all the time so that you don’t feel like you need to overindulge on vacation, there’s nothing to worry about” idea I’ve come to.

I still don’t LOVE packing, but unpacking is worse. Which is why my bike is still in the box. I don’t need to ride it this weekend but I think I should probably get it built up so I feel accomplished! I did just about everything but yesterday — laundry, vacuuming, organizing, cleaning, all that good stuff — so I guess that’s a win. I also went for a nice 45 minute run on the trails (both my iPods were dead so I had some time to think — much needed!) and then hit up a power yoga class. Again, much needed. I missed yoga! My shoulders were tired — it’s amazing what a week away will do (plus the crossfit workout from Tuesday). I’m still feeling good and after my morning adjustment yesterday I noticed a difference–when I flipped my dog and was in wild thing BOTH sides worked. Amazing!

I’m sure this is what I look like…

In between my run and yoga, I had some trail mix. I also snarfed a banana and made myself a quick fish dinner with coleslaw.

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Myu final sk=nack was a granola bar. I know, it’s been a while since you’ve seen one on here! I’ve been trying to eat more foods that come without packaging. I don’t know if it’s mental but I felt like crap pretty much right after I ate this. Maybe it was also because I was tired and ready for bed or because I’d had a beer a few hours earlier, but I don’t think so. I guess I feel better when I eat real food — imagine that!  This is where it’s different that I am not choosing to eat certain things any more — it’s not because some Paleo book told me not to or because a nutritionist says that I should cut ____ to lose weight. It’s because I want to eat things that leave me feeling my best, performing my best, and yes–looking my best. They all go hand in hand and since I’m willing to make mistakes, I know I’m on the right track!

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This weekend I’m going to bring along a cooler. I remember the fitness conference as being a really crappy place to find food, as weird as that sounds…I’m really sick of spending more money than I should on food that I could have packed myself — so I’m not going to! 🙂

Last night we decorated Tough Mudder shirts. Sarah might laugh at this photo and Alex would kill me if I put it on facebook, but the world wide web and all my readers is not the same as his facebook friends, right? Baha, so I’m sharing. We used puffy paint and iron on transfers for these bad boys–but you’ll have to wait ’til Sunday to see the finished project!

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At any rate, it was awesome to see friends last night. Bonnie popped by (goal for the next week is to spend as much time with her as possible) and we laughed a lot and Sarah is trying to fatten us up with goodies but it’s all welcome!

In honour of Tough Mudder, three of my fav pump up songs:

Anyways — it’s time for me to get a move on. I slept til 930 today (I think all my travels are catching up to me!) and had a nice breakfast but I’m sure that today’s going to go quicker than I’d like! I’m aiming for a swim and packing this morning and then quality time/riding to Toronto with Bonnie this aft.

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I think I am taking a trip to Pennsylvania next week to see my grandma (she’s having a tough month) so this whirlwind is just going to continue. Apparently flying by the seat of my pants is the way to be…and that’s okay!

“Your real security is yourself. You know you can do it, and they can’t ever take that away from you.”- Mae West
Do you ever feel like your life is a whirlwind? How do you centre yourself?
Have you ever been to CanfitPro? What’d you think? (I get frustrated with the selling that goes on but I also know that fitness professionals need a venue to promote what they’re doing. That being said, there are some people to skip and some things that are really awesome there and knowing what to pay attention to is the trick to learning instead of being sold, I think!)
What’s your favourite pump up song?
Happy Thursday! 🙂

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?