Healthy thinking versus “healthy eating”

Some of you know I only post here when random thoughts I feel strongly about pop into my head.  I am not the most consistent blogger. There are so many fitness blogs out there, and most of them just repeat themselves or jump on the latest bandwagon of ‘secrets to weight loss or a flat tummy’ (sorry) which is fine because they will always reach somebody who needed to hear exactly that message right then in order to start their fitness journey.   Personally, I guess I just need to write when I need to “talk” to myself and put  my thoughts into written words.

I returned from Norway a couple of weeks ago and just had a revelation when it comes to diets and healthy eating.  The people who seem to be naturally slim and fit, are active individuals and healthy all around, do not obsess about what they eat. They (most often) choose wholesome food:  grilled chicken or fish, some vegetables, a splash of olive oil and they even allow themselves a couple of spoonfuls of dessert. But the key here is they don’t overdo it, but they enjoy life, food and the company around them. There is no “forced” thinking like “oh no, that has too much sugar, fat, carbs” etc.   They have a glass of wine in good company and allow themselves a piece of cake when they are celebrating someone’s birthday, because that makes them happy and that is what they feel like.  How rebellious!

Nobody obsesses about food more than Americans, and nowhere else in the world are there as many obese individuals.  In the supermarket isles, there are now more “low fat”, “non fat”, “no sugar” products than ever before, which also equals PROCESSED foods.   Just because a food has some (healthy) fat, does that mean it’s bad? Of course not, as long as you are not binging on it. And that’s just the problem:  For those that preoccupy themselves with “bad and good” food, think they can eat twice as much non fat ice cream, because after all – it’s got no fat, right? Eating becomes more of an all engrossing activity rather than what it’s supposed to be: nourishment and enjoyment.

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When I lost 30 lbs some years ago, I ate all the foods I was told later on when I started competing, were labeled BAD. I had pita bread and hummus, beans, fruit, Ezekiel bread, cheese and olive oil. And guess what; I was much thinner than I am now (not that that is a goal of mine), I just ate a certain amount and didn’t obsess about food items I couldn’t have.  My body got all the major food groups, so there were no real cravings at all. I want to stop looking at certain foods as “bad” and just eat wholesome, natural foods.  Have you ever noticed that when someone tells you you can’t have something, that is all you think about?  I noticed that big time when I was prepping for my first show, and as a result I ended up binging after my competition. Did it feel good? Was I satisfied afterwards? Not really.  There was no enjoyment in eating until I couldn’t eat anymore.

As I read status updates and blogs about competitors going through their “on season” diets, none of them sound happy. They are hungry, irritated, frustrated and feel weak, they think about food 24/7 and they cannot WAIT until after the show to… eat! Not good food, but what they want to eat are crappy things like Dorito chips, Oreo cookies, hamburgers and french fries… All this just to achieve washboard abs for about 1 day. Hmm… yes sure it is fulfilling to know you can reach a goal like that and to know that you can actually gain the “discipline” to get down to single digit body fat, but it’s only temporary. I don’t want to live my life holding my breath waiting for a specific date,  I’d rather learn to enjoy life every day, and perhaps when I’m back to my normal self with a more relaxed attitude to eating, then decide on a new competition date.

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So my goal for the coming months is to regain a healthy relationship with food. Eat when I’m hungry but not too much. Just allow myself to eat whatever I want as long as I can pronounce the ingredients, and is something I can find at my local farmer market.  Enough already with the “sugar free syrups” and the artificial crap, which doesn’t taste good anyway.  I may not give up my protein powder, but then again I only eat that once a day after my workout anyway.  I think all of this is possible, I think I can have a ripped body and still enjoy life and food. Imagine that!   Food for thought, and if this has made you hungry, I’m leaving you with a balanced, healthy recipe that you should not feel guilty about eating – but not too much of it, remember? !  Makes for a light, delicious dinner this weekend and is super simple to make.   I’ve borrowed this recipe from Jillian Michael’s, as she was partly responsible for my first weight loss (I did her online program years ago). Happy eating!! 🙂

ALMOND ORANGE RAINBOW TROUT WITH CHIPOTLE YOGURT SAUCE

Adapted from “Master Your Metabolism Cookbook” by Jillian Michaels

For Rainbow Trout:

Olive oil spray, for baking sheet

1/3 cup (1 oz) sliced almonds

1 slice whole-wheat bread, torn into pieces

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

grated zest of 1 orange

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

4 (4 oz) rainbow trout fillet, rinsed and patted dry

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp nonfat plain Greek yogurt

For Chipotle Yogurt Sauce:

1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, seeded and chopped, plus 1 tsp adobo sauce

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

juice of 1 lemon, plus more to taste

2 tbsp fresh orange juice

1/2 cup non fat plain Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil.

Begin fish: In the work bowl of a food processor, place the almonds, bread, garlic, orange zest and cayenne pepper. Pulse several times until roughly chopped. Pour mixture onto a shallow plate.

Prepare Chipotle Yogurt Sauce:  In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the chile and adobo sauce, garlic, lemon and orange juice, blend to a smooth paste. Transfer to a small bowl, add low fat yogurt and stir until combined. Taste and add more lemon juice or some salt if desired. Set aside.

Season trout with salt and pepper. Brush top of each fillet with the nonfat yogurt. Press the yogurt coated side of each fillet into the almond mixture. Place the fillet nut side up on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake until fish is firm and not translucent in the center, about 10 minutes.

Spoon the sauce onto the plates, place a piece of trout on each and serve with rice or potatoes of your choice.

Calories: 221

Fat: 9.8g

Protein: 25.3g

Carbohydrates: 10.9g

rainbowtroutjillianmichaels

 

Variety in diet = recipe for success!

