nutrition

The Good Karma Diet

If you haven’t been able to tell yet, my relationship with food has drastically changed over the years.  Once upon a time, I was afraid of food and what it would do to my body.  I ate foods that in my head wouldn’t make my 95 pound body “fat,” such as dry cereal.  Lots and lots of dry cereal and other empty calories.

I’m surrounded with gratitude knowing that I my relationship with food has greatly shifted.  Whereas I was once fearful of the food entering my body, I am now aware of the powerful ways food serves me…mentally, physically and spiritually.

For me, leading a balanced lifestyle means having a balanced body and a balanced mind.  Nutrition plays a key role in this.  I can’t have a balanced body if I don’t fuel my body properly.  I can’t have a balanced mind if my relationship with food is skewed.

My nutrition truly started to balance out when I started to track my macros.  As an athlete, it was vital for me to figure out what served my body well.  I was over being exhausted all the time. While I thought this was from being too busy (which part of it was), it was mainly do to the fact that the “healthy” food I was eating wasn’t serving my body.

Often, when I bring up my newly, rejuvenating eating habits, many people respond with “Oh I don’t care about calories.”  This was my problem, though.  I was unaware of how I was underserving my body by not consuming enough calories.  As soon as I increased my calories and properly proportioning the amount that came from carbohydrates, protein and fat…I noticed life changing shifts in my energy levels.  Food is powerful. 

Now, I’m taking my relationship with food to the next level.

My best friend and soul sister, Erin Frye, texted me one day with something along the lines “So, I decided I’m going to be vegan.” Being supportive (and slightly ignorant), I told her that was amazing and to make sure she was consuming enough protein.  She passionately shared her journey into this lifestyle with me, so much so that I became intrigued.

The idea of a plant based diet was not exactly new to me.  Being a Health and Wellness major at UNCA, I was exposed to documentaries such as Forks Over Knives, and provided an overwhelming amount of information on the value of receiving nutrients from nature.

So, I decided to educate myself.  Erin recommended The Good Karma Diet.

Let me start by saying, with just about every chapter I read came a thorough google search on the counter view points.  My purpose in reading this book was to become aware, and think about what would mentally, physically and spiritually best serve my body.  I knew that awareness of my macronutrients had served my body well and I wanted to continue that path.  Would I be able to do so?  I quickly learned my answer was yes. 

So here’s a mini break down of the book and why I believe its a must read, whether you want to adopt this life style or not.

1. You can make this lifestyle fit you. Victoria Moran does a phenomenal job on making it obvious that there are no rules and regulations you have to follow in order to begin your vegan journey.  Perhaps you want to improve your health.  Maybe you became aware of the treatment of animals and simply couldn’t stand behind the factory farm industry.  Whatever your motivation, life happens, and any choice you make can have a powerful impact.

For me, I had contemplated giving up certain things and not others, mainly to ensure my grams of protein could be maintained.  Perhaps I’d continue eating eggs. But then I learned…

2. Just because it’s good for you, doesn’t mean its good for the animal.  Over the past few years, I had always eaten “well.” Organic foods, local meat, cage free eggs etc; etc;  Although the way food is handled may serve me, it does not necessarily serve the animal.

Organic means the animal is not stuffed with hormones or other chemicals. This term has nothing to do with how crammed the animal is in it’s cage, being treated like furniture in a storage unit.

Cage free means the animal is allotted x number of hours outside of their cages.  It has nothing to do with the food their given, where they live, and whether or not their body parts are chopped off.

Local is great for supporting your community, but again, does not necessarily mean the animals are treated top notch.

Some people may say, but their just animals.  And that’s okay! That is your opinion, your view of the matter.  For me, though, I couldn’t see it like that.  I had baby Pood laying with me and couldn’t fathom that the cows, chicken, lamb etc; were much different than my sweet pup.

This was also very eye opening for me.  I always assumed that because the food was good for me, it was good for the animal.  You walk into places like Whole Foods and the Fresh Market, where they seem so food friendly, but in reality, their corporations trying to get ahead.

3. Nourishing yourself with nature. As I mentioned previously, my biggest concern when I began educating myself was being able to keep up my calories and macronutrient percentages.  I quickly learned that I was highly misinformed about the ability to get carbohydrates, protein and fats from nature.  The book has a plethora of chapters that discusses topics people often argue: protein intake, vitamin B12, amino acids etc; I quickly found that I’m easily able to keep my calorie intake up while serving my body with delicious foods.  In fact, plant based proteins are proven to serve your body better compared to animal based proteins, which are linked to cancer cell growth and heart disease.

