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How to Avoid Post-Holiday Dieting Backlash

Health, Lifestyle, Nutrition By December 23, 2018 No Comments

We are heading right into the eye of the storm. In a matter weeks, we will start being attacked by magazine headlines and news segments explaining to us why we need to immediately shift our life’s focus onto losing weight we may or may not have gained over the holidays.

The diet industry is here to profit off your insecurities – by trying to tell you that unless you buy and use their products to turn yourself into a lean, mean machine – you will be a social pariah and become or remain unloved and unwanted. But that’s not true. If someone only loves you or wants you when you are lean, I would make the argument that they don’t actually want or love you.

These are the type of messages that unfortunately sell products, but also negatively impact people’s body image and as a result self-confidence. It’s easy to fall into the trap of fixating on achieving leanness to feel validated. When you poke and prod people enough by telling them they are worthless because they have “spare tire to lose” they will believe that. And eventually they will devote all their time and energy to becoming thin so they can be “worthy” and “valuable.”  This is both damaging to the psyche and body.

The reality is everybody’s body has a unique set point. Your set point is weight range where your body likes to be naturally to optimize your health and function. This range will look and be different for everybody. Factors like gender, height, genetics, race, environment, social status, stress, food, and exercise will all effect how your set point expresses itself.

If you fight your natural set point by part-taking in excessive dietary restriction and exercise to control your body, your body will revolt, Some of the negative health effects of dieting behaviour can be:

  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Loss of menstruation
  • Bone loss
  • Muscle loss
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Increased risk of eating disorder
  • Increased risk of cardiosvascular disease, type II to diabetes, and high blood pressure
  • Increased set point

Knowing that dieting is so damaging, how can we pursue health in a way that actually serves us instead of taking on the physically and psychologically damaging behaviours that are going to be promoted to us over the next few weeks?

We can opt in to doing behaviours that are actually focused on improving our health, or what I like to call the JAB. This is how I approach my own health and wellness and also how I coach all of my clients:

  • Joyful Exercise: Exercising in a way that you enjoy, that is engaging, and sustainable.
  • Attuned Eating: Also known as Intuitive Eating, which means listening to your body to guide your nutrition choices. This means paying attention to signals for hunger, satiety, satisfaction, and cravings but also including gentle nutrition practices such  as regularly eating fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient dense foods.
  • Body Peace: Making peace with your body. I’m not going to ask you to love it. But if at minimum you can make peace with it’s existence and all the amazing functions it offers you, you can start to respect your body and take better care of it.

When we engage in behaviours like Joyful Exercise, Attuned Eating, and making Body Peace, these behaviours allows us to live in the present moment instead of focusing on controlling every thing.  All of these behaviours are sustainable and easy to maintain with practice. Where as extreme dieting and exercise patterns can be detrimental to your health and only offer some type of short-time result that is not sustainable.

So instead of hopping on the dieting bandwagon again this year, try listening to your body and treating it with kindness and see where it takes you.

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Dieting and Restriction isn’t the Answer to Life’s Problems

Health, Lifestyle, Mindset By December 2, 2018 No Comments

A lot of people truly believe that the result of dieting will dramatically change their lives. And if you believe this, it’s not your fault. You’ve been lied to, and I can completely understand why the shiny allure of dieting and restrictive eating is appealing to you.

“Diet and you can be confident.”

“Diet and you can be sexy.”

“Diet and you can be yourself.”

“Diet and you be all the things you can be.” 

But it’s not true. You can do and be all of those things without dieting. Dieting and restriction does damage to your body and your psyche that has severe repercussions.

If you want feel to  confident you don’t have inflict voluntary starvation upon yourself. That won’t change your confidence or happiness levels at all. In fact if you use dieting as tool to try and achieve happiness and confidence, I can promise you that you won’t find those things at the end of the dieting rainbow. I know, because I’ve done it. You may even end up feeling significantly worse if you do decide to go down the path of restriction.

I’ve hungered. I’ve suffered. I’ve punished my body. I ate “clean” and “guilt-free.” All so I could be more confident and like myself. At the end of it all, after achieving the look I wanted, I still had a painfully low level of self-esteem and I was just as sad about my life as I was when I had started. Mental health and self-image need to be addressed directly in order to improve.

