All Food is Not Created Equal, Choose with Care
I don’t know what sparked me on to write this blog post, other than I’ve had a string of folks in my various circles email me over the last few months for tips on getting healthy and eating right. While I am no expert in this area, I have learned a lot, and I “walk the walk” so to speak. So, I thought I’d share a bit about my food philosophies, and how I got here.
In my younger years, when I was concerned – as many young women are – simply about weight and pants/dress size, my relationship with food boiled down to calories. I’m no math whiz (please, no fractions), but, I could grasp the concept of 3500 calories equaling one pound. Want to lose weight? You need to reduce by 3500 calories over a span of time to lose one pound. Need to gain weight? The opposite is true.
So, when I hit my early 30s and the “3500 equation” seemed to stop working, I started on the journey that has brought me where I am today. What my younger self didn’t know is that quality is just as important as quantity.
To make matters worse, as a twenty-something, I was a cardio queen. I ran 4 miles a day, rain or shine, and did no other exercise. I was super rigid about this and variety was not the spice of my life! I had figured out that 32-35 minutes of running each day was enough to keep me slim, and didn’t bother with what would really keep me slim and healthy: Lifting weights, and, a variety of cross training.
As you guys know, we are currently in the midst of a major whole-house remodel. Thankfully, we have been down this road before, because if we hadn’t, I’m not sure how I’d be coping. This is our third remodel together, and, the house in question is by far the worst in terms of starting condition. It is, however, by far the best in terms of how cool it is going to be when we’re done!
What do home remodels have to do with eating right? For me, everything.
You see, it was at the end of our second remodel project when the light bulb started going off for me. I finally had time to learn to cook – to really cook, not just “heat” – and I started reading a lot of books and healthy living blogs. In my opinion, I was about 15 pounds overweight, but perfectly “normal” according to my doctor. Her definition of “normal” is clearly different from mine. I knew my body best and knew I had a little work to do. Nothing major on paper, but if you’ve ever tried to lose just 10-15 pounds, you know how hard this can be – which is why the “last 10 pounds” often eludes people.
I went back to what I thought was true: The 3500 principle. But, counting calories was doing nothing but make me hungry and irritable with virtually no resuls, because I was doing it all wrong. I was still eating a lot of packaged, processed foods, but just keeping it to a certain number of calories a day. That just simply doesn’t work.
When I started learning about nutrition, the importance of whole foods, and how preservatives and chemicals interact in your body, everything changed. And, when I put regular weight training, yoga, and other types of moderate cardio into the mix, the weight fell off effortlessly.
Muscle is important to your body in so many ways, and it has the added bonus of burning more calories at rest than fat. And, it lets you do cool stuff like this – double bonus.
(By the way, I miss my old workout room – look at how clean…and finished!)
I love to work out – and always have – but my true passion has developed from healthy eating. I decided to start this blog in 2010 because of all the new foods we were trying as a result of my focus on nutrition over calories, and it has been a wild ride!
If you are out there struggling with those last few pounds (or, even with a lot of pounds), the biggest message I can deliver is to eat real food. It simply boils down to nourishing your body and giving it what it needs to help you. As Jillian Michaels said in her book Master Your Metabolism, “if it didn’t grow from the Earth or have a mother, don’t eat it.”
If you need a kick in the pants to get going (and most of us do), consider doing a two or three week nutritional cleanse to alter your palate and kill your sugar cravings. Be Well and Clean are two good cleanses I know about that were developed by wellness doctors and really work. (I have no affiliation with these programs, but I did Be Well with great success, and several people I know have done Clean with similar results.)
Even though we are deep in remodel-land and still don’t have a real kitchen, I have learned over the years to make time to prepare the right foods and fit in my weight/cross training. Major change is do-able, but it doesn’t have to be over night. Tackle one thing at a time and once you master that one thing, tackle another thing. The key to success is to continue learning and growing, but not expect perfection from yourself.
What is your experience with healthy living? Share your thoughts – I’d love to hear them!