4. It’s not just about the food. Animal products come in many forms.  The book provides a dose of information on other animal products and the companies that support the well-being of animals.  From beauty and health products to clothes and household items, animal products are all around.  The author does a phenomenal job of offering information and available alternatives.

As I mentioned earlier, I began this book simply to educate myself.  And, I did just that.  I became aware of how the choices I made with my food were impacting my body, my community and the environment.

Even if you don’t want to adopt the lifestyle, or you made multiple counter arguments to the points I made in this post, educate yourself.  Like I said, with each chapter, came a thorough search on the other point of view.  I weighed  both the opinions and the facts and found that my heart and mind connected with the Good Karma Diet.  Becoming aware of differing life styles is a part of being a member of our diverse world.  There’s no shame in building an understanding of how and why other people live their lives the way they do.

So cheers, to being physically, mentally and spiritually served by food!

The Health and Fitness Fad

Health and fitness is a touchy topic.  Mostly because there are so many views of what determines how fit and healthy you are. However, among the various opinions and trends, there is one thing that is fairly consistent within the health and fitness fad:

image. 

The food we eat.  The muscles we flex.  How many of us are creating an image of health and fitness without truly leading a life of balanced wellness?  At what point do our lifestyles go from balanced to obsessive?

I speak from experience.  It took me years to actually become aware of the fact that I had disordered habits.  Why? Because my actions were masked by the image of health.  I was a runner, so obviously I was thin, right?  Wrong.  I was thin because I barely consumed enough calories to keep my organs functioning.  On top of that, I excessively worked out, obsessively doing workouts throughout the day, especially after every meal.

If you looked at certain statistics, you could claim I was healthy.  I was a fast runner.  My fastest mile was 5:40. I could do movements like push ups and squats. But, I was far from healthy.  Because I was so mentally unhealthy.  

My physical activity was sparked by anxiety, stress, and the need to feel in control.  What started as a hobby became an obsession.  Fitness consumed my life.

If you were to look at my social media pages today, you would see pictures of my food, of my muscles, of my yoga poses. It’s a way to advocate for this life style change I’ve created for myself.  Health and fitness is still a major part of my life, but in a very different way.  I’m still an avid runner.  I lift weights.  I practice yoga daily.  My love of fitness has not changed.  What has changed is my perspective of it.

We assume that working out makes us stronger, faster and better.  I went from running and doing body weight movements daily with no true nutrition to working out just 4 days a week.  Yes, I hop on my mat and stretch daily, but I only do intense activity 4 days a week.  Because that’s what keeps me balanced. 

However,  it’s not all about exercise. It’s so so so much nutrition (like literally, mostly nutrition).  I don’t work out to eat…I eat to work out live.  I need proper nutrition to fuel my body.  Not just for exercise, but for life. I went from consuming barley 1000 calories a day to a minimum of 2000+ and this is the best I’ve ever looked and felt.

None of this would be possible if it weren’t for balancing my mental health.  I had to shift my perspective of my body before I could become passionate about taking care of it, respecting it.  I meditate, I become aware of the thoughts and feelings around me.  I listen to my body.  I research and educate myself.  I try new things.

So, among all the advice, the fads, discover what best fits you, mentally and physically.  You can practice yoga all day physically without ever truly finding peace within awareness. You can flex day in and day out without ever having an ounce of respect for the strength your body demonstrates on the reg. Life is a journey. Your health and fitness can either enhance your growth or hinder it. Grow in your awareness of how you treat your mind, body and spirit as well as why you treat them this way.

Because what’s the point of going through life looking good without feeling good?

Fueled by Gluten

This girl is fueled by gluten and proud. 

I posted on Instagram the other day about about a CrossFit member’s shirt saying “Fueled by Gluten” and how I LOVED our conversation about food education in our society.  A couple of people reached out to me asking my opinion on the subject, so I figured I’d blog about it!

Going gluten free has become very trendy over the past few years.  I myself tried it, and quickly discovered it wasn’t best for my body. Every body is different. Every body reacts differently to foods.  Most people who go gluten free choose to do so because of the way their body reacts to gluten.  So, well, they don’t really have a choice.

What is gluten? 

I will be the first to admit that when I tried being gluten free…I didn’t know what the heck it even was!  All I knew was my stomach had not been digesting well, and I had been reading that going gluten free can help your digestion.  However, this is really only the case if you are allergic to gluten, or have a gluten intolerance.  I had neither. I know based off of trial and error.

Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley and rye.  If you are allergic or have an intolerance to gluten, it is because your immune system has physically damaging reactions to gluten.

When I tried going gluten free, I did not see any difference in the quality of my digestion, bloating or fatigue.  This is because I do not have an intolerance to gluten.  A gluten free diet is not healthiest for my body. 

