RISING FROM THE ASHES: REBUILDING HEALTH, WELLNESS AND FITNESS AFTER BEING ILL OR OVERWEIGHT: PART 2: NUTRITION & HEALTHY EATING

I don’t think my upbringing, and early relationship with food is unusual or unique. In hindsight it was certainly unhealthy.

We ate mac-and-cheese from a box, with powdered “cheese.” We ate hot dogs, hamburgers, spaghetti, raviolis, and ramen noodles. At Christmas, fresh homemade cookies of every variety were made by the dozens.

I thought a salad was just an afterthought at meals where there were more people than food. Gardening was a big thing in our family, but fresh produce was a summertime thing. My mother could cook with the best of them, but fried eggs, bacon and fried potatoes was breakfast.

My own family now that I’m older are bread eaters. If I make a loaf of fresh challah bread, it won’t last until sundown in our house. My kids hate pasta, but they love bagels. Ham and cheese omelets, or pancakes or waffles was breakfast for us. Until recently.

My health took such a turn for the worse, for so long, that I thought I was dying. I was desperate for help, and was sick of feeling sick. A Hail Mary advertisement for a book led me to “Thyroid Healing” by Anthony Williams. He suggests some dietary changes to allow the body to start healing itself, so I went for it with both feet and cut all of the inflammatory foods out of my diet (we’ll talk more about them again below). The results were incredible! Within a week of changing my diet, I felt 19 years younger again. It took five months for my digestive system to settle down and run like a functional healthy system again. If I made no other changes in my life, other than that one decision to cut out the inflammatory foods from my diet, I would still feel phenomenal and healing again. It was the best decision I ever made for my health. But it was just the beginning.

Healing my digestive health, and cutting out inflammatory foods gave me extra energy. A sudden wellspring of energy in a once parched fountain. It was thrilling, and made me want to move my body. I danced, and hiked, and swam and worked out. I had a surge of energy, and directed it toward fitness and exercise. The motivation got me started on that path to healing. Then the good habits I created have helped carry me forward and ease my journey.

So remember…

Healing starts at your next forkful. Your body’s innate nature, how its systems are programmed to operate, and those systems’ priorities will always be 1. To execute whatever action it was created for – digestion, circulation, metabolizing, hormones, etc.; and it will also always 2. Heal and regenerate itself. That’s it. That’s all the body does. It’s a machine. The literal truth is that what you put in, you get out. If you’re eating wheat glutens, dairy, processed sugars, food out of a box, GMOs, and meat and potatoes, you’re going to get out illness, discomfort, obesity, disease, fatigue, mind fog, numbness, and worse.

If you put in whole, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, nuts, occasional lean meats, and lots of water you’ll get out huge energy gains, natural sustainable weight loss, strength in your foundational functions – cardiac, liver, lymphatic, thyroid, adrenals, corpus collusum, healing, and longevity.

Food is medicine.

Real food is medicine. Tampered, altered, modified, refined and processed ingredients does not make food.

Your gut health is everything. A bad gut can mess everything up. Everything. Neurological, hormonal, cardiac, liver, lymphatic system, cholesterol, and on and on. You truly are what you eat. Did you know that your liver regenerates all of its cells ever 300 to 500 days? Your fat storage cells are completely replaced every 10 years. Skin cells are all replaced every 39 days. You’re writing your body’s future cellular makeup with your very next bite and every bite thereafter.

OUR BODIES, WHERE TO START

You’ve lived in it your whole life, and yet I bet you know more about the moon than how your body’s systems work. What a wonderful opportunity to learn more about your nearest and dearest friend – your body!

The best place to start right now, when it comes to kick starting your body from obesity or illness back into a healthy state, is your hydration.

STAYING HYDRATED

Did you know that the majority of people are chronically dehydrated? Being dehydrated can make your joints ache, your head hurt, your organs suffer, the toxins in your body to linger and more.

I wrote and posted an article on this a while back. LINK TO HYDRATION ARTICLE I looked at a variety of medical sources, and honestly there was some variation on all of their recommendations. The gist of it came to this. Drink half your weight in ounces of water every day. So if you weigh 200lbs, you need to be drinking 100 oz. of water every day. It may seem like a lot, and in the beginning you’ll have to force yourself to drink. Eventually, however, your body will crave that water and throw up thirsty signs more often to encourage you to drink more.

