When is the latest time you can still wish people a happy new year? The end of February is still acceptable, right? Cool. Well happy new year to you all – I hope any new years resolutions you’ve made are still going strong. Although, anyone I know that even bothered with them this year kissed them goodbye quite a while back, and dry January didn’t last longer than a week. But, congratulations to anyone that’s keeping to their positive lifestyle changes.
I took a (very) long break from blogging over December and January; I celebrated both mine and my brother’s birthday, a wedding, work parties, as well as Christmas and New Year, plus work has been getting busier. Getting back into exercise has also taken up a lot of my time. Generally, I’ve spent a lot of time with family and friends and, as cliché as it sounds, I have loved every minute.
As my back started to feel a little stronger over Christmas, I restarted the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide on Monday 21st December as I didn’t want to hold out for 3 weeks to start the Kayla Movement; I was all fired up and ready to go! I didn’t really overindulge over Christmas – I mean, I completely indulged but it could have been A LOT worse – as I was cautious of the extra weight I’d put on since my back injury in September and didn’t want to lose all sense of self control. Really, I’d only put on about 4lbs but I’d lost all of my definition and that made it feel like I’d put on over a stone!
As regular readers of my blog will be aware, I have been suffering with an undiagnosed stomach condition for a couple of years now, and following yet another bad flare up at the beginning of January I was medically advised to cut out gluten and wheat from my diet. As I’m not one to do things by halves, I thought I’d take it that one step further and cut out all dairy products too. Once I’d cried and mourned the loss of stuffed crust pizza and Boursin topped crackers for the foreseeable future, I pulled myself together and went shopping for gluten free this, and dairy free that. Cut a long story short, £50 for a weeks worth of food later and I was crying again.
I should point out at this stage that this blog post was originally written at the end of January. Titled ‘Living Life in the Fast(ing) Lane’ it was intended as an in-depth look into the truth about going gluten and dairy free and how I managed to cut both out of my diet for a month. I was 2 days out of a full 4 weeks and only waiting to take my progress pictures to publish the post. Fast forward a month and I thought it best to change the subject completely to a topic I feel most people can relate to.
Cutting out such large food groups from my diet was a drastic change; sticking to the diet meant very little leeway for crappy foods (sweets, chocolate, crisps, biscuits etc.) so naturally I lost weight. I was also exercising at least 5 times a week, where going to the gym twice in one day soon became a commonality. I also cut out processed meats, following dry January and upped my daily water intake. As you can tell, this was an extremely healthy month – in fact it was the most healthy 4 weeks I’ve ever had. So my progress pictures were striking and positive changes could be felt both on the inside and outside, right?
I ended up in hospital for 5 painstakingly long days with a kidney infection. Feeling dreadful during a work meeting, I left and went to my GP. In the 2 hours in between, my stomach cramps had escalated to the point of screaming pain, my temperature had reached 104 degrees and I had passed out. My doctor sent me straight to the hospital and following an x-ray and A LOT of morphine (ah, morphine) doctors were unsure as to what was wrong with me – shock. I felt a strong case of déjà vu as I entered my third day in hospital, being pumped with antibiotics and pain killers without a definitive diagnosis. A CT scan, ultrasound scan and blood tests later they said I had a kidney infection. While the cramping pains were those I experience whenever I get a ‘stomach flare up’- albeit much more intense – I had excruciating pains in my right side. I was given a small pharmacy worth of drugs and discharged home.
Looking back on the ‘healthiest month of my life, I don’t see how I could have possibly given myself a kidney infection. But the body is an amazing thing and acts in ways we could never anticipate – and I bloody hate it. It has taught me a very important lesson though in terms of my relationship with food. I, amongst many many other women, have tried most of the FAD diets out there – extreme calorie restriction, high fats this, low carb that, the 5:2 and the most life absorbing one of all, calorie counting. I would spend hours meticulously measuring out ingredients and carefully de-coding the tables on the back of food packaging. Much like most people on the planet, there are parts of my body I don’t like and would love to change. While that’s normal, it isn’t healthy to obsess over what you’re eating in the hope that it would ‘fix’ everything.
Most people struggle with what to eat, how much of it they should be eating, and when. They spend all day thinking about what they should eat next and categorising foods into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ resulting in feeling as though you’ve failed on a daily basis.
People use food as a comforter for stress, as a way to pass time and to provide them with a sense of satisfaction. But at the end of the day, it is your body and until you are happy with how you feel – remember it’s not always about how you look – your relationship with food with always be a rocky one.
Even though there are exceptions – athletes and those working towards body competitions – us ‘normal’ people just trying to live a healthy and happy lifestyle should take everything in moderation. Unless you do have allergies or intolerance to certain foods, I really wouldn’t recommend completely cutting out food groups. I think it is important to have a balanced diet – which yes, does include indulgences and treats here and there – but also allows you to have a healthy relationship with food and not view it as something bad. Thinking of the amount of time you’ll have to spend in the gym for every biscuit you eat isn’t healthy. Wondering how many calories are in each segment of a Satsuma isn’t healthy. Feeling guilty for hours about the foods you eat isn’t healthy. You should be able to make balanced food choices easily and without thinking too much about it – if you go to the gym and exercise regularly, you can eat more (of healthy foods, of course) and not have to worry about the calories. If you do want to lose weight, you simply have to move more and eat less – make clever food choices and eat foods that have high nutritional value and will keep you fuller for longer.
Try these top tips to help you have a healthy relationship with food:
1. Make changes to your diet without cutting out entire food groups
2. Find healthy ways to manage stress and emotions
3. Avoid using food as a reward – look for alternative ways to treat yourself
4. Make regular meals a habit to prevent you from making unhealthy food choices
5. Try to plan your meals for the day in advance
6. Listen to your body -avoid foods that your body disagrees with and which make you feel satisfied and full of energy
7. Don’t be scared to make friends with healthy fats – they will keep you satisfied and make your skin look healthier
8. Keep motivated and your expectations realistic
9. Eat according to your energy expenditure – take into consideration your size and how much you move
10. Eat primarily to nourish and fuel your body but do eat for pleasure every now and then – we were given taste buds for a reason!
It’s time for me to re-start the long process of getting my fitness and stamina back up to a standard I am happy with, for the 4th time in 6 months *cries a little inside* but I hope this post goes a little way in showing you how you can build a healthy relationship with food. I am not a nutritionalist or a food therapist, I’m just a woman who has experienced many issues with food over the years, fully aware of the side effects of an unhealthy relationship with your body and diet, sharing my thoughts in the hope that it could help someone reading this.
I most certainly don’t believe there is a singular perfect diet that everyone should follow. Our bodies are individual to us; they are different and so is what we ask of them. But, for most of us, following the tips I’ve suggested and tweaking them to suit you where need be, you will not only find yourself edging closer to achieving your body and performance goals, but more importantly will leave you with a much healthier and happier relationship with food.