Ok, so that title probably makes me sound like a jerk, right? It’s pretty surprising to me too, actually. My entire life has been structured around bingeing and restricting. I don’t mean in the traditional eating disorder terms, but of planning my life around upcoming events. Going to Miami in a month? I have two weeks to eat and drink and not work out before I have to GET IT IN GEAR. A birthday party at the end of the month? Live it up now sister, because next week you are not eating crap or drinking for two weeks and you will go to the gym every day and do 6o minutes of cardio. Holiday season? Eat, drink and be merry, right? The funny thing is, this always worked, but only for that “event”. So I would lose 6 lbs. and be feeling myself and everyone would tell me how good I looked. At that party, dinner, holiday event, vacation that I’d been “saving” up for, I would binge to my heart’s content and then keep it going for a few days, before I had something new to strive for. The problem with this cycle is that you come back to the same place every.single.time. There is no progress. There is no improvement. There is no actual lifestyle change happening here. This WAS my lifestyle…and let me tell you, it is EXHAUSTING. This year was different. I’ve done a lot of internal work on my scarcity mindset and slowing myself down. Appreciating the process and cultivating patience with LIFE, which is probably the most challenging thing for me to do. However, in being even just slightly mindful of this, I did make actual changes and I finally have the freedom to enjoy my life and not stress out about letting go or going all in. Think about how frustrating it would be if you were trying to ride a bike to the top of a mountain, and you pushed really hard to get halfway, congratulated yourself for all of your hard work, and let yourself “take a break” by rolling backwards to the start. Then you push yourself up halfway again, and roll back down. You always see the top getting closer, but you keep finding yourself back at the bottom. So here is what I learned this year and why I think things are different for me now:
- Healthy Eating
- Daily Movement
- Slowing Down – keeping my adrenals in check by not activating my “fight or flight” response (parasympathetic nervous system). Adaptogens and breathwork are major here.
- Letting things go. Expectations. Control. Fear. I let myself eat intuitively and learned to focus on the experience rather than the food and I truly believe that the body and the mind can release weight metaphorically and physically. I found that if nothing was off the table, I chose whole, nutritious foods. When I had a few glasses of champagne, I didn’t need more, or a full 24 hours of “hang-over eating” afterwards. I just let things be.
I get a lot of questions about healthy eating and what to eat and our diet is the most crucial component of health and wellbeing. You can do all the cardio, HIIT, yoga and Orange Theory you want, but if you’re eating junk, your body and brain are not functioning at their potential and your brain is suffering. You are also at risk for chronic disease, which starts now and has compounded so much that when you finally experience symptoms, it’s too late. Symptoms are the final showing of your lifestyle choices.
“How do I eat healthy?” is one of the most common questions I get asked. Clients, friends, coworkers, everyone asks me if they should go vegan, Keto, Paleo, Whole 30, low carb, do a juice cleanse, you name it. My answer is absolutely not and none of that. “Please stop!” is what I say in my head. It doesn’t work. It is all marketing and profiting off of your health and it’s doing more harm than good. If it worked, we’d all have been in great shape after the South Beach Diet of the 90’s and we’d never need to think about it again. You don’t need to be taught how to eat! What I’ve found most helpful is to simplify the entire thought process. There are no rules to eating. Just like you don’t have to be taught how breathe, to go to the bathroom or sleep or run away from a dangerous situation. What we have to re-learn, is our mindset around food. Remembering that we are all unique and have individual needs based on our metabolism, physical activity, body shape and size. There is no food plan, diet or trick to getting healthy. It’s more a matter of removing all the extra shit. For example, I have a lot of clients who don’t eat breakfast and they sound “guilty” when they tell me that they’re just not hungry in the morning. Awesome! Don’t eat breakfast! I have other clients who really like chicken. That’s great if its serving you well. Just be sure it’s organic (hormone and antibiotic free) and even better if it’s pasture raised/cage free and ethically farmed, because you are literally eating whatever energy was cultivated by that chicken. I would however, ask yourself if you truly enjoy some of the foods you’re used to eating or it’s more of a mindset thing. Eating a primarily plant-based diet (as in eating plants, not some packaged junk labeled “plant-based, like Cheetos) will actually provide your body with nutrient-dense, high energy foods. You don’t need to worry about macros and protein if you’re eating a wide variety of vegetables, legumes and grains. I personally eat organic, cage-free, humane certified eggs and wild caught fish regularly, alongside tons of leafy greens, root vegetables, fruit, nuts and grains like quinoa, millet and rice.
My best advice for eating healthy is to avoid processed foods as much as possible, and opt for whole food. This will automatically help you keep your sugar consumption down, which is another indicator of good health. Please don’t worry about sugar from fruit. If you’re eating the whole fruit (not juicing it), you’re getting the fiber and other nutrients that help your body metabolize that natural sugar just fine. Cook at home as much as you can. This doesn’t mean you have to meal prep for the week. I personally cringe at “meal prep” because it reminds me of body builders in NJ on MTV back in the day who prepped all their meals for trainings LOL! I do, however, suggest meal batching, where you are always making batches of stuff that you can combine together for other meals. You’re more likely to consistently eat healthy meals if that’s what you’ve got in front of you. Make a pot of quinoa or rice, soak and cook up some black beans, roast a whole pan of veggies and cut some raw for snacks with hummus. Whip up a tahini sauce for a grain bowl or add some of your quinoa to a breakfast burrito or make a grain bowl with roasted veggies. You can also look at some of your favorite foods and tweak them so they’re a little more nutritious. If you love lasagna, add veggies over meat (mushrooms are a great alternative and a superfood!) and use green lentil noodles or zucchini slices. If you love burgers, whip up some salmon burgers (canned salmon is so convenient!) and make some sweet potato fries in the air fryer. You get the point! Eat what makes you feel good and notice what doesn’t so you can adjust. Food should fuel and sustain you, and if it’s become more than that, such as a stress-reliever or a boredom-busting tactic, be aware of that and maybe pivot a bit. If you are eating out of boredom, pick a new recipe that you saved on Pinterest, go buy the ingredients and make it. You’ve now filled at least an hour or two with getting creative, getting off the sofa and feeding yourself a delicious meal. I have tons of delicious recipes on my Pinterest if you need inspo, many of which are on repeat in my home. Let me know what meal you’d love to see “healthy-hacked” in the comments below and I’ll go live on Instagram while making it!
So basically what happened for me this year, was that there was no “on and off” track for me. I stay consistent at maybe half of the intensity that I used to think was necessary, and because I stay consistent with that less vigorous approach, I see progress. Half-assing something will still get you 50% improvement, right?! You can also check out my eBook, “The 2 Week Reset” if you need help shifting your mindset and making healthier choices!