Change

Put Down Your Scale And Pick Up Your Fork

Today I was scrolling through Instagram under the tag #weightloss. Once a month or so I look through some posts linked to popular tags to see what’s going on in the minds of people in the health and fitness community. Today I stumbled across an Instagram user who was asking for weight loss help. She was restricting herself to 1300 calories a day and noticed the scale had stopped moving. I shouldn’t be surprised that people are still using calorie restriction to lose weight, but I am.

Weight loss is so much more than energy out > energy in.

For years we have been told that to lose weight we need to go on a diet that decreases our calorie intake to less than the calories we burn. Guess what, we have gotten fatter. If eating fewer calories worked for everybody, by now we should have a skinny population. I’m not saying nobody has lost weight on a restricted diet, but I do not think it is a healthy or safe option.

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Your Body Is Not Stupid

Our bodies job is to stay alive. It will do everything it possibly can to keep working. This is why we see people live through unthinkable circumstances and long-term illness. When you restrict your calories to less than your body needs, you may initially lose weight. Over time your body starts to think you aren’t going to feed it and it adjusts to keep you alive. It slows down energy systems and other biological processes to conserve enough energy to keep functioning. When this happens, the weight stops coming off, and many people will further restrict their diet, this either goes on until the person is severely ill or, in most cases, gives up and returns to their previous lifestyle. This leads to years of yo-yo dieting further confusing the bodies processes and sometimes causing long-term damage. This is the same for people who eat way more than their body needs, the safest response is for the body to store it as fat. Your body can’t let all that free sugar hang out in your blood stream, it must do something about it.

Put Down The Scale

Guess what, that number is JUST a number. There are so many variables that go into what you weigh. If you can’t look at yourself objectively, the scale will work against you. There is nothing wrong with using it as a tool of measurement, but it should never be used as a tool of destruction. Your motivation needs to come from something deeper than wanting to look a certain way. It needs to come from something inside you saying, “I want to be better.”

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Pick Up Your Fork

I want you to pick up your fork and eat your way to better health. I want you to choose whole foods that leave you feeling satisfied at the end of the meal. I want you to include a healthy source of fat to help curb cravings. I want you to eat lots and lots of vegetables so that your body gets the nutrients it needs to function properly. Weight loss is a side effect of good health, it isn’t the cause. Look at yourself in the mirror and accept where you’re at, and then strive to be better. Love yourself but never give up on improving. Fix your health, and the weight will come off on its own. You can read what I recommend you eat here.

Individualized Nutrition

As human beings, we are all unique. Not one is like the other. Why then do we constantly try to copy one another? Our DNA is unlike any other person on earth, but we tend to treat ourselves like we are all the same. We assume that if it works for one person, it should work for everyone. Some general principals work for everyone but to achieve optimal health, you need to find what works for you. Your nutrition plan shouldn’t look exactly like anyone else’s. The foods your body loves/hates are not going to be the same. I am gluten free, that doesn’t mean you should all be gluten-free. I have a friend who can’t eat tomatoes, I didn’t stop eating them just because she did. Therefore, I find out as much as possible about my clients. I want to know how you feel after you eat. I want to know how you sleep at night. I want to know how stressful your job is. These things change the nutrition plan I prescribe. Don’t put yourself in a box, or on a diet, just because other people do.

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

 

 

 

The Day After Thanksgiving

I don’t know about you, but I find the gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas kind of awkward. We enjoy a long weekend full of Turkey, and other festive foods, and less than 12 weeks later we spend roughly two weeks doing it again. It’s easy to just tell myself that I might as well just do/eat what I want until Christmas is over. Why not just start fresh January 1st? After all, it is baggy sweater season! But that would mean I’ve missed out on 3 months worth of self improvement. You can make a huge difference in your health with three months of time.

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What if rather than waiting until January 1st, you made a change today? It doesn’t have to be a big change, it can be something as simple as committing to taking your dog for a walk every morning. What if next week you decided to pack a salad and grilled chicken for lunch instead of hitting up McDonald’s every day? What if the week after that you switched out one of your diet cokes for a water? Three weeks in you will have added in exercise, extra vegetables and cut back on something you’ve been trying to give up for months. You don’t have to decide to run a marathon or commit to the paleo diet! Instead you can commit to a 5 minute jog and adding in more vegetables.

Every day is an opportunity to make one good decision for yourself. Before you know it, one good decision becomes easy and you start making two. In three months you can look back and celebrate a whole bunch of small victories that have now become one big one!

