[May '09 - counting calories & deprivation] [Summer '12 - living my life - happy & carefree!]
note: I was not my heaviest here but still unhappy
One of the reasons I decided to pursue a career in holistic health counseling is because I’ve been there.
There as in a place where I tried everything (I mean everything!) to make my body change when it wouldn’t budge. There as in frantically adding up my calories for the day during Psychology class, while pretending to take notes. There as in canceling Mexican night with my girlfriends because I feared a margarita and quesadilla would make me fatter. There as in feeling like a little kid on Christmas every time the scale went down a pound, while feeling like I wanted to crawl in a hole and die every time it went up .2 pounds.
There as in hooking up with boys to make me feel better about myself and my body, and feeling I wasn’t skinny enough, pretty enough or good enough. There as in calling a pile of rice cakes with fat-free peanut butter “dinner.” There as in having a mental breakdown every time I ate something “bad” and then rushing to the gym to “burn it off.” There as in looking in the mirror and hating what I saw.
Throughout my teenage years and part of my early-twenties, I tried hundreds of diets, shed countless tears, consumed pounds of “diet” food (I call it fake food now) and yo-yoed up and down in weight. Every day, I felt frustrated, tired and guilty. I wanted answers and I wanted them now but I was looking in all the wrong places: diets, restriction, outside approval.
I remember when I became fed up for the 1,000th time, I finally scheduled an appointment with a local nutritionist the summer after graduating from college. She had me bring in a list of everything I was eating, and so I did. It looked pretty much like this: egg beaters with veggies for breakfast, salads with fat-free dressing for lunch and diet meals or grilled chicken strips and microwavable veggies for dinner. I also consumed fruit, rice cakes, fat-free cheeses, sugar-free jello, Crystal Light, and anything labeled “Low Calorie!” or “Low fat!”
The nutritionist weighed me, told me that I was overweight for my weight range, looked at my food journal, and then I’ll never forget what she said to me next: “Nothing here stands out to me. It all comes down to one thing. You must be eating too many calories. Calories in, calories out.” Mind you, at the time I was exercising nearly every day!
I left there feeling completely shocked. Less calories, is she kidding me? I, even during my most distorted views on food, knew that couldn’t be right. I already knew I was restricting myself and that restricting myself even further wasn’t the answer. Looking back, I now can clearly see I was forcing my body in a state of starvation mode, wasn’t eating enough and most importantly wasn’t eating REAL FOOD. I was nutritionally deficient! No wonder I wasn’t happy with my body, nor losing weight.
But what that nutritionist said really stuck with me. The next day, I woke up and realized I had two choices. I could (a) continue the way I was eating and spend a lifetime depriving myself & cut my calories further as the nutritionist recommended or (b) Forget everything I ever told myself about eating and just live.
The thought of the first option made me sick to my stomach. If all of my friends can go out for pizza without having a panic attack and eat whatever the heck they wanted, then why should I need to cut back further? It simply didn’t seem fair. It wasn’t right, and I knew it. So I went with the latter, and decided that if I’m not losing weight by restricting myself to the limits, why not enjoy life instead even if that means gaining a couple of pounds?
I have to be honest: it was scary at first. Eating whatever I wanted, listening to my body (something I’ve never done) and trying to eat “normal” was so outside my comfort zone. But I did it. And every day it became easier. The best part? Once I started fueling my body with REAL food, loving myself for who I am, and experimenting with exercises that made me feel good inside, to my surprise the weight fell off.
I proved that nutritionist wrong.
A calorie is not a calorie if you’re nutritionally deficient and putting chemicals into your body. Cutting back on calories isn’t going to make you lose weight if you are not happy on the inside. Living at the gym is not going to make frat boys want you more if you are not in love with yourself first. What you eat isn’t nearly as important as HOW YOU FEEL. Your relationship with yourself & your body is the most intimate and precious relationships of all. Women don’t need to spend their lives feeling guilty, alone and deprived. Life is meant to me enjoyed to the fullest!
