The Skinny Years
When I was in my teens and early twenties, "being healthy" = skinny. That was that. No más.
I remember refusing the ooey gooey chocolate chip cookies in our high school cafeteria (I still crave them), eating those 150 calorie yogurts for lunch (sometimes skipping the fruit at the bottom), chugging zero calorie Crystal Light lemonade after track practice (and using it as my #1 drink mixer in college), priding myself in finding the "best" low carb protein bar (weird chemicals = weird gas, yup) and counting out 10 almonds to tide me over until lunch at my cubicle.
I'll write a whole other blog post on the nutritional absurdity of focusing solely on calorie counting, but for now, I do find solace that my disordered eating habits were partially a product of the times [2000 to 2010].
Calories and chemicals were king.
I did indulge on the other end of the spectrum too: Costco brownie mix, the croissant turkey sandwiches the Middlebury Dining Hall would serve for lunch on Mondays, fro-yo deserts, oatmeal chocolate chip cookie care packages from my Mom and once I moved to NYC, those late night pizza runs.
I enjoyed some of these treats, but most of the time, I ended up kicking myself for "eating too many calories" and would keep on logging miles running or work extra hard at the gym the next day.
When it all Shifted
As they say, "knowledge is power" and gosh, let me tell you, Nutrition is pretty darn cool.
Our bodies are amazing machines and once I started geeking out studying how we fuel our bodies, reading blogs, devouring nutrition books, watching documentaries, googling EVERYTHING, and finally, enrolling in Nutrition School, my concept of "being healthy" also made a marked shift.
What a relief!
Guess what? It's not all about the calories! Nor about being skinny!
It's about the quality of your food, the nutrients, the timing of your food intake and your overall mental and physical well-being. Packaged, chemical, artificial foods be-gone!
How I think about "Being Healthy": Three Parts
My three-part conception of health took time to develop personally and it's a tool I now love sharing with my clients.
Vanity is my code-word for skinny, but I added in two tremendously important parts: how you feel today and longevity.
- Vanity: Yes, there is one third of me that still wants to be/stay thin, skinny, lean, whatever word choice you like to use. I do refuse that chocolate cake and think about my weight, choose salads and veggies when I can and still can't get up the nerve to order fries on my own. (Dear friends, I'm sorry for stealing all your fries over the years!).
- How I feel today: I want to feel awesome, light and airy every damn day! When I eat whole, unprocessed, organic, good-for-you foods, I feel amazing. I feel like I could conquer any workout, see five clients back-to-back, have a smile on my face and a spring in my step, sleep like a baby and be my best, most positive and happiest self. Oh and my digestion works like a charm.
- Long-term health + Longevity: I'm going to be that 90 year old in the retirement home that works out with a personal trainer, goes on long walks every day, reads two books a week and carries on intelligent and engaged conversations with her kids and grandkids. I know that fueling my precious body with good-for-me foods is going to allow me to stay active way through my later years and do my best to avoid the growing cancer epidemic and rise in lifestyle fueled-disease running rampant throughout the developed world.
How does this all shake out?
I urge my clients to think about their health in three parts - because you'll almost always have a strong motivator to make the healthy choice.
There are days when you'll think "screw the skinny jeans, I want the cake!" but then you'll think about how you'll feel after the sugar rush disappears and you feel icky, sick, bloated, creepily thirsty and kind of nauseous.
Boom, you just used the #2 "How I feel today" motivator!
Fast forward to another day and you're going grocery shopping. You're tired. You're stressed. It's been a long week and thoughts spring up like "Who cares about my bikini body - summer is still months away."
Cue the #3 "Longevity" trick and picture yourself being that active 65 year old retiree who goes on long bike rides, and put the freaking organic vegetables in to your grocery cart.
Healthy shouldn't be a code word for just skinny. Once you let that go, I promise you, being "healthy" becomes a lot more fun, a lot more satisfying and way easier.
What a great deal.
Once you get your healthy routine down (!): you can have the body you want (#1 vanity), feel amazing each and every day (#2) and rock it on the dance floor on your 85th birthday (#3 longevity).
Who's with me?
If this concept struck a cord with you, pass it on to a friend or comment below or email me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. You never know who you could be helping!