But what about when what's happening on the outside is a direct reflection of what's happening physically on the inside? What about when what's happening on the outside starts to harm a person's health, gets them down, affect the way they feel about themselves, and how they relate to the world? I think we will all agree, that what's on the outside actually does begin to count then.
The reason I began pondering these questions was my recent chat with two gorgeous young girls I know. These girls are in their early twenties. They're smart, fun, have spunky partners and are very easy on the eye themselves but have an annoying problem that's been plaguing them for a while now; they just can't seem to lose the weight they want to. Neither of these girls are obese or could even be described as 'big' but nonetheless they have a few kg's they'd like to see gone and are really struggling to shift them. And from what I am seeing and hearing out here, this is not an uncommon situation. In fact, this was me for quite a long time, up until about 18 months ago.
As I've previously mentioned, I spend a lot of time educating myself about all things health and wellness. I read, attend seminars and listen to podcasts. And what I am finding is that no matter what the medium, there always seems to be one resounding message: the food we eat absolutely and completely effects who we are, how we feel and how we look. In other words, we really are what we eat!
Every day, in one way or another, we see weight loss being touted as the be all and end all. It's portrayed in the media and within our own communities as the only way to feel good about ourselves and the only way to be beautiful or socially accepted. It's made into a superficial issue, associated with discouraging words and notions such as deprivation, reduction, hunger, calorie-counting and denial.
I really think it's high time that as a society we take the emphasis off of dieting, losing weight and depriving ourselves and put it back on to nourishing ourselves, gaining health and rewarding our bodies with real and whole foods. Let's value ourselves enough to put in the time and effort to improve our health through the food we eat. We have so much to gain from this simple yet powerful act of self-care; more energy, better clarity of mind, increased happiness, improved sleep, and the all-important, ever-elusive, highly-revered WEIGHT LOSS! By switching our perspective and our approach to emphasising health gain, the weight loss will invariably come.
As the young but very wise Kale Brock put it during his presentation at The Wellness Summit last weekend, "Health is not the end goal, but a tool to get you where you want to be." Not a wiser word has been spoken in my opinion. Just as our intention should be to gain health as a means to going out and living our most amazing and inspired life, weight loss should be one step on the path to gaining that health - not the end goal. (And yep, that's his real name! An up and coming wellness entrepreneur's actual name is one and a half veggies! he he. Money can't buy that kind of cool!)
Anyway, referring back to my chat with these gorgeous girls, they were after a bit of guidance on what it actually is they should be eating in order to gain their health and lose the weight. Me being my usual particular (or maybe annoying?!) self, I wrote them out a bit of a guide to read and keep to give them a leg up into starting. I've copied and pasted it below if you are interested. Just keep in mind, I could talk/write about food and health all day long. What is below is just a bit of a nutshell view of my philosophy around healthy eating and losing weight. I hope you enjoy the read and find something to take away from it. I'd love to hear your thoughts or questions. I'd also love to help anyone out with some recipes if you want to start making some changes for your self and your family. Just email me or drop me a line on facebook.
When we shift our focus away from constantly counting calories and depriving ourselves of what we love and move it over to eating real and nourishing foods, the weight loss invariably takes care of itself.
How many diets have you started and not stuck to? How many left you feeling deprived, frustrated, hungry and tired? How many were unreasonable and unsustainable and possibly expensive? Most of them? That’s because dieting is not the answer! IMP diets should be outlawed!
Making gradual, manageable, sustainable changes to the way you eat and regard food is what will allow you to maintain a healthy weight without the constant feelings of having to cut back, count calories and conform to the new fad.
To give you a bit of an insight on where I am coming from, here’s a rundown on what I have learnt and what my beliefs are around food:
- The way the human race eats has changed more in the last 50 years than in the 10,000 years preceding that. When you think about that, it’s pretty full on.
- Since these major changes to our diets have occurred, we have become increasingly fatter and sicker as a race. Every 2nd person is either obese or has an illness of some kind.
- We have moved away from seasonal, natural, fresh foods to highly processed and refined foods that are laced with chemicals, preservatives and all kind of additives. We simply haven’t evolved to eat like this. Our bodies struggle to recognise most of what is eaten today as food.
