What if you never again had to use the word "cheat" when it comes to food? FREEDOM!
It's sad that over the years we've forgotten how to eat. We seem to know nothing about listening to our own bodies.
It's January and, as I expected, I'm noticing a trend on my social media accounts. I'm sure you have, too. It seems everyone is excited to share their latest diet endeavors and how they plan to shape up for good in 2018. The intentions are good but the way I see some women going about it is not.
There are so many methods of eating available: paleo, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, and perhaps the most disturbing, keto.
Apart from food camps there are numerous diets available that promise quick, yet lasting results. Cabbage soup diet (been there, done that and it was SO incredibly disgusting), apple cider vinegar and maple syrup fast, carb cycling (who can keep track?), counting calories, counting macros, etc.
I've tried a few of these myself. In fact when I first began healing my body through nutrition I classified myself as a vegan. I'm the first to admit I've fallen into the trap of forcing myself into a food camp, and I've had my fair share of dieting.
As a health coach and being passionate about nutrition people ask me, "What diet do you follow?"
My answer is, "I listen to my body."
"Huh?" with a blank stare is a typical response.
It's hard for women to believe that I don't follow a specific plan. What rules do I follow? How do I know when to eat or what to eat? I understand their questions because I had these same questions a few years ago. It's what led me to where I am today. Chasing weight loss, looking for quick fixes and miracle cures led me to a place of gut imbalance and chronic inflammation in the form of cystic acne. I had to find different answers.
Before jumping into a new diet plan or finding yourself feeling trapped by a food camp I encourage you to consider these few things.
When I first wanted to heal my acne through nutrition, Google became my best friend. I honestly didn't know much about nutrition, and I definitely didn't understand how food affects our body and our skin. One of the first concepts I encountered while researching adult female acne was a vegan diet.
Vegan noun, a person who does not eat or use animal products.
While my cystic acne was at it's height in severity, I went vegan for many months. In the beginning I did notice some improvement in the appearance of my acne. However, in the end being vegan didn't win out for me. While my diet is still largely plant based, I don't eliminate all animal products. I want to share with you my thoughts on the vegan diet, specifically as it relates to acne.
The benefits of a vegan diet can be the large number of plants consumed. When you're not consuming animal protein, you need more fruits and vegetables to fill you up. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which help fight inflammation in the body. Acne is a sign of too much inflammation in the body so, logically, it makes sense to consume more fruits and vegetables. The problem that often arises here, and the reason I put can be in italics, it's easy to be vegan and lose sight of nutrition. It's easy to become so focused on whether a not a food is vegan that you forget to evaluate nutritional value. Technically, Oreo's® are vegan. Although I don't think anyone would argue that eating these cookies will help clear your skin. I've seen many times, including in myself, where consuming a vegan diet quickly turns to lots of vegan baked goods, pastas and baked potatoes. These things are fine in moderation but they aren't the super-foods needed to boost our immune system, and can give acne a kiss good-bye.
The downside to a vegan diet is its neglect of healthy fats. When researching a vegan diet I was quite alarmed at how many proponents of this diet still had the low fat mentality that plagued the 90's. The concept of following a low fat/no fat diet is outdated information that was never actually correct. In fact, during the 90's when the low fat craze really took off, heart disease increased as people's waist lines grew. Why did this happen? Most likely it was due to high insulin levels. Instead of eating healthy fats, which keep you fuller, longer, people were eating low- fat crackers, highly refined pastas and low- fat yogurts. All these things spike our insulin levels which leads to excess belly fat, AND many people felt constantly hungry because the very thing that helps keep us full fat was removed from food. What I'm discussing here pertains to weight gain and heart health but, please make no mistake, it's also connected to the appearance of your skin. Warning signs of internal excess inflammation in the body, such as acne, should help us connect the dots: a low-fat/no fat diet won't give us the skin, or the overall health we want.
