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5 Tips to Maintain a Clean-Eating Mindset

9 Feb

My hubby entertains me from time to time with a very special talent he has developed.  He does bodycomp transformation before-and-after selfies in a mirror.  30 seconds apart.  A slight shift from slightly slumping to meticulous flexing while breath holding, and his entire torso can look months apart in leanness.  

I begged for permission to share pictorial proof for all you loyal readers.
One, for the purpose of illustration.
And two, that we all begin to flood the internet with our own same day before-and-afters.
He agreed.  

 

This dadbod works for me 🙂

 

I love it.

Needless to say, When I see a before-and-after on social media, I am rather suspect.  Look closely.  Did the camera really show something different…did they actually radically alter their lifestyle?

I think this kind of thing can throw people off their game, make people feel like giving up, or assume that it’s all too hard.  


 

A great side-by-side selfie should not be the endstate of your eating program.  The goal is cruising in clean-eating autopilot.  You can do it!

But it’s so easy to overthink the whole thing.
With all this said, let’s discuss five ways to keep your mind in the game.

 


1.  Know *YOUR* Why

Why is not a result. Why is not, “I am going to eat 100% paleo this year” -or-  “I am going to lose ten pounds.” -or- “I am going to shock the internet with my before-and-after selfie.”

Why is a purpose:

  • I am empowered in knowing that I can partner with food to promote my total wellness. (Nothing I am ingesting will exacerbate health maladies).
  • I have seen what years of bad habits can do to me and/or my loved ones
  • I want my bodyskin to become paperthin, in order to scratch fitness modeling off my bucket list*

My why is
1. Mental health
2. Insulin/hypoglycemia issues (read: hanger.)
3. Setting a good example for the 5 sets of eyes on me.  Constantly. 

Keep YOUR WHY at the forefront of your mind.   

 


 

2. Re-Read

Re-read the original sources that point you to the best nutrition.

Not little quips off of Pinterest, but get back into the good stuff:  The Primal Blueprint, Mark’s Daily Apple, It Starts with Food, The Paleo Solution,  Bright Line Eating.  If you read those 4-5 years ago, re-read.  (Or read for the first time!)  You will gain inspiration all over again, and perhaps you will even see things in there you did not catch on the first go-around.  

 


 

3.  Don’t do work twice when you can do it once.  

Double batch every time you cook.  If you are not able to eat twice from whatever you have cooked, you are not winning. 

You are thinking, gosh this is so much food prep already, now I have to double it?  Yes.  Heck, you might as well do it 4x and have your Mondays taken care of for the month.  Remember, the freezer is your pantry.  The moment it feels like too much work is the moment you call for pizza.  Nothing takes the wind out of your sails faster than having one more thing to do.  

Nick Shaw is over there at Renaissance Periodization making A MILLION DOLLARS merely convincing all his minions to multiply food prep times seven.  So, double, triple, quadruple if you have to.  It’s worth it.  

Bonus: you will always have a bench stock of healthy freezer meals to deliver to someone in need.  That is one of the best ways to be the light in someone’s day!

 


 

4.  Stick to the old reliables. 

Re-creating the wheel every week makes clean eating a chore.  Stick to a solid rotation of delicious food.  Pick 7-10 of your favorite clean meals, and just make those…over and over.  When I was growing up we had spaghetti every Monday.  I thought it was awesome.  Here are my reliables on the rotation all the time:

Clean Spaghetti (with zoodles or spaghetti squash)
Fresh Roast Chicken  (make two while you’re at it)
Butter Chicken (perfect freezer meal)

Marinated Flank Steak (freeze a second batch raw in ziplock, thaw then throw on grill)
Kofte Kebab Meatballs
Seasoned Fish or other Meat + 2 veggies

6 meals right there, and there are usually leftovers for night number 7.  Pick your 6.

I have been doing a lot more work over on Pinterest in an effort to pick up momentum for this blog.  I am totally baffled by the amount of content over there.  It’s dizzying, and gives me recipe FOMO.

Don’t make more of cooking than it needs to be.  Get into a niche and cruise.

 


 

5.  Draw your own HFO chart.

Simply put, there are foods that you will not want to eliminate from your diet.

I want to re-introduce you to one of the original Melissa Hartwig inspographics.  I can’t remember if this is in the book.  It was on her blog ten years ago.**  I’m not promoting this kind of language, but it is not my brainchild.  

HFO Scale

 
To further explain:
 
The healthiest foods are low on the F-off scale. (Example: Salmon is very healthy. I love salmon, and concur with your analysis and therefore eat lots of salmon.)
  
Foods that I am told are not SO healthy, but I think are healthy enough on occasion, are closer to the F-off zone. (Example: On occasion, despite all the arguments against legumes, I will tell you to F-off and eat the damn peanut butter. These occasions are not common, but they do occur.)
  