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Last weekend I got contaminated. This is what my family says when one of us has eaten gluten, usually unknowingly. Because I have Celiac disease, this is a BIG deal. My immune system turned on me and I spent 3 days only getting the bare necessities done so I could lie down. I couldn’t eat much and I spent a lot of time sleeping. The worst part of being contaminated is I have panic attacks and suffer from anxiety. Anxiety so bad I have to fight to leave my apartment. I am anxious about seeing my own family and struggle with making decisions. I start to question every decision I’ve made and feel like the progress I’ve made has been ruined. After a few days the fog clears and I can at least think clearly, but the physical damage can take weeks to months to recover from. I have to be even more careful with what I eat, foods that wouldn’t normally bother me give me stomach aches and cause a rash to spread across my face. I used to sit and feel sorry for myself and take weeks to pick myself back up, but now I know its a waste of time. I need to get back to my workouts, increase my nutrients and get lots of rest.  Rather than wallow in self pity for three months and then experiencing it all over again at Christmas (it’s hard not to get contaminated at Christmas) I will focus on building my immune system back up so that when this happens again I am ready, rather than being torn down even further.

Maybe you’re reading this post thinking about how far you are from reaching your goal. Maybe it seems impossible. I want you to pull out a piece of paper and write down three small actions/changes that you can make today. These should be things you KNOW you can do. Put them somewhere you can see them. Start with action one, when it has become habit you are ready for action two. I have seen some amazing results from my clients these past few weeks, and many of the results are because of small changes that they have been consistent with. You can do it!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Charity

This Summer I Stopped Training

Hello Friends,

This summer was very different than the previous one. As of next month, I have been doing CrossFit for 8 years. It didn’t take me long to “drink the koolaid.” I was hooked almost instantly. CrossFit is structured in such a way that there is ALWAYS something you can be better at. It isn’t called a cult for nothing. It inspires you to show up over and over because there is always something you should work on. Eight years in and I still have things I can learn. I’ve made a lot of decisions this year that led to a lot of changes. One of the decisions was to treat summer like a rest. I wanted to focus on my business and enjoying the beautiful weather, rather than spending 2 hours a day in the gym. We had some big events this summer that required my time. So I told myself that I was going to cut back on the time I spent working out, and I did. I thought it was going to be really hard. I thought I was going to decide a  week in that I couldn’t do it and go running back to the barbell, that’s not what happened.

Instead I felt free, I had taken the pressure off of myself and I felt so good. I still worked out 2-3x a week for 45 minutes but that was the it. I realized that I had been focused on “keeping up” rather than improving myself. I had been in a competition mindset instead of a health mindset. I realized training to compete was great if you were willing to make it your priority, but I have other priorities right now and that’s ok too. I have my own business, a husband and a family that all deserve my attention more than a competition here and there. Guess what, I didn’t gain weight. I didn’t get slower. I didn’t get weaker. If anything I improved because of the rest. My body is at a point where 2 months off the schedule did not hurt me. I still ate whole foods and little sugar. I still focused on a good nights sleep. I still took my vitamins and drank lots of water but I worked out less. The last two weeks is the first time I’ve missed working out, I know its time to build some extra time back in. I’m not going back to 2 hours a day at this point, but I am going to commit to one hour 4-5x a week. Physical activity is so important to your health, but it doesn’t have to be your number one priority. If your exercising right, it should enhance everything else in your life. It should give you more energy to play with your kids. It should give you more patience at work. It should build you up not tear you down. If your life isn’t enhanced by your time in the gym, you need to asses why.

Sometimes we need to sit back and ask ourselves why we do what we do. Its ok to change your mind and set new goals. Its ok to not go to the gym every day. Its ok to enjoy a slice of birthday cake. Life is about finding a balance that works for you. What works for you may not work for someone else.

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

 

Eatreal4life Free Food Guide

Last week I talked about the Canadian Food Guide. This week I’m sharing my own food guide! I’ve created an infographic to help simplify. Feel free to share with a friend!
I want to address one of the main differences between my food guide and the government’s. The government still recommends a high carb/low fat diet, but you will notice I recommend a more balanced approach with more fat, more vegetables, and less carbohydrates. I wouldn’t say it’s a low carb diet, it’s just lower than the Canadian food guide recommends. Recently, there is a lot of talk about inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s response to stress. Acute inflammation is good. If you break your leg and notice it’s red and swollen, this is a sign the immune system is doing its job. Chronic inflammation is when the body is dealing with inflammation all the time. If your broken leg was still just as swollen and red three weeks later, you would be concerned. While most of us don’t have swollen red limbs, our body does give us clear signs of inflammation. Some of them I’ve listed below:

Achy Joints
Headaches
Stomach Pains
Acne
Weight Gain
Low Energy
Slow Recovery
Frequent Colds/Flus
Water Retention
The list goes on and on…….