This does not have to be you! If you see yourself in my story, please don’t hesitate to email me. I am here for you because I would have died to have someone hold my hand, listen to me and tell me it was all going to be OK, to ask me “How do you feel?” So yes, I’ve been there…I’ve been SO there. And now I’m here to be there for YOU. Check out my health coaching programs for opportunities to work with me one-on-one. In the meantime, you can check out these 10 positive mantras I told myself to break free of diet-obsessed living.
So, I wouldn’t really call myself a “runner” per se. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t absolutely LOVE doing it. I remember seven years ago on my 16th birthday when I couldn’t even run a mile without getting winded and let down. Now at 23, I run nearly every day, sticking to 3 to 4 miles at a nice steady pace. I absolutely love the way it makes me feel afterward. I love the wind blowing through my hair. I love how it gives my face this unbelievable glow like no other when I’m finally finished. And I love how it makes me feel strong, healthy and beautiful. Let’s just put it this way: I love running and admire all of you healthy, avid runners out there. But let me ask you this: do you know the BEST way to eat when training for a race? How about what to grab in the morning before your quick 2-mile loop? Do you need to guzzle lots of water before and after? Not a clue? I wasn’t 100% positive myself. That’s why I asked Registered Dietitian, Allison Rovtar from Chicago, to be featured on my blog as a guest columnist. Here she shares hot, exclusive tips and advice for all you runners out there!
RC: So, you just woke up and you’re going out for a quick 3 to 5 mile run in the morning. Do you suggest you eat/drink anything before? Wait ’til after?
AR: I always encourage my clients to eat about 45 minutes prior to working out. This allows them the energy they may need to have a good run. A good rule of thumb is to have something that includes protein, carbohydrate, and fat. This could mean an apple with 2 tbsp peanut butter, oatmeal with chia seeds, or even Greek yogurt.
RC: What should women in particular be aware of when following a runner’s diet? Anything you’d eat more of? Leave out?
AR: People used to believe that you had to load up on carbs weeks before and this just isn’t the case. Yes, you do want to be sure you are taking in adequate calories from carbohydrates but no need to overdo it! Overdoing it and consuming too many carbohydrates the night before can leave you feeling bloated for race day. Carbohydrates are, however, a necessity as they provide us with the glycogen needed for energy! Complex carbohydrates are key and generally my endurance athletes consume 55% calories from carbohydrates, 25% protein, and 20% fat but these numbers can vary a bit person-to-person. In the days leading up to your event you can up your carbohydrate intake to 60% if desired.
RC: I know many people (not myself) who run well over 13 miles-sometimes more-on a regular basis? What should they be fueling up with? Do you suggest gu, gels, etc? What should you drink?
AR: I suggest runners carry Gu or Gu Chomps with them when planning on running anything longer than 45 minutes. This will help with energy levels and for most people stop them from hitting a “wall” during the latter miles. A good rule of thumb is 1 packet (Gu) or 2-3 Chomps every 45 minutes to 1 hour. During a half marathon or marathon I encourage runners to switch between water and an electrolyte drink at each station. They usually have both throughout the race. For some runners it may be important to walk through the water stations. This way they get enough water in and don’t spill most of it while trying to drink and run!
RC: How do you prep most effectively for a race? A 5k? A half marathon? A full marathon? What kind of meals do you suggest you eat drink before/during/after? The night before?
AR: Each race is going to be different. The mileage plays a significant role in the prep before, during, and after. I always encourage runners to add chia seeds to their meal plan. Chia seeds are an excellent source of omega-3’s and calcium. A lot of research has shown that when chia seeds are ingested they form a gel like consistency in the gut. This can help slow the breakdown of carbohydrates.
The before routine is going to vary from person to person. Before the Rock ‘N Roll Chicago half, I had a banana with peanut butter and 8 oz. of an electrolyte drink. Experiment with what works for you and do not try something new race day! Marathon runners may need more to eat the morning of. I have had some clients who will have three pieces of whole wheat toast and almond butter the morning of so they are not starving mid race!
