“It’s Not Just WHAT You Say…

…It’s how you say it.” I don’t know how many times my mom said this to me as I tried to navigate my mood swings and emotional outbursts as a child. I’d be pulled aside for a scolding for hurtful words and I’d respond hotly, “but it’s the TRUTH!” And it was-sometimes anyway. The point wasn’t in the truth of my statement, however, it was in the delivery. You can say “true” things in sarcasm, bitterness, anger, and spite. Or you can say those same true things gently, in love, with kindness and tact. <—Do I need to point out which one is the correct response?

Well, as I started this nutrition journey, I sorta reverted back to my six year old self. “but it’s HEALTHY!” as I ate three chicken breasts, an enormous salad drenched in dressing, and later had an apple slathered in peanut butter (the natural “just peanut butter and salt” peanut butter, thank you very much). Yes, bravo, I was technically eating “clean”, my snack choices were “healthy”, I even bought more things organic when I could find them. So how come the ten pounds of baby weight wasn’t budging? How come my energy levels still fluctuated wildly throughout the day? How come I’d go from comatose full to starving in 30 minutes? I was exercising! And gosh darn it, I was eating HEALTHY.

Well. It’s not just WHAT you eat, it’s HOW you eat it. Namely, how much, and how frequently, and how consistently. I’ve got two days left of Hammer and Chisel, we are coming down the home stretch, and the biggest accomplishment for me is that I stuck to the meal plan. First time ever I have taken a hard look at my diet from a nutritional standpoint. You wanna know what it looked like? Carbs. Mostly carbs. And some fruit (which is full of simple sugars-also carbs). LOTS of “healthy fats” (aka cheese and nuts). And maybe two servings of protein a day-usually slathered in oil, ha. I’d eat carb heavy in the morning and be ravenous by lunch where I’d eat a huge meal while the boys napped, then nothing til dinner, and then usually a second dinner after the boys went down. Do you want to know what it looks like now? FOUR servings of protein (I had to DOUBLE my protein intake), three servings of vegetables, two servings of fruit, two servings of carbs, one serving of healthy fat, one serving of seeds/dressing, and two tiny teaspoons of oil/peanut butter. A serving of vegetables is almost double “size wise” a serving of protein. A serving of healthy fats is small, a serving of salad dressing is tiny. I eat around every two hours. I have followed this plant consistently for 8 weeks.

The result? I am eating the same or MORE calories than when I was existing off of mainly carbs and I have lost 8lbs, gained substantial definition and muscle, my energy levels have normalized, I’m sleeping like a rock at night (when the boys let me sleep), and I just overall physically feel fantastic. I’ve discovered that if I eat veggies and protein for breakfast I don’t hit a mid morning crash/snack attack, the best time for me to eat carbs is lunch and bedtime snack, a serving of dressing is actually plenty of dressing for a serving of vegetables-I’ve even stretched it to two servings of vegetables. I actually like kale.

Eating clean definitely helps with being healthy, but at some point you’ll probably have to sit down and examine your diet for not just WHAT you eat-but how you eat it. We sling around “eat a balanced diet” a lot, but truly being balanced doesn’t mean throwing in the occasionally vegetable and patting ourselves on the head. It means daily eating a variety of foods appropriately portioned and evenly spaced. You’re going to have to put some serious effort in at first, but it gets easier. I don’t even have to make meal cards any more, I just keep track on my white board.

When Hammer and Chisel ends on Sunday I’ll probably celebrate a little on Monday (= have as much peanut butter as I want) but I won’t go crazy off my routine because I love how eating to fuel my body (as opposed to just indulging my senses) feels and what it does for me. Following a meal plan, finally balancing my diet-this was a game changer for me. I don’t want to go back. In a few weeks I might even try upping my plan to see if I can’t gain some muscle. 😉 The power of good food!

Sunday Dinner

I had hotdogs for my “protein” dinner allotment. I had hotdogs and cheesy orzo (a pasta) for my carb and healthy fat containers as well. Dinner tonight took me back to when I was five and liked my hotdogs “naked” and I lived off of macaroni and cheese. I was SUPPOSED to have made a chicken, asparagus, sweet potato dish that I love-but it was not to be.

