You Will Never Need To Diet Again

Diet fads are one thing to me; fads. They are a complete joke the health industry uses to make billions of dollars by recycling old trends or engineering some crazy off-shoot for the novelty effect.  However, because I know how full of crap they are, they don’t really bother me; I can ignore them. What bothers me is how people can STILL believe it. This industry preys on people with a serious emotional, psychological and physical problem. There are no magic pills or diet plans that will give you an overnight “cure” for your weight issues WITHOUT massive, disproportionate repercussions. For example…

Want to shred up in a matter of weeks and lose 30 lbs? Take amphetamines. (If you’re okay with a potential heart attack.)

Want to think like you’re going to lose weight really fast? Go on a restricted calorie diet. (If you’re okay with your body going into starvation mode and trying to conserve energy by holding on to fat cells. Oh, and literally starving yourself.)

Want to lose weight the “healthy” way by “detoxing”? Go on a juice cleanse. (If you’re okay with skyrocketing blood sugar levels, tremendous mood swings, nutrient deficiencies, fatigue and chronic hunger.)

Whew. Thanks for letting me get that out of my system. I could go on and on.

Anyways, what tipped me over the edge lately was my Mom telling me she saw someone on a reality show (here we go) who said they lost 300 lbs by going on a Gluten-free and Dairy-free diet. Now, I won’t argue the benefits associated with this and actually believe eliminating certain dairy and “gluten”-containing products from your diet will no doubt help you lose weight. What bothers me is these fad terms we throw around which brainwash people into believing this is the no-fail-must-do-diet-of-RIGHT-NOW. Then anything they see, hear or watch associated with these terms becomes a must-have or “good”.

If we break it down (removing the issue of gluten allergies or intolerances), going on a “gluten-free” diet, for example, is going to work, not because of cutting out gluten, per se, but by cutting out certain products containing gluten and wheat. Take a minute and think of all the products gluten and wheat are in. Just in case you had trouble here’s an introductory list:

Anything that contains…

  • White Flour
  • Whole Wheat Flour
  • Durum Wheat
  • Graham Flour
  • Triticale
  • Kamut
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Wheat Germ
  • Wheat Bran

So common foods usually containing this are…

  • Pasta
  • Couscous
  • Bread
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Cookies
  • Cakes
  • Muffins
  • Pastries
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Beer
  • Oats
  • Gravy
  • Dressings
  • Sauces

And ahh, the gluten surprises!

  • broth in soups and bouillon cubes
  • breadcrumbs and croutons
  • some candies
  • fried foods
  • imitation fish
  • some lunch meats and hot dogs
  • malt
  • matzo
  • modified food starch
  • seasoned chips and other seasoned snack foods
  • salad dressings
  • self-basting turkey
  • soy sauce
  • seasoned rice and pasta mixes

( Source: http://bit.ly/1avc0lD)

Now, this is just your gluten-free list. The person also claimed to cut out dairy. Take another minute to think of common dairy products you encounter in your foods and drinks on a daily basis.

So basically, you’re telling me by cutting out cake, muffins, cookies, milkshakes, ice cream, XXXL Lattés, etc., I will lose weight!?

NO SHIT!

It is not rocket science. Let’s take a look at what food this does leave us with? Fresh foods like protein sources, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and grains like quinoa or rice. I’m not a nutritionist or dietician, nor do I claim to be. However, I had been doing diet fads (sadly) since I was 13 years old but smartened up a few years back. After a few years of maintaining a healthy weight, good energy, and getting to know and listen to my body better than ever, I believe I have figured out what you need to do in order to live a healthy, high energy existence that will promote good health and longevity – stripped down from all fancy-dancy trendy fad names, scams or brands. Ready for it!?

Eat Balanced. Eat Healthy.

Let that resonate for a second; it’s just that simple. I would really like to emphasize that issues in life can typically be boiled down to diverging from your centre, your balance. If you do have a weight issue, chances are (outside of a medical condition) it is because you are eating too much, not eating the right stuff, are not exercising enough or all 3; ie: unbalanced.