Dieting is a distraction that takes your attention away from doing meaningful and joyful things in your life.

If you’re feeling dissatisfied with your life or unhappy, consider reaching out to a mental health professional and seeking help. Dieting, restriction, and thinness won’t lead you to happy ending that you are seeking. Instead of dieting, try doing things that directly make you feel how you want to feel or be how you want to be.

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Unconditional Permission

Health, Lifestyle, Mindset, Nutrition, Uncategorized By November 4, 2018 No Comments

Recovering from dieting and disordered eating behaviours can be difficult. Diet culture is so pervasive in our day to day lives that sometimes we miss the signs that certain behaviours are restrictive and damaging. It can be very easy to become preoccupied with food and start depriving yourself in the name of “health” and end up in psychological and physiological turmoil.

“I really want ice cream but I won’t have it because it’s not healthy.”

“I love chicken wings but I will never eat them because they have too many calories.” 

Lines like these feed into to deprivation – both psychological and physical. Our body and brain send us signals to tell us when to eat and what to eat. Whenever we don’t eat what our body is telling us it needs we are depriving ourselves of nutrients and energy that we need for survival and also just general enjoyment.

It’s in these moments when our body is telling us what it needs that we must listen to it and trust it. This means giving yourself unconditional permission to eat. Giving yourself permissions to eat what you want, when you want it. This will allow you to discover and enjoy foods while also staving off cravings (which can prevent things like binge eating. ) Eating with unconditional permission will satisfy your hunger and cravings while making your food experiences more meaningful and enjoyable.

Unconditional permission give your body what it needs, let’s you build trust with your body and let go of damaging food rules that keep you from food freedom. No foods are off-limits (unless you have allergies or other medical reasons to not consume certain foods.) If you want eggs, bacon, and avocado for breakfast, have it. If your hunger is telling you to eat pizza for dinner, do it.  If you want midday pancakes, listen to your body and eat. You will also probably eventually find yourself craving things like apples, salad, watermelon, yogurt too once you allow yourself to have some food freedom.

In addition to allowing your body to have a variety of foods, you are also less likely to overeat when you are actually eating and savouring the foods that you really want to eat. There is a switch in your brain that goes on when you realize you can eat what you want, whenever you want it, in quantities that are congruent to your hunger. The following examples will illustrate the difference between dieting and eating with unconditional permission.

DIETING: ” I want a brownie, but I can’t have it because it’s not allowed on my diet. I am going to eat three cups of cooked broccoli so I’m too full to eat a brownie. I ate three cups of broccoli but I still want the brownie. I now ‘give in’ because I am deprived, and instead of eating one brownie I eat a whole batch. I then swear to never eat brownies again in my life because I am now uncomfortably full and ashamed.” Repeat cycle.

UNCONDITIONAL PERMISSION: ” I want a brownie. I eat a brownie to satisfaction. I move on with my life.”

The diet mentality is painful, restrictive, and stressful. Giving yourself unconditional permission to honour your body and hunger is simple, and it gets easier and better with practice.

Your relationship with food does not need to be complicated and painful. You are allowed to eat free of restriction, stress, and guilt. You are allowed to the foods that you want, when you want them. You can trust your body. You can nourish your body. You can give yourself unconditional permission to eat. 

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Leaner =/= Healthier

Health, Mindset By September 16, 2018 No Comments

A lot of people fall prey to the misconception that lean and thin people are healthy while larger and fatter people are unhealthy. Sadly, this mindset attributes to stigma and bias against people in larger bodies that cascades into the workplace, healthcare, and many other day to day activities. If you’re not a person who lives in a larger body, you may try to refute this, but just one example of this would be the Canadian woman who sought out medical intervention and was told to lose weight when she actually had cancer and died as a result of malpractice.

The fallacy that thin and lean is healthy while large and fat is unhealthy is a damaging and oppressive belief that needs to stop. People come in all different shapes, sizes, and compositions regardless of their health status. We don’t expect every breed of dog to be lean and muscular, we don’t expect every flower to be pink, so why would we expect there to be only one way for people to look in order to be healthy?

There are many factors that contribute to a person’s overall health including diet, health behaviours, genetics, environment, social status, etc. All of these things are independent of bodyweight and composition. The proportion to which these factors effect someone’s health may surprise you.

