Finding a healthy balance and relationship with food isn’t always easy. There was a point in my life when I would restrict myself to only eat an allotted amount of “healthy” foods and if I ever “fell off the wagon” so to speak, I would feel guilty and either deprive myself of food all together or use exercise as purely a tool to burn off the “bad” calories and fat I consumed. It was a difficult period in my life and if you ever want to talk with me in more detail about it, I certainly will. To keep a very, very long story short though, I have since found a healthier relationship with food and exercise but I’m always continuously working on it and do still have my issues at times if I’m being completely transparent with you all. I’m telling you this because we are all work in progresses and it’s okay to be imperfect, have slip ups and not feel like you have it all together. It’s NOT okay though to treat your body like it’s disposable because it’s literally the only one you’ve got.
Below is a list of tips I have learned throughout the years that have helped me tremendously find a healthy balance and relationship with food and exercise!
1. Cheat Meals…don’t do em! “It’s Friday so I’m gonna eat an entire pizza!!” Here’s a quick fact, your body doesn’t know the difference between a Monday night or a Friday night. Having pizza on a Monday or on a Friday doesn’t make it more of a “cheat” or less of a “cheat”. It’s the same food regardless of what day you eat it on and it has the same amount of calories, fat, carbs etc. per serving. If you want 3 slices of pizza on a Tuesday night, honor your body and EAT THE PIZZA!!! IT’S NOT CHEATING! Enjoy your food without guilt and move on! Also, if you are craving something, do not deny your body of it or try to find a healthier alternative. If you want a cookie (regardless of what day of the week is it), eat a cookie!! Don’t restrict yourself and eat 15 rice cakes instead. You’ll end up eating more calories and still won’t feel satisfied.
2. The All or Nothing approach leads to NOTHING. Kind of going off the “cheat” meal mentality, the “all or nothing” approach to healthy living is another strategy that leads to an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise in general. Having the mindset that if you eat said “cheat” meal (let’s call it a donut for this example) in the morning, then the rest of your day is a wash so you might as well continue overconsuming food and/or not working out puts food and exercise in two separate categories, “bad” and “good”, and also labels your days as “bad” or “good”. Eating a donut in the morning is as simple as that, it’s just eating a damn donut! It doesn’t mean you can’t go to that cycle class or should just label the entire day as a “cheat” and go all out and eat 10 more donuts (I mean, you can but hello stomachache!). On the other end of the spectrum, eating a donut also doesn’t mean you should PUNISH yourself the rest of the day and only eat kale and spinach! Again, that puts donuts in the “bad” category and they’re not…they’re delicious sweet treats!!
3. Don’t workout to burn off “bad” foods or to achieve your “perfect” body. UGH it drives me crazy when I see fitness professionals marketing their programs by saying things like “burn off that pie!”, “get that bikini booty”, “summer bodies are made in the winter!”. Having that mindset is so RUDE towards working out and deems it as a punishment for our bodies when in reality, exercise is a CELEBRATION! Workout because it makes you feel strong, empowered, energized and joyful. Celebrate what your body can do, don’t punish it for what you consumed or by not looking a certain way. All bodies are perfect regardless of size and shape. Be proud of yours and what is has accomplished and eager to continue pushing and reaching new goals.
4. Consuming a set number of calories, fat, protein and carbs every day. We are not robots; our bodies need different things each day to satisfy us physically, mentally and emotionally. Restricting yourself to predetermined caloric and macronutrient amounts is forcing your body to remain in a static state rather than L-I-V-I-N-G. It is absolutely essential to consume the right amount of calories your body needs, if you don’t, your metabolism will decrease by essentially telling your body that you’re starving. When you’re in this “starvation mode” the body considers muscle to be expendable, so it breaks down the muscle tissue and uses it for energy. However, it considers fat to be necessary to insulate your organs for survival, so it holds on to that. Honor your body and eat when you’re hungry!
5. Don’t focus on the scale So many people use the scale as their holy grail of success, but the number is often irrelevant when it comes to where you are in terms of your weight loss/muscle gain goals. Emphasizing what the number on the scale says each day negates the achievements that don’t always show up on the scale. Body composition is the ratio of lean body mass to fat mass. As you build muscle and lose fat, your body comp improves. But if you build muscle at the same time, you’re losing fat, the scale may take its time going down, or stay the same even as you’re losing inches. I always tell my clients to check in with how their clothes are fitting and overall how their body is feeling on a day to day basis rather than weighing themselves. A number is just a number!
6. Don’t let other influence your food choices. If you’re at a restaurant and you want a burger and fries but everyone else at the table is ordering salads, who cares! ORDER THE BURGER! And if everyone at the table is ordering burgers and you want a salad, ORDER A SALAD! Don’t let what others say and do have an influence on what YOUR body is craving. You’re the one eating it and no one else should really have an opinion on it…unless you’re going halfsies of course ☺
Hope these are helpful and if you’ve ever been or are currently in a similar mindset where I was, I would love to chat with you !