Wasn’t the elixir you were looking for? If you’re still reading, un-brainwash yourself, stop throwing away your money to diet fads and give my prescription a try. It’s FREE! Enjoy high-nutrient foods most of the time and have your treats every now and then. Incorporate exercise most days doing things you love, and ask friends to join you. There is no right/wrong/must-do plan you need to follow; figure out what plan is right for you and enjoy your life.

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Emotional Eating

I have had this article saved on Pinterest for a while – and for good reason. I want to share Stop Emotional Eating Before It Starts because it contains some great information on abstaining from and dealing with emotional eating. Personally, the best place to start is journalling. I know it can be time consuming and even annoying but just give yourself a week – you are worth it! It is not so much about what you are eating but why. Write down everything you eat (don’t try to change it and be 100% honest – only you will see it), what time, and any emotions/feelings you had at the time. This can really pinpoint emotional triggers and even times of day you tend to be more susceptible to emotional eating. It will give you great insight and awareness around your eating habits you have never had before. Once you acknowledge it, you can change it. Below I have typed up an example you can use to help your own journalling.

Food Journal Example

Also, if you haven’t heard of SparkPeople, I highly suggest you check it out. It is a completely free website that you can join and get full access to extremely helpful resources; articles, recipes and social support for all your weight-loss/health concerns and goals.

 

Getting (your mind) Started on Changing your Life

How many times have you decided, “Today’s the day! I have this fool-proof plan and I am going to follow it through to the end and see my dream body!” Your motivation is off the charts and nothing could curb your enthusiasm…. then something stressful happens here, you miss a work out there and other priorities start to creep in as you justify with excuses on why it is not humanly possible for you to stick to your new plan. POOF. In one swoop you give up, pick up old behaviours and find yourself back where you started.

I don’t think it is due to a lack of motivation, but a lack of planning. You need to design a strategy that can help you when your motivation starts to dwindle – and setting this up from the get-go increases the likelihood of your success.

My Vital Book

What if you harnessed the passion, motivation and initial reasons you wanted change in the first place? Write out a list of 20 reasons why this lifestyle change is so moving, inspirational and vital for you. (Think: Why is it so important to me?) Visualize each reason as you record it. Imagine the way you feel: any sensation that may accompany it and as many details as possible. You want to bring it life. Look at this list every morning and when you need an extra boost of motivation. Let’s call these your 20 Vitals. Say one of your vitals was, “To compete in the Alberta WBFF fitness competition in October 2013”. I would visualize the exact outfit I would be wearing on stage down to the design and colour. I would imagine myself confidently taking the stage as I feel the heat of the lights on my skin. I would hear the cheers of the crowd as I run through my series of poses. I would notice the acceleration of my heart rate due to the excitement and adrenaline of competition. — This is the kind of detail I am talking about. When you make your Vitals real and tangible in your mind, they become attainable. Some other examples of mine are: “I am proud when I look in the mirror”, “I get excited to go bathing suit shopping”, and “I feel strong and powerful”.

Why is it so important to me?

Images are wonderful tools as well to use in combination. You may choose to make a type of dream board with your Vitals and corresponding images to really bring your goals to life. Find your inner kindergartener using art and crafts skills and make a physical one (which is a great visual reminder you can see everyday) or make one online. If you find inspiration in fitness model images, checkout out my Visualization post to get you started, or my fitness board on Pinterest for more. Enjoy!

Dream board

I gave up. And that’s okay

So, the fitness competition I had set as a goal for myself has come and gone and I was no where close to seeing that stage. It has taken me this long to even muster the guts to log back into this blog; in part due to embarrassment but also because of a feeling of failure; that I didn’t follow through with what I said I would do. It was also hard to deal with because after stopping such intense training and restrictive dieting I gained back about 10 lbs. However, I no longer feel guilty or bad because, as I have discovered, it was part of a much bigger personal transformation.

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I discovered I had a food addiction. I genuinely could not keep up with the weight-loss because as the diet became more strict, the urge to binge would grow in tangent. I decided I needed to unravel this issue and deal with what was at the core before I could attempt to compete in an arena so focused around food, exercise and body image. Since I decided to stop training specifically for the competition I have done a lot of research and work on myself, inside. A few books I’d like to recommend to anyone out there that has a food addiction, binge eating problem, or just issues around their food consumption are as follows…

I found “Diet Rehab” by Dr. Mike Dow which is a fantastic resource to understand scientifically what is going on in our brains on a chemical level. (I am someone that needs to know why and how everything works to be satisfied in understanding something). He discusses different food types that alter/make up for deficiencies of certain brain chemicals like Serotonin and Dopamine.