 


You may notice that body weight and composition is not listed on here. That’s because bodyweight and body composition are not indicators of health status, while healthy living and habits are (but only to a certain extent.) With this in mind, it’s good to think of the classic example of the lean and thin person who never gains weight despite eating highly processed foods without having touched a vegetable or fruit in 10 years, doesn’t exercise, regularly opts out of sleeping, and regularly abuses alcohol and drugs. And then of course there’s the larger person who eats plenty of vegetables, gets 8 hours of sleep nightly, engages in intense exercise and physical activity regularly, doesn’t drink alcohol or use drugs, and their body will not lose weight or change composition.

On a snap judgment, regardless of behaviours, people will judge both of these individuals assuming that the leaner person is healthy and the fatter person is unhealthy, even if it is clearly not the case. It’s quite obvious that the larger person in this example is going to be healthier just based on their behaviours alone. All of this to say it’s impossible to know someone’s health status based on their body size and composition. On top of this, a person’s health status is really nobody’s business but their own.

So before you assume that larger and fatter people or unhealthy, acknowledge your bias, and remember you that can’t know somebody’s health status just by looking at them based on their body size and composition. Being thinner and leaner does not equate to being healthy, nor does being fatter and larger equate to being unhealthy.

We also have to acknowledge, considering all of the factors affecting health status, that being in a good health is a privilege. When we consider social status, economic status, ability, and environment – a lot of people don’t have access to opportunities or resources to easily engage in healthy behaviours that could attribute to improving their health and wellness. People are not obligated to be healthy, and many are not able to partake in activities and behaviours that could improve their health.

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Why You Suck at Sticking to Your “Diet”

Health, Mindset, Nutrition By September 4, 2018 No Comments

I work in an industry that is primarily driven by society’s obsession with having ultra lean hard bodies. I hear the following all the time from clients, friends, family, and anyone I talk to that knows I work as a fitness coach: “I suck at sticking to my diet. I just can’t do it.”

They tell me they went vegan for a week, and then ate nothing but Big Macs for two weeks straight after that. They did the “caveman diet” and then wanted nothing but bread for months. It’s sadly a common story shared by many people. They deprive themselves of nourishment and calories and then the pendulum swings the other way to compensate for the extreme restriction. It’s a survival mechanism.

The problem isn’t that you suck at sticking to your diet. Your body is really good at surviving. The real problem is that your diet sucks.

A “diet” in the conventional and generally socially accepted definition is food restriction for the sake of weight or fat loss. In the most blunt terms (I’m not one for subtlety,) it’s voluntary starvation.

Dieting and starvation have well-known and researched negative health effects, not limited but including the most extreme: DEATH.

A list of other side effects include but are not limited to:

  • Malnourishment (energy, vitamin, mineral deficiencies)
  • Loss of bone density
  • Amennorhea (loss of menstruation)
  • Low libido
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Dehydration
  • Pre-occupation with food
  • Increased health risks over time with prolonged/recurring bouts of deprivation

Knowing all of this, it’s pretty obvious as to why you would have such a hard time sticking to a conventional diet. Our bodies have been evolving throughout history in order to survive hardship, and each time we endure more hardship via deprivation our bodies get even better at protecting themselves. The more you deprive your body of nourishment the more you will experience intense cravings, hunger, and preoccupation with food. Your body and brain will have the sole goal of making sure you eat and keeping you alive – and that’s okay.

Instead of trying to force ourselves into starvation and deprivation we should be focusing on what makes us feel well by listening to our bodies.

The more you can listen and obey your body’s signals the better off you will be. The best approach to nutrition that you can adhere to for long term health and wellness is by listening to what your body needs. This is called Intuitive Eating. This means listening to your body when you’re hungry, listening to it when it’s satisfied, listening to it to see what it wants and needs, listening to it to see what makes it feel best. Depending on where someone is at in their journey with eating intuitively their food intake may vary a lot, but most people in the long-term end up naturally eating in a way that is varied, moderate, and is congruent with maintaining good health while enjoying all foods without restriction.

It really is that straight-forward, and with patience and practice you can break up with dieting and get back to living a full and vivacious life without starving yourself.  For more information look here.

