Building a healthy relationship with food – Post 2 ‘Calorie Counting’

Welcome to my second post on building a healthy relationship with food! Previously I spoke about ‘Guilty Eating’ and how indulging in a large piece of cake or a drunken stop at Maccas drive-through can potentially end up sending you into a vicious downward spiral of emotion that turns into a continuous cycle of bad behaviour and feelings of worthlessness. I also talked about why it doesn’t necessarily need to be that way.

While I’m no mental health expert and certainly do not claim to have any nutrition-related qualifications, I believe my own experiences, research, attempts at dieting (which have been A LOT) and watching those around me endeavour to find what works best for them, have helped me to gather an understanding of the basic principles which do NOT seem to support a healthy mental relationship with food.

Food is my bestfriend

Extreme calorie counting, I believe, is one of these. Now I understand that calorie counting works for some people and is the best way they can maintain portion control but my god it is a tedious process! I’m currently in week 3 of the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation which is very focused on counting the calories of the food you consume as you are given a daily allowance (determined by what program you choose).

As part of this program, today I weighed out 40g of baby spinach for a pita pocket sandwich with 125g of chicken breast, 60g of low-fat ricotta cheese and half a grilled zucchini . . . WHO AM I?! By counting all the calories of my snacks, cups of tea, morning coffee and even my treat meals I’ve pretty much taken the joy out of eating! Now don’t get me wrong the 12WBT program is a nice, achievable and well-balanced option for those trying to achieve a particular goal, but can we focus less on how many calories are in the food we are consuming and more on the quality and nutritious value of it?

This brings me to my next point, not all calories are equal. I Quit Sugar gives some brief great examples of this in the following article https://iquitsugar.com/dont-count-calories-2/. Also, Damon Gameau talks about his experience in That Sugar Film where he discovered that the diet he adopted to have 40 teaspoons of sugar a day for 60 days actually matched his previous sugar free and whole-foods diet in terms of the amount of calories he consumed per day here http://www.thatsugarfilm.com/my-calorie-results/. Despite the fact he wasn’t eating any more calories than he was previously, the quality of the food he was consuming still resulted in him gaining weight and developing fatty liver disease!

Not-all-calories-are-created-equal

Another factor to consider is that when counting calories it’s far easier to reach for the pre-packaged foods which have the amount of Kilojoules or calories listed on them rather than opting for the fresh produce and weighing it all individually, therefore creating bad choices and habits. We also tend to opt for low-fat dairy options when calorie counting which quite often have sugar added to them in order to make up for the lack of taste from the removed fat, therefore upping our sugar consumption each day.

Now I can preach on and on to you about how adopting a (mostly) sugar-free lifestyle and eating real, wholesome food and plenty of it is the true path to happy eating, but the truth is that it really is the case for me! I’ve never been happier with my diet than when I am enjoying delicious slow-cooked lamb shanks or a home-made chicken soup where I know exactly what has gone in it and the ingredients are measured via rough handfuls as opposed to grams on a set of scales, or when I have a huge salad with avocado, cheese AND nuts in it. Sure, when I eat like this I’m not at my absolute skinniest (which is probably technically underweight) but by participating in regular exercise (even if only going for a walk) I still like to think I’ve got a body good enough to make a few heads turn hehe. The important thing is mentally I’m guilt-free, satisfied, nourished, less stressed and therefore healthy overall . . . and I ENJOY FOOD!

So there you have it, my reasons for why calorie counting is not the pathway to building a healthy relationship with food. In summary:

  • It’s takes the fun out of eating and turns food consumption into a chore
  • Not all calories are equal
  • Opting for lower calorie low-fat dairy options can increase daily sugar consumption
  • It can create bad habits in terms of reaching for easily measurable pre-packaged foods as opposed to fresh produce

And lastly,

  • It’s tedious, boring and I hate it!

Here’s hoping I haven’t offended anyone too much,

Sinead xx

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The post-holiday food slump . . .

After eating half a packet of snakes (the confectionery type of course) because I felt crappy and guilty for eating KFC yesterday (not sure why I thought it would help), there seems no better time to talk about being in a post-holiday slump.

Its been just over 3 weeks since I returned home from California but I just can’t seem to get back into the swing of things. I only put on 1 kilogram whilst overseas (thankfully in part to my commitment to myself I wrote about here https://sineadwormald.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/staying-healthy-on-holidays/ ) but I’m ashamed to admit I’m once again addicted to sugar and despite starting the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation with my partner for some routine and inspiration, a couple of big weekends has resulted in some naughty eating habits on a Sunday and sometimes into the Monday.

I’m sure I’m speaking to an audience that can sympathise and relate to the vicious downward spiral we sometimes let ourselves be sucked into and I feel that by writing about this and voicing my guilt I’m taking the first step towards acknowledging and moving on!

So what are some other steps that I, and those of you in the midst of gut-wrenching slump, can take to pull ourselves back out into the light?

  • Acknowledge your guilt but don’t let it consume you. I’ve spoken about overcoming food guilt in the past and I know it’s easier said than done, however all you really need to know is that your one indulgence has not ruined everything! You are not back at square one, just don’t let your bad meal turn into a bad day, or a bad day turn into a bad three days.
  • Try and avoid alcohol for a few weeks. It’s no secret that when we feel under the weather we reach out for the shitty, crappy, salty, oily and nutrition-less food, and when do we feel more under the weather than when we are hungover? I’m planning on committing myself to Dry July this year and also attempting to lock in some exercise sessions on Sundays to make myself accountable.
  • Throw out the temptations. I can be a bit of a tight-arse and food wastage is definitely not something I want to condone, however sometimes you just have to do what needs to be done. Throw out the half-empty containers of ice-cream or the packets of lollies and chocolate you’ve hidden in the top cupboard. Just. Get. Rid. Of. It. You should see the sweet sticky mess in my bin at the moment!
  • Fill up on the good stuff. If you make yourself full to bursting by bulking out meals with vegetables you’re not even physically going to be able to fit in that after dinner snack. Well, in principal anyway.
  • Lastly, be kind to yourself. Beating yourself up and ruining your confidence is just like adding kindling to the fire.
Climbing to see the Hollywood sign

A quick shot of me after climbing Bronson Canyon to the Hollywood sign.

