Five years ago when I was obese, I thought “healthy” meant less calories, a ton of cardio and basically I had to suffer to achieve this version of myself. You can see why I quit time and time again, can’t you?!
Three years ago when I started working with a trainer, I completely revamped my diet, made everything myself, ate a ton of fresh foods and completely quit ‘treats’. After 3 months I felt comfortable enough to eat something ‘off plan’ and I had a chocolate brownie, I survived and carried on.
At the time I thought that to lose weight/be healthy you had to eat real foods, reduce your sugar, snack on nuts, cut out alcohol, lift some weights and do some cardio.
You know what, everything I read or saw backed up my beliefs! Funny, right? Everywhere I looked there were ‘fitspo’ posts, promoting abs and how I was better than someone else because I wasn’t on the sofa, I was out running or throwing kettle-bells around! This is something Dr Jade Teta calls ‘confirmation bias’, we seek out proof that we are correct, that what we believe is the only answer. So of course everything backed me up, and confirmed how wonderful I felt, because that was the information I spent time seeking out!
So what about now, what do I perceive to be healthy?
My version of healthy is more about my stress levels and life balance versus what I am eating or doing in the gym. You see I know what to eat and I know how to exercise in the time I have available each week. I have to work on getting my mindset right.
We get very caught up with the ‘should’s’ what we should be eating, or how we should be exercising, or what we should look like.
You see the body size I used to view as ‘healthy’ is no longer my goal. I could care less what size I am, do I need to be a size 10? No! Do I need to weigh 130 something pounds? Nope! I need to lose weight because I am still overweight but I no longer strive for that elusive number on the scale. The scale is just another tool on my belt to keep me on track with my goals.
Dr Jade Teta, of Metabolic Effect puts this very well…
There is a lot of talk in health and nutrition circles about “real food” versus “processed food.” If you listen to the rhetoric we should all avoid any processed foods and only eat real foods. But there are several considerations here. Which is more “real food,” pesticide sprayed broccoli or an organic cookie? Is a pre made deli wrap turkey sandwich real food or not? Upwards of 70% of people eat their foods out at fast food establishments. Are they eating fake foods? Is a McDonald’s salad more real food than a gluten free coconut cream pie or less? As you can see this gets a bit confusing. The same people you hear screaming about real food often post elaborate gluten free organic dessert recipes? Is this healthier than a salad out at a restaurant? My contention is that you should not be a nutritional Luddite (Luddites destroyed typewriters back in the day because they thought the technology would ruin the world). Is it possible that some convenience and processed foods are just as healthy or even healthier than “real foods?” Science has an answer. One year long study looked at a low calorie whole foods diet versus the same low calorie diet incorporating convenience protein shakes and bars. At the end of the study there was no weight loss difference, but the whole foods group showed nutrient deficiencies, while the convenience group did not suffer from this? So was it smart to be a nutritional Luddite in this case and not take advantage of the “scary/evil food industry” who has largely perfected the taste, texture and nutritional quality of protein meal replacements? Science says no. What does your bias say? How about instead of the mantra “only eat real food” we change it to “eat the food that nourishes you” and keep an open mind as to what that may be. If it keeps hunger and cravings away, helps you lose or maintain a healthy weight, and delivers healthy blood labs, then you are eating correct for you even if the nutritional Luddites say different. Reference: Nutr J. 2007 Jun 25;6:12. For more on this, click the link in the profile or comments section.”