Vegan diets also eliminate the intake of wild-caught, sockeye salmon. I really can't overstate its benefits to our skin health. First, wild-caught salmon provides a hefty dose of omega-3 essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids simply means our bodies don't make these fats, therefore, we must get them from food. Omega-6's are also essential fatty acids. However, because of deficiencies in our food supply these days (such as eating grain-fed instead of grass-fed beef, or consuming processed foods containing unhealthy, shelf-stable oils) we are ingesting too much omega-6's and not enough omega-3's. The ratio of these oils should be 1:2 omega 3 omega 6. Unfortunately, our modern diets tend to have a ratio of 1:10 of omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) to omega-6 (inflammatory). [William Sears, MD, The Inflammation Solution,©2015]
Vegan diets also lack astaxanthin. Here we go again with salmon the prize winning fish! Astaxanthin is another reason to love this fish. Astaxanthin gives salmon its beautiful pink color. It's a nutrient that has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Astaxanthin paired with beneficial omega-3's in wild-caught salmon make this fish vital to our diets. Notice I keep writing wild-caught. It is important that you avoid purchasing farm-raised salmon. It doesn't contain the same amounts of the powerful antioxidants. In fact, farm-raised salmon may have pink color added, so it appears more like wild-caught. I also take a fish oil supplement and have noticed a difference in my skin, hair and nails.
Tip: On the days you enjoy salmon for dinner it's okay to skip your fish oil supplement. This will help you stretch your budget a bit farther as well!
Lastly, I encourage you not to place yourself in a "diet camp." What I mean specifically is avoid anything that promises weight loss as its single goal. It can lead to an all or nothing mentality, in which you feel guilty if you are ever in a situation that makes it impossible to eat and still stay within the diet's strict guidelines. What I do encourage, instead, is focus on real, whole-food nutrition. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store. Opt for organic produce and meats when possible. If unavoidable, be very selective in the purchase of processed foods. If you're curious what to look for when purchasing processed foods, you can read more here.
Have you ever tried, or are you currently following a vegan diet? Have you noticed an improvement in your skin, hair, and nails? How are you currently eating, and how does it make you feel? Please comment!
For optimum health it is better to avoid processed foods. But it's difficult these days to do that.. Life seems to be busier than ever and it seems we have less time to dedicate in the kitchen than in years past. It's no wonder women resort to picking up boxed packaged items, and foods in the freezer section.
I'm all about balance nutrition shouldn't be viewed as all or nothing. When clients come to me for coaching I make it a point to meet them where they are. It's all about giving yourself grace. Do what you can with the knowledge, information, budget and time you have.
While I do cook mostly from scratch there are a few things I purchase prepackaged. However, there are KEY things I look for before buying a processed food; and there are certain factors I won't compromise on.
In order to manage acne it is best done from the inside out. Focus on nutrition to bring your skin to an improved state of health. Examine all facets of your diet.
If, for example, buying jarred marinara sauce works for you right now, great! That's what works in my house as well. Let me share with you some key things to look for in any packaged food you buy.
What is it about Sundays and feeling blue? I don't think I'm alone in this as I've seen other bloggers write about this very topic. Not to mention a good friend of mine and I call it depressing Sunday. In fact we call or text often on Sundays and say the words, "Happy Depressing Sunday!!" I must say this little joke between us has actually brightened my day more than once.
What does this have to do with our health? Plenty, so keep reading.
I don't know about you, but I'm the type of person who thrives on routine. I like the mundane, ordinary tasks of the week and while I may get tired of it sometimes, there's also a great deal of comfort in it. I'm a Christian and grew up in a Christian home so Sunday was always a day of worship and rest in our house. My parents even had a rule that any weekend homework had to be completed by Saturday night because come Sunday there would be no working on it. I much appreciated this rule because I was never frantically trying to get school work done before Monday morning rolled around.
While Sundays have always had a calmer feel to them, there's something that feels almost sad to this day. Whether or not you are a believer, and whether or not you attend a church, I don't think many would argue that Sunday does represent a somewhat slower pace that any other day of the week. It's a time to sit back, be with family and rest for the week ahead.
