Happy New Year everyone! With the craziness of the holidays behind us, I finally have a chance to catch my breath and write a little bit. I always have blog ideas floating around in my head, and than one of my kids wakes up from a nap, does a poo on the potty (I’m still trying to figure out how this is better than diapers as I find myself elbow deep scraping poop off the sides of a little potty), needs a snack, has to breastfeed or wants to play…ahh the life of a mom with two young boys.
January can be depressing for some people as the magic of the holidays is over, but I love it; it’s a time for decluttering, fresh starts and setting goals for the year ahead. One of the most common goals at this time of year is weight loss. Many people start off in January with a new diet (no carbs, gluten-free, calorie counting), only to give it up a couple months later. Even though diets can yield fast results, they’re typically not sustainable so people give up and go back to their old habits. I know from personal experience.
When I first moved to Toronto in 2007, I was a dieter. My diet of choice was calorie counting. I allowed myself 1500 calories per day, and would track everything I ate throughout the day. Once my daily amount of calories ran out, I stopped eating. I was also doing intense exercise like spinning and weight training 6 days a week. I worked out an hour or more each time, sometimes even twice a day! I know what you’re thinking, I must have looked and felt great right? Wrong. This lifestyle was problematic for a few reasons:
- First of all, I was totally stressed out every time I sat down to eat, counting calories in my head, and I began to hate food.
- Second, because I was depriving myself, my eating habits were like a roller coaster; I’d go from eating very little to binging on “bad foods,” which mostly consisted of sugary desserts.
- Third, I wasn’t making healthy food choices. I mostly ate frozen microwave dinners, fruit juice, canned soups, and sugary cereals, so the calories I was consuming weren’t giving me the energy I needed to make it through the day; I was always tired and hungry.
- Working out too much can actually put your body in a state of stress, causing a release of cortisol; a harmful stress hormone that can lead to chronic inflammation in the body. I also wasn’t giving my body proper post-workout fuel, which made me even hungrier.
Since becoming a nutritionist and a mom, my eating and exercise habits have completely changed and I’m in better shape now after having two kids, never counting calories and exercising 2-3 times per week for 20-30 minutes each time, than I was when I was 24 years old.
The major difference between my 24 year old lifestyle and my 34 year old lifestyle? The food. It all comes down to the type of calories I’m putting in my body. Eating something sugary and void of nutrients like a donut will give you energy very fast, but not for very long. Whereas nutrient dense foods like raw vegetables, legumes or complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes require more energy from your body to break down and digest. The energy lasts longer in your body, and you can actually burn calories while you digest!
If you’re thinking of going on a diet this year, save your time and money. Instead, invest in your health and get educated about healthy food choices that will give your body the nutrient-rich calories it needs. Buy real, fresh food and start cooking from scratch. You don’t have to cook elaborate recipes – something as simple as avocado on sprouted toast with goat cheese and sea salt is an example of a healthy lunch. When you start to cook and eat healthy food, you’ll realize that you don’t have to count calories anymore, you’ll feel better, look better and love food again. Cheers to a healthy 2017!