Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What is Healthy?

Not all vices have to do with drugs or alcohol.  I've probably tried a form of every diet.  I've low carb'd my way to under eye circles, drastic weight loss, around the clock chills, light headedness and at times a slightly undesirable attitude.  Some may say that those measures are a bit drastic and they're right, but the best thing about mistakes is how much we learn from them.

We all have a different perception of health.  For so long I equated exercise with the way to be "skinny."  Although I will always smile a little bit when someone tells me that I look thin or that my ass is really perky, I know that balancing all the things I love with the love of feeling and looking the way I like is much better than having 7% body fat and a really boring tasteless life.

Removing all the things you love from your diet is a recipe for disaster.   Lifestyle changes are more effective than "diets."  After  a few years of depriving myself of many of the things I love, I've finally discovered that balance is the most effective approach to healthy living.  You can have it all and when you realize that, a bit of relief follows.

Creating healthier versions of the foods you love is probably the best way to begin your journey into a healthier lifestyle.  I've come up with countless healthy recipes that are absolutely delicious.  Don't shun any one food group from your diet.  I'm never going to tell you to never eat a piece of your favorite cake or a bacon cheeseburger again, but just don't do it every day.  Save the less healthy foods you love for when you really want them or need some comfort, distinguishing when that is, is the tricky part.  Deciding to be healthy for -you- is very important and you have to commit to it.  A half hearted effort yields a half hearted or possibly no result, you must be accountable for the choices you're making.

Becoming healthy when you have a very social lifestyle can be a bit more challenging than if you've prepared every meal at home yourself.  Fitness models and competitors don't go out to dinner or for drinks when prepping for a contest.  To each is own and if you have a goal, I say drive right through it.  I love to go out with friends and most of our activities surround food or alcohol, so a lifestyle of that sort doesn't suit me.  Do I drink a lot when I go out? No, not usually, I left this habit in my early twenties for the most part.  Why you ask?  Getting overly sloshed every weekend doesn't look good on anyone first off and secondly it doesn't support my goals for myself.  I can happily have 1 or 2 drinks when out and still have a great time.  If I'm at a day long activity I might have 3 or 4, but this is over the course of a long period of time.  Although I love to loosen up with a glass of wine or two, I don't enjoy being overly drunk, it makes me feel sloppy, ruins the next day and is too calorie dense.  The key is to enjoy the food and drinks you have.  I love the taste of wine.  Wine, cheese, olives, apples, grapes, cured meats and anything else you'd find on a snack plate at one of Napa Valleys vineyards, would probably be my favorite "meal."

I don't eat "low fat" foods.  Have I? Yes, in my more naive years.  Most of them are unsatisfying and laced with extra sugar to make up for the lack of taste that comes with the "fat." Low fat foods are like an terrible one night stand.  You get the urge for something spectacular, try to satisfy it with something mediocre and end up distressed and unsatisfied wondering why you even bothered.  It wasn't worth the raise of "number" or the calories.  Eat what you want.  Eat fat, go easy on sugar.  Don't eat a block of cheese, but cut a few pieces and enjoy them with fruit or another complex carbohydrate, maybe even a piece of bread if thats what you want, just know when you've had enough.  Don't eat low fat cheese and then go right for something else because your still unsatisfied.    Peanut butter has healthy fat, I'm not telling you have it six times a day or eat a jar of it in one sitting but paired with a something light and healthy its an awesome protein rich, satisfying snack.  I love to eat, I pretty much do it all day, making the right choices is what counts.

Drink water.  Water is completely underrated when it comes to being healthy.  It keeps you hydrated which keeps your skin fresh and clear, it muddles out the hunger noise a little and keeps your body working like a well oiled machine.  Staying hydrated I believe also makes me feel more energized, and have less headaches.  Go easy on the caffeine.  Yes, weight loss efforts can be enhanced by having caffeine but it can also be counterproductive.  One to two cups of coffee a day is plenty.  I used to drink a pot of perked espresso coffee every morning and wondered where all of my anxiety came from, it was only until after a few panic attacks that I realized I should cut back.  Too much caffeine will give you anxiety.  Anxiety will not help you lose weight,  it will make you stressed which makes a lot of us eat greasy sugary preservative laden comfort food.  Stop with all of the coffee "because you need it," you don't, go get a green juice or take a B12.

I'm always told that I have great willpower.  Over the years I've failed miserably many times trying to be on a perfect diet or trying too hard not to be.  My first advice to you, is to relax.  The more you stress about anything, the more of a mountain you create over a mole hill.  I can't even count the amount of times I spent beating myself up over eating something "bad for me" or not exercising for a few days.  I won't lie to you, like anything we are somewhat obsessed with, I still catch myself falling into bad habits once in a while, but I know now how to shake them off.  First and foremost change your thoughts.  No one begins a healthier lifestyle enjoying every moment of it.  I can give you many delicious recipes for healthy foods but you, just like I, are going to want fat and grease once in a while and thats fine.  I can also give you some fun workouts but most of the time you may not want to do them.  I pretend that working out is an appointment I can't miss.  The key is to focus on the great feeling you'll have after a workout instead of the hour you put in actually doing it.  After ten minutes of exercise I usually get out of any rut that made me not want to start because the endorphins start shooting through me.  Exercise is by far underrated when it comes to anti depression medication.  There are days I feel so tired and "blah,"  I get in a workout and then feel like I can take over the world.  Focus on you for an hour a day and sweat it out, you may quite possibly fall in love with it.  I believe in the 80/20 rule.  Eighty percent of the time try to keep what you eat to be "clean" and unprocessed and exercise your body in some way.  Twenty percent of the time relax the diet mindset and treat yourself to what you really want.  When you start basing your food intake on healthy real foods the prepackaged over salted ones will not taste as good, I promise you.  I turn up my nose to anything too greasy, over salted, poorly seasoned or stale.  I'm a dessert lover but if the dessert at hand isn't really awesome, after a bite or two, I'm done with it.  A lot of times when I want something sweet, I opt for fruit (fresh or sometimes dried) and it does the trick, if not maybe dark chocolate but if I need something decadent, I absolutely have it.  If I'm not going to enjoy something, I'm not going to eat it, you know that you've made a kick ass dessert when I've had more than one bite!  If you want a chocolate chip cookie, please eat a real one and not one created from a preservative shit storm.  Make a journal, get an app and remember what you eat, don't "forget" mindless calories because they won't forget to take up residence on your hips.

A healthy balance in life concerns more than what you eat or how much you exercise.  Working too much or overspending and not living within your means can also lead to unwanted anxiety.  If all you do is work and leave no time to recharge or for fun, you're going to eventually burn out.  I don't care how hard your job is or how important it is, schedule a fake doctors appointment if you have to; one of my clients does it to see me for her hair.  Sometimes you need to check out from the stressors of life, if you're not going to let yourself enjoy the fruits of your labor, why kill yourself at work so much?  Too much nosing around in other peoples lives is also no good for your mind or soul, stay in your lane, worry about yourself,  your children and family.  Offering advice to others is always good when it's called for or welcomed but understand that everyones situation is different and people feel differently about different situations.  Over advising someone when you have never experienced what they're going through is just bogus, be a friend, listen and if asked for your opinion give it, but never force your thoughts of how things should be.  Understanding what works for -YOU- is half the battle in trying to figure out many situations in life, this is why I encourage it so much in a healthy lifestyle.  You will get no where fast if you solely try to follow others footstep for footstep, although we may learn a bit here and there, everyones journey is different.  There is no normal, "What's normal to the spider, is chaos to the fly."-Morticia Adams