Diet Going Well Then?

For the past week I have had a terrible bout of either food poisoning or gastroenteritis, and I’ve found myself eating (or mostly not eating) for survival rather than for any other reason. And I won’t lie, it really got me thinking…. (VERY dangerous I know).

Just over a year ago I was introduced to intuitive eating (or what I like to call… ‘eating’) and quite frankly it was life changing. Not because I’ve become a fabulous intuitive eater in that time but because it truly highlighted the flaws of the diet industry. And try as I may, I can’t help but look at all the diets available without a great deal of scepticism. But yet, up until now I’ve still kept going back.

And then I discovered this…

So in answer to your question? The diet’s going GREAT thanks (insert sarcastic emoji).

As I lay on the sofa clutching my stomach and trying to force feed myself starchy carbs, I had the epiphany that for the past year I have been eating what I think I ought eat, rather than what I have wanted to eat.

Which is why I’ve found myself eating 2 icecream sandwiches and a chocolate bar after dinner every single night for the past couple of weeks. Counterintuitive I know.

Scientifically speaking, diets DO work because they *should* put you in to some sort of calorie deficit which will result in some form of weight loss – however this weight loss could include water loss, muscle loss or fat loss.

But where it really goes wrong is our adherence to sticking to ‘the plan’. Personally speaking I think the maximum I’ve managed to ‘stick’ to a diet in the past 3 years is 4 days.

Despite educating myself on everything possible about nutrition, the subliminal messages coming through the internet has one again left me doubting what I know and I sit here having achieved absolutely nothing.

One day 1200 calories is too many, the next day it’s not enough. Another day you should maximise protein and the next you should maximise ‘healthy fats’. The following week you should cut carbs and the next you should up your carbs to 50% of your macros. Don’t forget to count your macros, but then that’s going to cause disordered eating so convert your calories/macros to points instead. You should really eat whole foods but they have too many calories so switch to chemical based 0 calorie foods. These won’t have points but then you shouldn’t count points anyway so just eat between 12-2 everyday and you’ll be grand. Oh but wait, that’s an eating disorder. But so is not eating at all. So eat what you want because obesity can be healthy too. But then obesity isn’t healthy so you should move more. Oh but you don’t need to move when you can lift weights even though weight lifting burns less calories. Oh but the extra muscle will burn more calories so it’s fine. But what about cardiovascular health? Oh that doesn’t matter.

And this is why I don’t belong in the health and fitness industry. When you truly delve into what it’s all about, it’s fundamentally the opposite to what it’s promoting. It’s more ‘unhealthy and unfit’.

Abs do not equal health.

The amount of weight you can lift/squat does not equal health.

Clean eating does not equal health.

Do we even know what we are trying to define when we refer to ‘health’. It doesn’t appear that way anymore.

In reality I will never be eternally ‘healthy’. Not only because I live with a chronic health condition but because we all have to die from something right? None of us will be ‘healthy’ forever.

The healthiest person I know is my husband who ate Yum Yums and icecream yesterday and weighs 153lb. He’s not needed to go to a doctor or a dentist in the 6.5 years we’ve been together.

We can of course make improvements to our lifestyles and optimise our health, but the fundamental problem is that a truly balanced lifestyle isn’t entertaining to watch and learn about. We are prioritising extremism (and subsequently entertainment) over our true health and well-being.

The Importance of Maintaining a Routine

I would predict that 99% of us have seen some shift in our routine recently… even if it’s because the ‘I’ll just pop to the shops’ now takes 2-3 hours.

It is likely that even the most ‘go with the flow’ people within our society have struggled. And I’d expect them to because a pandemic isn’t normal.

However for most people there has been a HUGE shift in routine… children are now at home, people are attempting to work from home whilst trying to educate their kids. People have either switched to home working or have been furloughed and even for those who it’s a case of ‘business as usual’, work is probably busier or quieter than normal. We have to wave goodbye to our key workers and hope that they’ll be okay.

Lack of food in the shops may result in a change from what we’d normally eat. If you were someone who ate out for most meals, you’ll find yourself either living off takeaway pizza or trying to facilitate a relationship with your kitchen.

