Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Diet & Exercise vs. Nutrition & Active Lifestyle

I was talking with someone I've only known a short time recently about nutrition and an active lifestyle as an alternative to the dreaded "diet" and "exercise." And she said to me, "You don't understand. You're so skinny." First, it is my intention to be healthy, not skinny. And this picture is for you my friend. (Though it is not my heaviest, because at one point in my life I avoided pictures and destroyed ones that were taken.) I wasn't always "skinny." It takes a very conscious effort for me to look the way I do now.

Why? Because I LOVE food! It's the start of a new year, so everyone is on the latest diet or health food craze. But most of them just don't work in the long run. Especially if you love food the way I do. You do these fad diets and you lose weight. Great! But then you slowly go back to what you ate before and you gain it all back, and a lot of times you gain more. I eat healthy foods, yes. But if I try something "healthy" that doesn't taste good, I can absolutely guarantee you I won't be eating it again. You do have to remember to have an open mind though. Whole, nutritious foods don't taste like high sugar, high fat, processed foods. But just because they taste different, doesn't always mean they taste bad. There are so many nutritious foods that are packed full of flavor and are delicious! You just have to give it a chance and not dismiss it immediately because it is different.

Does this mean that I don't eat high sugar, high fat, processed foods sometimes? No way! I don't deprive myself of the things I love. If I want a cookie, I eat a cookie. Not 12 cookies, mind you, just a cookie. It is all about moderation. If you deprive yourself of the things you love all the time, you'll eventually go back to them in an unhealthy way. And the more you explore more nutritious foods, the more you can test making the  meals and dishes you love in slightly healthier ways. And you know what? The more you phase those unhealthy foods out of your life, the less you crave them.

And the gym? Yeah, right. I haven't set foot in a gym since college. And even then I only went on occasion. I take the stairs instead of the elevator. I park my car at the far end of the parking lot. I pull Audrey around on a sled outside. I go to a yoga class because I enjoy it and it allows me to be active in a way where I can focus on myself mind, body and spirit. If you love the gym, that's great! But most people force themselves to go, and don't enjoy it. And if you don't enjoy it, you won't continue to make it a part of your life. So just lead a more active life. The weight won't come off as quickly and it will take longer to notice the changes, but it will become a part of your life. Find something you enjoy doing that is active, and do it. It is as simple as that.

So please, don't blame the stress in your life or the baby you had or your busy life. You are in charge of what goes into your mouth and how much you move your body. Trust me, I have plenty of stress in my life. I had a baby and the post-pregnancy weight and body that went with it. And 2 years later, I am in the best shape I have ever been in. I didn't rush it. I didn't expect to have my pre-pregnancy body back immediately. I didn't even "exercise." I maintained my healthy lifestyle. And busy? I have a 2 year old. Enough said.

Yeah, I have good genes to work with. Yes, I'm healthy and don't have a medical condition that makes me gain weight or makes it difficult to lose weight. Genetic and medical conditions are a different story. But for most of us, all we really need are a few changes to our lifestyle. And those few changes may even help your medical conditions! Yes, I eat quinoa and drink spinach smoothies. But I put real butter on my toast. And *gasp* I even eat regular, nutrient void, white bread from time to time. Our bodies need some carbs! And unless you have an allergy, gluten in moderation isn't bad for you! It is all about moderation and being active and enjoying yourself. Because if the newest diet and your time at the gym make you miserable, is it really worth it to be skinny? Having been both overweight and skinny, I can tell you that the number on the scale doesn't make you happier. That is a whole different kind of work you have to do for yourself.

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