An hour before dinner I was holding my 1 year old on the glider in the living room while he squirmed and hollered and tears rolled down his cheeks. I had banished my husband and eldest son outside while there was still light, and I sat in that chair and sang, “How Great Thou Art” over the wailing. Sometimes I was able to massage his belly. He farted quite a bit. And I finally gave up on the idea that I’d be able to get the sweet potatoes in the oven in time for dinner. But I remembered we had hotdogs.

An hour before that I had to wake up my still sleeping sick boy (after thoroughly checking his crib for vomit) because if I let him sleep any later he wouldn’t go down for bedtime-I was already pushing that line. He was sprawled out with his butt in the air, face plastered into his stuffed brontosaurus, one leg sticking out beneath the blanket burrito rolled around his midsection.

Rewind to last night, putting the boys down, Zane having thrown up a total of 6 times since the afternoon. He was exhausted and limp and I was paranoid (as all mothers are paranoid) and slept with one eye open.

You guys, I still have one purple container to eat (grapes-which I’ll eat before bed) and a red and a green (protein and veggie) and it just isn’t going to happen. Tonight I’m not going to make my nutrition plan. It has been a stinky 24+ hours with poop explosions, projectile vomit, and a very fussy little guy. I got my workout in. I didn’t have any “extra” containers. But I’m not going to make that perfect meal plan tonight. You know what? That is perfectly fine.

Life happens. And I could spend time beating myself up about not magically producing dinner even though I was battling a sick munchkin, or I could’ve tried harder to make dinner despite the sick munchkin-and most likely made us all even more upset. But that is foolishness. There is no point to this fitness crap if it takes away from my life. Yes, it hurts to workout. Yes, some days I reeeeeeallly want that extra slice of cheese. Yes, living a healthy lifestyle requires some sacrifice and a lot of struggle-but it isn’t healthy if it is making me and my family miserable. My family is my motivation to be healthy, but that health goes deeper than food and exercise. There is a balance, and tonight that balance was struck on the other side of my meal plan-and that is where it should be.

But conversely, how many suffer from physical ailments that sap you from living your life? Being healthy is more than “weight loss”, it’s also about figuring out and eating the foods that work best for your body. It’s about building strength in your muscles, boosting your metabolism, righting hormone imbalances, maintaining bone density. It’s about setting a strong foundation for your immune system. I am not suggesting that diet and exercise can cure all the physical ills in the world but it is almost guaranteed to help at least a tiny bit-and usually so much more. We look to pills to solve a lot of our illnesses-and boy am I not adverse to modern medicine, I find it fascinating and incredible the advancements made in this field!-but the thing is, a lot of those pills are tasked to solve problems that a balanced diet and exercise WOULD help solve (like high blood pressure, type II diabetes, high cholesterol, osteoporosis). In fact, most doctors recommend diet and exercise to their patients-most patients just ignore them. Again, I am not saying you just need to walk enough miles and you can cure cancer, I am saying, however, that you are partially responsible for your health. You cannot change the genes you have been given, but it is silly to just stop holding up your end of the bargain and expect a miracle pill to do all the work. If you are not taking care of your body, do not be surprised when it starts to fail you. And if you are plagued with fatigue and headaches and chronically sick-your body is not in a healthy place.

You need to find your balance for you. If you are just fine with where you are health wise then great! Keep it up! But if you aren’t-you might need to consider your health a priority, because if you don’t invest in it now statistically speaking it will fail you sooner rather than later. Do you want to be able to push yourself up the corporate ladder to the very top? Do you want to be active with your kids as they grow? Do you want to be able to play with your grand kids? Do you want to travel the world? Build your own business? Start your own charity/campaign/service? Whatever your dreams are, you need to be ALIVE to do them, and to do them well you need to be in a place of physical strength.

I know this all sounds so cliche-but it is true regardless. So I challenge you to take a hard look at where you are health wise, and if you just want to talk to someone about your options (Beachbody related or not) and where to start feel free to send me an email or connect with me on Facebook.