“Any diet that’s based on denying yourself the foods you really, really like is going to be temporary.” – Brian Wansink

Truer words were never spoken. The more I study up about nutrition and test out various “diets” myself, the more I see that the only way you are going to be comfortably fit your entire life, is to welcome ALL foods into your life. Instead of completely cutting them out,  consume them in moderation or in limited quantities, or find healthier alternatives that will be good substitutes. I am of course not recommending and advertising that you go out and get one of those bloomed onions at Outback (see how little I know about fast food, I don’t even know the proper word) or deep fried snicker bars and eat them on a regular basis. I’m talking more about the stupid rules that exist that says “don’t eat carbs after 4” and “carrots are too high in sugar, I’m not allowed to eat them”, “no white potatoes, only sweet potatoes” and so forth.  The only truth that exists if you are trying to lose weight is you need to be in a caloric deficit. Sure, you could eat all of your 1,800 calories in one meal if you wanted to, but is that going to optimize everybody’s goals? Of course not.  It all depends on what your mission is. I’m not necessarily speaking literally to people who are trying to gain muscle, prepare for a show or develop a healthier lifestyle. But technically, yes – as long as you eat less than your maintenance level calories, you will lose weight, it’s just plain physics (or was it biology? LOL).

caloriesinandout

It all boils down to finding a lifestyle you can live with.  I’ve seen too many competitors completely fall apart after their show, because they’ve been deprived for so long. Hey, I’m even guilty of it myself, when I ate tilapia and asparagus 6 x a day for about 2-3 weeks before my show, no cheat days, and worked myself to the bone at the gym. Result? I became sluggish afterwards, not energetic going into the gym and basically wanted to eat everything under the sun. I think everyone has to go through their own experiences and personally find out what works for them. Every person is different, every body reacts differently, but  at the end of the day: what is the point of life? Isn’t it to feel healthy, energized and happy? To feel better about ourselves after a work out, to feel satisfied after a meal? I myself couldn’t find much joy in eating cold fish out of tupperware and just “get the meal over with”. Of course, at the end of my prep, I was so hungry that a dry, unseasoned chicken breast for breakfast sounded delicious. How sad. While prepping for a show certainly doesn’t mean you can live in a lap of pizza and ice cream, I also don’t think it’s necessary to eliminate salt, eat bland food and the same thing every DAMN DAY. I refuse! This time, I’m prepping more sanely, and thus I will need more time to get ready, but that is ok!

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Eating this way (my way), requires planning ahead, getting familiar with smaller portions and what they look like, and being able to be creative and also willing and open to trying new things.  I also work out really hard – I don’t waste time in the gym, I don’t sit around, chat with people or check my emails, I WORK. I’m usually in the gym about 1 – 1 1/2 hours (includes some cardio) and I try to use my time wisely. It’s about intensity, not quantity. I believe this helps me burn off more calories and allows me to eat a bit more lenient.  The mind wants what it “can’t” have. I clearly recall when I ate what I wanted last year, and nothing sounded exciting to me. I didn’t crave chocolate, pizza, ice cream (all my favorites), nothing! That’s when I knew I had to tighten up my diet. I have accepted that I am not going to look “ripped” 365 days a year. If fitness was the only thing I cared about in this world, and did not have an intense passion for everything food and wine, I could probably have a six pack year round. But.. my life is different- and dare I say: more versatile, less monotonous than that. I’ve always taken pride in that I take interest in multiple things, life is too short not to explore!!

My biggest thing is cutting out wine, since I work as a wine educator and consultant. There’s no denying I gain weight when I drink regularly (everyone will), but it’s also unrealistic to tell myself that I will never drink again. I enjoy wine, I love the business of wine, traveling to vineyards, attending seminars and tastings, and hanging out with my wine geek friends. I’m not going to change it, but I’m going to be selective about the number of times I socialize, choose to drink wine and what wines I drink.  More expensive wines are better, but also means I will drink less often LOL :).  This month I haven’t had any alcohol at all, which was a conscious decision because I honestly needed to detox after the holidays. My weight has gone down and I feel much better. Again – sad, but true!  So going forward, I’ll allow myself a drink or two once a week (on cheat day) until I’m about a month out for my show.  It will be interesting to see how my body will react and change to this new regimen, but it’s the only way I can combine my love for fitness and food.  One girl who does it very successfully is Kristine Weber – she is a National Body Fitness Champion in Norway and has a gorgeous figure, but is very versatile in the kitchen and eats dessert every night! Unfortunately her blog is in Norwegian, but hopefully she will consider adding an English version soon.  Below is a page of her upcoming cookbook:

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Point of this entire article is: Live your life, enjoy it and you CAN have both! There is no need to torture yourself, unless you of course really enjoy that! But I do believe there will be metabolic damage as a result, putting your body through rigorous, restrictive diets over a long period of time. I want to keep my body healthy, lean and cooperative for a very long time! Hence I’m trying this new way. I promise to keep you updated on how I’m doing. So far so good – I’m leaning out and I’m feeling strong!
With that – I leave you with a great recipe for a chicken and rice soup. It’s FLU SEASON, it’s freezing outside (Well at least where I am) and this gives you all the nutrients you need: protein, good carbs, minimal fat and lots of flavor!

CHICKEN AND RICE SOUP

Serves 6 (1 1/2 cups each)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 medium carrots, diced

1 medium onion, dice

1 stalk celery, diced

7 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 cup instant brown rice

12  oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed and cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tsp cider vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, onion an celery and cook, stirring until beginning to soften, 3-5 minutes.  Add broth and bring to a boil. Add rice, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add chicken and peas and gently simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley, vinegar, salt and pepper.

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(recipe adapted from Eating Well)