Foods that should be eliminated from my diet completely because they are nowhere near healthy, but which I have determined are mandatory for me having an enjoyable existence for the next 50 years, are EXTREMELY high on the F-off scale. These foods include iced coffees, Grey Goose dirty martinis and anything covered in maple syrup.  You gotta live right? (Source: AMRAP Fitness, I think it *might* have been lifted from Melissa’s early writings, so I will credit them both.)
 
My list is cheese, dark chocolate and half & half (Had a complete and total meltdown in the grocery when I found out it doesn’t exist in the UK).  Allowing these three foods back into my diet liberated me to keep it clean everywhere else.

I will go a step further and even submit that an HFO Chart could possibly look different every month.  Or even every week.

Keep two or three things on the f-off list in order to stay sane.


 

Don’t let anything throw you off course. 

  • Know YOUR why
  • Read original sources
  • Work smarter not harder
  • Stick to a reliable meal rotation
  • Draw your F-off scale

Also, stop stressing over the before-and-after selfies.

Do you have any other tips that help you keep your mind over the matter?  Please share with us, I would love to discuss in the comments!

Have a great weekend,
Leigh

 


 

*If your why is to become a fitness model, then yeah.  A paleo diet will not be the path for you.  It’s too calorically dense.  You instead need to become a chemist in order to account for every molecule that crosses your lips.  Different plan altogether.

**(Her blog was hilarious and *brilliant* and the precursor to her awesome books.  I have asked her people over at Whole30 if I can have a special invite to the old blog, but they didn’t respond. )

 

Getting my body back vs. Getting enough gym-time

8 Nov

I love me some pregnancy and newborns.

But the three year game of pregnancy redlight-greenlight has trashed my fitness and body image.  Since the miscarriage of 2013, I  have had two more children.  I avoided super-high intensity training while pregnant, opting to keep it simple: walking, a few body weight movements and trying to eat sensibly.  But truthfully, my fitness is at zero, maybe even below zero.  I don’t really ever remember a time I’ve been at zero…I have never gone this long without devoting myself to physical activity and regular gym-time.

Here I am now.  Five kids.  Homeschooling.  Hubby working hours that nearly break us both.  House to manage, dinner to make.  Gym-time is pretty much at the bottom of my list of daily priorities.  Why?  Because even though the real me

(Pause.  The “REAL ME” is now a completely notional figure because I will never be the “real me” again…age is getting its way with me, kids are steadily increasing in needs, speed of life is red-lining.  Sounds like its time to renovate who the “REAL ME” is.)  

As I was saying.  The real-me would rather be having gym-time two hours a day, five days a week.  Actual-me is needed by kids and friends and husband (<–not in that order!).  My people.  They need me.  These relationships will suffer if I put gym-time above them.  

Missing out on the hallowed time in the gym/box/garage, causes a nagging grudge to form and grow.  It’s my favorite way to cash in my me-time.  I keep slipping into false thinking that hours of gym-time is the only way to “get my body back.”  

My internal dialogue keeps screaming YOU WILL NEVER REGAIN YOUR FITNESS!!  (Why does our internal dialogue lie so much?  I was born with a voice in my head that absolutely hates me.)  

Anyway, I have to answer it back with two things.
1.  Getting lean takes nothing more than an intuitive diet.
2.  Having zero gym-time doesn’t mean I can’t exercise.  

Every iteration of exercise (even as short as 4 minutes!)  is a deposit in my strength account.  Diet is what controls body comp.  Gym-time is not part of this formula.  What a mindsaver.  Diet and exercise have two different objectives and let’s not get them mixed up.
Diet is for leaning me out.
Exercise is for the 10 foundations of fitness.

I will eat for energy.
I will lift to be strong enough to help people move stuff.

I will eat to enjoy the experience of food. 
I will run so that I can play anything with my kids and grandchildren.

I will eat responsibly so that I look my best in formal dresses.  (Dang it anyway that I have to wear these dresses so often!!)
I will WOD with my man, because it’s our favorite way to spend our free time together.

I will eat if my stomach growls.
I will exercise because the endorphins are such a welcome respite.

I will not eat if I am not hungry.
I will do push-ups and pull-ups because it is the fastest way to tone my arms.  

I will eat to keep my mood in check. (NO HANGER!)
I will do sit-ups because my abs would like to permanently hang out at the 5-months pregnant position.

I will eat without hang ups about timing, amounts, or macros
I will jump rope to rehab my pelvic floor.  (Sorry dudes, this is what happens when your uterus is basically a clown car.)

clown-car-clipart-1

So even though gym-time is at an all-time low, my stress about it is also pretty much gone.  I train when I can, and I am getting incrementally physically stronger.  Eating mindfully will bring about the body comp changes I need to see.

