Good vs. Bad Food

Let me just start this off with there is NO. SUCH. THING. I just feel like I had to get that out there first to all readers whether you clicked on this because you were interested in learning more, you think there are good and bad foods, or you thought to yourself what does this *&#$ know,  I’mma prove her wrong. No matter how you got here, I’m glad you did. I have a very important message–one that is very personal to me and my experiences–that I want to share with everyone. I have a lot of jumbled thoughts that I’m going to attempt to neatly pack together so stick with me, you won’t be disappointed you did.

As I’m sitting down to write this, I’m actually eating a giant salad–what most people in the health/fitness industry would call health and #micros. Me included. There is no doubt that salads full of veggies have plenty of micronutrients as well as many healthy ingredients. But that does not mean that it is a “good” food nor that you are better than someone eating pizza, a “bad” food. During my ED, this was mentally a big obstacle I struggled facing and living. I would feel superior for eating “clean foods” and look down upon those who didn’t. I would see someone who was skinnier than me eating a burger and fries, or a slice of pie, and think ugh they eat whatever they want (“aka bad”) and still look like that, why can’t I. I’m not kidding–they were horrible thoughts (so was wanting to be as skinny as possible) and they were centered around thinking there was such thing as good and bad food.

Food is food, made up of different amounts of calories and macronutrients. And while yes some foods/meals/ingredients have more nutrition or health or benefit than others, food itself cannot make you fat or cause you to lose weight or be good/bad. Amounts and quantity does this. You could eat nothing but fruits and veggies all day, go over your caloric expenditure for the day and still gain weight (and vice versa with eating nothing but junk food but eating less and losing weight). Specific foods do not cause this therefore they have done nothing to get the label of “good” and “bad”. This is entirely something come up with by society, the diet culture/industry, etc. and it’s wrong! It leads to disordered thoughts, restriction, and overall an unhealthy and unbalanced  lifestyle. Heck this thinking even led me to staying away from white rice and white potatoes for THE longest time (even though I love white rice) because some idiot in society had deemed it “bad” or less than brown rice and sweet potatoes. It’s not bad; it has less fiber, it’s different, but it’s not bad, good, better or worse.

So now that we have established that, let’s see why people think this way. Mostly it’s because people who lost weight cut out all carbs and ate nothing but boring salads all day so we think we should follow that. Especially because that one guy ate pizza and cookies and gained weight, so we must stay away from those foods, they’re BAD. Well let me tell you the person lose the weight because cutting carbs cuts water weight and b) salads and healthier foods tend to have less calories therefore allowing person to lose weight. And the person who ate junk, ate too much of it. Again it’s the amount not the actual foods. Of course there are foods that are more or less nutritious, but that doesn’t correlate to good and bad. Everything in moderation is okay. Make sure you hear me loud and clear and understand: MODERATION IS KEY!!! Get the good vs. bad food thinking out of your mind and focus on finding a balance that is sustainable.

So here’s my suggestion when it comes to this thinking. Whether it be an 80/20, 70/30, 90/10…use this balance. Fill most of your diet with lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, rice, potatoes, fruits, veggies, etc. AKA foods that have more healthy ingredients, benefits, and overall may be healthier for you.  But still find room for those items that are less nutritious too. Maybe that’s ice cream or a burger for you. For me, for the most part, it’s sugary cereal in my dessert bowls, Halo Top ice cream, and granola/granola bars; occasionally it’ll be pizza, froyo, burgers, etc. But no matter what I eat, it is not good nor is it bad. It’s food, it’s fueling my body and it’s making me happy.

What to do after Overindulging?

I bet a lot of you know the feeling, you grab a handful of a snack at a or just a bite and suddenly it turns into many, many, many bites, handfuls, etc. and you realized you have overindulged. Or maybe just going out to eat you have overeaten a lot or just eaten too much. It happens. I’m not going to lie and pretend it doesn’t happen to me–it just did this past weekend with lucky charms. (Also not going to lie and pretend admitting that was easy, hey I’m human). But when this happens people often think they need to restrict the next day or rest of day, starve themselves, workout for hours, (especially if you’ve ever struggled with an ED) etc. when instead there are a few things that are crucial to do to help you! I want to share some of those tips today to help you realize that you didn’t “fall off track” or “lose anything”. I want to help you make choices to continue a  healthy happy lifestyle no matter what!

1. Return to your normal eating routine

The biggest thing you DON’T want to do is restrict, starve, or not eat the next day or the rest of the day. Since a lot of this happens at night, it’s most likely the next day, but it could be the rest of the day too. I’m not saying you have to force food down your throat if you aren’t hungry, but restricting only puts you and your mindset in a bad place. Keep eating, eat like you would filling yourself with wholesome, nutritious foods and go on like normal. Hopefully you’re choosing to eat healthier foods anyway, but if you did overindulge you do want to try to get your micros in (fruits and lots of veggies). Also, protein helps keep you feeling fuller as does complex carbs (brown rice, whole wheat, sweet potatoes,  oatmeal, etc.) so try filling most of your diet with those.