If you would like more information on re-shaping your relationship with food and/or with your body, I highly encourage you to read the following books:

 

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The Best Workout Routine

exercise, Health, Lifestyle, Programming By August 19, 2018 No Comments

**Spoiler Alert: There is no specific training program attached to this article, rather guidelines for creating or picking a long-term and sustainable exercise program for yourself.**

Many people start new workout routines all the time with the intention of becoming healthier and more “fit.” Sadly a lot of people struggle to maintain these routines due to the fact that the programs they are following are not sustainable nor enjoyable. It is immensely difficult to create sustainable long-term habit change when those changes are focused on engaging in habits that 1) you hate doing, 2) burn you out.

So how do you create an exercise routine that serves you best?

You would want to look at several factors when creating an exercise and activity routine (that are not limited to): frequency, duration, and qualitative factors that you enjoy but also keep you motivated.

Frequency & Duration

When choosing your frequency and duration you want to factor in your general lifestyle, schedule, stress levels, and ability to recover. People who have low levels of stress will be able to recover more quickly and will often times do better training and exercising more often (3-7 days per week.) While people who have high levels of stress or anxiety will recover more slowly and will need to train less frequently (1-5 days per week.)

Knowing this you’d also want to keep the duration of your exercise in line with your training frequency and ability to recover. Generally, the more often you train the shorter in duration your workouts should be, and the less often you train the longer in duration your workouts should be. A workout or bout of exercise could range anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes.

Qualities

When looking at different qualities a training program or activity has, different people will naturally be drawn to different types of activities. Some people like high intensity training, some people prefer activities that are more soothing, some people like working in groups, while others prefer doing their exercise alone. Whatever floats your boat, at the end of the day it’s about finding what works for you and keeps you consistent and motivated.

Typically people are drawn to at least one of these five qualities:

  1. Intensity: Activities that are maximal effort, neurologically demanding, require brute force, and often times are more aggressive in nature. These activities can include boxing, powerlifting, rugby, olympic lifting.
  2. Explosiveness: Activities that are neurologically demanding, requiring explosive efforts and high levels of power but also coordination  such as sprinting, jumping, olympic lifting, gymnastics, etc.
  3. Variety: Activities that are varied and satisfy the need to learn new skills without getting bored. Exercise needs to be both neurologically and muscularly demanding. Essentially every type of exercise can be enjoyable and will deliver progressive results. Anything will work but only for a while. A very popular activity in this category would be CrossFit.
  4. Sensation: Activities that allow you to create a strong mind-muscle connection and pay attention to how the body feels. This includes but is not limited to activities such as bodybuilding and yoga. These activities are muscularly demanding.
  5. Precision: Activities that are demanding on the muscular system but require structure and constant repetitive mastery of a skill such as distance running, grappling,  and bodybuilding. The repetitive movement patterns often have a calming effect.

 NOTE: These categories are from Christian Thibaudeau’s Neurotying which is based in research surrounding individual sensitivity to neurotransmitters (dopamine, adrenalin, and serotonin) and other factors like (Acetylcholine and GABA.) I highly recommend getting more information, starting here.

The idea behind picking activities to do that you are more drawn to is that because you enjoy what you are doing you will be able to push yourself harder, get results, and stay consistent – making your exercise routine sustainable. This will allow you to express yourself physically in the way that is best suited to your individual needs and desires. Who doesn’t want more of that?

When you love what you do, and it suits your needs and lifestyle, what reason do you have to not part-take in physical activity? 

I firmly believe there is an activity or training program out there for everybody, you just need to find what works for you and respect that.

 

 

 

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Why You Shouldn’t Skip Your Mobility Work

Health, Training, Workout By July 27, 2018 No Comments

No one’s saying you need to have the mobility of a Russian contortionist. But putting off your mobility work in favour of getting into your lifts as soon as you hit the gym could have consequences that will creep on you and reduce the longevity of your training life. If you are THAT GAL or THAT GUY who has trouble hitting parallel depth with a bodyweight squat but jumps into a barbell back squat without doing any preparation, we need to have a talk.

WHAT IS MOBILITY?

Mobility = Flexibility + Stability

In order to understand why you need to do mobility work, you should understand what mobility is. Mobility is a combination of having flexibility and stability through a joint’s range of motion.