I am mentally weary from chasing empty obsessions…and assigning impossible expectations on things that are circumstance-dependent, like getting enough gym-time.  Food is fuel.  Exercise is physical strength.  Period.

Faith and healthy relationships empower.  Faith and relationships award us with heart satiety.

Am I the only one who has been stuck in the wrong mindset in this area?  It only took me until I was 36 and 11 years into motherhood to be at peace about it.  

Thanks for reading,
Leigh

 

Getting Back on Track

30 Dec

tracks01 It’s that time of year! It’s so predictable.  Americans have officially established a final holiday tradition–and it seems participation is almost obligatory.  To close out the season, we vow to clean up the diet as soon as that ball drops.  It’s become faddish–especially in the functional fitness community–to regularly schedule a “Whole 30” or a no-cheats paleo/primal eating challenge.

 The jumping-off point can be a place of dread or anticipation.  Take heart!  Hitting the reset-button will be easier by establishing a new frame of mind.  The rewards of a clean diet are worth the trouble.

Our 10 tips for pulling off a successful paleo or primal eating challenge:

1.  Stay calm.  It’s not that hard.  Don’t focus on restricted foods, and don’t think about weight loss.  This is not about weight loss alone.  Remember the objectives: reset sugar sensitivity, establish true hunger signals, and achieve optimal nourishment for overall wellness.  Do some research, start with the “why”, and solidify personal goals.

2.  Be thankful.  Isn’t it wonderful to have the ability to enjoy so many clean food options?  We live in a time where we have access to any fresh food we desire–there is no lack of variety.  This is a time to get creative, a little adventurous, and have fun with it.

3.  Get some Tylenol…especially if this is your first time.  Don’t try to do the cold turkey thing without ammunition!  My first 30-day challenge was…well, challenging.  I was shocked to have withdrawal detox headaches for the first week while my body readjusted to a normal, balanced, carb/protein/fat ratio.  I was THAT hooked on sugar–to the point that I experienced physical pain.  Ridiculous.

4.  Minimize the coffee habit.  Grazing on coffee all day (even black) has been shown to keep blood sugar elevated, thereby throwing off true hunger signals.  Allow good food to do its work by energizing and replenishing the body.  Afraid of residual headaches?  See #3.  Can’t give it up? Opt for decaf past noon. The aroma of coffee brewing is energizing in itself.

5.  Be prepared.  This will be extra work.  Real food is not prepared or processed in advance.  Be smart about prepping ahead: chop all your veggies for the week, portion things out ahead of time,  and have portable snacks readily available.  The freezer is the new pantry.  It is possible to grab-and-go, and still eat clean.

6.   Double batch everything.  It is so convenient to have food on-hand for later.  Whenever it’s time to get out the knives and food processors and pots and pans, go ahead and double it up.  Freeze a whole batch for a dinner next week, or portion out servings for breakfasts and lunches.  Don’t be afraid of leftover curry chicken for breakfast!  This will help you out of the “eggs again” rut and keep you from resorting to old cereal habits.

7.  Keep it simple.  Pick a few tried-and-true recipes, and stick to those.  Heck, there is nothing wrong with cycling through a set selection over the course of the month.  I could eat these 7 over and over, and really not feel bored:  Butter ChickenPastelon (over sweet potatoes), Lamb MeatballsKheema,  Fresh Roast ChickenPulled Pork, Paleo Pad Thai.  These are fast, flavorful, and they go far.

8.  Don’t go hungry.  It’s the fastest route to discouragement…and forgetting the point.  No one feels stronger, faster or more motivated after eating a 3 oz steamed chicken breast and a cup of broccoli.  Eat healthy fat at every meal/snack for true satiety:  avocado, nut butters, coconut, plenty of healthy oils…every time.  It’s all about balance.

9.  Sugar doesn’t love you back.  Don’t lament it that much.  Good food works to improve health: to replenish, rebuild, and repair.  Crummy, glucose-spiking food works in the opposite manner, and the body must work hard (on the cellular, hormonal level) to compensate for the toll it takes on us.  Put a stake in the ground and don’t look back.

10.  Relationships are more important than food.  (Romans 14.)

Bonne Santé!  We hope 2014 overflows with refreshing times, laughter, and a renewed resolve to work hard in all areas of life!

Leigh and Heather

this is not a deprivation!

this is not a deprivation!

benefits More favorite clean eating recipes and resources:

Who is Sick of Eggs for Breakfast?

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad

Barbecue Sauce

Unwrapped Gyoza

Thai Green Curry

Zoodles

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