One of my favorite aspects of training & coaching is starting with a brand new client. They are always eager to get going & full of questions I love answering. As I do with most clients interested in improving their nutrition, I requested she come in with a few days worth of a detailed food journal. Super helpful for both of us to look through!I saw what is fairly standard for many who have gone through the Weight Watchers, Atkins or similar dietary protocols:
- Breakfast: Blueberry WW Muffin
- Snack: Atkins Protein Bar
- Lunch: Frozen Microwave Diet Meal
- Snack: Protein Cookie
- Dinner: Plain Salad w/ Bland Chicken & Low Fat Dressing
- Dessert: Diet Ice Cream Bar
Total Calories = 1200
She was super proud to have stayed under the "ideal" 1200 calorie diet yet was frustrated she wasn't loosing weight. Not to mention was having sugar cravings (hello all the sweet "diet" foods), had low energy, frequent migraines & a general sense of feeling YUCK!It's super frustrating to see this approach given so much mainstream media attention. Yet it makes total sense! It's easy to sell X brand "diet" food or protein muffin or whatever is marketable. It's hard to brand & sell, say broccoli? LOLIn frustration she bluntly asked me if all calories are created equal? Fair enough. Calories DO count & i'll never say as long as you just eat "real food" you will always lose weight. I've absolutely seen people overdo all the avocado or go NUTS on their portions to create a caloric surplus. BUT I 100% believe that not all calories are created equal. Why?YOU CAN EASILY BE IN A CALORIC SURPLUS YET BE NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENT.
In fact i'd say that's MOST people these days. All those diet foods are calorically dense but nutritionally devoid. AKA they lack the needed macronutrients, vitamins, minerals & key components to allow our body to work optimally. Ex: Eating 300 calories of nutritionally dense wild caught salmon IS NOT the same as eating a 300 calorie giant cookie. One has healthy protein, fats, omega 3's & the other has processed flour & sugar. Salmon will keep you full longer & not trigger blood sugar spikes, sugar cravings & energy lows like said delicious but not so nutritious cookie. Make sense?While my client totally got what I was saying, she was concerned that meant she could never have her sweet treats! Instead we struck a bargain. Over the course of a month, we'd work on swapping out each processed meal for a more whole foods based option. All while including a treat each night if she was really craving it. Deal she said! So in came egg based breakfasts, veggie based lunches, & protein, veggie & whole food carbs at dinner. The funniest thing happened! She lost weight, had more energy, stopped being starving all the time & by week 3 she no longer craved that daily sugar hit. All while eating more food & still having a dessert here & there!Long ramble short, filling the majority of meals with mostly whole foods will give your body the nutrients it needs to work optimally. We shouldn't have a constant 3pm energy drops, all day cravings, 24/7 bloating & other "common" but NOT normal side effects from food. Fill the majority of your diet with real food & it means those little imperfect foods won't make or break your health.Have any questions you want addressed? Message or comment below for my weekly Q&A posts!
Let's chat moderation shall we? One of the most frequent conversations I have with clients who are struggling with consistency in their dietary choices deals w/ the dreaded ALL OR NOTHING eating mentality. We absolutely live in a go big or go home kind of world.
Insanity Workouts OR Netflix Binge Watching
Chicken & Broccoli OR Pizza & Beer
ON the Diet Bandwagon OR I'll Worry About It Come January
We swing from one extreme to the other on the emotional rollercoaster known as the health & fitness world. Sucks right?
Yet when I talk about practicing moderation, I often get the eye roll of "that's not sexy" or "it won't get 20lbs off the scale in 20 days". And people aren't wrong! Eating moderately probably won't lead to a picture perfect before & after 60 day transformation challenge. It also means you have to experiment a little, stop following all the guru's magic meal plans & actually make a little effort to figure out what moderation means for you.The benefits? It's a lifestyle. It means you can be imperfect & still make progress. It also means you take it one step at a time & can improve a little every single week. You can make your own rules of what works for you, makes you feel best & stop "cheating" the system. Why? It's your damn system to make, break or bulldoze through.Ok lots of vague rambles later, what do I mean by moderation? All I can tell you is what moderation means to ME
& what it's given me.
