Here’s some sassy advice to start the week. Today’s post is for those who need help with nutrition, specifically those os us aiming to reach the balance between eating healthy regularly and enjoying treats.
I guess I have officially unleashed my sassy alter ego on here. A few weeks ago, I shared this sassy blog post and received so much amazing feedback. Thank you for the love and for YOUR authenticity! There isn’t always enough realness among women in the greater health and fitness community, so allow me to be the voice for that.
First things first, I am speaking from the opinion of someone who has an educational background in science: BS in biology as well as a whole lot of personal and professional research on all things health and fitness. So, I’m about scientific facts, specifically physiology… how the body works and how the body works in relation to what we eat.
I’m also just your average gal who wants to lead a healthy lifestyle but also wants to enjoy life and food. On the scale of kale salads every day to eating pizza on the daily, I fall somewhere right in the middle.
This isn’t at all a knock on those who fall on either end of this spectrum… I just want you to know where I stand before sharing my opinion. And, this is obviously by no means a legitimate healthy eating spectrum, I’m just allowing my sassy alter ego do the talking hehe.
I have a unique approach to healthy living because I’m half science nerd and half your average chick looking to get fit and lean. Basically, I know what science shows to “work” but I also like to live.
In a lot of the research I’ve done, I come back to the French perspective on healthy living as that culture seems to have quite a healthy mindset when it comes to food. In one of the books I recently read, the French author poked fun at Americans saying they have a tendency to take everything to the extreme, especially healthy living.
Just take yourself back to high school athletics or think about it through what goes on nowadays… we want kids to excel at sports, so when the make the varsity team and are already doing two-a-day practices, they are encouraged to take private lessons on the side. I knew many individuals who lived this type of athletic lifestyle. I’m not at all saying there’s not anything wrong about it, I just consider it more on the “extreme” end of the spectrum as I’m sure many of you would too.
Then, we can fly to the totally opposite end of the spectrum where team dinners are complete feasts. I can recall 20 pizza boxes stacked high on a countertop with 15 high school girls in attendance. Yet, somehow, we managed to finish them all. Again, I’m not here to say this is “bad” but it’s just certainly an example of how we can take things to the extreme.
Do you see this in your own health and fitness journey?
If so, read on because I want to dish on all that helped me find that happy medium… the place right smack dab in the middle of my silly healthy eating spectrum. It’s a place where I eat that damn pizza and enjoy it. It’s also a place where I enjoy whipping up healthy meals in my kitchen. A place I see great physical results. And most importantly, a place where I feel my best.
We’ve got this! Read on!
JUST EAT THE DAMN PIZZA. BUT, IN MODERATION.
“JUST EAT THE DAMN PIZZA…”
As I mentioned, I’m all about scientific facts. One thing that drives me a bit bonkers these days is that you can find a new age study that proves X while another new age study proves Z on the same topic. This diet is great. No, this diet is better. Nope, no diet is supreme. No wonder why everyone is left confused.
Here’s my overall approach… whatever place you want to be in (like in the middle of eats a kale salad every day and enjoys pizza daily lol)… don’t go looking for it, CREATE IT!
Just eat that damn pizza. A long long time ago, I gave up the idea of cheat meals and cheat foods. Sure, there are foods I label as treats aka items that don’t serve a health benefit, but it’s just silly to act as though eating those foods are “cheating” on your healthy lifestyle. Ditch that mentality fast.
When we label foods as “bad” or tell ourselves we cannot eat them, we start to develop feelings of deprivation. You’ve heard me talk all about this in the Eat Your Way Lean Meal Plan. When we feel deprived, we binge. And when we binge, we start a very vicious, negative cycle.
It’s all a mind > matter game. Many of us are stuck here. We don’t have any problem just eating that damn pizza. We have a problem eating a piece or two of pizza instead of the whole f-ing thing.
Recently, there’s been so much about how to help you get “unstuck” from this place. New diets. New food trends. Just a whole lot.