It's the sitting back and resting part that is a bit scary to me. Weekly schedules and routine keep my body busy and my mind busy. There's not much time for reflection and this also means there's not many pockets of quiet. While this does get tiresome, it also offers a certain level of protection. I can't stop and think and reflect because I need to move on to the next task. Sundays provide a large window of time where I really don't know what to do with myself and I'm forced to deal with the quiet.
Our state of mind is essential to our overall well being. Everything is connected: mind, body, and spirit. It's important these things are in tune with one another. Now I'm not saying don't ever feel sad or blue. Quite the contrary, when these feelings do arise don't ignore them but rather decipher where they are coming from and what's behind them. My mother passed away three years ago and, since then, Sundays have become an even greater challenge -- missing her most in the quiet moments. The reality of her absence cannot be denied during those times.
Here are a few things I've found that help me deal with the Sunday blues:
I've openly shared my life long struggle with acne. Battling cystic acne has been a part of my life since I was a teenager. What I haven't shared as openly is how utterly powerless I felt to stop it.
Here are a few of the things I have been told about my acne:
Do you pick at your acne? I recently saw an article that might help you break the habit.
Picking at your acne is one of the worst things you could do. Yet it is a common problem among acne sufferers. It can even feel slightly satisfying to squeeze pimples and it can certainly turn into a bad habit quickly.
Each time you squeeze and dig at blemishes on your face, you increase the chances that you'll suffer scarring. I know I have some scars on my face that wouldn't be there had I simply left my breakouts alone! You also are potentially making your acne worse. As you squeeze blemishes bacteria underneath the skin gets pushed around and can lead to further breakouts. What may begin as a pimple or two can easily lead to three or four if you mess with it, so you're better off leaving it alone.
If this is an area you struggle in, try these few tips to stop skin picking for good.
I recently read an article that struck a nerve with me. It was written by a fighter pilot and the topic was motivation and discipline. His viewpoint was that discipline trumps motivation every time. The fighter pilot said that when it's time to run head first into the enemy you don't feel motivated to do it. After all you're full of fear and would rather turn and run the other way. He said rather it's discipline that's so important at this moment. It's the discipline you've developed, your knowledge on the subject, the training and practice. You know what you have to do so you simply do it.
As I read this piece I felt immediately drawn to what he was saying and I realized that although he was referring to war time battle, the same principle applies to just about every area of our lives. In fact, for many areas of our lives if we only relied on how motivated we felt to do something, nothing would get done.
I see this all the time in my coaching business. Women come to me feeling motivated to make a change. They are tired of the way they look and feel. They know they need a change and at first the prospect of it all is really exciting. They feel motivated to do something different. But then reality begins to set in and the truth is changing the way you eat isn't always a straight, easy road. At this point discipline has to step in and take over. Otherwise you find yourself right back where you started.
When my adult acne was so severe and nothing I tried was working. I began to look at my issue for what it was. A sign of a deeper rooted problem that needed to be solved. This is when I began to change the way I was eating to bring restoration and healing to my body and therefore, ultimately heal my skin. Motivation didn't play much of a role during this process. Initially, I felt motivated by the prospect of clearer skin but that quickly faded. One thing to really understand about using food as medicine, is the results are not always immediate. Obviously, this can feel frustrating. More than that is what others around you see. Let me explain.
To my friends and family, the dietary changes I made, seemed extreme (although they really weren't). People wondered if I was nourishing my body properly. I began to feel a bit of a stigma because I wasn't eating what everyone else was. The biggest issue was that my skin didn't clear overnight and as it was healing it went through a few purging stages. You know the old adage, "Things get worse before they get better"? In my case I experienced this. Therefore to those around me it appeared that all my efforts were in vain.