What helped me fight off fatigue, bloating and poor digestion? 

Balanced eating.  I was fatigued because I did not consume enough calories.  I was bloated because I did not eat enough protein.  My digestion was off because I was not balancing out the percentages of carbohydrates, proteins and fats that suite my body.

What has worked best for me on this journey to leading a more mindful life, is I’ve stopped placing food into categories: good vs. bad, healthy vs. unhealthy.  I educate myself.  I read nutrition labels.  I’m aware of where my food comes from, and how my body reacts to it.  We are so easily convinced that physically cutting foods or calories will make us healthier, when in reality it makes us obsessed mentally, and unaware of our bodies true needs.

So, I’m fueled by gluten and proud.  Because my body needs the protein and reacts a-okay to it.

But, please please PLEASE do your own research.  I believe the best practice is to stop listening to the fads, following the trends and to grow in your personal awareness.  This is what works best for me.  Now, go discover what works best for you. 

Sweating Right: My Must Haves

I’m a firm believer in quality over quantity.  Okay, maybe I do both quality and quantity.  But, hey, how can you not justify multiple quality purchases?

Whether it’s fuel for my body or my mind, I’m going to make sure it’s a good investment.  And, that includes my sweaty gear.  When you lead an active life style, you want comfortable, functional, cute gear that’ll last through your many sweaty adventures.

Here’s a list of my “Must Haves” when it comes to sweating right: 

1: lululemon’s What the Sport Shorts

Runners…you MUST check these shorts out.  There are MULTIPLE reasons I’m in love with these shorts.

  • side pockets for my phone, keys and mini water bottle (they stay in place!)
  • they are the perfect length…not too short, not too long
  • internal drawstring incase you’re like me and your booty is a bit bigger than your waist so sizing can get complicated
  • waistband pockets for running goos, your key, chapstick etc;

I literally do ALL my long runs in these shorts.  They’re perfect for race day, too! Gone are the days of carrying your belongings in your hand…or bra.

2: A Good Pair of Shoes 

…and more than one pair.  Your feet do A LOT for you.  Treat them right.  Whether you’re a runner, weight lifter, CrossFitter…whatever…pay the money for good pairs of shoes.  Also, do your research on shoes.  And I don’t just mean read other people’s reviews.  While this is helpful, everyone’s body is different and has different needs.  Just because a shoe did/did not work for them doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.  Test the shoes out, and see how your body reacts to them.

For me, I LOVE my Brooks adrenalines.  I’ve started running longer distances on the weekends, so I needed to find a shoe that was going to support my body along the way.  I also just invested in a pair of Mizuno Wave Paradox…stay tuned for a review of those 😉

3. lululemon’s The Mat

My mat is my everything.  Split Pea has taken me adventures my runs couldn’t even dream of.  The Mat absorbs sweat and stays in place.  I can’t imagine perfecting my downward dog on any other type of mat!

My Towel Mat is also fabulous.  A holiday gift from my boo, it has been the perfect accessory for hot yoga, tanning pool side and relaxing on a sandy beach. It’s easy to wash…and it’s the perfect length!

4. Tracking

I by no means look at myself as a “serious” athlete.  Well, actually I am.  “Serious” in the sense that I’m serious about taking care of my body.   I work out to honor my body, to free my mind.  However, part of honoring my body is understanding what my body is doing.  So, I invested in a Polar watch and Heart Rate Monitor.  These two purchases have been my most expensive investments, but the most worth it.  My watch helps me monitor my milage, pace, sleep etc;  My heart rate monitor allows me to track how many calories I burn during my yoga, pilates & weight lifting sessions.  It was important for me to know this so that I could properly refuel my body before and after each workout. (See below)

5. Fuel

As I’ve added long runs back into my weekly routine, staying proper fueled is SO important.  I made sure to invest in a mini water bottle from Bull City Running Company (also where I purchased my adrenalines!) I just squeeze and the water pours perfectly into my mouth.  Plus, it fits perfectly into the pockets of my What the Sport Shorts I bragged about earlier.

I’ve also started consuming carbs while running.  My body burns through food quickly, so it’s vital I keep it energized.  I’m loving Clif Shot Bloks.  They give me the burst of energy I need as the miles add up on my runs.

Your body needs fuel all day every day…not just when you’re working out.  My nutrition is without a doubt what keeps me sweating right.  If you’re just fueling up the day before/day of…you’re doing it wrong.  How can you expect your body to do all that it does (like live…) without the proper nutrition?  Just like my gear, I invest in my food.

Sure, sweating right can get pricey.  But, when you’re treating your body to quality products…you can’t go wrong!

Here’s a picture that includes almost all of the above:

IMG_2287

Happy Sweating!