Hydration post race is especially important. Be sure to consume water and pay attention to the color of your urine. If it is light yellow a few hours after your race, more than likely you have adequately rehydrated yourself!
RC: What’s your #1 nutrition tip for women athletes?
AR: Rest days! Be sure to listen to your body. Women tend to push themselves to the point where there body begins to breakdown and this is where injuries can happen. Taking a break from running and doing yoga or Pilates is always a great idea!
RC: What do you do to stay fit and maintain a healthy diet? Are you a runner? Do you go to the gym? Any special diets you follow?
AR: Along with being a Registered Dietitian I am also a NASM-Performance Enhancement Specialist, so staying healthy is important! I enjoy running and boxing for my workouts along with resistance training. I work at a gym so it is very easy for me to get my workouts in! As far as special diets I try to ensure complex carbohydrates and adequate protein. At the end of the day my calories usually add up to about 45% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 25% fat.
RC: Thanks Allison! I definitely learned a lot. Be sure to check Allie out on Twitter at Allie_RD for more sweet nutrition tips!
So, I’m going on a date tonight and I have to say I’m quite excited. Hey, dates are fun. While some of my friends (whose names I won’t mention) get nervous, sweaty and, well, gassy, before a first date (HA), I think about other things. “What do I eat? What will I wear? What do I order? How much do I drink? I’m a “light weight” these days…what if I get too drunk? Will I look OK? He’s older then me…what will he think of me?” Seriously, that’s what is going through my mind right now and it’s not even 9 a.m. OK, I’m exaggerating a tad, but really these are things you need to think about ladies. Alas, here is my quick-fix Healthy Chicks guide to a first date. Hope you enjoy!
What to eat the day of the big date:
Yes, what you eat the day of a date really does affect the way you look and feel that evening. Let’s just put it this way: today is definitely not the day to try out that sugary coffee you’ve been eying, or order the burger at lunch. No, no, no. Today you must be cautious so you feel like a complete babe later on. This means cut back on sugar, sugar substitutes, refined starchy carbs, extra salt, sodas or other fizzy drinks, hefty meals, and even sugar-free gum. These are all things that make you feel BLOATED and no one wants to feel bloated right before a night out in the city. I packed my bag for work accordingly so that I can feel extra-good tonight.
Breakfast=2 pieces Ezekiel toast with 1 TB smart balance butter; 1 egg mixed with 1 egg white, cup of black coffee (I wanted my breakfast to be filling, so I went with 2 pieces of sprouted grain toast served with an egg+ egg white for ultimate protein, then obviously coffee for my caffeine fix)
Snack=ANOTHER iced coffee+ banana (The first coffee didn’t quite do it for me so I picked another one up at Dunkin’ on my way to work for an extra kick (iced with a little skim, no sugar)…and gotta love fresh fruit in the morning, but this would be even better topped with all natural peanut butter or almond butter!)
Lunch=Lemon Zest Luna bar with Clementine (I chose a light lunch today because I know I’ll be drinking and probably eating appetizers later, plus the Luna bar is great for protein. Not to mention, it’s packed with calcium, folic acid, vitamin D, and iron, all super good nutrients for women.)
Afternoon snack=large bowl of pineapple topped with Greek yogurt and cinnamon (for a sweet ‘n’ fresh afternoon pick-me-up)
Dinner*=large salad with fresh spinach, feta cheese and lots of fresh veggies drizzled in olive oil and lemon (skipping the salt this time in my salad so I can feel bloat-free) *If you are going out to dinner, order what you want and eat until you’re full. If you loooove salads and grilled chicken, get one. If you’re a steak girl, go for it baby! Just take into account how it’s going to make your body feel later on, and if you’re having lots of cocktails cut down on the high-cal dinner options. For me, I usually get a fresh salad, grilled chicken or a seafood entree and skip the fried or carby entrees because they upset my stomach due to my gluten intolerance. So, eat what you know your body can handle…do your body good.