Personally I put an app on my phone that helps me track how much I’ve been drinking. I use the “Water Drink Reminder” app for Android. It’s been invaluable. I use the app to track the ounces of water I drink every day and at night I write them in my planner. That way I can see how my success ebbs and wains depending on things like whether I’m sick or not. I can then track how I feel the next day. I like to celebrate my success as often as I can. Every night before bed I can pat myself on the back if I’ve had enough to drink.

Staying hydrated will make the biggest and quickest difference to how you and your body feels, and how your hair and skin look, as you start to make changes. Commit and begin to drink more water every day before you do anything else.

I recommend having a really nice 30oz. Nalgene water bottle handy, or something similar. It’s a great way to track your fluids, and carrying it with you will encourage you to drink.

FOOD, NUTRITION AND EATING

I do not want you to be miserable with the changes we’re making in your life to find your way back to health. If you’re uncomfortable or unhappy, you won’t persist with the changes you’re making. Nor do I want any day to be so constricted and low-calorie that you are basically starving yourself. In fact, if you’re feeling hungry, you’re stressing your adrenals. Adrenal fatigue is real, it’s dangerous and it’s pervasive. Living a healthy life means that you have surrounded yourself with whole, fresh, healthy vegetables and fruits, so that when the pangs of hunger strike you’re a handful of cashews away from moving on with your day without making a bad, regretful choice in what you’ve eaten.

The days when we assumed that in order to lose weight or get more fit, you had to eat cardboard and as few calories as humanly possible are, blissfully, over.

Actually, it’s the quality of the food you eat that matters most. One hundred calories of broccoli are entirely better for your body than one hundred calories of chocolate. Your mental health? That’s debatable. I’ve said for years that chocolate is medicinal. I digress.

The secret to good health is the worst kept secret. Ever. If you allow yourself to enjoy a balance of fresh, whole, healthy fruits, vegetables, nuts and leans meats in moderation, it is very hard to consume too much and gain weight. If you get enough healthy fat (you likely need more than you think), and clean proteins, you will not crave simple carbs or sugary things as much. Also, if you hydrate like a boss, you will be more satisfied and cleansed. Period.

By eating mostly fresh fruits, and vegetables, your palate will change. Suddenly you’ll enjoy and crave the crisp, sweet bite a red pepper. And things like fast food or sugary drinks will be so overwhelmingly sweet and unappetizing that you’ll find them overwhelming and repulsive.

HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU EAT?

As we’re getting started, I do not want you to feel hungry. If you start to feel hungry it is okay for you to eat some fruit or some chopped vegetables. Eventually what’s most likely to happen is that your body is going to start healing. Your energetic consumption is going to find a healthy balance. Your body will stop craving things like meat with every meal, or sweet baked goodies.

As that happens, as your energy starts to refill your reserves, and as you start to move your body more, then you can decide to eat less and how often.

I’ve done the research and there is literally no evidence that says three square meals a day is any less or more beneficial to metabolism than six small meals a day.

The key is going to be understanding, without judgement, your own relationship with food and make the decisions that are healthiest for you. Personally, I have to eat three square meals and one snack a day. I tried to eat six small meals spread throughout the day and hated it. It felt like I was grazing, and always eating. Portion sizes got confusing, the whole thing just wasn’t great for me. For you? Your mileage may vary. This isn’t a prescription, just a point of focus for you to figure out something about yourself.

So what is a good portion size? A rule of thumb – you’re hand!

Our hands tend to grow in proportion to our bodies and will serve as great portion control. It’s a simple yet highly effective method.

I’ve included a graphic here that you can save to your computer or print for reference. Practice portion size control, until it’s second nature.

Growing up my family was very poor. We ate a lot of food from white boxes with big black letters like “CHEESE” on the side. My mother was a single working parent, and could only afford a few cans of soup a week. My brother and I would literally squirrel away and hide the cans of soup we liked best, as soon as the groceries were unloaded from the car, because there simply wasn’t enough to go around.

