Let me begin by saying that I LOVE food. Like, if I wasn’t already married, I’d wanna marry it. I refuse to eat food that doesn’t taste good or satisfy me - I mean, c'mon! If I’m ready for matrimony, how could I? And like most love affairs, it’s taken me time to fully develop a relationship with food that works for me and my life.
My personal health makeover actually began with fitness; lucky for me I love a good challenge and feeling strong. And while I was becoming happy with my body’s physical ability, through nutrition education, I realized there was so much more I could be doing to increase its capabilities. By properly fueling my body, I have personally experienced incredible physical changes, all without sacrificing flavor or satisfaction. But we all know making major changes takes time. Start small and build on every small success...and stop falling down over every hurdle! My recommendation is that you and food create a marriage-worthy relationship with one another.
Fitness and nutrition go hand in hand, like the Cookie Monster and his delicious cookies, one doesn’t quite cut it without the other. Nutrition is a challenging topic and usually involves the term “diet”, which frequently invokes a fear of noshing on cardboard and constantly feeling hungry. When I talk about diet, I’m referring to a person’s habitual nourishment with regard to how it fits into their lifestyle. Creating a lifestyle-worthy daily diet means creating a plan that allows you to eat foods and flavors you love, without feeling like you’re always missing out on something. The right ‘diet’ will leave you feeling energized, indulgent and satisfied.
Without diving into a precise nutritional plan (though I certainly do offer that service), there are a few simple rules to use as guidance. First, it’s important to understand the difference between all the macronutrients: Carbohydrates, Fat and Protein. Macronutrients are nutrients that provide us with calories, or energy, to go about our daily lives. Yep. You caught that. Calories = ENERGY! Each of these serves an important role, often working in conjunction with the other, to provide your body with the energy it needs to keep you going.
- Carbohydrates: These are the primary source of energy for your brain and body. Consuming too few carbs leads your body to break down protein for energy and consuming too many will cause them to be stored as fat.
- Fat: Converts to long-term energy. Builds new cells and aids in brain and nerve functioning, and is necessary to carry and absorb certain vitamins – A, D, E, K and carotenoids.
- Protein: Essential for the development and repair of body tissue, hair, skin, eyes, muscles and organs. Helps create hormones, such as insulin to regulate blood sugar, and forms antibodies to prevent infection.
There’s a big misconception that simply eating less leads to weight loss. And while many indulgences can be over the top, the bigger issue is eating the correct foods to fuel your body throughout your day. Furthermore, making sure to eat plenty of lean protein to build, maintain and repair calorie burning muscle is integral. When reducing calories, remember: you’re not on a hunger strike. Starvation mode is a scary place to be! Your body will want to get rid of muscle because of an over expenditure of energy (calories), and actually hold onto fat for fear of being completely deprived. Muscle on your body acts as a calorie burning furnace, while fat on your body acts as stores of energy for later use.
Rules and tips for feeding your body:
- Eat every 3-4 hours. This means eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, and often 2 smaller snacks throughout the day. How awesome will your day be when you’re eating the whole time?
- Understand portions. In order to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks daily without overeating, you must understand portions. Click here for 3 good serving size guides
- Always eat carbs with protein and healthy fat! Carbohydrates take about 1 hour to be processed by the body, Proteins take about 2 hours and Fats take 3-4 hours. Consuming these all together should leave you satisfied for 3-4 hours.
- Eat real, whole foods – Carbs should come from healthy whole grains, fresh (or frozen) fruits and veggies. Protein should come from lean meat and plant based sources like beans, nuts and seeds. Look for healthy fats coming from nuts and seeds, avocados and oils like coconut, grapeseed, olive, and avocado.
- Drink at least 8 ounces of water before every meal and snack to prevent over eating due to dehydration.
- Cheat meal! WOOOT! Once a week allow yourself to indulge in a cheat meal. Make sure to plan your week so every meal doesn’t turn into a cheat meal.
- No deprivation only moderation. Be mindful with this. While we don’t want to constantly feel deprived, it’s ok to feed a craving every now and then, but make sure to do it moderately so you don’t leave yourself feeling guilty. That said, don’t dwell on guilt, move on and make the next meal better.
- Focus on adding guilt-free flavor to every meal. Play around with herbs, spices, citrus juices and vinegars. They can add lots of satisfying flavor without the added calories.
My love affair with food is still as strong as ever, but I found that having a loving relationship with my body has guided me in making nurturing choices when choosing which foods to love at any given moment. Food is often seen as an indulgence and source of pleasure, and while we want that to be true, we must also know how to look at food as fuel. Look at the components of each meal and snack and ask - What are you going to do for my body? Maintaining a healthy balance should keep you feeling satisfied, energized and in control. And if you need more tips, Comfy Fitness has you covered.