How to Make Sure You Have Enough Time:
If you’re like me, I like to get in a kick-butt sweaty workout session the day of a date. It not only makes me feel fabulous, but it also works wonders on your confidence. Since I knew I wouldn’t have time nor want to exercise after work, I decided to get it over with in the morning. Yes, I woke up at 6 a.m. and forced my butt to the gym. While getting out of bed was a little bit of a struggle, I couldn’t have felt better once I was there. I went for a quick yet sweaty workout since I knew I only had 45 minutes, an hour at most. I started with 25 minutes of intervals on the elliptical, alternating 30 second full-out sprints with a minute of steady paced jogging. Once I was dripping in sweat, I knew I did something right. After all, that’s the goal. After I spend the next 20 minutes or so doing weighted lunges and squats, mixed with shoulder exercises (overhead press, shoulder presses, etc). I then jogged home to end my workout the right way!
Also, if you have time in the morning, pick out your outfit ahead of time. Yes, I know it sounds a little Elementary school-ish, but no one likes to be running around last minute like a chicken with their head cut off. I mentally decided what I’m going to wear tonight so it’s in my mind. That way, when I get home from work, I can eat dinner and get ready without all the last minute hustle bustle.
What to wear:
It’s always good to be aware of what kind of place you are going to before your date. Luckily this time I know exactly where I’m going, so I’m going to dress accordingly. The place is nice and on the waterfront, so I’m planning on wearing a bright-colored dress with nice flip-flops. Classy yet not over the top (i.e. no high heels). However, sometimes you have to make a judgment call when you’re not exactly sure where the date will be held. I always say go classy over tight and skanky and wear something YOU’LL feel comfortable in. That’s the most important thing for me.
One time, I was completely UNDERDRESSED on a date and couldn’t have felt more awkward. I was under the impression that we were doing something low-key and chill (i.e. going out for ice cream) so when the guy I was going out with told me to meet him at Eastern Standard last minute and I rolled up in jeans and a tee, I couldn’t feel more of an outsider. He was in a collared button down and nice pants, women were dressed to the nines in jewelry and cocktail dresses, there were white tablecloths and candles on the table, and there I was in my girl-next-door t-shirt. YIKES. Never again…never again. I guess I learned my lesson to always dress a little bit above average at least.
What to Drink:
Typically, I go for a glass (or two) of red wine or a vodka seltzer with a splash of pineapple or cranberry juice. These are great choices, especially during a hot summer night by the waterfront☺ However, use your best judgment and drink what you want…just know your limits…don’t want to get sloppy!
When I want something more indulgent, I usually go for a margarita on the rocks or a vodka pineapple…mmm!
To Kiss or Not to Kiss…
Well, this one’s up to you!
Well, that’s all for now. Enjoy your date!
The Healthy Chick
I’m the girl who in college would be teased by my roommates because my idea of “drunk food” was peanut butter and an apple or fruit and nuts. As my roommates munched on large, extra-cheese pizzas and overflowing chicken finger orders with colossal fries, I’d join in on the fun with a plate of what they called “bird food.” One thing’s for sure, however. While my drunk eats were a tad abnormal and definitely not as fun, I’d wake up feeling somewhat better (minus the pounding headache).
You can image then why I feel so blah today after a weekend of “fun” eating. I have to say while it’s good to eat loudly and proudly most of the time, too much fun sometimes isn’t good…especially considering how I feel now. I always say it’s OK to treat yourself–every day even–but scarfing down chicken fingers, cheesy Reubens leftover from my roommates post-bar “snack” and french fries took things a little too far for me. Not to mention my sister was visiting all weekend, so what can I say? We wined and dined…hard core.
So while I am ecstatic I had a fun, event-packed weekend, I am now paying the consequences on this dreary Monday morning. Another cup of coffee please? Anyway, listen: this happens to the best of us and your body will not feel this way forever, and your diet is not, I repeat NOT ruined. If you follow my little tips to clean up after a weekend of “fun,” you’ll be back to your happy, feel-good, Healthy Chick self in no time!
1. Eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat: Yes, six times a day i.e. a wholesome breakfast, a healthy snack, a clean lunch, another healthy snack, a feel-good dinner and something refreshing before bed. So many times I see friends simply not eat the day after a food binge because they think that’ll be the easy Band-aide fix. NO. I’m here to tell you it is not. If you don’t eat for a day, your metabolism will shut down making things worse. Giving up food all day is not the miracle trick to skinny. Really, it won’t to anything but harm. Not to mention you’ll probably become ravenous late night and end up eating your roommates leftover pizza. So eat. And eat often. Really, don’t be afraid to.
2. Go Clean: No, I’m not talking about cleaning the house, although maybe you want to get that out of the way too (especially if these sink is piled high from dishes and your laundry is starting to smell). But back to the point. I mean eat clean. Clean as in fresh, non-packaged, wholesome, natural foods. Clean eats include raw nuts, fresh fruit and veggies, lean grilled chicken drizzled in lemon and herbs, olive oil, etc. Clean-eating is a surefire way to get you back on track by tomorrow morning! Your body and your mind will be thanking you later.
3. Guzzle the h2O: Think you already drink enough water throughout the day? Drink even more! After a weekend of overindulgence, you need to clear out your system with lots of fluids…and I’m not talking about vodka sodas. Guzzle water all day long: in the morning, at work, before your run, after your run, before bed. Don’t stop! Drinking tons of water will encourage you to pee which will clear out your system making you feel as good as new.
4. Go for a light workout: No need to go crazy and spend two hours at the gym today. Let’s be honest: your body isn’t quite ready for that yet. However, a nice two to three mile run outside or some weights followed by a 20-minute cycle of intervals on the treadmill will do the drink! Basically, you want to make your workout short and sweaty. If you break a sweat, you’ve reached your goal. And if you have access to a sauna or steam room I HIGHLY recommend it for the ultimate cleanse.
Cheers to a day of feel good fix-its!
The Healthy Chick
Like many others, I used to be one of those people who immediately went to the back on the box, wrapper, bag, etc. to check calories and fat content. If it wasn’t in the ultra low calorie range, I’d chuck it back like a little kid grossed out by broccoli. Now that I’m a little older and a little wiser about what healthy actually is, I still go straight to the back of the package…but for something else: ingredients.
Yes, many “healthy” eaters are unaware of the importance of knowing exactly what you’re putting in your mouth. Forget calories, fat, sugar, and sodium for a second and take a good, hard look at the actual substance. For instance, many people would think that fat free flavored rice chips would be a semi-healthy choice, but when you read the ingredients on some of these “diet-friendly” choices it’s absolutely frightening. In fact, more often than not these diet foods have more than 20 ingredients, half of which you can’t even pronounce. If you wouldn’t dare try a diet you’ve never heard of before or date a guy without knowing his background, then why the heck would you put unknown, foreign ingredients in your body? Instead, go for something that you clearly recognize the ingredients, like Food Should Taste Good chips. Not only are these chips all natural, but they’re Kosher, low sodium, Trans fat free, gluten free, and lactose free with no preservatives, cholesterol, or MSG. I especially love the Sweet Potato flavor, that has only six ingredients: Stone Ground Corn, Sunflower Oil, Sweet Potato, Corn Bran, Evaporated Cane Juice and Sea Salt. They taste great alone, dipped in natural peanut butter or dunked in fresh salsa!
Another example of this is all that sugar-free crap. I won’t lie: I used to add sugar substitutes to nearly everything. I’d pour two packets of Splenda into my iced coffees, buy sugar free candy, and even sprinkle packets onto my oatmeal or fruit to sweeten it up. Looking back, I really don’t know what I was thinking. Listen up folks: our bodies aren’t made to process that crap; it’s NOT natural. Now, I use Agave syrup or honey instead, much natural, healthier choices.
Now, forget about packaged foods for a while. The absolute best thing you can do for your body is eat 100% natural, meaning fresh fruits and vegetables, lean unprocessed meats, nuts, oats, whole grains and dairy products without any additives in them. I promise you that if you eat 100% natural most of the time, you’ll be surprised of how amazing your body will look and feel: energized, refreshed and renewed!