That was 30 years ago, and I still struggle with feeling like I need to eat more than I should because the next meal is uncertain. That’s not true, and hasn’t been for decades, but I can’t shake it. If you’re like me, and struggle with irrational thoughts about food that drive you to unhealthy eating habits, that might be a good focus point for you to work on. I promise myself toward the end of every meal that it’s okay to stop eating if I’m full, and that I’ll make sure there will be more food again later. As silly as that sounds, it works for me. If you need to, play around with ways to work with your mind and impulses to steer yourself towards more healthy decisions.

hand portion control

EAT HEALTHY FAT

Include some healthy fat (avocados, coconut oil, almond oil, olive oil, olives, nuts, nut butters, flaxseeds, seeds, grass-fed butter, grass-fed meats, wild or organic fatty fish) at every meal and snack to keep your body repairing itself properly, losing weight, burning extra fat, and staying fit.

If you want to be both fit and satiated, aim to get a tablespoon of avocado, oils, nuts or (more sparingly) grass-fed butter with each meal/snack and (if you eat animal protein) some organic non-GMO fish and/or lean meats during the week.

Eating more plant sources and less animal sources for your meals is always optimal. However, you will miss an entire segment of vitamins and nutrients that your body needs by ignoring healthy fats.

Here are some easy ways to get more healthy fats into your diet:

  • Sprinkle a handful of cashews on your cereal
  • Eat a tablespoon of almond butter with sliced apple.
  • Add more olive oil to your pasta sauce.
  • Put 1/2-1 tablespoon of grass-fed butter or coconut oil in your hot coffee, blend it with cinnamon and organic almond or coconut milk creamer. It’s delicious!
  • Slice an avocado on your toast, sea salt it, and eat like that or top with a pan-fried egg.

Fat helps our bodies absorb minerals and nutrients. So I encourage you to include fat in your diet. And see if it helps you get back into balance, faster.

HEALTH = 80% HEALTHY EATING & 20% EXERCISE

Did you know that a healthy lifestyle is 80% healthy eating and 20% exercise? You can’t outrun your fork!

Your body is a fine-tuned machine that has evolved over thousands of generations and alongside all manner of plants and animals. Your body can work miracles to heal itself, if you feed it the right things and push it to move once in a while.

In fact whole organic foods need to become the foundation of your healing. The future of modern medicine is going to become the understanding of how our microbiomes work, and how to affect their health and vitality with the foods we eat. They, in turn, affect our whole health and vitality. If you’re not familiar with your microbiome, you can find an article on it on the website called “Microbiomes.” LINK TO MICROBIOME ARTICLE Science is only beginning to understand the depth and spectrum of our microbiome, and how incredibly integral it is to good health. The basis of a healthy microbiome is a healthy diet. Feed your body nutritious, natural and whole foods and it will reward you in spades.

There are no short cuts. There’s no magic pill. The latest fad is just that, a fad. Pass on the gimmicks and promises of a quick solution to good health, and decide to love your whole body instead. Take the time to feed it what it needs to support all of your body’s systems and avoid the fads. The solution for your best health has been known for ages, and it’s simple. Eat healthy whole foods, drink lots of water, exercise and get good sleep. Anything else isn’t worth your time.

YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

If you’re starting from a place of being overweight, it’s finally time to get real about your relationship with food. Being overweight isn’t easy. Even with illness and diseases like hypothyroidism, it takes a lot of work to be overweight. It takes the consumption of A LOT of calories to build up a significant amount of stored weight. Many of us have had years to work at it. But the truth is, we’ve been eating way too much. No judgement. But if we’d spent the same amount of energy working our bodies, instead of stuffing our bodies with food, we wouldn’t be in the position where we are now – having to literally work our butts off to get our health and vitality back. The truth is that, if your portion sizes are huge, you can still be overweight even while eating healthy. Figure out what you should be eating, and start working toward that goal. If you’re going to continue to eat way too much, even if it’s delicious and healthy vegetables, you may as well stop reading. You’re not going to get anywhere until you’ve faced your demons and commit to eating only what your body needs to run like a smooth fine-tuned machine.

For a clear picture on your eating habits it’s best to start a food journal. It can be just a notebook, or a fancy planner. Just find some place to right down everything you’re eating and drinking all day long, and how much. It’s hard to hide the fact that you’re eating too much when it’s written there in black and white.

HIDDEN CALORIES & CRAP

Be mindful of hidden calories! Sugary drinks are not only full of toxic waste, a mind-boggling and body-damaging amount of sugar but they’re also packing on your pounds without you knowing it.