- We eat far too many refined carbohydrates and sugars and not enough fruit, vegies and plant-based real foods.
- We need to replace the high amount of refined and processed grains, namely wheat, in our diets with other plant-based options. Grain has its place in a healthy and balanced, but not at the rate it is consumed by most westerners.
- We are scared of fat when it is actually very beneficial to us. The high consumption of good quality fats from nature actually aids in weight loss, not weight gain.
- We need to get back into our kitchens and invest time into our health and wellbeing. The convenience foods that fill 90% of our supermarket shelves are just that – foods that should be used occasionally when needed for convenience in special situations - not form a major part or all of our daily nutrition.
- We need to make changes gradually. There’s no point going from breakfast cereals, Coke, white bread and KFC one week to carrot sticks, water, seeds and kale the next. It’s simply not the way the human mind and body works. For most people, the unhealthy eating habits that are so ingrained have become so over the course of a lifetime. And a lot of them have been taught to us by apparent experts. We can’t expect to switch that off overnight.
- You have the rest of your life to make the positive changes and lose the weight you want to – don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be eating perfectly in a day, a week or even a month. Remember, this is about long term sustainable habits. E.g.; if you’re drinking 10 cans of soft drink a week, start by reducing that to 8 for the week, then go to 6 the next, then 4, 2 and eventually 0. After 3 weeks, you’ll have reduced your intake by over half and that’s something to be really proud of - and will give you the inspiration you need to keep going.
- Losing weight doesn’t mean we need to eat bland, unsatisfying food. In fact, it should be the opposite so that the positives changes are something that we can stick to for the long term. It’s about making sustainable health-giving changes to our diets using yummy, fresh foods in order to give our minds and bodies the nutrition it deserves.
To shed the kg’s that you want to, these are the action steps I would recommend:
- Decide wholeheartedly to make some real and sustainable changes to how you eat.
- Decide on an absolute bare minimum time frame that you will stick to attempting to make changes so that you don’t give up prematurely eg. 1 month, 6 weeks etc.
- Remember to be kind to yourself and do this gradually. If you have a bad day of eating don’t give up, just get up tomorrow and try again!
- Experiment and try new and different things. Just about everything in the standard western diet has a healthier, more nourishing version that you can buy or make and I have found that it is usually actually tastier than the more common, unhealthy version.
- Don’t try to implement changes that involve foods you don’t like. Just because it’s healthy, it doesn’t mean you have to like it or eat it.
- Get more fresh real foods into your body i.e. – fruit, veg, nuts, seeds, quality dairy, cold pressed oils and grass fed and/or free-range meats. Real food doesn’t have ingredients – it is ingredients! And it especially doesn’t have ingredients you can’t pronounce or buy or make yourself.
- Start with breakfast! As mentioned it’s important to do this at a pace that is doable; not by cutting out everything you’re used to overnight. So in order to do that, changing your breakfast habits to healthier, more nourishing options, is a great place to start. Then, once you have breaky nailed, you can move on to improving the next meal.
Breakfast cereals, most toast and crumpets are all highly processed, additive-filled foods that aren’t really food! They are high in carbs and sugar and usually low in healthy fats and other essential nutrients. They promote weight gain.
These are the things I recommend you try making a habit at breakfast time:
- CADA - a fresh grain free muesli made from coconut, apple, dates and almonds. I usually add some seeds as well. It is absolutely delicious. I have it every day and even the kids love it. I usually serve it with some fresh berries and a big dollop of pure cream. Superb.
- Eggs – eggs aren’t the fattening, cholesterol raising horror food they were once made out to be. They are full of vitamins and minerals and are very filling. Have them as an omelette, boiled, poached, fried or raw! There are so many sides to serve them with from avocado and bacon to fresh rocket and tomatoes.
- Fresh fruit topped with chopped nuts and or/seeds and a little yoghurt, cream or coconut cream.
- Gluten free seed bread – I have just made for the first time an oat and seed loaf which is so easy. It is delicious when toasted up then topped with pure butter and a little honey or avocado and tomato. It takes no time to make and is a very filling, pure nourishing breakfast or arvo tea.