If you know me, you know that my life prior to personal trainer-hood wasn’t the picture of squeaky-clean healthy living. Throughout high school, college and into my 20s, my days were spent primarily in acting classes, hanging out at bars with friends, drinking a lot of coffee and eating a lot of Pop Tarts (cinnamon and brown sugar if you’re wondering).Thanks to youth, genetics and youth (did I say that already?), I was able to maintain my weight pretty steadily within 5 lbs.
And then I hit my 30s. I was working out consistently but it became a lot harder to maintain my weight. And then, due to life stresses giving me a mega unhappy gut in 2012 and a bit of a medical scare in 2013, I thought it best to take matters into my own hands and clean up my food because at least that was something I could control (and I firmly believe that food can be medicine). Slowly but surely, I eliminated gluten, dairy, legumes and ate very few grains to see if that could make things better. I filled in the blanks with a lot more veggies and fruits than I'd ever eaten before. I had accidentally gone Paleo (for the record, I do not believe in the “cavemen ate this way therefore so should we” manifesto). But after a few years of limiting gluten, dairy, etc. pretty consistently, I have to say that my joints do feel better without gluten, my eczema does not rear its ugly head unless I have dairy and my gut is almost back to normal after three long years. Food is medicine. Ta-da! The end!
What’s ended up happening after a few years of eliminating this stuff is that I have developed deep, dark ANXIETY when it comes to eating gluten, dairy and grains. I am FRENCH for crying out loud. Croissants and stinky cheeses are part of my DNA! I can’t be scared of these things! But there I was this past weekend, nibbling on a piece of buttered bread at Easter dinner, trying to quiet the voices in my head saying, “I thought you wanted your wrists to feel better and for your skin to clear up and you’re still 3 pounds away from your goal weight, I can’t believe you’re eating this right now, you dummy!”
So you know what? It’s been a long time since I wrote The IzzyFit Weight Loss Manifesto and I think I owe it to myself — and to you — to write The IzzyFit Nutrition Manifesto: 5 Tips for How to Start Rewriting the Food Script.
But there I was this past weekend, nibbling on a piece of buttered bread at Easter dinner, trying to quiet the voices in my head saying, “I thought you wanted your wrists to feel better and for your skin to clear up and you’re still 3 pounds away from your goal weight, I can’t believe you’re eating this right now, you dummy!”
- There is no single right answer for ANYONE. We are our own science experiments and need to learn how to listen to our bodies so that we can understand what it likes and doesn’t like. If you’re frustrated that you’ve been doing something for a while that isn’t causing your body to change in positive ways, your current system may not be right for you. This rule frees you from beating yourself up when one diet your best friend has been doing that’s caused her to lose 10 lbs doesn’t do the same thing for you. You may just need something different!
- Nothing gets demonized. Not gluten, not dairy, not soy, or beef or eggs. Not even Cadbury Cream Eggs because I get to eat those 3-4 times every year. You get to choose what you eat and don’t eat and you even get to change your mind about what goes into which column (unless, of course, you have a true food allergy). Demonizing food means cultivating fear and you shouldn’t fear food.
- Plan ahead. As the old adage says, if you fail to plan you plan to fail. If you want to eat healthy meals throughout the day or week, figure out how that can happen. Will you need to take a day to grocery shop and grill chicken breasts for the week? Will you want to use a healthy meal delivery system like Cooked? Does it mean checking out the menu at a restaurant you’re headed to with friends ahead of time to know what you’re in for? Yes, yes and yes. And there are a thousand more examples, you just need to figure out what tools work for you.
- Figure out the ratio of optimal foods:treat foods YOU need to feel whole and not deprived and that also helps you reach your goals. The trick here is to be completely honest with yourself when it comes to knowing exactly what your goals are and WHY you want to reach them. Know that when you have goals like losing weight or getting a six-pack, that will mean giving up/limiting some foods/beverages in your diet, if only for a little while until you’ve reached your goal. The FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) Monster can rear its ugly head here. If you find that you shut your eyes super tight and pretend the monster is not there only to give into it completely the next day and binge, the habits you’ve adopted are too limiting and it’s time to reexamine your plan. If you’re able to look the FOMO Monster in the eye and tell it to chill out, you’re probably on the right path :)
- Reach out for support. Do you know when I’ve been the most successful? When I’ve told my loved ones, “Hey, I’ve got this goal I want to reach and I need you to back me up and here’s how you can help me.” It’s awkward and can be tough to bring up but it can be a game changer. And if those surrounding you aren’t willing to help you, know that there are plenty of people out there who would be happy to be part of your support circle. (If you’re in this boat, please reach out to me.)
While food rules are usually more in the vein of “Eat this, not that”, as a nutrition coach, I am more interested in helping my clients develop a better relationship with food that allows them to have a healthy body and happy mind JUST as my ultimate goal as a personal trainer is help my clients develop a better relationship with their body so they can live a happier life. I hope these rules have helped and if you need one-on-one guidance, please reach out to me by phone (312-497-8999), email me or join CleanSlate28: Holiday Survival Edition starting October 3 (you must register by September 19, 2015!)