Look at the condiments you’re using. Nine out of ten brands of ketchup have high fructose corn syrup in their top three ingredients. That’s sugar! Sugar full of GMOs to boot. Start looking at the ingredients of everything you buy, and if it has corn, citric acid, sweetener or anything you can’t pronounce in it – don’t buy it!

This journey is going to be a great opportunity for you to learn how to cook a lot of condiments and foods you take for granted from scratch. Think of it as an exploration and fun! You have to keep the right mindset or you’ll never succeed. Your relationship with food will change entirely as you move down this road. You’ll try different vegetables you’ve never even heard of before, in great new ways you’ve never thought of. Try new foods, find new recipes, search online and feel inspired by new and interesting ways to prepare and eat food like you never have before.

I looked at the change in my eating patterns as a challenge and opportunity to explore new and fascinating ways to eat. There may have been a time when I snickered at people who eat quinoa. Now I get it, and am grateful for it as well! My appetites shifted from needing bread at every meal, to just needing grains at every meal to now rarely eating even grains.

The transformation you will go through as your taste buds change and adapt to your new vegetable and fruit-rich diet will keep you satisfied, and craving the sugary, starchy, chemical rich processed foods you’re eating now less and less.

In fact, now when I try to eat something from a box or a fast food restaurant it just tastes bad. It’s dull, and unappetizing, and lacks the rich deep synchronistic flavors of whole cooked clean foods.

Pinterest is an excellent source for recipes and inspiration. Search for things like “Paleo”, “Vegetarian” or “Vegan” or “Whole30.” There are more recipes on Pinterest than you can make in a lifetime. I use Pinterest to find healthy eating websites that cook in a style I enjoy, and then spend a lot of time finding meal ideas that way.

If the only change you make in your life is your diet, you’re already winning. Just by drinking more water, and eating mostly vegetables and fruits there is already a healing happening in your body without any further input from you. You can win back a trimmer waist line and stronger heart forkful by forkful.

THE BIG PICTURE, IT ISN’T YOUR FAULT

Think of this process as a great unlearning. American food culture is not healthy food. Tasty? Sure, I used to think so. But all of the processed sugar, GMO foods, dairy, starch and wheat gluten we find in our burgers, hot dogs, fries, cheese, and such are not our friends. The foods we were raised on were not the best for our health, and taught us unhealthy lessons about how to nourish our bodies. Now that we’re older, and wiser, we have a healthy enthusiasm and commitment to learn more, and do better for ourselves.

So many foods that constitute the typical American diet are actually very unhealthy for you. We call them INFLAMMATORY FOODS. They’re advent into our food system is a very sad story.

With the corporatization of the food growing industry, processes were developed to grow food bigger and faster with larger yields and less loss to things like insects and disease. While it sounds like a good cause, the truth is that big companies stopped thinking about the environment and soil their methods were impacting, and even more so the people eating the food they were growing and focused only on their profit margins instead.

The tactics they chose to implement – pesticides and monoculture – damaged the soil, tainted our waterways with chemical runoff and animal waste, destroyed the American farmer’s way of life, and flooded our food stream with heavy metals. Then they introduced bio-engineered crops (GMOs) that create their own pesticides as they grow and require the use of more and more toxins used on them while they’re in the fields. There may or may not be a correlation between the increase of GMO foods in our food supply and children with autism. The science could go either way, depending on who is funding the study. It’s worth looking at.

Then they started moving the animals we eat into smaller and smaller spaces, to save money. Think factory farms. But the animals were getting sick because of the conditions they lived in. So the farmers started injecting them with antibiotics, which has the side effect of making the animals growing larger. Hey, more money on the hoof, right? The problem is that none of these are closed systems.

The pesticides on our food are getting into our bodies. The chemicals in our water are getting into our body. The antibiotics in the animals are getting into our bodies. The nutrients that were in our soil have been depleted to the point that our food we grow is actually less nutritious. It’s a vicious cycle. You need to be educated on these things in order to do your best to avoid the worst of them on your journey back to health.

