LET’S DIVE IN
Welcome to our first official blog post. Obviously, it’s time to jump into the topic of food. I figured it made sense to describe some of my views on diet. For starters, I don’t like to strictly associate the term ‘diet’ with a temporary program for weight loss – your diet is simply what you eat for the purpose of surviving – think lifestyle.
This is a SUPER IMPORTANT disclaimer. I’m not promoting fad diets. I’m stating that the following can be good templates and starting points depending on the individual. They can teach you certain guidelines and eventually, those guidelines should be tailored to YOU. The reason this seems like such a general, blanket statement is that I do not know you personally and I can only share so much on a blog post. There are so many things that will dictate whether they are right for you. For starters, some people won’t do well with a labeled diet. They may need to first conquer their psychological issues with food or heal their relationship with themselves. Secondly, having a medical background largely influences your optimal diet. Finally, your genes and your lifestyle. Moving on.
My top 4 recommendations thus far due to my own research and experience are;
– A Paleo or ancestral-based diet – beneficial for anyone who walks on two feet. This approach eliminates many of the highly-processed grain- and sugar- based Standard American Diet staples. Mind you, its intent is not to scare you into a deprivation mindset, but rather, to reset your palate, your natural hunger cues, and to put a focus on the foods that actually benefit your body and health. When you become more familiarized with this, you realize how natural it feels and it will become second nature.
– Bulletproof for tuning in a bit more with your body – even being selective with your fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, nuts, oils, and sourcing of water, etc. You may discover that you are sensitive to night-shades, or you may find that you do better with a low-to-moderate carb approach with occasional re-feads. You may also find an eating window that works best with your biology.
– Ketogenic for potential therapeutic benefits in regard to neurological diseases, metabolic diseases, and even cancerous contexts. *This is not medical advice, rather, bringing awareness to conditions in which this diet has been used with success.
– Simply eating real food. This goes hand-in-hand with an ancestral diet or the Weston A. Price diet. Imagine the way our great-grandparents did. Broths, organ meats, undamaged meats raised the way they were meant to, copious veggies, fermented foods, and generally anything that your great-grandparents would recognize.
However; I think any small step towards the better is a win. I strongly believe that the best way to introduce yourself to a healthier lifestyle is to introduce changes slowly and not run the risk of becoming overwhelmed. My journey has gone like this:
Like I said in my previous post, I have always been interested in nutrition. Even as an active young kid I was obviously not worried about cutting my calories but was weirdly adamant about having nutrient-dense food. Unfortunately, like most of my peers, somewhere around the age of 18 I began absorbing this annoying ‘calories in, calories out’ theory, and the typical cardio and iceberg lettuce phase was introduced.
I then went to college where I gained a bit of weight as a freshman – hello, a meal plan with unlimited quesadillas, chili cheese dogs, brownies, and ice cream is not conducive to a healthy weight. So the next year it was back to the gym and trying the low-calorie thing. Not so successful.
Junior year, geez, so healthy. A lot of canned soup marketed as healthy because it was easy, and a lot of binging episodes due likely to being malnourished and overly stressed (have you ever interfered with the cravings of a hungry, malnourished, stressed out college girl – I feel for you). And yes, of course, alcohol on the weekends. But it’s okay because I walked to school and occasionally hopped on an elliptical. So healthy.
*Now, throughout this time my love of nutrition was still there, but I was predominantly unhealthy given the combination of stress, sleepless nights, and all those other infamous college tendencies. So even when I would follow mainstream healthy protocols (grilled chicken salad type choices), it was not enough to outweigh the damage I was causing myself.
By senior year I had matured quite a bit. I stopped going out as much, stopped going out to eat as much, stopped letting my roommate share her Kraft mac n cheese with me as much, began working out more efficiently, and discovered sleep. Lucky for me at this point I began dating my boyfriend, who was, in my eyes, basically a pro when it came to diet and exercise – and an angel sent from above. Aside from discovering HIIT-based workouts and all the latest health trends (quinoa and coconut oil galore) on my own, he inspired me to lift weights, incorporate more protein into my diet, and ACTUALLY SLEEP.
A day in the life looked similar to most health and fitness conscious people today. Breakfast could include eggs, turkey bacon, oatmeal, maybe some low-calorie tortillas to make breakfast tacos (oh yes, I do live in Texas by the way). Post workouts I would have a protein smoothie and include baby spinach and berries, etc. Occasionally I would be ambitious enough to make a green juice of pineapple, kale, and apple. Snacks could include beef jerky, greek yogurt, or another smoothie. Lunch and dinner would include something like a quinoa salad with chicken breast, tomato, and avocado, or spaghetti squash with venison and marinara sauce.
Pretty well balanced, I won’t even pretend that it wasn’t. But I wasn’t there yet. First off, in the example above I did not mention my monster sweet tooth and how shamelessly I satisfied it each and every time. That was really my worst offense. Secondly, I still had so many dietary misconceptions. I didn’t know that I was being more successful with the calorie-counting side than the nutrient-dense aspect. (I never counted calories, but I knew how to swap out chips for popcorn or steak for turkey). I didn’t know that a food regarded as a superfood could be great for one person while another could have a sensitivity to it. I didn’t know that it wasn’t normal to be hungry so often despite truly eating a sufficient amount of calories. I didn’t know that my sweet cravings were not normal. I didn’t realize why I would sometimes get lightheaded when I stood up too quickly or why I was suffering from test anxiety. And despite the fact that during this time I did achieve a slimmer and more muscular look, I still didn’t know how much potential I truly had. The willpower and knowledge were lacking.
Post-college I was trying to stick more to natural foods and continuing with HIIT workouts. Things were good, I was feeling pretty slim. But again, guys, sweet tooth and lack of willpower made for a dangerous combination.
Then I got more into weight training and decided to give this whole macro counting thing a chance. This works wonders for some people, it really does. I won’t argue that at all. My beliefs simply just don’t align as well with it. I do prefer to eat very “clean” and this magical ‘a carb is a carb, a fat is a fat’ concept just made it too tempting to fit a bunch of processed stuff into my macros. I also just don’t believe that everything you consume should take so much time and effort from you. All the weighing and tracking. Again, this is perfect for some, particularly those who have never become familiarized with how each macronutrient plays a role in the body. It can help them to learn a balance and ideally eventually move on to an intuitive approach.
Here we are finally. I’ve reached a place I feel good about and I know I’m nowhere near perfection. I live for progression. A few months ago I finally decided to commit to a fully nutritious diet. Not to follow any fads, trends, or achieve a certain body type, but finally eating for my well-being. I started by cutting out sugar, I decreased gluten, I began trying to avoid vegetable oils. Little by little cauliflower was replacing quinoa (quinoa does not agree with me, guys) and almond butter was replacing sugary bad quality chocolate. With each passing day, the more second nature it became. I would follow the template of a paleo diet, making modifications for my personal preferences and needs. Now I eat an ancestrally-based but Lizy-specific diet most of the time.
It’s time to stop thinking of your diet – any diet – as a short term thing. I’m always a little taken aback when people are speaking about a certain diet and complain that one of the downsides is that the weight just comes back when they’re done. Well of course it does, you’ve either done a silly extreme diet that freaked out your body or you’ve done a good diet but STOPPED IT. Here’s your solution, pick one that A. is actually GOOD for you, then B. make it a lifestyle! It’s not a dreary thing, I promise you can actually like what you eat and you’ll feel so good for it. If you still hate it, hopefully, you’ll at least take some good habits with you.
Thanks for sticking with me through this long post,