During these times I didn't feel motivated to keep pushing forward and pursue my goal. In fact, at times I felt downright defeated. Was I completely crazy?! This entire process required discipline on my part. I knew what I needed to do or I would never know the real results. If I quit half way through I would never realize the truth. Worse, if I gave in to temptation or peer pressure to be normal and do what everyone else was doing, I'd have to start back at square one. I had to be disciplined everyday to follow the plan I laid out for myself.
Motivation is overrated. If you want to accomplish real changes in your life, you have to develop discipline. For many of us, this is a struggle to handle on our own. We need guidance and someone coaching us along the way. If you're ready to make a change in the way you eat and see real, lasting results I will help you develop the discipline needed to get there. Contact me for a complimentary introductory session!
What are your thoughts? Is motivation overrated? Is discipline more important? Leave a comment and let me know.
Here's the link to the article I referenced http://www.businessinsider.com/top-gun-pilot-dave-berke-discipline-2017-7
Are any of these excuses your excuses?
The Bed and Breakfast we stayed at last week was wonderful. Breakfast included pancakes, waffles, sausage, potatoes, and tons of fresh fruit. It was SO delicious and the best part? I lost three pounds!
From the time I was a teenager until most recent years, preparing for vacation meant a period of dieting. I would exercise harder and try to cut calories (I knew shockingly little about nutrition then) in order to get a flatter tummy for my trip. Once on vacation I would throw caution to the wind when it came to food and overindulge. Shortly into my trip I'd be bloated, tired and sluggish. Good times, right? Upon returning home I'd discover that I had gained a few pounds and had to work all over again to lose it. This was my pattern for years. Does it sound familiar?
When I changed my approach towards food several years ago it also changed the way I view dieting in general and how I eat when I am on vacation. This surprised me on my most recent trip because some of the foods I ate were less than stellar and I definitely indulged a little. While I didn't completely stuff myself, I certainly ate to my heart's content each morning. Lunch and dinner consisted of local fare from restaurants in the area. Some were incredible, others not so much and one in particular is definitely getting a negative mark on Trip Advisor. One thing I kept noticing was I didn't at all feel tired the entire time and my tummy was never bloated, which are two common areas of struggle, especially for women.
As I reflected on what I was doing differently and what I might be doing right I came up with a few tips to share with you. These go beyond the "pack healthy snack options" tips.
How To Eat on Vacation:
What if I told you that how you looked was 90% nutrition and 10% exercise?
Someone told me that once and at the time I really didn't want to believe it. After all, we were standing in my Mother's kitchen and at that exact moment there was a box of Girl Scout cookies waiting to be devoured (Hello, Thin Mints!). However, over the years I've come to learn the truth of that statement.
You can't exercise yourself out of poor nutrition. When we are young we have an easier time at maintaining a fit body while indulging in less than stellar food choices. As we age that becomes much harder to do. Also, it's important to remember that how you look is only the surface of it all nutrition affects our outside appearance but more importantly it affects our internal workings and organs. Our outside appearance isn't necessarily an accurate depiction of what's going on inside our bodies.
My freshman year of college I had the fortunate blessing of making friends with a few girls who were as fit conscious as me. They loved to workout and so did I. The three of us got up every morning at 5 am and went to the college gym together. We'd also go for afternoon runs. This amount of exercise was nothing new for me I'd been in the gym since I was in the 8th grade, lifting weights and running. However, what did change for me were my eating habits.
These two girls were more conscious of what they put in their bodies than I was. Since we were all together I quickly followed suit. The results? Well you know the old saying "the freshman 15"? Instead of gaining 15 pounds my freshman year of college, I lost 15 pounds. I was literally in the best shape I'd ever been in and looked much better than I did in high school. It wasn't exercise that changed for me, it was my diet.
Three years ago when my cystic acne came back with a full on vengeance I learned the truth of this statement once again. Nothing externally worked. My acne didn't begin to clear until I changed the way I ate.
How do you look and feel? Do you reward a great workout session with food indulgences? Are you exercising your heart out but not seeing the results you desire?
I encourage you to show up for yourself and feed your body well!
Not sure how to do that? Let me help you. You deserve to look and feel your best!