Recently, a meta-analysis completed by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found this:

“Coronary artery disease pathogenesis and treatment urgently requires a paradigm shift. Despite popular belief among doctors and the public, the conceptual model of dietary saturated fat clogging a pipe is just plain wrong. A landmark systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies showed no association between saturated fat consumption and (1) all-cause mortality, (2) coronary heart disease (CHD), (3) CHD mortality, (4) ischaemic stroke or (5) type 2 diabetes in healthy adults.1 Similarly in the secondary prevention of CHD there is no benefit from reduced fat, including saturated fat, on myocardial infarction, cardiovascular or all-cause mortality.”

The belief that a high fat diet can clog your arteries has been challenged and disproven over and over, and yet many people are still avoiding fat and choosing to eat a high carbohydrate diet. Considering the longer we have followed the high carb/low fat diet, the sicker we have become, you would think that by now the food guide would have made some adjustments. Hopefully the new one does! The article went on to say:

“In comparison with advice to follow a ‘low fat’ diet (37% fat), an energy-unrestricted Mediterranean diet (41% fat) supplemented with at least four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or a handful of nuts (PREDIMED) achieved a significant 30% (number needed to treat (NNT)=61) reduction in cardiovascular events in over 7500 high-risk patients.”

You can read more about it here

A high fat diet has shown to decrease heart related events, not increase them! We need fat to fight inflammation! I chose averages for the servings. Each person is unique so there is no one diet that will fit all. Obviously the lower end is for smaller people and the higher for larger. If I can recommend one thing you should take from this, it is to eat whole food and little sugar. I don’t recommend avoiding saturated fat, which means you will get a fair amount of fat in your meat. I’m not saying you should drink the stuff, but I’m not recommending you avoid meat because of it. The food guide I have designed is about balance, but it is also about decreasing inflammation and giving the body the micro and macronutrients it needs. I am not funded by any organization and gain nothing by making these recommendations. As always, if you have a pre-existing condition/take any medications you should contact your health professional before making any changes!

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Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

Back To School Health Reset: Part 1

This is the first part of a five part series. I find September much like January, we often set new goals for the upcoming months. Summer can be unpredictable with the many events that come along, along with these events comes late nights, extra snacks and less time for work outs. For the next 5 days I am going to release a short post with a tip for helping you reset your health. Follow these 5 steps over the next week and you will be on your way to a healthier you!

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CLEAN OUT YOUR CUPBOARDS

Not just your cupboards, your fridge too. Take an hour or two to go through everything in your kitchen, read through the ingredient list and assess whether each item is contributing to your health. You don’t have to throw everything out, but try to have 90% of the items in your kitchen be whole foods. Replace what you get rid of with a variety lean meats, delicious fruit and colorful vegetables. The more color the better! You will notice a very satisfying feeling wash over you when you open your fridge and see a whole bunch of nutrient dense food.

Not sure what to cook with your new whole food filled fridge? Here are a few of my favourite recipe bloggers:

http://www.paleomg.com

https://againstallgrain.com/

http://ohsheglows.com/

If you would like to be notified of future blog posts, please follow my blog by entering your email in the box to the right.

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

Let’s Talk About The Birth Control Pill

When I was 16 years old, I went to see my doctor about irregular periods. At the time I was experiencing 8-10 days of bleeding and clotting that caused such severe pain I almost passed out a few times. There were days I couldn’t go to school due to the amount of pain I was in. I had already been in to see my doctor multiple times about my many other health problems (later diagnosed as celiac disease). Within minutes, he suggested I go on the pill. At the time, I would have done anything he suggested if it would make the pain go away. If I had known what I know now, I would have pursued other options.

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What is the birth control pill?

Most birth control pills are a combination of estrogen and progesterone meant to prevent ovulation. There are a variety of pills to choose from with different percentages of hormones, but most women are on a combination pill. In theory it makes sense because most of us aren’t ready to be pregnant at any given moment. It’s so simple to pop a pill every morning and not have to worry about pregnancy. When I was offered the pill it wasn’t for birth control, it was to help regulate my hormones. I wish now that I had asked him why my hormones were out of wack and what I could have tried before going on the pill.