Flexibility is a joint’s ability to move through a range of motion. This can be done actively or passively.

Stability is a joint’s ability to stabilize through its range of motion.

When a joint is both flexible and stable – having good and adequate mobility, you can develop phenomenal strength while mitigating the risk of injury.

If a joint does not have adequate mobility (flexibility and/or stability) to perform desired movements, this is when you need to start doing some work to figure out which joints are limited in movement.

HOW TO MOBILIZE YOUR JOINTS

The major joints you can look at mobilizing are the:

  • ankles
  • hips
  • spine (lumbar, thoracic, and cervical)
  • shoulders
  • wrists

All of these joints are capable of moving through many ranges of motion; you should be able to move them and stabilize them in all of the ranges of motion you train and then some.

People who are tight as a rope would benefit from doing more flexibility work. While people who are comparable to Gumby will benefit from doing more stability work. Most people will need a combination of both flexibility and stability work.

  • This could mean working on frog stretch to warm up tight hips prior to squatting.
  • This could mean working on cat-cows to move the spine, and then working on deadbugs to stabilize it in neutral, or working on Jefferson curls to get mobile outside of neutral spine.
  • This could mean doing dowel shoulder dislocates to open your overhead range of motion prior to pull-ups and presses.
  • This could mean doing weighted dislocates to stabilize the shoulders before pull-ups or presses.

The approach will need to vary from person to person, from movement to movement, from joint to joint. Not every person will benefit from the same drills, and that’s okay.

Are you making the same mistake everybody else does when stretching the adductors in a frog stretch? AKA rounding the back and falling into a posterior pelvic tilt. # Sadly, 9/10 people I see working on the frog and half-frog stretch make this mistake, which unfortunately makes the stretch ultimately useless. Whenever the lower back rounds and the pelvis tips backward the adductors move into a shortened position (which means that they can’t be stretched from this position because they are not lengthened.) # To effectively stretch the adductors, you want to make sure that you keep your back flat and pelvis in a neutral position. If you can’t get your lower back flat (neutral) in the frog or half frog stretch you’re probably starting by going to deep for your current flexibility and need to ease off and work on some PNF variations in a less deeply stretched position. # The frog stretch is fantastic for opening the hips before squatting, deadlifting, or doing bent over rows when it is performed correctly (especially for people who tend to round their lower back while training.) So now that you know better, you can do better. May your hips be limber, and may your spine stay neutral when it’s supposed to be. ?? # # # #StrengthAndSanity #fitness #fitfam #toronto #the6ix #torontofitness #torontofitfam #personaltrainer #personaltraining #onlinecoaching #onlinepersonaltraining #flexibility #mobility #iamagatsu #girlsgonestrong #womenofstrong #girlswholift #womenwholift #strongwomen

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IS YOUR MOBILITY WORK ACTUALLY HELPING?

While mobility work is totally awesome and good for you, you want to make sure you are not wasting time and doing the wrong drills. In order to know if your mobility work is actually helping, you will want to test your movement quality and range of motion before you do a mobility drill.

This process could be doing a bodyweight squat to see your depth and if there is any pain throughout the movement. Then going into your mobility drill from there. Test the movement range and quality after your drill. Did your range improve? Is painful movement now pain-free? Yes? Good job, you did a drill that worked.

If you tested a movement, did a mobility drill, and the range stayed the same or there was no qualitative improvement, you will need to do a different drill in order to improve that movement. Mobility work should have an instantaneous response in terms of improving your movement quality –  even if it’s small.

HOP TO IT

If ya’ don’t know, now ya’ know – you have every reason now to be doing your mobility work and making sure you are adequately prepared for your workouts. Do your drills. Your body will thank you. The gains will come abounding.

? @agatsufitness “I don’t like stretching.” “Well, do you like tearing muscles?” ? # #fbf to the time I took the @agatsufitness Level 1 Movement and Mobility course in Montreal. # While not everyone has to work on achieving a front split, the progressions used to achieve them are fantastic for releasing tension in the hips and hamstrings – which could help people carrying a lot of tension mitigate the risk of injury. # Lifting heavy is fun, but there still needs to be a balance with training flexibility, which would allow us to have optimal mobility. If we trend too far in either direction we risk opening our body up to injury. If you’re someone who lifts a lot, consider adding a regular mobility practice to your routine to help keep your joints and tissues healthy.

