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Dieting and Body Image

So I’ve been reading the “Body Image Warrior Week” posts over at Fit and Feminist. They are great and they got me to really thinking about dieting and body image.

Usually negative body image and dieting go hand in hand. But dieting doesn’t solve negative body image.

If you can’t accept your body as it is now, you won’t accept it even if you find a diet that makes you look exactly the way you always wanted to. No matter how “good” you look, if you have a negative self-image, you will always be able to find some flaw.

So stop looking for the flaws. Stop thinking that if you just find the right diet you will be able to lose enough weight or fat to correct them. Stop thinking that dieting is the solution.

You can’t change the body you were given.

A healthy diet will make you look good, but you already have to be content. No matter how great the transformation in your body, a diet won’t create a positive self-image.

BUT, if you find a diet that will make you healthier, that will make you feel better, you will find a diet that makes your body look the best that it can!

That is why I’ve been so gung-ho about the Man Bicep diet. I found something that has made me healthier and feel better with the added bonus that my abs show.

My body may not be what someone else considers to be perfect, but guess what?…I like how I look! (Although I’m still weirded out when I log in and see like 50 bazillion pictures of myself EVERYWHERE, but it’s proof right!?! haha)

Is that cocky? No. Is it confident? Yes. Am I happy? Most definitely.

But I’m not only happy with my body because I feel it “looks good.” I’m happy with my body because I like that I can lift more weight than is necessary. I like that I can sprint and paddle board and even occasionally eat till I have a food baby and can only roll around in pain and moan.

I love my body’s strength and feeling of health. Yes it has flaws, but there isn’t a person out there who doesn’t see a flaw no matter how “perfect” someone else thinks their body is.

And while I feel better and healthier when my abs are showing, I’m just as happy in my own skin when Chinese food and ice cream have hidden them (Ok so not quite as happy, but that is mainly because I usually feel pretty ill from the bad food binge-ing!)

So stop looking for the flaws in your body and realize how wonderful it is.

And I’m not undermining the importance of committing to a healthy lifestyle. I’m just saying a diet won’t correct a negative body image.

A healthy diet, however, does have a big pay-off – one bigger than 6 pack abs…You will feel freaking healthy and good!

Am I sacrificing?

I’ve had numerous people say they could never be as “strict” with their diet as I am because they couldn’t sacrifice so much.

Maybe this is why people assume that eating healthily means sacrifice...

My question back is always, “What am I really sacrificing?”

Here are two of the most common responses I get when I ask what I’m sacrificing….

“You can’t have pizza and such any day when you just “feel like it?” 

For one, I do occasionally have pizza if I want it. I just don’t give into temptation very often.

And I don’t think it is a sacrifice to not eat bad food whenever I feel like it! But then again I’m also super happy eating butter, steak, bacon and the bazillion other fatty foods that I can eat every single day that other people avoid as “bad” for them.

I also realize the bigger picture. By avoiding eating the vegetable oils and gluten that comes with a lot of those “cheat” meals on a regular basis, I’m avoiding things that are seriously detrimental to my health. Also, why would I eat those cheats on a regular basis when I can indulge in healthier Primal cheats like dark chocolate, macadamia nuts, bacon and full-fat cheese?

So really who is sacrificing? Me with my delicious healthy foods and occasional cheats? Or you with your blander diet that makes you avoid fatty foods, but gives you the ability to eat bad whenever you want?

“You sometimes don’t go out or over-indulge in alcohol because you are sticking to your diet.”

I won’t argue with this statement, but I also don’t think of staying in occasionally or not “overindulging” as a sacrifice. For one, I’ve never been a HUGE party-er or a huge drinker so that didn’t really change with my “strict” diet.

I don’t go out any less…I just don’t always indulge in the carb-loaded appetizers you order…or the desserts. But unlike many diets I’ve tried, I don’t need to be a recluse on Primal. Very rarely can I not find at least one Primal dish to eat!

So I can still go out and party as much as I’ve always done. So…again, I don’t think my DIET is making me sacrifice.

“What do you mean you can’t try the food I brought in?”

I hate that when food is brought into work everyone always tries to force you to eat it. They try to make you feel like you are missing out because you aren’t trying it.

My theory though is that they envy the fact that you have enough self-control to refrain from eating something that honestly isn’t something you (or even they) really wanted to eat.

Is it really sacrificing to not eat something you weren’t planning to eat? Is it really sacrificing to skip that piece of pizza or brownie that you don’t know is good when you have a delicious meal that you brought with you?