Side Effects

Six years into the pill I started having health issues. Many of these health issues had probably been there earlier but I didn’t recognize them. My blood test came back and I had low Iron, low B12, and low Vitamin D. I gained about 5lbs a year putting me at 170lbs (roughly 26% BF, possibly higher) by the beginning of last year. This was despite training 6x a week for 60-90mins and eating what most would call a balanced diet.  I had severe heart burn and digestive issues. My energy levels ran very low, and I slept every chance I got. I felt lethargic during workouts, especially those that were more cardio-based. I tried changing my diet, sleeping more, and adding in vitamins. These did make small differences but not as much as they should have. After talking to a few health professionals, I started researching the side effects of the pill and found thousands of women all over the world who had the same, or worse, side effects as me. I expected to find a few, but was shocked when I found a large number of women posting on forums who sounded just like me. I also read some research studies about the possible side effects, which aligned with what I was experiencing.

Choosing to go off the pill

I decided that as of October I would no longer take the pill. I was nervous. I had been on it eight years and knew that the side effects of withdrawing from it were as severe or worse as going on it. The first month off was a bit of a roller coaster, my emotions were all over the place. My first period did arrive on time but much heavier than usual. I noticed small improvements until about April, then it was like my health got fast tracked. My out-of-control food cravings disappeared, and only show up around my period. I started craving vegetables…weird. In May, my energy level sky rocketed and I began to lose weight without having to focus on it. I went gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, and yeast free for an entire month to help regulate my hormones and fight yeast. I believe this helped exponentially.

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That brings us to today

Many of you have read my previous posts, so you know I’m feeling great! I have regained my health…better health than I have ever had. My digestion has improved, I sleep like a baby, and I am leaner than I have been since I was 20. My body is doing what it is supposed to. It is regulating my hormones without help from the pill. Now, before anyone connected with the pharmacy gets mad at me, listen up. The pill, like other medications, has it’s place. Sometimes, for health reasons, women need to prevent pregnancy, so the pill makes sense. There are a variety of reasons someone might need some hormonal help, but I don’t believe my issues were treated the way they should have been. Nutrition, exercise, and sleep can all be used to help regulate hormones. Assessing lifestyle factors can also give insight into why someone’s hormones may be out of wack. As always, I recommend you ask questions from as many professionals as possible. Continue to learn about the human body so that you have a basic understanding of how things work and can do what’s best for your health!

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

 

Weight Loss Is Not My Success Story

One of the easiest ways to convince people to try a new diet ,or supplement, is to show them someone else who lost weight doing it. We are very visual, when we see changes we believe what we are told. This is why Facebook and Instagram are covered in advertisements showing before and afters. This is why many of the popular diets/supplements target people by advertising weight loss benefits. As a health professional, I would rather see numbers. Show me how you improved this person’s health outside of the weight loss because weight loss is not always a sign of health. Show me how you decreased their blood pressure, increased their energy levels, and helped them get a good night’s sleep. Show me how you improved their life.

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Ten months ago when I decided to stop taking my birth control pill, it was not with the intention of losing weight. After doing research I knew there was the potential for weight gain, but I pushed that aside because I knew this was a step towards better health. Two years ago when I started getting regular B12 shots, it was not with the intention of weight loss. It was with the hopes of being able to get out of bed in the morning feeling energized rather than feeling completely exhausted. Six months ago when I really committed to my own nutrition, it was not with the intention of losing weight, but to decrease joint pain, and heal my damaged digestive system. I have made dozens of decisions over the years, and the ones that resulted in weight loss were the decisions I made to improve my health. The weight I lost recently was a result of focusing on my overall health. I just wanted to feel better. I had accepted where I was at with my body but refused to accept the brain fog, fatigue, joint pain, and stomach aches I had been living with for years.

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If an advertisement for a certain diet or supplement is all about weight loss, you need to take a long, hard look at the company. Are they really out to help you improve your health, or are they just out to make a quick buck helping you slim down for a short amount of time? There is nothing wrong with before and after pictures, I enjoy seeing them. I just want people to tell me about the other, more important, health benefits they have achieved along with the photos. “Jenny lost 20lbs, you can too!” is not a convincing argument. I could go on a rice cracker diet right now and lose 5lbs by Friday, but it would not improve my health in any way.

Whole body health is not a new concept. It is how many cultures treat sickness. They don’t just look at the symptom, they look at the whole person. This is how we need to think of our own health. Don’t lose weight for the sake of losing weight. Weight gain is a symptom. It can be anything from a hormone imbalance to an autoimmune disease. It isn’t always because of overeating. Starving yourself, or limiting yourself to the point where you don’t get the nutrients you need might cause short term weight loss, but it could cause long term damage to your overall health. A balanced and healthy body is also a lean and functional body. Make health your goal and let the rest happen. I’m not all the way there yet, but I will never stop trying. If you need some encouragement, don’t be afraid to drop me a message!

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

 

Photos by Andreane Fraser ❤

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