“The Beck Diet  Solution: train your brain to think like a thin person” by Judith S. Beck, Ph.D., sounds like just another bogus diet book but has probably been the most helpful and enlightening for me (I’m still referencing it and working through it). She uses a cognitive therapy approach relying on neuroplasticity (you may have heard of “neurones that fire together, wire together”) to change your habits and ultimately change the way your brain thinks and the way you act. In some cases, she gives a dose of tough love to really get to the truth of where the issue lies. Sometimes it is really hard for those around us to tell us the truth we so desperately need to hear especially with weight-related issues. They do not want to hurt our feelings and we know how sensitive and defensive we can be when someone tries to talk to us about it. I found her approach really helpful and I realized my internal dialogue, what I was allowing myself to get away with to make myself feel better in the moment was derailing my fitness and health goals.  For example, thoughts like, “It’s not many calories, it won’t hurt if I just have a little bit” or “Might as well go ahead and eat X, Y, Z, I’ve already blown it today” or “X happened today (poor me), so I deserve this” or “I don’t care! I just need this!!”. And seeing examples of her clients who had had the same thoughts that I experienced really gave me comfort in knowing that I was not alone. I am not the only person that deals with food issues and I should not hate myself for it. At times, I had felt so hopeless I would wish that I had been addicted to a substance like a drug or alcohol, because at least then you can completely cut it out of your life. With food, you have to work at it and build a healthy relationship. I learned help does exist and change is possible.

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Another book I finished recently is called, “Fat Chance: Beating the odds against sugar, processed food, obesity and disease” by Robert H. Lustig, M.D.. It is extremely interesting as he uses science to describe what happens physiologically when we consume processed foods and sugar. I always considered sugar “a bad food” or “junk” and knew that when I cut it out of my diet I would lose fat pretty quickly. However, I am a sweet-toothed fiend. Dr.Lustig offers a play-by-play of why this happens. I now see sugar essentially as a poison. That may sound extreme but I encourage you to do a little bit of research and you may find yourself coming to the same conclusion.

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So now what? Well, fitness is still an essential part of my life because I love exercising. I can proudly say I completed my Zumba Level 1 Instructor training in January and have been practicing up a storm to deliver a rockin class when I feel confident enough to start teaching. I finally, can proudly say, I eat a wholesome and balanced diet (I can’t even tell you the last time I “allowed” myself to eat butter and full fat milk!). However, I still have struggles with food, and that is fine. It’s a work in progress. I do not expect to change a problem that I have had for over 20 years in a couple months. I work at it day to day and sometimes meal to meal. My awareness around my thought patterns are no longer on auto-pilot and I consciously make every food choice. I want this blog to be a forum for people to discuss similar issues they’ve encountered, to let others know they are not alone and just a platform for me to discuss one of my passions: health & fitness.

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Some helpful tips I have gathered from the material I have been researching and reading are:

  • Hunger is not an emergency, you will not starve, and it’s okay to feel hunger (from the Beck Diet Solution)
  • Sugar is highly addictive (have you ever felt the uncontrollable urge to eat something sweet, and once you did, you just couldn’t stop? Sugar works on the pleasure and reward centres of the brain- why would you want to stop something that feels good?) I have found once I stopped consuming added sugar (table sugar, candy, chocolate, etc) it only took a day or two for my physiological cravings to subside and I could make rational decisions about not wanting to eat it. I choose to curb my sweet tooth now with fruit only because I know, personally, once I start eating sugar, I can’t stop. I still get a mental craving here and there but I just rationally talk myself through it and really decide it is not worth it – I choose my goals over instant gratification.
  • Keeping a food journal for two weeks (which I have HATED doing in the past) but focusing more on the emotions, feelings and thoughts for why I was making the choices I did. It gave me great insight and pinpointed the times of the day, types of food and situations that served as triggers for over-eating
  • Purchasing the UP band by Jawbone. It’s kind of like a pedometer on steroids – it keeps track of how many steps you take in a day, sleeping patterns, food journalling, exercise and more. What I get out of it the most is tracking my movement to see if I am getting enough exercise (especially when I am sitting for long periods doing assignments/listening to lectures/on the computer). It has been really motivational to have concrete evidence that says, hey, maybe I should get up and go for a walk, my body will thank me. They also supply really interesting facts and research daily.
  • Urge Surfing; a mindfulness training technique for relapse prevention by Chris Walsh to withstand and essentially watch your own cravings with curiosity, as if you are someone from the outside looking in, instead of giving in or just trying to struggle to do so.
  • The emotionally painful part of a craving is the struggle you feel. Once you decide definitively, NO, you will not give in, the craving will diminish.