Seriously, why eat something someone brought in when you don’t want it!?!

Now let me ask you, am I really sacrificing? Is being healthier while eating foods that are still satisfying even if they aren’t what I used to consider “cheats” worth not getting to indulge in some of the great “bad” foods I used to love as often?

I think so….

It’s hard not to preach…

Sometimes I find it very hard to keep my mouth shut when my clients talk about nutrition. I obviously share my opinions and views with them, but I have to remind myself not to continually preach to them about why their low-fat, crap food diet isn’t working.

And it’s hard. Because sometimes you just want to say, “Why are you claiming your diet is so healthy when it OBVIOUSLY isn’t working for you and you’ve been trying to lose weight FOREVER!”

But you can’t say that.

But sometimes it is just so hard to refrain…even though I do. I mean shoot if they were even claiming to eat Primal and not losing weight, I would want to preach to them to find something different.

I just don’t get how people just keep sticking with something that isn’t getting them results.

I mean I’ll try a diet for 90 days and if I’m not seeing any results, I’m done with it. Some of my clients have been doing their “diets” for years and haven’t seen results…

So why are they so set on sticking with their diet!?!

Is it a fear of trying something new and failing? Possibly…

Is it the difficulty of trying something new and potentially having to give up foods you like? Possibly…

Is it because they’ve heard the diet works for numerous other people? Possibly…

Is it because someone in the mainstream media cited some scientific study about the health of their diet? Possibly…

But are any of these really good enough reasons to stick with something you’ve PROVED to not work?

NOPE!

Stop paying attention to what mainstream media and your friends say worked for them! That isn’t one of the keys to finding your “dieting secret” remember!?!

Stop being afraid of trying something new! And risk giving up foods that you like! You may find other foods that you love even more on the new diet! Experiment!

I mean honestly, what is the worst case scenario? Nothing works?

If the worst case scenario is that nothing works, then nothing bad really happened, did it? I mean you weren’t seeing results before.

But there is a benefit to experimenting EVEN if you don’t see results. The benefit is YOU LEARNED! You learned more about dieting and probably discovered some new things that you both like and dislike.

I don’t want to have to preach about my how wonderful my diet is people! But please don’t preach to me about yours if it obviously isn’t working! Start experimenting…If you do, I’m more than willing to listen to any complaints or rave reviews that you have!

 

Empowerment

Empowerment [ɪmˈpaʊəmənt]

  1. The giving or delegation of power or authority; authorization
  2. The giving of an ability; enablement or permission

I started thinking a lot about this last night as I was falling asleep….(Which unfortunately kept me from falling asleep and then made me start hearing creepy noises around the apartment, which I don’t usually hear since I’m passed out by like 8….)

Anyway, I started to think about how much more empowered I’ve felt since I started doing my heavy lifting/Crossfit style workouts a couple of years ago. Not only have I gotten physically stronger, but I also feel mentally stronger – more confident, more enabled, more capable.

I’m not intimidated by challenges or other people’s negativity. I actually believe that my workouts have helped me develop a stronger sense of self.

It’s kind of weird to think that something I’ve always done just for fun and to keep physically healthy, may have actually done even more for my mental health and strength.

Why has working out made me feel so empowered?

Because I’ve taken risks and experimented. Every single workout, I risk failure. I risk not lifting up more weight. I risk not being able to complete all of the challenges I’ve written out for myself that day.

Each and every workout though, I REFUSE to give up. I refuse to not push myself to my limits.

And guess what? I never fail even when I fail.

Sometimes, I can’t lift up as much weight as I want. Sometimes, I can’t run that last sprint as fast as I would have liked. But the thing is, I TRIED. I risked failing.

Just like I risked failing when I entered that powerlifting meet.

And guess, what? The risk paid off because now I’m more confident and stronger. AND I even found something I enjoy!

I dared to try something new. And each and every time I experiment with my workouts, I push myself to overcome new challenges and risks. I’m not afraid to face failure because I know it will only make me stronger.

Daring to try something new. LEARNING and EXPERIMENTING. Risking and ACCEPTING failure…No wonder I not only got physically stronger, but also mentally tougher….

And the thing is, I think my new dieting endeavors and experiments are having the same payoff.

There are risks every time I adjust my diet. I always worry the new adjustment won’t get results or will even cause me to backslide. Each and every time I change something, I make myself face new challenges. Sometimes I even push myself to the limit of my self-control.