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Intuitive Eating: What is it and how can you start doing it?

Health, Lifestyle, Mindset, Nutrition By February 20, 2018 Tags: , , , No Comments

“For both excessive and insufficient exercise destroy one’s strength, and both eating and drinking too much or too little destroy health, whereas the right quantity produces, increases or preserves it.” – Aristotle

If you are someone who has been trying to get off the diet-binge hamster wheel and make peace with your body and food, you’ve probably heard of Intuitive Eating.

Upon quick investigation, intuitive eating sounds to good to be true – it boasts that you can make peace with your body, make peace with food, maintain a healthy body weight, all while eating what you want when you want. However it is not too good to be true, and it does exactly what it says. What’s not to love about that?

Intuitive eating relies on using our natural bodily senses that we have had since birth. We listen to our bodies’ signals to eat when we are hungry and stop when we are not. It allows us to honour all our physiological, emotional, and social needs that food satisfies in our life without overly restricting and depriving ourselves of food.

Intuitive eating gives us the balance that allows us to respect that sometimes our bodies need a delicious brownie and sometimes our bodies also need salmon and spinach to nourish us. It rids us of harsh food dichotomies that are damaging to our overall well-being.

Intuitive eating respects that our bodies’ weight will fluctuate and adapt depending on a variety of lifestyle factors that affect our metabolisms. Our bodies deserve nourishment and respect regardless of their shape or size – sometimes we need more food and sometimes we need less. Similarly, sometimes our bodies need to store fat and sometimes they do not, and that is perfectly okay. Learning how to trust your body can be scary, but it’s a very important part of ending the cycle of being a yo-yo dieter.

Gaining weight after ending a strict diet and returning to normal intuitive eating is a perfectly normal and healthy response for a body that has been starving and deprived. Conversely for someone who has been ignoring their satiety cues it is not uncommon to lose weight once they start eating intuitively. In each scenario, our bodies are doing exactly what they need to be doing to preserve our health.

Our bodies tell us what we need and give us exactly what we need, we just need to make sure we listen to it. And no one will ever be perfect at intuitive eating, but just being “a little bit better” is the perfect place to start.

WHERE TO START

When you start eating intuitively, we first want to look at our bodily signals: hunger and satiety.

HUNGER: Hunger is our body’s signal that we need nourishment. We may feel empty, we may experience hunger pangs, we may get lightheaded, and even nauseous in cases of extreme hunger.

SATIETY: Satiety is our body’s signal that we have been nourished and can stop eating. You may experience a lack of interest in food, a loss of hunger, a feeling of fullness. In some cases we may be overly satiated and feel very full and uncomfortable.

Hunger and Satiety exists together on spectrum of varying degrees. How different levels of hunger and satiety feels will vary from person to person. It’s valuable exercises to use a number scale (most commonly zero to ten to grade your hunger.)

For example my hunger-satiety scale looks something like this:

– So hungry I feel nauseous and have a severe headache.

1 to 2 – So hungry I could eat the bark off of a tree, I am also moody and irritable.

– I need to eat very soon, I may reach for any food that is available even if it’s something I do not want.

– I am hungry and my appetite is telling me that I need to, but my hunger is not uncomfortable.

– I am neither hungry nor full, I feel neutral. I am not thing about food.

– I have eaten but I am not fully satiated, if I were going to sleep I would need a little more food or I will wake up at night with hunger pangs throughout the night.

7 to 8 – I feel well satiated, I am not uncomfortable after eating and stopping at this stage. I should not need to eat for a few hours. I could part-take in light exercise or activity after eating.

– I have eaten a little too much. I may be a little bit bloated and feel slightly uncomfortable.

10 – I have eaten way too much, I am largely bloated. My stomach hurts, I may need to lay down. I might feel sleepy from eating too much. I usually don’t want to see or smell food at this point.

Understanding and respecting your hunger and satiety cues is one of the principle foundations of intuitive eating. In order to properly be able to listen to our bodies’ cues, this means that we need to eat slowly enough for our brain to process the information our digestive system is sending to it.