A new take on Tuna Melts

There is nothing better for a fast, low fat high protein snack or meal then tuna. I am someone who can eat tuna on its own but have found a recipe I love that really peps up the flavor. I got the idea from a past issue of Oxygen Magazine.

Servings: 1

Ingredients

  • 1 whole wheat english muffin
  • 1 can of tuna (packed in water)
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 tbsp red onion, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeño, minced
  • 6-8 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 oz shredded part-skimmed/light cheese
  • salt and ground black pepper
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 450°F or 230°C
  • In a medium sized bowl mix tuna, celery, onion, jalapeño, salt and pepper
  • Place english muffin halves on a baking tray. Top each half with tomatoes, tuna mixture and sprinkle cheese on top
  • Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese melts (lower fat cheese does not melt as well)

If you are trying to watch your carbs, are staying away from breads/gluten or can’t stomach cheese, below is my low carb option that I love eating for dinners. Just swap the english muffin for lettuce wraps and skip the cheese. The tuna mixture is surprisingly delicious just on it’s own.

Benefits of Clean Eating

I could have never imagined how powerful eating “clean”, or the way nature intended us to, could be. I have found so many beautiful benefits like improvement in my mood, stabilization of my blood sugar and a significant increase in energy. But probably the most surprising benefit has been a reconnection with food in it’s natural form. I have rediscovered an appreciation for foods without needing all kinds of additives, sugars and flavour boosters. For example, after cutting out processed and extra sugars, suddenly fruit regained it’s intense sweetness and resurfaced in my mind as a treat. Ever stopped to consider why the packaging in the candy isle is an array of bright colors? It is intended to get our attention and mimic the magnificent hues of fruit, hardwired in our brains as the candy of nature. Think about what the color of chocolate could mimic and that might make you think twice about reaching for the Oh Henry…just saying! 😀

I also used to eat cooked oats with 1/2 a chopped apple and a couple tablespoons of maple syrup. Now I am not saying anything is wrong with this recipe (add some walnuts and you’re good to go!) but now that I have had the chance to reset my palette, I enjoy the natural flavour of oats with just a sprinkle of cinnamon or pumpkin spice on top. I think it kind of goes back to living in the moment and being present and mindful at every meal – really tasting what is on my plate as opposed to hoovering it down like the cookie monster…om nom nom. I have found this also to be a great way to mentally increase satiation and satisfaction at the end of a meal, which also can help ward off mindless pecking and snacking later. I think it’s always good to get back to the basics once in a while so if you tend to reach for Quaker’s pre packaged brown sugar instant oats, maybe switch it up tomorrow and try some good ol’ natural stove cooked oats.

Oats are a staple in my diet, I eat them every day. They are by far one of the best foods to keep you full for at least half a day. If you’re not an oat addict yet, here are some types that I recommend.

Rolled Oats

I like using these in recipes for waffles/shakes/muffins but occasionally throw them on the stove for a bowl of porridge.

Steel Cut Oats

Steel Cut Oats provide a whopping 5g of protein for only 1/4 cup! Sprinkle some protein powder on top for flavor or add some egg whites to the mix and this high protein, high fibre breakfast will keep you going all day.

Steel Cut Quick Oats

I always prefer the less processed version but we don’t always have 20-30 mins in the morning to wait for our oats to cook. If you’re short on time but still want the nutritious punch, quick steel cut oats are a good way to go.

Healthy Products

Here are some products I use in my recipes. I am a hardcore label checker and tend to look for ingredients I recognize, very low or no added sugar or naturally sweetened with Stevia.