Emma's "Moderation" Moto: ~ Eat the majority of my meals based around whole foods:
vegetables, fruit, proteins, single ingredient labeled foods & food labels I can actually read all the ingredients. Truthfully I could leave it at this philosophy without a single over answer. WHY? Because WHEN I make the majority of my diet based around whole foods, the few things that sneak in like a piece of momma's poundcake or slice of pizza on a Saturday just don't matter that much. My body functions well, my cravings are in check & the imperfect foods I still enjoy are such a small proportion it's no big deal.~ Stick with food's & portions that make me FEEL good:
I don't tolerate gluten well & dairy is only so so. I am NOT demonizing these foods as good or bad. BUT I'm not going to eat them because I feel like shit doing so. The same as eating too much raw broccoli hurts my belly but a handful or pumpkin candy corn is a-ok. It's not good vs bad, it's listening to what my body is telling me. It's loving a big ass salad but still stopping when I am full. Leaving a few bites on the plate at night because I am satisfied instead of stuffed. Having an extra snack when I am truly hungry, not just bored. Or skipping my mid-morning snack because I'm just not hungry today. Slow down & listen!~ Having wine on the weekends:
I freakin love wine, this is NO secret. MODERATION for me is keeping it in my diet for my happiness & pleasure. The unfortunate part? I absolutely gain weight when I drink daily vino. I also feel hungover & unhappy when I drink more than a few glasses, man i've gotten old.. BUT that's the reality. Not to mention I don't think it's healthy to drink a glass or two every day to use as a coping device to deal with life. So I have found the balance that works for me is to be 100% ok with skipping the weekend wine & enjoying it on the weekend. I pick GOOD quality wines & enjoy the flavor, how they pair with food & the memories shared over bottles. I don't binge just because "i'm not allowed" to drink during the week & when I'm not in the mood, I don't. Although let's be real with how often that happens.. ;)~ Saying NO to foods I don't actually want to eat out of social pressure:
This is a big one for me. I use to really struggle going out with friends, hitting a dinner party or holiday gathering & being able to say NO to foods. I didn't want to "stand out" or be the weird one that says no to the morning donuts everyone is fawning over. I also never wanted to sound rude when I told my mother in law "no thanks" to another piece of her amazing layer cake. BUT ultimately at the end of the day it's my body & I have to live in it. No one that actually cares about me is going to fight with me over what I consume. And if they do? Honestly that's not someone I want to spend my time around. Harsh? Maybe BUT if someone cares about you they should respect & WANT you to feel your best. Frankly I stopped caring about what others thought of me because I was a better person for them when I felt my best self.~ Cooking the majority of my meals at HOME:
This one has really become so much more important to me over the years & it has nothing to do with saving money, calories in restaurant foods, making poor choices out or whatever else you typically hear. This is about building a better relationship with where my food comes from, prioritizing spending the time to prepare it, taking pride in eating something I prepared & valuing quality food over the instant gratification huge quantity of food we can get in a drive through. Really think about it? You prepare a home cooked meal of even the simplest breakfast like scrambled eggs, w/ some greens & fresh berries from a farm near you. It's a totally difference experience than hitting McDonald's & shoving it down on the go. For me, this is a self care technique I truly think is not prioritized in this modern age of on the go eating. *Insert "back in my day" answer*~ Enjoying special meals & memories guilt free:
Food absolutely has so much family history, bonding & connects us all to each other in meaningful ways. I cherish times of baking cookies in the kitchen w/ my mom or seeing my husband light up like a kid when his mom mentions eating cupcakes straight out of the oven. I've gotten "healthy" & "not so healthy" recipes from family that has emotional meaning I can't describe. So does that mean every holiday I stay away & bring my tupperware of healthier meals? NO! I eat a pancake my mom makes on Christmas morning or have the peanut butter brownies that are my absolute fav! I don't have guilt or anxiety about these activities. Why? Go back to #1 on my list. My pancake is often accompanied by scrambled eggs & fruit. Or I eat a big stack but eat something more nutrient dense for lunch because it makes me FEEL better. I eat a brownie & enjoy every bite, knowing they are in abundance so I don't have to down them all right now. It's memories that I want to BE AROUND FOR, which means taking care of my health. Moderation..As you can see these aren't hard & fast rules or a diet to follow. It's guidelines I hang out in the middle of that fit MY lifestyle. They ebb & flow as everything does in life. What has moderation giving me? The POWER
to FEEL good physically, FEEL good about my choices & LIVE the life I want to in a healthy active way. To change my mindset from that of deprivation & self loathing to abundance & self love.Ever thought about your "Moderation MOTO"
that could change the game of how you think? Maybe take a few minutes to jot it down, journal it out & even share out loud. I'd love to hear & help!
More on HOW this actually looks for me & what it could look like for YOU in Part 2...