Tag Archives: Health

You’re already in shape

You don’t need to “get into shape.”

You’re already in shape–your shape.

Forcing and fretting to fit into a different shape isn’t better because you change the original design. Nothing is better than the original you.

“But I’m all out of breath when I walk up the stairs or jog with my friend; I get so tired when I stand for too long. I need to be in better shape.”

My friend, you are experiencing what it feels like to be alive inside your own body. The breath you feel is your lungs working; the aches you feel are your muscles coming to life; the fatigue you feel is your body simply asking for rest. Nothing about being alive is bad or wrong.

There are no rules that say how far you have to go before you stop; there is no law that says you have to move in a particular way. Move in a way that feels good to you, that feels right for your body. Dance, stretch, run, walk, jump, roller skate; find movement in yoga, Tai Chi, Taekwondo, Karate; have fun with areobics, jazzercise, zumba; find challenge in climbing walls, mountains, and forest trails; find vibrancy in swimming, kayaking, canoeing, or water dancing. Each body likes and wants to move, but discover how you want to move for you.

Exercising compassion and love and grace for yourself  is far more effective in achieving the body love you want. When you love yourself, you realize your body shape is perfect; you’ve been in the right shape the whole time. You’ll move to connect with your body rather than exercise to force yourself into a different kind of body.

No need to “get into shape” because your original design is already present, you’ve simply lost sight of it. You’re already in a good and beautiful shape. Connect with yourself as you are right now; listen to what your body is telling you; move according to how your body wants to move. Watch how your original design– your heart, your body, your breath, your strength, your stamina–becomes powerful and present again.

 

Sugar is not bad for you

The following information is not meant to diagnose, treat, or even suggest a medical condition. Always talk to your doctor about your health and any questions/concerns you have about your health and diet.  The statements made in this post are strictly what I learned in anorexia recovery from specialists who worked hard to keep my alive after I starved myself to near death, and what I have subsequently experienced on my road to personal health. If the information doesn’t resonate with you, that’s okay. If it helps you, great. Enjoy!

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The human body runs on sugar.  Sugar is an energy source, the main and most preferable energy source, that our bodies use for every bodily function from thinking and moving to digestion and hormone production. If the human body doesn’t have sugar, it doesn’t survive.

When I was in the thick of my disease, I strove to be sugar free, and what little sugar I did eat, I immediately “burned off” with exercise. I believed the lies that sugar was evil, and that I would be fat, unhealthy, and sick if I ate any.

Here are some general cultural beliefs about sugar and the biological truths from the body’s perspective that negate those beliefs.

Culture: The sugar crash is bad and you are bad for having eaten the sugar that is now making you crash.

Body: Because sugar is the body’s main energy source, that’s the first thing it burns to do anything. So the “sugar crash” is simply your body out of gas. What happens when you’re car is out of gas? It lurches, shakes and comes to a halt. What happens when your body is out of sugar–out of energy? You get the shakes, maybe a little lightheaded and you stop.

If you’re crashing it’s because your body needs more nutrients, especially sugar, to keep running. Crashing is a natural biological reaction to running out out energy and not a bad reaction to sugar. The sugar is not at fault.  To keep your body running longer and to avoid crashing, eat sugar with a little protein and fat. These three energy sources work together to give you energy and sustain it through whatever activity you’re demanding of your body.

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Culture: Sugar/carbs makes you fat.

Body: Carbs don’t make you fat. Carbohydrate is a fancy word for sugar.  I repeat. Sugar is an energy source, so it’s getting used all the time. If you are alive, your body is burning energy. You are using energy right now reading this sentence.

If you eat more sugar than your body needs, three things will happen. The body will:

1) excrete what it doesn’t need.

2) store some as fat.

3) tell you that it’s had enough. 

Don’t let number two scare you. Our bodies need fat for a plethora of body functions, including nutrient absorption. You can eat green and “healthy” all you want, but if you don’t have fat stores, your body isn’t absorbing those nutrients. Secondly, the body won’t store more fat than it needs. Once the body has had enough of any nutrient, it will tell you. It is imperative that you listen to what your body is asking for. Pay attention to those cravings and pay close attention to what doesn’t sound good. Oblige your body and respect it when it’s says, “I’m done” or “I need more.”

My body asks for potato chips. A lot. Culture says to eat carrots instead because those are healthier. Carrots have fiber, water, and vitamin A. When my body is craving potato chips, it’s asking for complex sugar (sugar with oomph) and salt. Carrots don’t  fit the bill and that’s why they don’t sound good nor do they satisfy me in a potato chip moment. I usually pair my potato chips with a protein–typically sardines because I love sardines. Why? Because it sounds good! And because I know my body will run a little longer and better with the added nutrients.

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Culture: Natural sugars are healthier than processed sugars.

Body: Sugar is sugar to the body. It reads it all as energy  and uses it all as energy. I want to shy away from muddling up your brain with a lesson in glucose, fructose, and sucrose because the chemistry and biology gets complicated. The bottom line is the body needs a variety of all three. You won’t function well if you’re only eating fruit and honey. Likewise your body won’t function well if you’re only feeding it candy and cake.