It typically takes our brain 20 minutes to catch up with what is going on in our stomach. If you’re someone who eats very quickly (I know I am!) –  it may be a good exercise to try timing how long it takes you to eat. For some people even taking 10 minutes to eat a meal may be a feat, and that’s okay. There are plenty of ways to train yourself to slow down the pace of your meals. You could:

  • put your utensils down in between bites
  • chew your food thoroughly (this is good for your digestion and also the reason why our mouths have teeth 😉 )
  • share a meal with friends and family and engage in social behaviour
  • eat with your non-dominant hand or utensil you are not accustomed to (chop stick, etc.)
  • set time aside (20-30min +)  to eat your meals so you are not rushed

It may not be easy to develop the habit of slowing down and paying attention to your body’s cues, especially if you’ve been ignoring them and behaving according to external cues (i.e., I am on “x” diet, so I can only eat “y” type/amount of food – even I am hungry/overfull) for a significant amount of time. However, it is an integral part of healing your relationship with your body and with food. Starting with eating slowly and learning how to interpret your hunger and satiety signals is a great place to start.

If you want to further deeply explore the principles of Intuitive Eating and practice it daily in your day to day life you should read the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.

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Losing Weight Does Not Cure Negative Body Image.

Fat Loss, Health, Lifestyle, Mindset By March 26, 2017 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

 

This is typically something you will not hear from someone who works in my field. Personal trainers have been profitting off of the negative self-image of others for a long time. Promising that when you lose 20lbs or you have a more shapely butt that you will just start to ooze confidence.

Unfortunately, a change in the number on the scale is unlikely to unravel your whole self-belief system you have held for the majority of your life. If you view your body negatively, the way you see yourself is not going to change just because you lose weight. The way you carry yourself is not going to change just because you lose weight.

As someone whose weight has varied from its heaviest at 220lbs and at its lightest 135lbs, I can tell you that even at the times in my life when I was my leanest I was never satisfied with how my body looked. I was in what a lot of people consider to be “great shape” and still I had no confidence – I was painfully shy and the idea of wearing shorts in public would send me into a frenzy of tears and panic. I would constantly compare myself to other women – especially models and actresses – and try to validate myself by making my body and my overall look similar to them.

Nowadays, I maintain a fairly consistent bodyweight, and although I am not at my leanest – I am probably the healthiest I have ever been mentally and physically. I am strong and mobile and I can do things I was not even able to do as a child – such as handbalancing. I now maintain eye contact with people when I am talking to them, I don’t speak quietly or mumble anymore, and I am no longer petrified of wearing shorts in public. And even though I am not what society considers traditionally beautiful – I am happy with my body: how it looks and all the wonderful things it does. And this confidence has trickled into all aspects of my life.

But I know not everyone feels this way about their bodies. We have it hard, as women society tells us that if we are not “conventionally beautiful” à la Victoria Secret Angel than we are not valued. By no means am I saying that looking like a supermodel is wrong, however there are maybe 5 people in the world that look like Victoria Secret Angels and there are 3.5 billion women being told to look like that and being told that they are not worthy or valued based on how they look right now. And this is a HUGE PROBLEM.

There are 5 women in the world that look like this and it shouldn’t matter that you don’t look like them.

We, the people, come in a variety of shapes, colours, sizes, ages, ability, and body compositions and we should never feel guilty or ashamed of being ourselves nor for simply being in our bodies. The sooner we acknowledge and accept that, the sooner we can heal our broken relationships with our bodies and develop a stronger and more positive self-image. We can ask for better representation of our diverse bodies by voting with our dollars with the products purchase, by purchasing from companies that showcase our diversity. Hopefully over time we will achieve better representation of our physical diversity and this will normalize all bodies.

There is a strong need for a more diverse range of people in our modern day media.