Protein Powder

Protein powder really comes down to personal preference. I choose to stay away from soys and love the taste of wheys but can’t digest them very well. I am not a vegan but like this protein blend and they use stevia instead of artificial sweeteners like Sucralose or Aspartame to sweeten it. This one has 20g of protein per serving which is great for a non-animal source, it is low in carbs and comes in Chocolate and Strawberry too!

Coconut Milk (Unsweetened) 

Great to use in smoothies or for a healthy coconut ice-milk ice cream (it’s creamier than almond milk and only 60 calories a cup!)

Almond Milk (Unsweetened)

I use this in my breakfast recipes, smoothies, oats (it’s only 30 calories for 1 cup!)

What is your weight loss secret!?

Some friends have been asking me how I have been able to drop some weight and get healthy. There is a misconception that the difference between someone healthy and overweight is exercise. To be honest, I have found diet is about 80% of the battle. A poor diet can actually un-do all that hard work in the gym! If you get your diet right, you will see the weight fall off. For me, that has been my biggest battle. I love sweets, so much so I could forgo a meal for dessert. I used to be the girl who would use exercise to try and counteract the bad food I was eating, telling myself “if I go to the gym, then it cancels out”. Maybe, if you burn enough calories, but that definitely will not lead to weight loss or a significant change in your body or improvement of your health. It all works together and diet, is not only the most important part of weight loss but also for your overall health.

One of the best tools I used when I was starting out was My Fitness Pal. You can log on online or download the app on your smart phone. The best part is it’s a 100% FREE. It helps you track your calories and nutrition of everything you’re eating in a day to help keep you on track (Weight loss at its basics really comes down to calories in versus calories out). One aspect I love is if you make your own, say, delicious Vanilla Protein Waffles but do not feel like plugging every ingredient in every time you make them, you can make a “Recipe” on this app, where you plug it in once, and then have it saved for future use. Another awesome feature is instead of manually searching for specific branded products, if your phone has a camera, you can use the bar code scanner built into the app to log the exact product you are using. It also gives you guidelines based on your current weight, height, activity level and goal weight of how many calories you should be consuming. If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a shot!

17 Weeks Out

I have been training seriously for my very first fitness competition for 3 weeks now and I am about 17 weeks out. Friends and family have had very different reactions when they find out what I am committing to but something they don’t realize, and I didn’t really either was the amount of knowledge and awareness that I’d gain on my own body. It sounds silly, but not many people (including myself until recently) do something as simple as really listening to what their body is telling them; how many times have you ignored signs when your body is trying to tell you it’s run down (sore throat, achy, fatigued)? All you may need is to rest, recover but the signs are ignored. The body has no choice but to resort to illness like the common cold. I believe this and a lot of common ailments are all preventable through proper nutrition and being aware.

For instance, I have been learning through trial and error the foods that fuel my body and give me endless energy versus those that make me irritable, moody, bloated and crave more bad food choices. Ignoring how many servings of dairy commercials tell me I should have and giving my body what it asks for is empowering – especially when you see positive physical results. I have found my eczema clearing up since I cut out dairy and that sugar and high glycemic foods, even something as seemingly healthy as bananas send my body into a sugar craving frenzy. This is really a journey that allows me to connect with my body in a new way and carve a path to my healthiest self.

Progress

It’s Waffle Time!

Vanilla Protein Waffles

Servings: 2-3

Ingredients

  • 8 egg whites (1 cup liquid egg whites)
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • 1 scoop of Vanilla Protein Powder (whey, hemp, rice)
  • 1 tbsp of Cinnamon (depends how much you like)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c almond milk (unsweetened)
Directions
  • Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor
  • Pour onto a hot non-stick/greased waffle iron (I’d recommend coconut oil)
  • Cooks times is about 5 minutes
What I love about waffles is you can use so many different things to top them with. In this recipe, I used berries, fresh and frozen. If you use frozen raspberries or blueberries, when they thaw, a lot of berry liquid pools and creates a ready-to-use natural berry “syrup”. I also love using non-fat plain greek yogurt with berries and pour a little agave on top to sweeten. Another option is almond butter and bananas, or good old maple syrup!

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