Socially things are a mess. We can only see the people with whom we live with and it’s putting marriages through their paces. We have to explain to our children why they can’t see their friends.

None of this is normal and everyone’s resilience is being tested.

But by maintaining some kind of routine will help us maintain some kind of normality. If your mental health has been affected, it’s likely ‘what’s the point?’ thoughts may start to slip in. The odd day of ‘what’s the point?’ is fine. On Easter Sunday my husband was working so I stayed in my PJs and binge watched all 7 episodes of Tiger King on Netflix.

However ‘what’s the point?’ could begin to slip in on the daily and before you know it, you’ve no food in the house, all your clothes are needing to be washed, the dishes need doing and everything feels VERY overwhelming.

So here’s my top 10 tips on maintaining a routine:

1) Go to bed and wake up at a reasonable hour – even if you wake up and have nowhere to go. Keeping your sleep routine in good shape is essential for maintaining good physical and mental health.

2) Get washed – some of you may be judgemental on this one as it’s assumed it’s a normal habitual task. However, it’s very easy to slip in to ‘my hair can go another day without being washed’ or ‘my teeth don’t feel that bad’. Trust me, you’ll feel loads better if you make sure you keep your personal hygiene intact.

3) Eat regularly – even though I’m still working and I’m now exercising more than ever, my appetite is all over the place. My body is telling me it’s anxious even though I don’t mentally feel anxious and I assume it’s because I’m generally unsettled ALL THE TIME. Some days I’m eating more and others I’m eating less, but I’m trying to make sure that each meal has a source of protein, carbs and fats and trying to maintain some kind of appropriate relationship with the biscuit tin. Obviously don’t force yourself to eat, but try to stick to as normal an eating plan as possible that you know works for you.

4) Try to learn a new skill – there is a lot of promotion on learning a new skill but it may be you don’t have a burning desire to do anything which is totally okay. I went through a period of unemployment two years ago and I had no idea what to do with my time. I ended up starting to explore blogging and vlogging/watching YouTube and it’s something I’ve kept in my life ever since. It’s okay to sit in front of a blank piece of paper and get creative in even the slightest of things that pique your interest.

5) Talking – just because we can’t see our loved ones like we used to doesn’t mean we can’t speak to them. There are loads of ways to contact and it doesn’t have to be on Zoom. Telephone calls, Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, text messages… if you speak to someone anyway, it doesn’t have to change just because we’re in lockdown. I’m all for Zoom, but I feel like there is a bit of a stigma developing if you don’t use it…

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

6) Exercise – now don’t worry, I’m not about to get all #fitspo on you. But the sun has been shining in the UK and I would encourage you to go for a walk/run/cycle or HIIT (indoor/outdoor) some/most days of the week. Don’t feel like you have to go out every day, but I think we’re all needing some Vitamin D (well that’s a fact) and some endorphins from exercising. For many of us, we are no longer going about our ‘usual movements’ e.g walking from the car to our office building, walking to the shops for our lunch and these movements add up. I know if I don’t do anything else in a day, I’m currently looking at doing 400-500 steps a DAY.

On the flip side to that, don’t spend ALL your time exercising. It’s essential your body has time to relax, especially if you’re stressed. Even though you may experience a rush of endorphins from exercise, doesn’t mean that using muscles are still experiencing a stress from physical use/overuse.

7) Reduce screen time – as we all know by now, screen time (and blue light) can affect sleep quality. But, it’s also important we do other things in addition to watching YouTube, Netflix or working. Even if it’s just staring out your window, doing some mindfulness or chatting to your partner, give your eyes a rest.

8) Do one domestic activity a day – I know. You thought you’d escaped someone telling you to clean your room. I’m sorry. But even if it’s cleaning the dishes, vacuuming, doing one load of laundry… try to keep on top of your domestic duties otherwise they can quickly build up. It’s also more calming to live in a aesthetically calm environment (or at least in the environment you’re used to).

9) Take your medication – this applies for everyone who takes regular medication obviously. Now is not the time to be experimental in whether you actually ‘need’ to take your medication or not. Taking medication is actually quite routine based for us and adds an additional sense of normality. Disclaimer: Ensure you always speak to your doctor about any medications you are taking.