Outside of asking society to change the narrow representation of the female body there are things we can do ourselves. We must first start by accepting our bodies and loving them. We can do this by:

  • doing things that make our bodies feel good; moving, eating, resting, sleeping, laughing, dancing, singing, exercising in ways that we enjoy, etc.
  • wearing clothing that is comfortable and makes us feel good
  • surrounding ourselves with positive people
  • keeping an inventory of the things we like about ourselves and our bodies
  • being grateful for all the wonderful things our bodies can do such as breathing, healing, running, etc.
  • protesting messages and media that are non-inclusive with regards to our bodies
  • calling people out for body policing and shutting down body policing

I also strongly believe an integral part of developing healthy body-image also begins by detaching our value as human beings to our looks. I am not saying it is wrong to want to change the way you look – however knowing that are valued outside of your looks is highly important. We are whole people – with skills, abilities, and smarts that can contribute to the world in so many positive ways outside of our looks. Taking the time to acknowledge, develop, and use our non-aesthetic assets will allow you to positively impact the world and in turn reward us with confidence and happiness that conforming our bodies to a societal iron maiden never could. 

When we start to claim our presence as whole people, we remember that we are not hollow shells meant earn our place in the world by pleasing the eyes of others. Only once we have accepted our bodies as they are can we begin to love them and act from a place of compassion and treat ourselves with respect and love we deseve. Maybe then we will fully acknowledge that losing weight does not cure negative body image.

Our remedy for negative body image starts with how we think and how we act. We need to act in line with how we want to feel and stand together to manifest the changes necessary to make us feel more positively about our bodies. We owe it to ourselves to take the steps towards feeling comfortable, safe, and confident in our bodies, and we are the only people who can make that happen.

I know I am ready for women to feel normal, happy, confident, and proud of their bodies. 

Are you?

 

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The World Needs the Body Positivity Movement

Health, Lifestyle, Mindset By February 5, 2017 Tags: , , , No Comments

As some of you may or may not know, I often describe myself as “body positive.”

Some people adore this, some people are confused by it, and some people find it down right offensive. For the last two, it’s mostly because people don’t understand what “body positivity” is and why it is.

 

“Isn’t body positivity just and excuse to be lazy and eat ice cream all day?”

I truly wish I had a dollar every time someone asked me if body positivity is just an excuse to be lazy and not take action towards living a healthy lifestyle. That is actually the antithesis of body positivity.

Body positivity is learning to appreciate all the different facets of your body in relation to form and function so we can feel good about the bodies we have and lead happier, more confident, and more productive lives. People who feel positively about their bodies will respect the bodies – and this will be reflected in their actions. People who love and respect the bodies will nourish themselves, move and exercise to feel good, rest and recover, and engage in self-care that sets them up for a life where they thrive physically and spiritually.

Conversely, when we hold negative views about ourselves and our bodies, the actions we take are often out of self-hatred and we end up abusing our bodies. As I’ve observed many times and have part-taken in during various times in my life, people abuse their bodies in a multitude of ways every single day and these behaviours are reflected on a spectrum of extremes:

  • eating foods that make them feel terrible
  • over eating
  • under eating
  • restrictive dieting
  • disordered eating patterns
  • substance abuse
  • over exercising
  • not exercising
  • not resting and recovery
  • conforming their body into an iron maiden of societal beauty standards
  • and much more…

“All you see is what you lacking, not what you packing.” – J. Cole

The by-product of this negativity we feel towards ourselves when we are not body positive is also reflected in how we treat other people. “We see the world not as it is, but as we are,” – if we are constantly criticizing ourselves, hating ourselves, and forcing ourselves into suffering we are incapable of feeling positively and feeling supportive of the people around us.

And this feeling is something that exists in people of all sizes and shapes – recall that body shame exists on a spectrum of extremes and these behaviours are exhibited in many different ways. This is why “fat-shaming” and “fit-shaming” are things, because people are so critical of themselves and suffering so much that they feel the need to shame others – misery loves company – so then there is this attitude that “If I have to suffer, you have to suffer with me.”

But the world doesn’t have to be this way. This spectrum of body-shaming wouldn’t exist if people took time to dismantle the negative thoughts and behaviours that keep them stuck in the same place. Evidently, there are a lot of external factors in our society we can’t control. However we can focus on the things we can control – the internal factors: how we think and behave towards ourselves and others.

It won’t be an overnight turn-around, but one day at a time, one action a time, we can change ourselves and the world around us. It starts within, changing our negative self-talk, being more compassionate to ourselves, and being less critical. Once we start taking better care of ourselves, we can evolve to a point where we are able to be kind and supportive to others – making our lives and the world we live in significantly better.

Are you ready to join the movement?

 

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