Friday, February 26, 2016

I love food & other musings.

"I just love food."

It came out a little more loudly and passionately than I was expecting.

To be honest, I thought I said it to myself until I heard, "What did you say?"

I have been active my entire life. I have tried many different activities, exercise programs, and did the hard core training (which is where I am now). Yoga? Crossfit? Boot Camps? Hiking? Running? Swimming? Inline skating? Cycling? Strength training? Walking? Skiing? Water sports? I'm sure the list goes on. Those are just what immediately popped into my head. 

As many different activities that I've done, I've done as many dieting programs as there are. Of course, nutritional requirements have evolved over many many years. There are those of us who will remember when the brilliance of diet food industry emerged in the early 70's. The "diet" industry convinced us that we were all fat. Who in the audience drank Tab? (I don't know if Tab was available outside of the US. If it wasn't, imagine the taste of poison in a can.) The diet industry made us believe that we all needed diet foods. However, prior to the invention of diet foods, the obesity rate was considerably lower than it is now. 

For those of you who are my age, none of this is new. I remember in high school we had one girl who was substantially overweight. ONE student in the entire school. She was an outcast of sorts because of it. Sad. I know. (Side note. About a year ago, I was wondering what happened to her. I remembered her name because believe it or not, we had the same name with the same spelling, which at the time was unusual. I found her on FB. I didn't send her a friend request, but I looked at her pictures. She had lost a ton of weight. She looked like a healthy weight person).

Fad diets: low fat, counting calories, artificial sweeteners, prepackaged dehydrated foods, low carb, counting points, manufactured foods. 

From every avenue, I was being told that I wasn't the right weight. I was a child of the 70's. This is how I grew up.

I never had eating disorders or disordered eating. I never had any body image issues. What I did have was the nagging feeling of not fitting in because of my weight. I'm tall. I would read magazines. I would hear my friends talking about being "fat" at 125lbs. I didn't care that I was 5 or 6 inches taller than my friends. I felt like an outcast even among them because of a number on the scale.

Most of you don't know this. I was a vegetarian my entire life. I've never once eaten (that I am aware of--anything could have happened when I was a child) a McDonald's hamburger or any other fast food burger. There was a period of time (about 4 years) that I was vegan. 

To this day, I only eat poultry. No red meat. No pork. No seafood. I grew up in a meat and potatoes family. I was forced to sit at the table until all my food was gone. So. I sat and sat and sat. Not eating the food on my plate. I survived on corn and mashed potatoes. 

It's quite surprising that I didn't have food issues as an adult. Nowadays, I'm branching out. I'll eat pepperoni on a pizza. Last week, I tried bacon for the first time ever. (The jury is still out on that one). When the campaign of "Pork. The other white meat" came out, I gave it a try. Nope. Nope. Nope.

I was never a Mightier than thou vegetarian. I so badly wanted to eat meat. I just couldn't do it. It's like it was hardwired into me. It would have made my life so much easier. In the 80's and 70's being a CHILD vegetarian in a meat eating world meant going out to eat and having a side salad. Restaurants were not set up for freaks.

With all this noise going on around me, I had one thing going for me. I loved fruit. I loved fresh veggies. Why? I have no idea. We ate everything from a can when I was young. 

And....I had a belief, that I still believe today, I believed that 95% of illnesses could be fix with nutrition. (I think it would do the world of good to remove the word diet from your vocabulary and call it what it is: nutrition.)

For many many years, I tried many different programs. I gained 50lbs with my first pregnancy and 60 with my second. (Googs & JMan were born in 94 and 95. It takes 2 years for your body to recover from a pregnancy. I got it all done at once).  Those were the two significant times where I really did need to lose weight. The rest of the time, I've always been within a so called "healthy weight range". Sometimes I was bigger. Sometimes I was smaller. Always within about 10lbs of each other.

Still, I never felt healthy. As I got older, sleep became harder and harder to come by. I was medicating migraines. I wasn't sleeping. I was moody. I was hungry and felt deprived all the time.