ApplepieSeveral weeks ago, I got a bunch of apples from a friend of mine. I went crazy in the kitchen, and for a week we ate apple pie, apple crisp and apple sauce. One day, none of that sounded good. For about five days my body wanted nothing to do with anything sweet. Not even honey turkey on my sandwich. My body had had enough sugar (fruit sugar and table sugar) and I listened. I wasn’t bad for eating all that sugar. I wasn’t unhealthy for eating all those treats. The sugar wasn’t evil for turning off my sweet tooth. I ate and I enjoyed; my body was happy and kindly told me when it had plenty to work with for a while. Simple as that.

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The human body is designed to run on a combination of all nutrients. Sugar is a necessary nutrient; sugar is not bad for you. What’s even cooler is the body comes with a built in communication system that tells you which foods it needs more of and which it needs less of so you don’t have to control, restrict or omit sugar. If you’ve had too much, which is what everyone worries about, your body will cue you in. The trick is to be in tune with your body and listen to what it’s telling you. That’s true health.

Enjoy your food today and eat what sounds good! <3

One of the rudest things you can say

“You shouldn’t be eating that. It’s so bad for you.”

This is one of the rudest things we say to each other in our culture.

We say this ALL THE TIME. From friends at lunch, to families at meal time, neighbors at BBQs, and complete strangers all over the internet, whether through articles or personal commentary, we say this in the name of health.  But what we’re really saying is “you’re doing it wrong and that’s bad. You should be better.”

We shouldn’t be doing is tolerating this statement in our lives. It isn’t okay for people to be in our food or food habits. Even if, especially if, we’re struggling with weight challenges.

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Would you ever say  to someone, “You shouldn’t be wearing that. You’re too fat”? It’s just as rude to tell someone they should or shouldn’t be eating something.

To say openly comment on or to accept commentary on what someone should or shouldn’t be eating, what’s bad or not bad is judgmental and hurtful. No one knows our own bodies better than ourselves. And if we’re judging what others are eating based on body type and/or potential future body type, then we’re missing opportunities to concern ourselves with things that actually matter.

This is especially damaging for children. Forcing the shoulds and shouldn’ts of dietary rules interrupts not just the joy of eating but also the natural signals kids get from their bodies about what they like/dislike, what sounds good, and what they need. Food is meant to be fun and fuel; the best way to keep kiddos healthy is by teaching them to listen to their bodies, not cultural rules.

School Lunch - Girls TableOn that same note, it’s important to teach our children it isn’t okay to judge others’ food. The same way we’d tell them not to peek in the windows of our neighbor’s house or comment on Grandma’s potent breath, we must teach them it’s not okay to make comments about people’s food or food habits.

 

Things that are okay to say, because food is actually really fun and interesting to talk about when we’re not judging each other about it:

  • “That looks really good!”
  • “Did you make that? How did you make it?”
  • “I don’t really like that flavor, but I do like…”
  • “Have you ever tried (name of food)?”
  • “What other things do you like to eat?”

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Health looks different for each body.  The food my body needs and enjoys is different than what your body needs and enjoys is different from what every other body needs and enjoys, regardless of body size and type and health. So unless we live inside each other’s bodies, we have no basis upon which to tell each other what we should or shouldn’t be eating and why.

No more tolerating “You shouldn’t eat that; it’s bad for you.” Stay confident in what you choose for yourself and advocate for each other to eat what sounds good.

#nofoodshame

 

 

 

Body Love Manifesto

 

Body trust–letting go of control that forces my body to fit into the shape it wasn’t designed to be. Rather, a harmonious flow between my body and me; cues and responses passed back and forth on the tides of intuition.

Body love– relaxed joy at what I see in the mirror and how I feel in my skin. Genuine comfort in the size, shape, and strength that make up my unique physique. Choices I make that take care of me. Deep belief that I am a beautiful being.

The world doesn’t agree with these things. It doesn’t know or encourage body love. It shames if my body is too big; it favors if my body is small. Work harder, longer, sweatier, or I won’t be good enough. Valuable. Beautiful. No matter how favorable I am, I could be better, smaller, fitter, healthier. Larger bodies are no good; smaller bodies are not good enough.

What’s so bad about living in a larger body? Why is a smaller body better? It doesn’t make sense that size even matters.

Fit and fresh and fun in any size is how we’re designed. What does fit mean anyway? Culture demands “health” be a certain size. But for me, that size does not apply. I move and breathe and sleep and eat in the home I’ve been given–this body of mine doesn’t fit what culture demands. And that’s okay. The world doesn’t have a say in what my body wants for me–it doesn’t get to say what healthy is for me.

Healthy means I find what feels good, eat what sounds good, and listen when my body says ‘I’m good’.

I don’t force or slam my body into shape. I love my body in strong, gentle movements. I notice each stretch, each breath, each movement it makes. I notice pleasure when something tastes good, smells good, feels good. Pleasure is a natural gift, a healthy sign that I am alive; a symptom of body love.