Good luck and I hope your journey out of the slump is successful and fulfilling!

Sinead xx

I Am Woman – Celebrating International Women’s Day

On a day such as International Women’s Day it seems most appropriate to acknowledge some of the amazing women that have inspired, supported and surrounded me. Here are some things I would like to say to those women . . .

here’s to STRONG women,

may we KNOW them,

may we BE them,

may we RAISE them.

To my mother –  thank you for supporting my life choices and then pulling me out of the dark places if that’s where my choices have taken me. No questions were asked and no judgements were made by you. Thank you for being a pillar of strength and showing me the beauty of being an independent woman.

To my sister – thank you for being so unbelievably unique, outgoing and innocent. You are brave where I am scared and I can’t wait to watch you turn into a beautiful and strong young woman.

To my grandmother – whilst at times you are quiet and unsure of yourself, you are unwavering in your support and love. I admire you more than you know, not just because you overcame your battle with cancer, but because you shy away from acknowledgement or praise for it.

To my best girlfriends (you know who you are) – thank you for being you! Thank you for showing me the true meaning of friendship and thank you for inspiring me every day. Thank you for listening to my not-so-pretty honesty after a few wines and being witness to my variable behaviour with no judgement. You are so unbelievably beautiful inside and out, my only wish would be for you to actually realise this.

An impromptu celebratory picnic with some of my favourite ladies at Telegraph Station in Alice Springs yesterday. I admire every single one of these women and think they are all amazing!

An impromptu celebratory picnic with some of my favourite ladies at Telegraph Station in Alice Springs yesterday. I admire every single one of these women and think they are all amazing!

We all know that it’s so important as women to empower each other instead of pointing out each other’s faults or weaknesses, and yet it’s still so prevalent in our society. Yesterday I reflected on my own behaviour and was able to think of far too many examples where I have put another woman down to make myself feel better. As a result I am making the following pledge to myself and goal for the following year:

From now on I will seek to let other women’s strength empower and inspire me, rather than push me to identify my own weaknesses and lash out in jealousy. I will use their beauty to help me identify my own.

Please join me in striving for a better culture amongst the women of today. Let’s do our best to move away from unhealthy bitchiness and towards positive self-reflection.

Sinead xx

Simple and to the point. I adore Jennifer Lawrence and her unashamedly beautiful-goof ways.

Simple and to the point. I adore Jennifer Lawrence and her unashamedly beautiful-goof ways.

Un-intimidating Yoga at home

It took me a long time to work up the courage to attempt yoga. I’ve always struggled with flexibility. Visions of myself struggling in ballet class as an 8 year old tend to haunt me whenever I attempt the sit and reach test or to even try and touch my toes. The thought of attending a yoga class and attempting to turn myself into a human pretzel in front of others was pretty much terrifying. As a result I pretty much ignored flexibility and stretching all together . .  which was obviously a bad choice!

That is until I discovered the YouTube channel ‘Yoga with Adriene’. I’m just going to come right out and say that I have a huge girl crush on Adriene Mishler. She is beautiful, funny, witty and just devine! Her channel has literally every type of Yoga you could ask for. Beginner’s yoga, yoga for weight-loss, yoga for your butt and thighs, yoga for core strength, yoga at your desk and even individual videos devoted to particular poses in case there’s a particular one you just can’t get the hang of. One of my personal favourites is the ‘Yoga for Hangovers’ video, she has literally thought of everything! Not to mention her motto is ‘find what feels good’ which focuses on encouraging you to move and experiment with the poses instead of just cranking into them and trying to hold for minutes at a time.

Since attempting a few beginner’s videos and her 30 Days of Yoga challenge over the past few months I have noticed:

  • Improved flexibility
  • Less back pain
  • Better focus and less stress
  • Better sleeping patterns
  • Reduced cellulite around my butt and thighs
  • Increased strength in my core
  • Better tone in my arms

Of course it’s natural to be sceptical as to how well you can learn and practice yoga at home and without the face to face instruction of a teacher,  however I can assure you Adriene’s videos are extremely informative and clearly articulated. Quite often I am able to simply listen to the video and not worry about straining my neck between my downward dog pose to see what move she is attempting next!

I will, however, be looking to start trying to attend a yoga class every couple of weeks or so now that I am more confident in the basics and to supplement my at-home practice to ensure I’m not doing anything too wrong.

If you’re looking to get into yoga or use it to supplement your existing fitness regime I highly recommend taking the following steps to get started:

  • Buy a good quality yoga mat (I have a mat from Lorna Jane with an inspirational quote on it that I absolute love)
  • Ensure you have a space and time to do your yoga where you will be the least interrupted (I try and do in the morning in the lounge room before my partner and housemate get up)
  • Attempt the videos in the ‘Yoga for Beginners’ playlist a couple of times each
  • Attempt the 30 Days of Yoga challenge
  • Reap the rewards!

To find the above mentioned videos and playlists go to

http://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene

Sinead xx