I’m just going to jump right in today…
I know I don’t talk much about anything other than food (because food is ALWAYS on my mind), but I think that healthy eating is only one of many factors that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. I believe that it’s fundamentally important to take a holistic approach to health and to avoid focusing too much on one specific aspect, such as food, to improve overall health.
When I got accepted to grad school, so much changed. Suddenly, I was no longer working long hours on my feet at the boutique. Instead, I found myself sitting through long classes and then going home to sit and do homework or read. I didn’t mind the change of pace because I was so enthusiastic about school. Unfortunately, while the pace of my life changed drastically, I made no effort and didn’t recognize the need to change other aspects of my life. You see, when I was working more often at my fast-paced job, I would go to the gym a few times each week and squeeze in a casual (i.e. lazy) workout. But I was basically getting in a full workout while at work so intense exercises outside of work weren’t necessary. Well, my casual exercise routine continued even after everything else changed. It wasn’t an issue at first, but over time I could tell that I’d become lethargic and, even when I had an opportunity to be active, I chose instead to remain lazy. When I began to feel crummy and gain a little weight, I became upset and defensive: “I’m still eating healthy! Why am I feeling like this?! I’m not doing anything wrong!” I focused solely on what I was eating and refused to make changes based on the assumption that healthy eating must equal overall health.
The truth is, there was no balance in my life. Yes, I was eating healthy foods, but I wasn’t listening to my body: I was eating foods (particularly high-sugar fruits ) that didn’t agree with me and ignoring the signs. I was also stress-eating late at night. There were quite a few times when I would start eating dinner late at night and continue to snack for hours afterward. Then, I would go to bed on a full stomach, which would often lead to a poor night’s sleep and tons of discomfort. And, like I said before, I was also choosing to be lazy.
I think it’s easy to make changes, get comfortable, and then forget that change should be constant. I’ve recently realized that there’s no single best way of doing something. I was in a rut. I was overly confident that what I was doing was the best for myself, and I was wrong. And please understand, what works for me won’t work for everyone else. In fact, what works for me right now, may not work for me in a couple of months, or even a couple of weeks. But there are some general changes I’ve decided to make that I think may help. Here are my goals: 1) I’ll exercise more frequently and more intensely (in other words, no more catching up on Facebook while I should be working out), 2) I’ll stop eating after 9 pm, and 3) I’ll cut out all forms of sugar (including fruit) and refined starches entirely to see what positive effects, if any, it may have on how I feel.
The reason I chose to cut out sugar was because I would feel bloated and fatigued almost immediately after consuming anything containing sugar. Over the summer, I ate fruit like it was going out of style!! Fruit is wonderfully healthy, but like everything else, too much (way too much in my case) isn’t a good thing. After doing some research, I believe I may have an issue with candida (an overgrowth of yeast in the body–you can read more about it here). So, I’ve resolved to stop eating my beloved fruit (gasp!) and, at the very least, cut back on refined starches, which are rapidly broken down by our bodies and cause a rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin levels. I haven’t determined how long I’ll eat this way, but I’ll continue as long as I’m feeling better, and if I don’t think it’s helping, I’ll slowly introduce fruits back into my diet. While goal #3 is more specific and experimental, goals #1 and 2 are far more general and are goals that I hope to sustain for a long time!
So far, I’m off to a pretty good start! I began with my new goals on Friday and, although it’s not easy, I can already sense a difference! I’ve been less bloated, I wake up with more energy, and that energy is sustained throughout the day!
I think the hardest part for me so far has been giving up my morning green smoothies that contain tons of fruit. Instead, I’ve been eating a few sticks of celery followed by oatmeal. I love oatmeal and could eat it all day, every day. This morning, though, I wanted something different and truly decadent (perhaps because my sugar cravings are kicking in). After a nice, long workout, I figured I had earned the right to a Chocolate Oat Breakfast Shake. This shake is made with super-healthy ingredients (oh avocado, how I love you) and it’s extremely filling. With a breakfast this delicious, I don’t miss sugar at all!
- 1 cup oat groats* soaked overnight in filtered water and refrigerated
- 1 large avocado (I put mine in the fridge so it would be cold for the shake)
- 1 cup + 2 Tbs. filtered water (almond milk will work, too, if you want a richer smoothing, but you’ll need to increase the amount)
- 2-3 Tbs. cacao powder
- 1 to 1½ tsp. stevia powder
- pinch of sea salt
- After soaking the oat groats, rinse well and drain.
- Place all of the ingredients into a high-speed blender and mix until smooth. Adjust the amount of liquid until the shake reaches your desired consistency (I like to keep mine pretty thick and eat it with a spoon).
- Serve and enjoy!
In case you’ve never used oat groats before, I’ve provided a picture below. They’re delicious, fluffy grains of goodness!! Oh-so tasty and oh-so good for you