I’ve been struggling with my diet since Christmas, although I didn’t realise it. I’ve only put on about 3lbs, but it feels like a slippery slope if you can’t rein it back in, especially as I am getting married in November. If I was getting married tomorrow I’d be perfectly happy with my body, but the fear of putting on more and more weight uncontrollably between now and the big day is one that plays in my head constantly. I’m so proud of how far I’ve come with my health, weight and muscle tone but I am terrified it’s all going to be snatched away from me again.
So anyhow, since Christmas I’ve put on a few pounds and although I’ve been calorie counting as usual there seemed to be an underlying problem. I realised that I was always hungry. Not only that, but I was always tired, falling asleep on the couch at 7pm and struggling to wake in the morning. I was also sore from working out at the gym, sore from being on my feet all day at work, and my head was always aching from wedding planning and juggling that with day to day jobs like remembering to pay bills and post letters. One of the things on my to-do list was renew my mobile phone contract, and when I did I got a new phone with amazing battery life. At first I thought this would be great as I could guarantee enough power in my phone to listen to music at the gym, but what I ended up doing was rediscovering podcasts. I listened to a few celebrity interviews like Lisa Kudrow and Tina Fey (I have a thing for inspirational women I think) and then remembered that I had enjoyed listening to Ben Coomber a few years ago, and started listening again.
Ben is a personal trainer/nutritionist/entrepreneur as well as general geek about all things health and fitness. When I listened to his first podcasts there were about 30 available, now there are 125 and still going so I have plenty of 50 minute bursts to get through on my walks to and from work. Listening to him talk about losing weight, getting fit and more importantly getting healthy has kind of knocked some sense into me. A few years ago I was eating mainly Paleo but fell off the wagon as my weight plateaued. I cut out healthy fats and meats due to their high calorie content and ate mainly low-calorie, low-fat foods including lots of fresh fruit and vegetables but not much else. I also adhered to the rule that ‘all calories are equal’ which I knew wasn’t true, but it helped me lose weight so I didn’t care. And so although after a year this diet has got me to my goal weight, I realise now that it is unsustainable. This is a word which I hear Ben say a lot, and it certainly has rung true with me. I would deny myself foods when I was hungry, knowing that after I saw the weight loss when I stepped on the scales for my weekly weigh in I would then allow myself to eat some of the things I had been dreaming of all week; cakes, scones, takeaways, chocolate, all in one day til I felt ill and seriously guilty. This diet was unsustainable as I was living week to week, literally counting down the days until I could stuff sugar in my face.
I’ve not made any drastic changes to my diet or exercise routine, but I feel amazing. I feel awake. Here are some of the things I have learnt and applied to my daily life after listening to lots of Ben’s podcasts:
1. Drink more water
Everyone will look at this and say ‘Duh, we all know we should drink more water, tell us something new!’, but its a basic requirement for life. Yes, we all know we need water but do you actually try to drink more? I was drinking no water whatsoever but I was drinking at least one coffee, a few teas and a few sugar-free fizzy drinks throughout the day and I thought that was OK. Now I actively try to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day and as a result I have given up tea, coffee and fizzy drinks without even trying. Now I actually crave water whereas before I was craving caffeine and sweetener which created a vicious cycle and serious dehydration. I don’t get that afternoon slump, and my headaches have disappeared.
2. Protein is king
I have never stopped believing that protein is a good energy source, I just thought that they represented too many calories on my plate which could be substituted with tasty sugar. I decided that my carb heavy breakfast of porridge or fruit was not working as I was still hungry afterwards, and tired too which can be a result of eating carbohydrates. I thought I would eat a protein rich breakfast as Ben suggested and see how I got on. I’ve been having eggs for breakfast and find this fills me up nicely until lunch, and I’ve been also incorporating more protein in there too, by having a tuna salad followed by fruit and seeds. I now feel that although eating protein with every meal is not ideal from a cost or convenience perspective, the positive results in terms of energy levels are really great. So I’m trying to have protein at every meal simply because it makes me feel amazing. I save carbohydrates for dinner, as this is when getting that sleepy feeling that comes afterwards can be beneficial. It’s not enough make me fall asleep at 7pm but it sends the signals to my brain to relax and helps me get a better nights sleep.
3. If it makes you feel rubbish, don’t eat it
It can be hard to analyse what exactly has a negative affect on our bodies, but the easiest way to start is by eating whole foods as much as possible. As I’ve been doing this I realise that Greek yoghurt was making me feel really bloated, and thought that maybe I should avoid dairy for a while. I did this for roughly a week and I felt good. So no, I’m not lactose intolerant, I’m not allergic to dairy but if I feel better without it then why consume it? I don’t miss it enough at the moment so I’m steering clear. I celebrated pancake day by eating a massive crepe filled with Nutella and marshmallows, and I literally had to go home for a lie down to recover. Not because I was sick, but because my blood sugars were so low that I physically couldn’t stay awake! Don’t get me wrong, that crepe was amazing… but I had stuff to do that day and it was kind of inconvenient! If I am eating before exercise or before a busy day at work I now realise that processed sugars are going to make me very sleepy to are best avoided.
I hope you’ve found some of this helpful, its just a general round up of some of the positive changes I’ve made recently and I felt like they were good enough to share. If you are interested in reading or listening to Ben Coomber you can find him at http://bencoomber.com/