One big thing I’ve learned in science is: the simplest solution is usually the right solution. Instead of taking on a whole new way to eat or being told this cycle is a result of some long, crazy, complex emotional thing, let’s look a practical ways we can move to the middle of kale salad and pizza.
Side note – I do believe emotions play a role in our food behaviors. I just have to roll my eyes when healthy eating is made out to be the cause of negative emotions; in the majority of cases, the emotional part is the cause and eating behaviors are the effect. I have a shitty day so I sit on the couch with chips; I don’t eat chips then all of the sudden have a shitty day (but if it feels that way to you, let’s dig deeper). Do you know what I mean??
Let’s talk simple, real-deal steps so we can just eat that damn pizza, enjoy, and also maintain our healthy lifestyle.
“…BUT IN MODERATION”
So, yes, just eat that damn pizza but in moderation. Okay, I know… moderation is one of those words we’ve heard ten thousand times by now. It’s overused and doesn’t carry much meaning anymore. Here are 3 practical things you can do to find your happy place… that happy medium.
1. ACKNOWLEDGE + KNOW WHAT’S HEALTHY
Sassy moment… sorry! There are foods with health benefits and there are foods that don’t have health benefits. Sometimes I see these fads trying to convince us otherwise – that’s where you lose credibility in my book. Pizza Hut pizza (sorry Pizza Hut, I love you but I’ve got to keep it real) is NOT healthy for us. It just isn’t. You can scientifically trace the harmful effects through our bodies.
I spell this out further in the meal plan if you want to reread the science section. I’m cool with Pizza Hut on occasion but I’m well aware that it’s not healthy for me, certainly not on a regular basis. Bottom line… let’s just be real about what’s beneficial for our bodies and what’s not. It’s okay to eat some foods with no nutritional benefit, but the majority of the time, let’s make nutrient-dense foods the goal.
2. ADDITION OVER SUBTRACTION
And how do we make that a goal in an enjoyable way?! I’m stealing this lesson directly from the meal plan… focus on addition over subtraction. When you tell a child not to do something, what will they do? Exactly that thing. When you tell a grown woman not to eat pizza, what’s the result? She will want the pizza even more.
Instead, let’s simply focus on what items we can add to our usual line up. When we focus on adding in healthy foods items (as opposed to taking items out), it won’t be long until there’s no room left for anything else. The majority of your meals will be beneficial and delicious. You’ll be eating well, enjoying and only wanting treats on occasion.
3. ENJOY DON’T ENGORGE
We can form healthy habits or we can form unhealthy habits. Habit formation is habit formation. However, it’s entirely up to us as to which types of habits we form. So, let’s choose healthy ones. When you go to enjoy a treat, enjoy it in moderation. I promise you pizza isn’t going anywhere. You’ll be able to find it again. Eat that damn pizza, but just a few slices. There’s no need to engorge.
This is a habit. The more you can practice the habit, the easier it will stick. Like with anything else, when we first make something a habit it feels hard and requires effort. However, very quickly, that habit just becomes part of who we are. You’ll be able to just eat that damn pizza but in moderation!
Transitioning from my sassy alter ego to my usual self… I am sharing this sassy post so you see this whole healthy eating stuff doesn’t have to be taken too seriously and it’s not difficult. It can be. But, it doesn’t have to be. If you want to find your middle… the place on that silly spectrum where you feel best, create it!
I’m always here to help. I highly recommend my Eat Your Way Lean Meal Plan as the guidelines are just simple tweaks to how you’re probably already eating; but, they’re effective! They work at helping sculpt a fit and lean body. But, it’s also so easy to follow and maintainable. Heck, I’ll show you how to eat a little chocolate every day. Or, you can simply use it for new meal ideas.
Just know… it doesn’t have to be a struggle. I’m always here for you to make sure of that!
Photography by Jennifer Mathews Photography