2. Drink water

If you overeat, especially things with lots of sodium like chips, processed foods, or most things at a restaurant, you will likely retain water and look and feel a bit more bloated. This can scare people into thinking they’ve gained a lot of fat/weight overnight when in reality most of it is water. After overindulging, make sure you continued drinking lots of water (at least 8 glasses or more) to stay hydrated and flush your system out. This will help you feel much better the next few days.

3) Movement

While I mentioned that it’s important to not think you have to go in the gym and run for hours, it is a good idea to get some movement in. For example, the morning after my lucky charms indulgence, I went for a 20 minute easy walk around my area. Nothing big, I didn’t run until I had burned X amount of calories, I just let my body move a little to help me feel healthier and help my body digest and get things moving. Whatever that may look like for you, a little bit of exercise and movement will do you good.

4) Don’t feel guilty

This is probably the biggest piece of advice I could give you. Coming from a place where every “treat” and indulgence (even if it wasn’t “too much”) left me feeling guilty, and overindulging was an even worse feeling, feeling guilty makes it worse! Then, your mind and body makes you feel bad, over-exercise, under-eat, etc. and it is an unhealthy mindset to get into. The best thing to do after overindulging is figure out why, and what you can do next time to prevent it. Were you bored? Next time you feel bored/hungry, go outside and do something or occupy your mind elsewhere. Emotional eating? Try talking to someone or finding another way to cope. Restricting yourself during the week? Find the balanced way to enjoy treats during your everyday life. At a restaurant? Practice choosing smaller portions, boxing up half your meal, not ordering an app, dinner and dessert, etc. Find a way to help yourself in the future without feeling guilty because guess what, crap happens! It’s life, you live, learn and move on.

Those are my top tips for when you overindulge. It happens, but it’s important to know how to take care of your body afterwards so that you can continue living a healthy and happy lifestyle that works for you!

 

Maintaining a Healthy & Balanced Lifestyle While Working

For many people, I know balancing a healthy lifestyle while working full-time can be tricky. I know it was a huge worry of mine before I started my full-time internship this summer. I was used to being at home which I meant I could weigh my food, make whatever food I wanted whenever, have ample time to workout at the time of my choosing, etc. But being at work all day certainly limited that. I was worried about balancing my summer collegiate workout, my job, sleep, food, muscle preventive/recovery exercises…you get the idea. However, a few weeks into this, I’ve found a routine and tips that really help me balance it all, so that things aren’t too crazy and chaotic, and I’m not super-stressed! I want to share those with you today!

Before I begin, I’m going to say that living a healthy and balanced life while working is not easy; it takes time, sacrifice, and planning. You can still manage to eat right, workout, work, sleep, and have social time BUT it’s going to require you to make choices and sacrifices. But, what important thing doesn’t these days? These tips/ideas really do help me and I truly enjoy the lifestyle I live. You can choose to change it to fit your life and that’s okay! I just hope that at least one of my ideas will help you better balance and live a healthy life you enjoy!

1. Plan and prep your meals ahead of time

I know I talk a lot about this topic, but it seriously is a life and time saver! Having all my meals prepped ahead of time makes making lunches and dinners so much easier, quicker, and simpler which saves me lots of time and stress.(Need ideas?) This is as simple as sitting down to write a meal plan for the week (all meals and snacks) before shopping and spending an hour (yes, only takes me ONE hour) cooking on Sunday.

2. Pack your lunch the night before

This saves me 15 minutes of stressing and running around trying to pack a lunch in the morning. Every night, I put my food into MyFitnessPal ( to make sure I hit my macros) and then pack my whole lunch. This usually means taking out the foods from their own tupperware, weighing it out, and putting it all together into a separate tupperware. I’ll also cut up any veggies, and measure out any crackers, nuts, snacks, etc., and put all non-fridge food items into my lunch box. All the fridge items, I’ll prep and put together on a shelf in my fridge so that all I have to do the next morning is add the ice packs and the food. I’ll also sometimes make my breakfast the night before to save me time in the morning, esp. if I work out at my company (or even my apartment) gym before work. I’ll either make eggs to heat up the next morning or overnight oats.

3. Find and make time to workout

When you’re busy and stressed at work, working out may be the last thing on your mind, but it shouldn’t be! There are numerous benefits of exercising regularly–including decreasing stress. Personally, I would highly recommend working out before work because I know there are days when I get home from the office that I really don’t want to go exercise. Plus, exercising in the morning gives me more energy, and leaves me feeling better for the rest of my day. There are some times when I plan to workout after work (notice how I said plan, as in put it into my calendar and DO IT), but the majority of the time it is before work. This goes back to sacrificing some things because I generally am at work by 8 am, which means waking up at 5:30 am at the latest to workout in the morning.  It also means sometimes getting ready at my company gym if I don’t workout at my apartment gym. Is it the most convenient or easiest option? No. But, it is a choice I make to ensure I get my workout in, feel great for the rest of the day, and commit to making myself healthier and better. **If you need ideas for workouts check some of my sample workout and routines.