I find balance, focus, strength in pace with my body.  I flex intention with each breath in, I smile in gratitude with each breath out.

When my body talks, I listen. When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m full, I stop. When I’m tired, I rest. When I’m sad, I cry. When I’m happy, I dance. When I’m stressed, I take a step back. When I’m angry, I choose my words wisely. When I’m injured, sick, or depressed, I slow down; I nourish my body, mind, and spirit gently and intuitively, trusting my body back to health.

No one knows my body better than me, except for the good Lord above, and He designed this body–my body–with intentional love. To be loved. To receive love. My body, so uniquely designed for me, thrives on food, grace, movement, and love. No one else gets to say what that looks like or feels like. There are no rules to follow. No lists of what I should and should not do. No foods that are allowed and not allowed. No physical regimes that I must or must not follow.

Body love is between my body and me, a harmonious trust inside of me.  Harmony honors health; health honors harmony.

Calories are not bad for you

WARNING: What I am about to say is radical and contradictory to cultural norms!!

Calories are not bad for you. Food is not bad for you.

*gasp*

I know. Mind blown, right?

I am not a dietitian or nutritionist or a health coach or a doctor. I am a woman who is in treatment for a 13-year+ battle with anorexia. I am working closely with a (phenomenal) dietitian and a therapist who specialize in eating disorders; I am becoming awakened to faulty beliefs about food.

Our nation has done a pretty good job of scaring people to death (literally) of eating. The media touts the obesity epidemic and plasters 100,001 ways to lose weight, not gain weight, watch weight, manage weight, control weight, maximize weight, minimize weight. We’re instructed to avoid carbs of all types, bread, grain, sugar, fats and many protein sources like legumes and dark meats. We’re successfully whittling down our diets to 100-calorie packs and organic greens. We’re constantly in each other’s foods with judgement and warning, “Are you going to eat that? It causes cancer.” “That’s bad for you.”

As a result, I dare say, it isn’t an obesity epidemic our nation is dealing with. We’re dealing with a disordered eating epidemic. Obesity is just easier to see. Anorexia, bulimia, and orthorexia are much easier to hide, accept as “normal,” and completely misunderstood.

Food is not bad for anybody. There aren’t even certain foods that are bad for the body. It’s habits that are unhealthy. Eating too much or too little of any kind of food isn’t good for the body. Too much ice cream is just as harmful as too much  broccoli. Too much soda can be just as hard on the body as too much kale or blueberries or flax. Ice cream in itself is not “bad”; soda is not “bad”; carbs are not “bad”; beans are not “bad”; the “badness” of food is not the food’s fault–it’s the habits by which you consume or not consume the food according to what your body needs that deserve the scrutiny.

The human body operates on calories. It will use anything you feed it… to give you energy, to help you think, to help you digest, to help you build muscle, to help you feel happy, to help you function. Your body is really good at telling you what it needs if you know how to listen. Ever eat too much candy? You get a belly ache. Eating too much cheese lately? You get constipated. Ever avoid carbs before a workout? You get dizzy and tired half way through. The body is kind in notifying you, “Hey, yo! I need some fruit. I need water. I need fat. I need protein.” And when you oblige the body, it rewards you.

Similarly, if your body can’t handle a certain food, it will also tell you. I have celiac disease which means my body cannot utilize gluten–the protein found in wheat, barely and rye–and it lets me know with resounding borborygmus, rashes, nausea, and extreme fatigue.  This doesn’t mean gluten is evil. Nor are grains evil! It just means my body can’t read gluten properly. Some people know they can’t eat peanuts because the body says, “Hey yo! I can’t breathe when you eat these things!” This doesn’t mean peanuts are bad, but rather their body can’t read peanuts properly.

Your body is always working for you–trying to protect you. Even in disorder, the body will seek to adjust to a “normal” function within the disorder, always striving to keep you alive. But we don’t just want to eat to stay alive. We’re built to thrive, my friends! If we don’t feed the body calories and trust our body to work with the nutrition it asks for, we fall ill. We injure our metabolisms, which our body depends upon for a multitude of internal processes; we mess with our brains, which is a powerful but fragile organ; and we deplete our capacity to thrive, thus reverting to survival mode.

Trust me. I am living proof.

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Photo courtesy of my sweet friend Monet Borla!

Take a look a this box of ordinary light bulbs. The measure of light is calculated in lumens–the higher the lumens, the greater the light produced and usable for our needs. Think of calories the same way. The measure of energy in food is calculated in calories. The greater the calories, the greater the energy produced and usable for our body’s needs.  Why would you ever want to deny your body energy–life, light!

Just as we adjust our lights based on what we’re trying to do; so it is with our calories.  When we work out, we need more energy, more calories; when we’re hibernating in those cold winter months, we don’t need as many. Regardless, we always need a balanced  mixture of carbs, proteins, fat, and sugar because all these elements work together to produce full life. You omit or restrict one, well, the lights dim. Restrict the calories long enough, the lights will go out completely.

Don’t be afraid of calories. Ignore the media headlines and listen to what your own body is asking for. It won’t let you down.