FOODS TO AVOID

There are some foods that I avoid entirely. For various reasons that I will discuss. It’s not easy having a restrictive diet, but I feel better every single day knowing that there is real healing happening in my body minute-to-minute because of the choices that I make at mealtime. I’m not saying that you have to jump in with both feet like I did, if you find cooking without some of these foods prohibitively restrictive. Read about them, educate yourself, and avoid them as much as you can. As you heal and start to feel well again, avoid them even more. Ultimately you would like to have a diet that’s missing the following foods entirely.

CORN – It’s nearly impossible to find corn that’s not genetically modified anymore. Even looking for non-genetically modified corn seeds is getting harder and harder to do. The large companies that control the genetically modified food industry have started a campaign to put the farmers and seed-sellers that harbor the non-GMO seeds out of business. It’s truly heartbreaking to see some people putting money and greed before all else.

So why are GMO foods so unhealthy? Corn DNA has been spliced with viral DNA, in this case E-coli DNA and the result is a genetically modified seed. What’s different about it? As the plant is growing, it’s creating on a cellular level its own pesticide. It’s deterring bugs and animals from eating it while it grows so that it can make it to our tables. Think about that. It grows so nothing else will eat it, so that we can eat it.

They tell us GMO foods aren’t dangerous, but the only evidence to back up that claim is from scientists paid for by the GMO companies. The majority of the world has banned the sale, growing and consumption of GMO crops. The United States is one of the only countries where it’s legal and thriving. Coincidence that the GMO companies are American enterprises? History will refer to us living in this time as “Generation Guinea Pig.” That’s not a good thing.

The scary part about corn is that it’s EVERYWHERE. It’s in the gas in our cars, it’s being labelled as “citric acid” and mixed with all of our foods, it’s high fructose corn syrup and in all of our foods, it’s insidious! Make sure to read your labels, and try to avoid corn as often as you can.

SOY – The second largest GMO crop behind corn is soy. Again, because it’s used everywhere. It’s not just tofu or edamame, it’s soy milk, soy oil, soy sauce. Read a label and nine times out of ten there’s soy something in it.

While being particular about what we choose to put in our bodies requires more work, the payoff speaks for itself. Healthier bodies, healthier minds. If you want to learn more about what the heavy metals in pesticides and GMOs are doing to your body please find our article on Heavy Metal Detoxing. It’s eye-opening. So much of our food system has been tainted in the name of big money, and it gets increasingly harder and harder to avoid the poisons.

DAIRY – Did you know that there’s a “pus allowance” in the milk we drink, and therefore in our cheese? Why would there be pus? Because our dairy cows are kept in cramped and unsanitary conditions and the female cows are not allowed a grace period to stop producing milk. In nature she would get pregnant, have her calf or calves, feed them for eleven or so months and rest before doing it all again. With electronic milking machines a female cow can be milked every day for the entirety of her life. Do you think the milk you’re getting is very healthy if it’s from a sick and exhausted cow?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m from Wisconsin and just feel bad saying this to you, but dairy is bad. There’s the antibiotics the cows are given to keep them from dying of illness. That gets into their milk. The pus we already discussed. Milk manufacturers are adding sweeteners in the milk to appease the sweet-loving American pallet. And the innate makeup of cow’s milk itself is simply not healthy for us.

After the age of 2-years old the American Society of Pediatrics recommends children stop being given milk. Any milk. So why are adults still drinking it? Because the dairy industry is big money, and have spent big money telling us for generations that milk does our bodies good. Guess what, it doesn’t.

PORK – Pork is the fattiest animal protein there is and puts a serious drain on our liver’s resources. When you eat the pork the fat is pulled into your bloodstream during the digestive process. It’s the liver’s job to clean the blood stream. It takes pork fat over twelve hours to be processed out of your body. If you’re eating pork for breakfast in the shape of bacon or sausage, then a ham sandwich for lunch and pork chops for dinner you’re literally never allowing your liver a chance to cleanse, complete and rest from the pork fat.

A healthy liver is integral to good health, and a fatty liver can cause massive and catastrophic damage to your systems from jaundice to even lymphatic cancer. LINK TO LIVER HEALTH ARTICLE

Not only have I stopped eating all pork products, but I’ve also learned about how to boost and cleanse my liver. Do you know what a cleansed and healthy liver is good for? Processing out all of our stored fats reserves and helping you lose weight.