But each time, I learn something new about myself. Whether or not I succeed or fail, I learn something new.

And the thing is, I never give up.

And never giving up, gives me confidence not only in the realm of diet and fitness, but in everyday life. My experimentation and risk-taking with diet and fitness have empowered me.

Now, what makes you feel empowered?

Family and Food

"Can I have a side of toast and butter but hold the toast?"

It’s always weird going on a vacation or going to visit family, where you aren’t totally in control of your eating. It’s especially interesting when your family doesn’t have exactly the same nutritional beliefs as you. (Not to mention it means lots of nutritional debates, which I will discuss in a later post).

For the Man Bicep Mom and my sister, oatmeal, toast, and carbs in general, are a usual part of breakfast.

For me..well I can’t remember the last time I had toast until today. And it is hard for me to just go with the flow after a day of indulgence…especially for something like toast haha.

BUT sometimes being around family means just going with the flow and knowing that you won’t be doing any damage you can’t correct right when you get back from vacation.

I mean I know I can just say no, but sometimes I think it just isn’t worth the effort (partly because it just makes things more complicated and we are all already indecisive and partly because of the debate and questions that will ensue…yes that is right sometimes, and only sometimes, do I avoid debate!)

Is it just me or does anyone else struggle with saying “no” and sticking to their diet when they are staying at their parents’ house? Do you find it easier to just go with the flow?

“I’ve tried everything and nothing works”

“I’ve tried everything and nothing works.”

This statement always frustrates me. Why? Because it is absolute BULLSHIT (yep the curse is necessary to explain how absurd the statement is!)!

For one…there is ALWAYS something you haven’t tried.

And two…if you utter this statement then you’ve given up on trying.

There isn’t one program that will work for everyone because everyone is so different. BUT I guarantee that there is some diet or workout plan that works for you…not everyone but JUST for you.

How do I know that there IS something that will work for you? Because I’ve tried A LOT of different things. And I’ve found lots of diets and workout plans that DON’T work for me. Like a workout plan without weights..it doesn’t work for me because I just get skinny. I have to lift HEAVY to maintain any muscle and eat LOTS of protein.

And through all this experimentation I have found something that works for me (which of course I’m constantly tweaking to make it work even better).

And my diet and workout plan isn’t the same diet and workout plan that works for the Man Bicep Mom. She prefers portion control and applies the 80/20 rule daily. Her daily diet also doesn’t include red meat and saturated fat like mine does, but does include whole grains, which I don’t eat. She also prefers circuit training with weights to slow powerlifting style workouts.

And my diet isn’t the same as Brian’s even though we are both doing powerlifting style workouts. He does a lower carb diet similar but not the same to Primal. He will NEVER (I repeat NEVER) give up his peanut butter or whole wheat wraps!

BUT while the Man Bicep Mom’s and Brian’s diets are both different from mine, they work for them! AND there is something out there that will work for you!

You can’t get stuck on what works for OTHER PEOPLE! You have to think about yourself – what foods you like, how much time you have, what activities you enjoy doing, how much you enjoy cooking..

I mean just look at that U.S. New Diet Rankings list (which I still don’t agree with). There are 20 diets on there and each of them have people who voted “yes this diet works.” Even the Paleo diet, which was the “worst diet” had 5,791 people say it worked for them!!!!

Don’t get stuck doing a diet or workout plan just because it’s popular or worked for you friend. If you find you can’t stick to it during that first month when you are most committed, it probably won’t work for you. So don’t waste your time. Try something else.

I mean shoot combine diets and workouts that you’ve tried and make up your own!!! Self-experimentation is key!!!! ( I can’t repeat that enough!!!)

But PLEASE don’t tell me, “I’ve tried everything and nothing works” because that is a lie. Don’t give up!!!

A look inside the randomness of my brain…

So this week’s random thoughts and facts…

  • Thank you Francine for this article about a Paleo restaurant in Europe!! So awesome! I want one here! (Not to mention I love the fact that the US New’s Diet Rankings is torn apart at the end!) Do you think a Paleo restaurant will be successful?
  • Did you know there is such a thing as caffeine loaded beef jerky? There is even a brand called Perky Jerky. Maybe you don’t need 80-100 cups of coffee to kill yourself with caffeine….maybe you just need 60 cups and some Perky Jerky!
  • Apparently, you can make cheat meals healthy…HA! How to turn 10 fat-happy foods and drinks into fat burners
  • AND I just found out that wearing nude high heels can actually make you look slimmer! OMG! This is really what is making headlines?!?! I don’t think it is the high heels that made her look slimmer…I think it is her posture…but that’s just me…