10) Be kind to yourself – A phrase that is often said but what does that look like? The concept of self-care is often misused on social media. It’s not all facemasks and bubble baths. Maintaining a routine can be considered self-care. It’s okay to feel like this is a complete mess. It’s okay to feel whatever emotions you are feeling. If it feels like it is becoming too much, you can contact your GP, or charities such as Mind, the Samaritans or even a friend or family member. Let’s be kind to each other and to ourselves and remember we are all in this together.

Merry Christmas Me!

A year ago tomorrow I said to myself that I would be at my goal weight for next Christmas and I’ll tell ya… I ‘failed’ miserably.

However, I have lost 7lbs which is a step in the right direction but to the detriment of a positive relationship with food.

I was going through old photos the other day and I found a before and after of me doing 30 days on The Body Coach. At the time, I thought there was a HUGE difference in my physique but looking at these photos showed barely any difference. However, I paraded the shores of Aruba on my honeymoon like I owned the gaff.

The difference? I’d taken a healthy approach and I was doing everything in my power to feel good about myself. I was working out, eating good foods (with the odd treat) and being kind to myself.

Aesthetic goals just don’t do it for me anymore. Sure it would be nice to look a certain way but as a motivator it’s about 1/10 to even get me started.

However FEELING good about myself appears to be a different ball game. At the moment my muscles hurt from being so weak. My poor posture gets me down and hurts my back even more. My glutes are a mess. My belly is bloated and my jeans dig in. And I’m spotty (which isn’t usual for me).

Don’t worry this article isn’t all doom and gloom. As a Christmas present to myself I have signed up for group coaching. As I’ve said before I know everything I could possibly know about weight loss – it’s just me standing in my way.

I plan to continue to stick with my behavioural changes but I’m hoping group coaching will just give me that extra bit of support that I’m clearly lacking. I’m fed up of the pressure of diets,.. I want a lifestyle that facilitates me feeling good about myself.

So I’m that note… Merry Christmas Me!

I hope you all have a fabulous festive period however you celebrate!

I Should Be Grateful to Have A Relationship with Food

One of my greatest bug bears of this year has been the response (good and bad) to diet culture.

I may not be ending 2019 where I intended to be (a different country to start with!) but I have been on a significant journey of self discovery.

I always intended to have a steady relationship with food and a balanced approach to nutrition, but not for one second did I think I’d end up in a such a funky mindset with food.

It is my fault to a certain extent by being persuaded by some uneducated plonkers on the internet, but I also blame the lack of gratitude the western world has for food.

It is so easy to forget that in some parts of the world they do not have access to food and clean water. Meanwhile we are too busy worrying about having too small a bum and not a flat enough stomach and taking this out on our relationship with the contents of our shopping trolley.

Now I’m not talking about people with eating disorders… that’s a whole different kettle of fish. But I’m talking about the influencers telling us to ditch one type of food and instead spend our money on something else that is fashionable at that very moment in time. Especially when it is driven by their financial gain. Cue #cyonidegate

Yesterday I complied fully with my no snacking/sit at the table rules and for something so simple it was so empowering. I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted but it must fall within breakfast, lunch and dinner. If I was too full I could have whatever I’d wanted at the next meal.

It felt like such a grounded day with food. I did not overeat, I felt in control and I felt grateful that I had a fridge full of food to choose from.

I appreciate its only one day but the experience was so much more rewarding that seeing a number drop on the scales. My mind has become so consumed with the thought of foods (and my bank balance has become so empty signing up to every dieting plan there is) that it was nice to have a break.

Today I took the plunge and didn’t weigh out my breakfast. Scary stuff!

I appreciate it might sound a bit whacky to be ‘grateful’, but being introduced to daily gratitude was a life changing thing for me. At the time I was unemployed, looking at returning to live with my parents and it was putting a huge strain on my relationships. Being able to focus on the good in my life at the point stopped me from going under and 12 months later we are back on track.

I won’t let diet culture and social media influence me anymore. I am not against weight loss – I’m on a mission to shave a few inches off myself. But nor will I succumb to the games of diet culture and/or anti diet culture.

So there we have it! I’ll get off my soap box now!