Not to mention that pigs, where pork comes from, are generally very dirty animals. They will eat literally anything. Entire groups of people have sworn off the consumption of their meat. Yes, it’s for religious reasons. But they’re not misguided in their decision. An animal that will eat anything is going to be full of some of the most heinous parasites on earth, and their nutritional content is going to be questionable. Just some things to think about. I know, I know…bacon. Honestly, I don’t miss it. After a while of discovering the culinary delights that aren’t pork, you won’t miss it either.

EGGS – What I did not know was that eggs are one of those foods that feed viruses in the body. You don’t have to feel sick or be sneezy to have viruses in your body. They’re there all of the time battling with your microbiome and trying to get the upper hand. Things like shingles, and Epstein-Barr virus are in over 90% of the population right now. Did you know that the Epstein-Barr virus (the one that causes mononucleosis) can also cause cancer? There’s a great article called “Epstein-Barr Virus” on our site for more information. LINK TO EPSTEIN BARR VIRUS ARTICLE Well, eggs feed these viruses. Did you know that it takes an egg 11 days to process through your body? Components of the eggs we eat get into our blood stream and even end up in our lymphatic system. I avoid eggs because I’ve had health issues related to the viruses in my body for a long time and will do anything to take back the upper hand.

CANOLA – Canola oil used to be the poster child of healthy vegetable oils until the truth about it started to make its way to the mainstream and consumers started choosing more natural and better options. Canola oil is derived from rapeseed plants. Because rapeseed plants are high in euric acid, which is bad for our health, the plants were genetically modified to lower the level of euric acid. The seeds are heated before being expelled and a petroleum-derived solvent called hexane is used to remove the oil from the extraction. Sounds delicious, right? The oil is thinned and filtered. But rapeseed oil is notorious for its pungent odor. So it’s bleached and deodorized. You end up with a cooking oil that’s high in polyunsaturated fats. Foods that are high in polyunsaturated fats and Omega-3s tend to be unstable and go rancid quickly. So stabilizers and partial hydrogenation are often used to increase shelf-life. Did I mention that over 90% of all rapeseed plants are GMO? Sigh. Canola oil is also linked to a myriad of illnesses and is known to be inflammatory, is damaging to your digestive system, feeds the bad microbes in your body and damages your arteries. Need I say more?

What’s worse is that if you’re reading your labels on the food you’re buying you’ll quickly realize that canola oil is in so much of the food we eat. It’s a shame the degree to which our food supply has been usurped by big-ag business and is slowly poisoning and damaging our bodies for the sake of their profits.

WHEAT GLUTEN – Wheat is one of those plants that are so overly saturated with pesticides while in the field that they’re nearly impossible to eat anymore. All of the gluten intolerance and allergies we’re seeing all of the sudden are quite possibly reactions to the pesticides in the food system and particularly the wheat. Wheat gluten is in the flour we eat, and therefore the breads.

The good news is that you can buy all kinds of flours that are not wheat. Gluten-free baking is truly an art form.  Gluten-free baking and cooking has come a LONG way from even a decade ago, and you can find a bunch of really great websites out there with recipes, tips and information.

Remember to keep a positive mindset when you’re deciding to cut wheat gluten out of your diet, and embrace the opportunity to learn fun and new exciting ingredients and cooking methods.

DO I HAVE TO BE A VEGETARIAN TO SUCCEED?

My job isn’t to dictate what type of diet you choose to live with, only to guide you to make the best choices possible within the confines of whatever diet you choose. I will time and time again suggest no matter whether you decide to eat meat or not, to make fresh whole vegetables and fruits the majority of your diet. If you continue to eat meat, it would benefit your liver immensely if you tried to keep the amount of lean animal protein you eat to one or two meals a day.

Being a vegetarian isn’t a necessity for good health, but it’s definitely a good idea to minimize your animal protein intake. New science and research suggests that eating meat might be making us sick. Not to mention the fact that a huge portion of the food grown on our planet is going to feed animals that end up on our dinner tables instead of to starving people who could never afford to eat the animal’s meat.

Even Denmark has changed their food pyramids to reflect the fact that meat consumption is on par with junk food consumption. It’s a complicated and high-stakes topic with many varying facets. Regardless, the truth is that for your body’s health, it’s best to fill up on primarily whole fresh vegetables and fruits.

