If you hadn’t guessed from the mix in of cookie butter and puppy chow desserts.. no I’m not Paleo! I’ve been asked that a lot since I started CrossFit last December, and especially in the last few months when I (finally got my act together and) started losing weight and getting in better shape again.
There are some aspects of the Paleo philosophy that I think are fantastic and I do my best to follow. For example, eating as many whole foods as possible, seasonal, local, organic and grass-fed. However, I don’t have sensitivities to gluten or lactose and have found value in having them in my diet.. in moderation (always that word).
The Extreme Trap
One of the biggest traps I found myself in over the last four years was jumping from one nutrition philosophy to the next (purposely avoiding the word diet). I’ve done vegetarian, vegan, paleo, gluten-free, IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) etc etc. I’d be struggling, look for an answer in a drastic change, follow some new philosophy for a while, then fly way off track, blame that style of eating, bounce to another, and so on. I’d eat a gallon of ice cream then blame dairy. Well genius if you eat a gallon of ice cream or a loaf of bread, you are going to feel like crap! It’s not the dairy or the gluten! So..
Know what I finally found that works? No extremes.
Que the ‘ah yeah well no sh%$!’ commentary now 😉
It’s human nature to want what you can’t have. So making big eliminations only resulted in bad things for me.
But this is me! Of course the hard part is figuring out what works for you, sticking with it. Everyone’s different, but I’m willing to make a nice bet that what’s going to work for you isn’t an extreme anything! Want to lose weight? Suddenly giving up all carbs, gluten and alcohol may produce some immediate results, but you’re going to crash & burn in the long run. Ok, for argument’s sake, maybe you don’t! More power to you! I sure did, and frankly a life without fruit and carbs (sorry, gluten is in fact yummy), is not one I want to live. Because you know what? You don’t have to do that!
However, sometimes things still go wrong, and the hardest struggle I have is falling back into the extreme yo-yo. I ate like crap earlier this week, so my naturally tendency was to think, “ok, well I shouldn’t eat any added carbs, fruit or fat for a few days.” Fortunately the devil on my shoulder has a sidekick angel friend who reminded me that it would lead me down a dark path (yes, purposely sounding extreme!).
Consistency is my friend. And to me consistency means all food groups and weekly “treats”/”cheats.”
Not very exciting huh? Good!
I get asked about nutrition A LOT. I’ve basically been studying it since I was in 5th grade, then formally in school both in undergrad and later on getting my health coaching certification at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. That’s great and all but at the end of the day I’ve learned the most just from messing up a lot. People always want a quick answer. They worry about all the little dings in the door when the car is totaled. No, I don’t want to argue if a cashew is more unhealthy than an almond, or if carrots are too high in sugar for a vegetable. Seriously? No one ever got fat from eating too many carrots! And if you eat handful after handful of either cashews or almonds, you’re probably are not going to reach any weight loss goals (weight gain goals are another story.. I’ve had to do that too, but that’s a conversation for another time).
So What Does this Look Like?
A few important things have really helped me to stay on track this time around after years of trying:
- Easy go-to’s
- Getting back to a “normal” day after a treat/cheat
Do it. No excuses. Really.
At this point it takes me approximately 2 hours on the weekend to prep my food for the whole week. Add an hour for grocery shopping and that bring you up to a whole 3 hours for the week. I think that’s reasonable don’t you?
There are a couple reasons I can prep all that food in such a short time. A big one is that I do drink protein/meal replacement shakes. No, I do not think there is anything magical about ANY brand. I have friends that sell and promote Herbalife, Isagenix, Body by Vi, Advocare, Shakeology etc. I have tried all of them, and been asked to promote and sell all of them at different points. YES, real food is always better. Actually let me correct myself, real, healthy food, is always better. But you have to find a system that works for you and your schedule. So cutting the time I have to prep down to an amount that reasonable and maintainable has been a huge part of my success this time around.
I’ve become a big fan of Isagenix’s IsaLean Pro shake for a few reasons. The biggest being it healthfully eliminates two meals I prep for a day. I have one for breakfast after my workout with some spinach and coconut oil thrown in, then another for my fourth meal of the day. I love and crave them. Yum.
After trying a ridiculous variety of shakes I’ve stuck with Isagenix because of the quality of the product. Many shakes upset my stomach, especially te meal replacement variety, but this one doesn’t at all! The IsaLean shakes are also fantastic but I go for the Pro version for the extra protein, so it’s perfect for CrossFitters and Fitness folks. Not going to lie, I was very hesitant to “buy-in” to all of this, but since it really was an important part of this whole process, I almost feel like I’d be lying if I didn’t mention it. Plus, I really do love them 🙂 One of the people who really convinced me was this amazing figure athlete.
Sales aren’t my thing. But these really were a BIG part of my prep and getting myself in shape again this year, so I almost feel like I’d be lying if I didn’t mention it. If you have questions about the products or do want to try, definitely shoot me a message or go here to browse products!
Sometimes you don’t want to be carrying around a cooler of spinach and chicken. Fair enough. Me neither. So I have a few easy go-to’s.
- Quest Bars – They’re amazing.
- Protein Shakes – IsaLean and Cake Batter from Muscle Gauge are my favorite.
- Healthy To-Go stores. In Austin we have a wide variety of places that make to-go healthy meals such as Snap Kitchen (my favorite), My Fit Foods, Mel’s, etc.
Getting Back to “Normal”
Oh this is the hardest thing for me! If I go off track by having too much of a treat or an extra cheat, I have a tendency to beat myself up and get a ‘screw it, I failed’ mentality and fall into a tailspin of crappy eating. It’s pretty much the silliest, least sensical thought process ever! But I would say this is my biggest battle. I tend to operate in extremes.. something I’m working very hard to “soften”.. so I’m either 100% on point with workouts and nutrition, or flailing about.
Keeping super consistent with fairly planned treats has been my best bet. I say “fairly” because I might have a dinner with friends planned where I know I’ll have a fun meal and dessert or drink, but say something comes up during the week. If it’s something I really want I’ll go ahead and partake. I feel super lucky that my friends are supportive and never pressure me if I choose to “keep things clean” during a night out. Working on not completely beating myself up with guilt when I do over-indulge is an area I’ve made progress on, but still have a way to go.
When choosing treats, I make them good! Most convenience food is totally not worth it. But I love.. love to eat and try new things, so for me I’m always going with quality over quantity. And yes sometimes that might mean a donut hole or a giant plate of BBQ 😉
Man.. I go for not blogging for ages to writing books of posts! Sorry about that, but it feels good to get it down!