  • Why when you type into Google’s “news” search can you find a ton of recent articles about dieting but not a ton about fitness or health (unless it is about a fitness center closing or a health tax)? Oh wait it’s because the dieting industry is like a bazillion dollar industry that consistently tries to convince us that there is some SECRET formula to weight loss!
  • Why does it seem like pull ups never get easier no matter how much you do them? Even when you can do 10 in a row, one still feels near impossible…Anyone else agree?
  • Did you know that a lot of “knee pain” is caused by tightness of another muscle around the knee such as the IT band or even the quad? I know most people jump right to something being wrong with the knee instead of considering the fact that there may be other issues in their kinetic chain! Remember the parts of your body work together…an ankle injury could lead to problems with your knee even!
  • I love chocolate…so I looked up whether or not chocolate addiction exists…it doesn’t seem like it does…but if it did…I’m a recovering chocolate addict.

  • Can someone please help me finance a study about hibernation in humans? I’m super convinced it exists! 😉

Slow Carb Diet Update

So I’ve now done just under 4 weeks of the slow carb diet prescribed by the 4 hour body. As I said before, I put a primal twist on the meals during the week and didn’t indulge in beans, but instead ate nuts.

I’ve definitely seen results. I’ve lost about an inch off my waist and everything is looking leaner. A LOT leaner. I’ve overall felt pretty good and have really enjoy having the one day to binge. It makes the very restricted diet during the week easier to tolerate.

Of course during my vacation next week, I won’t be following the diet AT ALL, BUT I do plan to go back on it as soon as I get back. In the 4 hour body, he gives tips to minimize the damage you do on cheat days. I may try to use some of them during the vacation. We will see though.

The only downside to this diet for me was the little bit of “low carb flu” that I’ve felt on and off on Fridays. This was the first week that I really didn’t feel it at all (which is good because today I’m not indulging in my usual binge since the vacation is so close!)

I definitely recommend this diet if you are looking to get off the last little bit of fat!

Dieting – Cheating and when to let go

I found an interesting post on The Great Fitness Experiment about cheat days and whether or not they work. In my opinion, there isn’t a simple “yes” or “no” answer to this. It just depends on the person.

I think the most important part of any diet is just to follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time you should maintain a healthy diet. 20% of the time you should indulge. However you choose to break it down just make sure you stick to the 80/20 rule.

Here are the two most common ways people follow this rule:

1. Daily mini cheats. 80% of the food you eat each day is healthy while 20% is an indulgence. This works if you can be satisfied (and make yourself stop eating) after one cookie for dessert. Portion control is key here.

2. Cheat days. During the average week, you eat well for 6 days with 1 day where you eat anything and everything in sight. This works if you are like me and seem to have no shut off mechanism once you start eating bad food. (Even feeling like I’m going to barf sometimes doesn’t stop me from stuffing more food in my mouth.)

Either way you choose to do it, daily mini cheats or once a week binges, just make sure that 80% of the time you are sticking to a healthy diet!!!

Another dieting dilemma…when do you just say screw it to your diet and enjoy life?

There is also no easy answer to this question. It all depends. I’m sure that answer makes you so happy! HA!

For me, vacations, holidays and other big celebrations are all times to just forget about my diet and eat whatever I want. BUT that is only IF I’m going to be stressed out about trying to eat well OR I’m going to be missing out on something I only can get at that specific time or place.

Like when we go to California for Ryan’s bday. I’m going to eat whatever I want the entire time I’m there. We just don’t have the wonderful Mexican food that they have in Southern California here in Boston. AND I’m going to also eat a HUGE cinnamon roll from this diner in Cali since it is the best cinnamon roll in the ENTIRE WORLD!

Warm ooey gooey-ness!

BUT since I know that in about two weeks I will be eating bad food for 4 days, I had to make a tough decision about this weekend when my mom visits. (YAY! For a visit from Mom) I had to decide whether or not I was going to stick to my routine of only one cheat day per week. And I decided that yes, I will.

There are so many good restaurants here that I can easily eat Primally at…so I really have no excuse to not eat well every day but Saturday. Anytime I can stick to my diet without spending too much time stressing out or feeling like I’m missing out, I will.

Living life doesn’t always have to mean cheating on your diet. BUT there are also times when you do just need to say screw it and enjoy!

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