FIGHTING TEMPTATION – SITUATIONAL SUPPORT

Your environment affects you in a lot of ways you wouldn’t expect. Create an environment that’s going to support your good health and weight loss goals. Simple changes to your environment can increase your good habits. Will power is completely overrated. Changing the situation can lower the extent to which you engage in all kinds of bad habits.

Get temptation out of your house. Throw or give away the cereal, cookies and candy. Make the healthy choice the easy choice. Where before if I was hungry I might grab some chips or a granola bar, now my only choices are going to be fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts or lean mean. Even when snacking, I’m going to be ahead on the health-o-meter because I’ve set my pantry up for success.

If you know you’re going to eat the chocolate if it’s in your house, get it out of your house (and eating it to get rid of it doesn’t count!). If you know you’re a grazer, make the grazing healthy fresh vegetables or nuts. Have diced cucumbers and carrots already washed and cut in your fridge that you can eat when you’re hungry, at all times.

If you have a particular chair that’s so comfy that you don’t get out of it once you’ve sat down, move it to a different room. Or don’t sit in it. Create your own success.

Something as simple as the things you have on your kitchen counter can affect your weight and overall healthiness. If you have cookies, chips, crackers, cereal and soda on your counter you are more than likely to weigh 10kg more than someone who doesn’t. Just by having it sitting there.

The good news? This process of rebuilding your strength and health is a marathon, not a sprint. There’s no race to the finish line, but a steady growing stream of making better decisions for yourself with more information, excitement and motivation than ever before.

The biggest impact you’re going to make on your health is by cutting out the inflammatory and poisonous foods we’ve discussed and by adding other whole foods. Don’t get bogged down in the minutiae of what you should or shouldn’t have on your counters. Today – stop eating inflammatory food. Then eat more whole healthy food. Once you’ve got that down, then work on your situational support.

Don’t forget to take baby steps. You can always refer back to this article, or others, when you’re ready to take your next steps. Just take one step today. Tomorrow, take another. Just keep stepping.

ORGANIC VS NON-ORGANIC

Is there a difference? Yes, absolutely. Organic food not only has fewer pesticides than non-organic, it’s also proven to be higher in nutrients. If you can afford organic, then buy it. However, eating any vegetable is better than eating no vegetable. Just make sure to wash non-organic produce thoroughly. No, it won’t wash off the pesticides. That gets into the cells of the plant. But always wash your produce. The E.coli or salmonella outbreaks we hear about would have been avoided if people thoroughly wash all of their produce.

CHEAT DAYS?

Your metabolism, just like your body, can reach a plateau. Like your Depression-era grandmother, your body is very efficient at doing the best it can with what it’s got. Even if you’re eating a good balance of nutrients, and moderating calories every day, you will notice fewer benefits as your body becomes more efficient at using what you’re giving it.

The counter-intuitive thing to ensure that your metabolism doesn’t plateau, is to shock it out of its routine once every 7-10 days by eating way more, not way less, calories.

This isn’t an invitation to buy a cheesecake and spend an entire day eating it. Yes, it’s a lot of calories. But think about the damage to your liver, and intestines trying to process all of that fat and sugar.

The general rule is that once a week or so, aim to eat a lot. No to counting calories, yes to eating all the things you choose. Don’t go nuts people. But allow yourself to eat some of the chocolate.

If you like to go out for dinner with friends, or want to try a new recipe with fried potatoes, do it on this day. The good news is that your body has something called a “set point” when it comes to your weight. If your body is being fed quality healthy food on a regular basis, it will be strong enough to maintain your weight within one or two pounds of its “set point” even if you’re eating more calories one day.

There are some other systems that physical trainers use for weight loss called carb cycling. Carb cycling includes days with low-carb consumption, moderate carb consumption and one day of high carb consumption. All of this is done with a carb-to-fat ration shift on particular days. While the truth is that there has been success losing weight using this system, it can be dangerous and unhealthy if not prescribed and monitored by a professional. You don’t want to drag your body and digestive system up and down a carb scale. Your body has been through enough trauma, and so we’ll focus entirely on healing in a natural sustainable way instead.

When you take actions toward your own self-care, you inherently tell yourself that you’re worth it. This instantly increases confidence and self-esteem. You’ve been working hard all week to make good choices for your body. Now your self-care can include some variety and spice on the menu on your cheat day.