I was married, raising two kids, going to school, travelling for work. Yet, I still managed to run. Anyone who says they don't have time......well.....BTDT. At the time, running was MY time. Most of the time, I ran between 3-5 miles. Not fast. But consistently. No training plan. I just ran for the sake of running. When the boys were babies, I put them in a running stroller when I had to. We ran to the park, played and ran home. As they got older, I got more and more creative. 

Still, I didn't know how to eat. When I became a triathlete, my problems got even bigger. That's when I started slowly eating chicken and turkey. I simply couldn't get my protein needs for my level of activity. (I also didn't know how to be a vegetarian. Yes, I'd been one my entire life, but no one gave me an instruction manual for this stuff).

At that time (and still today), the BIG thing was HIGH CARB diets for endurance athletes. My Coach (at the time--not my current coach) told me to bump up my carbs to 300g a day. I did it.

NOTE TO ALL ATHLETES: DO NOT TAKE NUTRITIONAL ADVICE FROM COACHES. Go to a nutritionist. Go to an RD. These are the people who are trained in nutrition.

300g per day gave me a 12lb weight gain in a week. Now in my late 40's, 12lbs was virtually impossible to shake off.

When I started working on my nutrition back in Aug of last year, I used to have a lot of different cravings. Can you doubt it? I had been pumping my body with processed carbs for a couple of years now. My thing was always really good baked goods and pastries. Over the weeks and months of following the MET plan (metabolically efficient), those cravings went away. I still have hormonal cravings that last one day a month. Guess what? When I have it, I give in to it.

The MET plan is not a fad diet. It is not low carb (MANY people think it is). My perception of what it is: Periodizing your nutrition to match your training output. (Although, you don't have to be an athlete to follow this plan). Minimizing processed food. Everything I eat now is fresh prepared. Yes. I takes work, but I'm worth it. I still go out to eat, but the food we make at home is SO's hard to go out to eat (

(I have found short cuts to help me, too. If you are interested in those, I can write about it another time. This post is getting long enough).

The reason I wanted to share my story is because I owe you all an apology. I speak and write from my own experiences.

I have written about my program (not the details) and stated that it is simple. Truth be told. The program is simple, but that doesn't make easy. I didn't have any outside issues, so this program was much much easier for me to start and maintain.

I have had someone very close to me, call me out on this. I didn't realize before how hard it can be for others. I'm really sorry about that.

We are all unique humans. We don't come with an instruction manual and troubleshooting guide. I have close friends dealing with eating disorders. I have friends who have a turbulent relationship with food. I have friends with significant body image issues. I have friends who are on major medications to deal with health issues that can NOT be handled by nutrition.

All of these issues affect your ability to be successful in a program. You will have to work harder and will need guidance. Be patient. The pay off will be worth it.

I use MyFitnessPal to track my food. I don't count calories. I don't count anything. I use it as a way to keep me focused and to help me identify hunger cues, cravings, etc. My food diary is available to my friends on MFP. I'm not embarrassed to show what and how much I eat on a daily basis.

What I really need to express is DON'T DO WHAT I DO. I came to this program with a completely different laundry list of health/nutritional problems. I follow a nutrition plan that works for me. Someone just starting out, cannot jump into where I am. It's taken me over 7 months to get where I am. Your activity level is more than likely higher than mine (which requires a higher level of carbohydrates). You might be just starting, which requires a slow introduction; otherwise, you'll crash and burn. This nutrition is about making your body become as efficient as possible at burning fat for fuel. It is a complex change that your body goes through that can and will have many ups and downs.

I've also looked around and not all MET certified *nutritionists* are created equal. Some are athletes who are certified in metabolic efficiency, with no other education in nutrition. Dina is an RD. She, also, has one of the highest certifications for metabolic efficiency. I highly recommend that you do your research. A trained dietician will work with medications, emotional issues, etc.

If you've made it this far, you deserved a big fat hug.

I have finally found a healthy way of living that supports my lifestyle. I believe in it so strongly that I am working with Dina through my surgery and recovery. With my surgeon's blessing, Dina and I will be focusing on foods that promote recovery and fight off infections.

I intend to be back in the saddle as soon as possible.