4. Get to bed early

5:30 am comes super early, and so does 6:30 am which is when I wake up if I don’t workout before work. Either way, I know that my body needs at least 8 hours of sleep whenever possible. So every night I aim to be done packing for the next day by 8:45pm so that I can get ready for bed and be in bed by 9:05. If my alarm is set for 5:30, I’ll go to sleep right away, but if it’s set for 6:30 I’ll try and read for 10-15 minutes before bed. Some people may gawk at me for going to bed that early–no netflix? social media? late night drinks with friends? NOPE. I find 30-40 minutes a night usually to enjoy social media, an episode of a show, youtube, etc. but I know how important sleep is to my health, my body’s ability to function, my weight, my performance during workouts, etc. I would much rather skip binging on a tv show or scrolling through countless social media feeds in order to be able to live a healthy lifestyle for me.

5. Make time for yourself

Lastly, it is super important that amidst the hustle and bustle of your job, social events, workouts, obligations, etc. that you find time to relax and do something you enjoy every day! Whether that’s a lunchtime walk, reading for 15 minutes, a hot bath, or an episode of your favorite show, taking that time helps calm and wind you down to relaxation. This is going to allow you to continue being healthy and living a lifestyle you can manage and enjoy!

So those are my top tips that I follow, and honestly these past 2 weeks I have had more energy, felt better, been less stressed, and just enjoyed life more. I’m not saying you have to give up social events, hanging with friends, doing what you like to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle After all, it is called balance! But it will take sacrificing some things and you have to be okay with that. I choose to live this way because I find joy in lifting, in preparing and eating healthy cooked meals, & in being healthy! I don’t begrudgingly give up certain things, or see it as a “sacrifice” anymore because I’ve chosen a life that I truly enjoy and love. I am living a healthy and balanced life while working full time and I couldn’t be happier or healthier!

 

 

Staying Healthy on the Holidays

So I know when most people think of eating during holidays most likely Thanksgiving comes to mind–course after course of bread, turkey, potatoes, pies…you name it! Next would be followed by Christmas, but really any holiday can bring celebrating with good food and, well, let’s be real lots of it! I have a few short tips on staying healthy during any holiday event or celebration, that will still allow you to enjoy your time. It’s important to spend time celebrating and having fun, but I also want to help you make the healthiest choices for your life too!

1. Don’t save it all for the one event/meal

What I mean by this is, make sure you eat throughout the day before the event. A lot of people will try and skip meals or not eat (think esp. before thanksgiving) before the event thinking they are saving their appetite and calories to enjoy the meal. But, what really happens is you get so hungry that once you get there you are almost uncontrollable, grabbing everything in sight, especially more of the not-so-healthy goodies like sugary treats, chips, junk, etc. and you actually end up way overeating and probably not feeling so hot. You don’t have to eat a lot beforehand so that you aren’t hungry at all, but make sure you eat normal meals and/or snacks so that you aren’t ravenous!

2. Make Healthier Choices Earlier

Most celebrations are at night, but even if they are earlier in the day this can still apply. Don’t just think that it’s a holiday so let’s go crazy and throw healthy out the window all day. While, yes you could do that, it won’t be very beneficial, helpful, or healthy for you or your body! Instead aim to make healthier choice for your meals and snacks prior to the event. Get lean protein, veggie and rice in at lunch or eggs or oatmeal at breakfast. Snack on fruits and veggies. This will all help your digestive system and your overall health by doing so. Then, you can splurge and enjoy yourself a little at the actual event.

3. Choose healthy options at the actual event

Healthy choices shouldn’t be made just prior to the event. And no, I am not saying forgo the delicious burger, chips, or sweet treats. Instead, try having a plate of raw or cooked veggies and fruit before your actual meal. Then, go for a little of the other stuff. This will help you feel better after eating so much and help you digest better than if you just ate all junk the whole time. If nothing like that is usually available, maybe you volunteer or sign-up to bring that! So while yes holidays are definitely meant to be enjoyed, a) healthy choices are still delicious and tasty and b) completely throwing everything out the window and indulging all day or event can lead to guilty feelings and unhealthy habits over the long haul.

4. Get Moving

No, I am not saying to go run after you’re stuffed to the brim with delicious food. But before the event, go for a walk, light jog, get a lift in, take a class, etc. to get some movement in. And this is not because you have to “burn off your food” or “workout to deserve to indulge”. For one, on holidays most people sit around more so it’s good to have some movement in. Plus, you won’t feel so stuffed and bad (health wise, not mentally) if you got a light workout in. Again, these tips are meant to help you with your overall health and how you are feeling!

So there are my quick tips for having a healthy holiday! Don’t stress if you don’t follow these completely, get a lot of movement in, or end up completely overindulging. One (or even a few) days like this will not hurt or hinder your progress! But, part of living a healthy lifestyle isn’t just eating healthy and working out, it’s about making healthier choices in every aspect of our daily lives in order to live and be the best we can be and give our bodies the healthy treatment they deserve!