YOU DON’T DECIDE YOUR FUTURE, YOUR HABITS DO

You’re laying a foundation of habits to carry you forward into good health for the rest of your life. That’s the way to any success, and it’s the way you will succeed rebuilding your health and fitness.

Motivation will get you started, but habits will carry you forward.

And here’s the “big secret” that people who are successful in life know, that you don’t. You don’t decide your future, your habits do.

Habits are just small choices you decide to make the same way, again and again and again, every day. They’re easily made, they’re easily broken. But they are the vessels for your day to day life that will carry the thread of your intent from beginning to end.

Want to heal your gut? Every morning as soon as you wake up, make a 16oz glass of fresh celery juice. Every single morning. Wait 15 minutes after you’re done drinking it before consuming anything else. Decide to do it this morning. Tomorrow morning, and the next thousand mornings after that. Boom. Done. You’re healed.

Want to get flat abs and a strong core? Do a 30-second plank every morning when you wake up, do an ab workout five days a week on your way home from work, and another 30-second plank every night just before bed. Boom. Healed.

Habits are vessels that we use to make automation of our priorities easier so we can achieve the long slog to our goals. We don’t decide our futures, our habits do.

We decide what our goal is, what steps are necessary to achieve that goal, and then make the small choice every single day to do those steps and the outcome is inevitable. Yes you have to choose to act. Yes you have to do the actions. The process will become easier and more natural over time, as you choose the same choice over and over.

Have patience with this process. You can see someone who is fit and strong, and ask what they eat every day. But that’s only half the answer. The truth is their health and fitness is a reflection of a long-term commitment they’ve made to their well-being. Eating is half the equation. Continuity, persistent and good habits are what help you achieve these goals. In six months, a year, two years or more if you continue to drive your healthy habits every single day then you may look like those healthy people as well.

Someone may walk up to you on the street someday and ask what you eat because you look so great. You may even tell them. But you and I both know your success is going to be from your commitment to meal after meal, workout after workout, day after day.

“HEALTHY LIVING ISN’T ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE GIVING UP.

IT’S ABOUT THE LIFE YOU’RE GAINING INSTEAD.”

Let’s start the healing process, now. Today. Stop eating the inflammatory foods we talked about above, or at least minimize them in your diet. Give your body a chance to start healing itself. Your next meal could be the one that starts the healing. I’m excited for you!

PATIENCE

It’s important to mention patience. It has taken a long time for your body to get sick, or overweight. You’re on the right path back to whole health by choosing to eat the right things, and more importantly, to avoid the bad foods. You may notice a change in your weight quickly as you start this process. That’s wonderful. But it’s not sustainable.

When I started this process my body shed twenty pounds in just a few weeks. It was miraculous! I make no other changes at that point other than to cut inflammatory foods from my diet.

But there will come a day when the weight loss will slow, or even stop. Remember the plateaus I mentioned when your body gets more efficient utilizing the energy you feed it? It’s inevitable. Don’t get discouraged when it does.

Persist, and find markers for progress elsewhere. In addition to weighing yourself, start keeping a record of your body measurements. On days when my scale won’t budge, I can still go back and see the inches that I’ve lost.

Stick with the process, allow your body to heal. Someday your liver is going to be healthy again, and will start letting go of those old stored fat cells. Someday your muscle mass will start feeding on your fat storage for energy. Your body knows what health looks like. It wants it as much as you do.

Feed it what it needs, move your body to get your circulation and lymphatic systems flowing and watching the healing happen. Your future looks beautiful, and worthy of the love you’re pouring into yourself to get you there.

As always, thank you for your valuable time. Next week we’ll talk about our minds, and how they hate change and only want to protect us from danger, and how that translates into stalled goals, derailed life changes and failure. Once you understand how your brain works, you can work around or with it to get back on course.

To look back at Part 1 here’s the link … Rising From the Ashes: Part 1

Keep your eyes peeled for RISING FROM THE ASHES: PART 3: MENTAL MODALITIES AND MINDSET soon.

risingfromtheashes

 

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2 thoughts on “RISING FROM THE ASHES: REBUILDING HEALTH, WELLNESS AND FITNESS AFTER BEING ILL OR OVERWEIGHT: PART 2: NUTRITION & HEALTHY EATING

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