I have evolved a LOT in the past few years, and by that, I mean that basically I don't recognize the "old me" anymore ... which is a good thing. The old me was tired, unmotivated, chronically sluggish and unable to build lean muscle. A few of my friends have asked me how I made my energy/performance transformation, so I wanted to share and be honest about what has/has not worked for me. In a nutshell, my lifestyle has morphed from a diet of pasta with a side of sourdough bread, to gluten-free, to strict "paleo", to completely eliminating any/all sugar, to finally, what I like to call "nutritional re-balancing".
The nutritional re-balancing came about after approximately 2 years of eating paleo/Whole30 when I reached a point where I was brutally exhausted, but absolutely could not figure out why. By all accounts, I was doing everything "right" - so I had no idea what was wrong with me. It got to a point where I was pretty desperate to feel better, and I'm happy to say, that I found a solution.
As a reference, let me share a few before/after photos so you can see the difference.
So what am I doing differently? Well, first I will tell you what I DON'T DO:
- I do not count calories, macros or ounces. I eat very intuitively - i.e. if I'm actually hungry, I will eat something healthy and delicious, pretty simple.
- I do not do "cheats". If I choose to eat something, then it is a conscious decision to do so. I think that having a mindset that certain foods are "cheating" or "bad" can have serious ramifications as far as feeling guilty and/or ashamed of choices, which can lead to disordered eating behaviors. There are certain foods that I will not eat, because I don't like how they make me feel (buh-bye donuts and giant bowls of pasta), but as long as I'm not eating pizza 30x per week, it isn't going to be an issue.
- I don't deprive myself of joy. If my food choices are not enjoyable, it is not going to last on a long term basis.
- I do not drink soda or highly sweetened beverages, and my alcohol consumption is minimal.
Here is an example of what my typical day might look like (on a work day, hence the tupperware):
My day is usually structured like this:
- wake up and drink an herbal adaptogenic tea (reduces stress and cortisol)
- drink a superfoods smoothie plus greens (trace vitamins and minerals, grass-fed whey protein, BCAAs and alkaline pH)
- salad with avacado and salami for a snack
- another superfoods smoothie for lunch or post workout
- hardboiled eggs and homemade healthy "fat fudge" (grassfed butter/tumeric/tahini/maple syrup) for a snack
- big salad and crockpot tex mex carnitas with cauliflower rice for dinner
- sliced apple with almond butter and green tea infused salted caramel chocolate for desert (optional - sometimes I just do the chocolate)
That's it! Pretty simple, sustainable and delicious! I love the smoothies because they contain tons of vitamins and minerals, which I wasn't getting when I was strictly eating paleo, and certainly not when I was eating a pasta/bread-concentrated diet. I don't spend my entire day chopping vegetables anymore - I used to spend HOURS and HOURS meal-prepping. I cannot begin to describe how simple my cooking/meal prep is now - it's almost non existent! I have seemingly boundless energy, AND my results are speaking for themselves. A few friends have asked me if I just, "drink milkshakes" all day, and that is (obviously) not the case.
One more note - just to give you an idea of my fitness routine - I do workout often, most days, but not all. I do a combination of HIIT (interval training) and weight lifting, plus an occasional run and lots of endurance training (hiking/snowshoeing). I also try to get at least 10,000 steps per day, more if possible. I love yoga, and I also take Pilates reformer classes 1x per week, if possible.
After years and YEARS of experimentation, I truly believe that this is what works for me. It probably seems regimented from the confines of a blog post - but really, I don't even think about it anymore - it's just how I eat. I am never "dieting" or "depriving" myself. It is sustainable, easy, delicious, and nutritious. I could go into the science all day long, but honestly all that really matters is how I FEEL. I think back to that tired person that I used to be - so exhausted that I was using sick leave to take naps in my car at work (seriously!!) - and I am SO relieved that I will never be that person again.
Let me know if you have any particular questions or if you would like specific product or recipe recommendations - I love this stuff!