The Problem with “Listen to Your Body” and What to do About It

listen to your body
photo: some rights reserved by Thomas Hawk

Listening to your body is incredibly helpful when it comes to developing simple, sustainable eating habits. By “listening to your body” I mean eating primarily when you’re hungry, eating slowly, and stopping when satisfied but not stuffed.

This is something I practice and recommend because it works.

But it doesn’t always work as well as it should.

During a recent Beautiful Badass consultation (currently only open to those subscribed to the Lift Like a Girl newsletter but will be made public in the near future) we had a conversation about the problem with the “listen to your body” suggestion. The wonderful lady I was chatting with had a past somewhat similar to mine in regards to food.

We both had habits of scrutinizing what we ate and viewed certain foods as “good” and others as “bad”. If we didn’t eat well we’d feel guilty and proclaim that we “screwed up” and just continued to make poor food choices for the rest of the day, or weekend. Unfortunately this mindset carried over to the “listen to your body” guideline as well.

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Life is too Short to Diet

photo: some rights reserved by Gideon
photo: some rights reserved by Gideon

Let’s clarify something first. By saying, “Life is too short to diet” I’m not suggesting people eat whatever they want with complete disregard to health. This is not one of those “You’re going to die somehow so you might as well do what you want” articles where that statement is used as justification for doing anything they please without considering the possible consequences.

What I am suggesting is that life is too short to spend copious amounts of time stressing over what you’re going to eat and scrutinizing every little thing you put in your mouth. Likewise, life is too short to obsess over your workout habits.

Health and fitness should empower you. It should build you up and make you a better version of yourself. It should make you more, not less.

Most diets do the opposite. Many fad workout programs do too.

I have a simple, yet powerful, challenge for you: if you can’t proclaim with unwavering certainty that your current health and fitness regimen is empowering and making your life more awesome, then you need to change.

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5 Principles to Stay Fit on Vacation (or Traveling)

stay fit on vacation
photo: some rights reserved by OneGreatClick

“Stay fit” is a very broad, generic term. But for all intents and purposes, it suits this article. Better than saying How to Not Lose Your Results and Prevent Fat Gain When on Vacation.

It should come as no surprise that I do things differently. Be it with how this website looks (no pop-ups or ads), the guides and books in the store (some are pay-what-you-think-is-fair and all are about achieving your goals by becoming the best version of yourself, not dieting or working out to total exhaustion), or the Lift Like a Girl manifesto.

The same applies to how I approach nutrition and fitness when traveling – it should be as relaxed and stress-free as possible. My goal is to enjoy every moment of the vacation, and that means not obsessing over what I eat, but I don’t throw caution to the wind and intentionally avoid making good choices either. It’s about finding a simple balance that combines maintaining good food choices but still enjoying amazing foods that may contain good amounts of sugar (hello, ice cream) or be oh-so-delicious calorie bombs (hello, cheeseburger with pork belly).

If you too want to stay on track with your fitness but not obsess over working out or eating well on vacation, apply these five simple principles.

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Changing Women’s Health and Fitness – Join the Revolution

women's fitness
photo: some rights reserved by takebackyourhealthconference

WARNING! There is a rant ahead. As with the recent, and popular, rant on Fit and Fat Shaming, this is something that needs to be said.

(Note: I wanted to title this An Article Every Woman Should Read That Can Drastically Impact Your Health and Fitness in the Best Way Possible or even Some Health and Fitness Stuff is Pissing Me Off but Complaining about It is Worthless so Here’s How We Can Make a Positive Change, but both seemed a tad too long. Let’s move along …).

Hey, you. Yes, you.

Why do you work out? Why do you choose to eat, or not eat, the foods you do?

What thoughts drive you to perform your workouts? What are you thinking when you decide what to eat for breakfast or dinner?

Do you feel compelled to change the shape or appearance of your body because you’ve been told how you look “isn’t good enough” or that you’re “flawed”?

Let’s cut to the chase …

If you work out or eat because you’re concerned with what someone else thinks or what you think they want, then you need to stop everything you’re doing. If you think, “This is going to make me fat” when you eat certain foods or you praise yourself for “being good” when you eat others, you need to stop everything, right now.

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7 Reasons Why You Should NOT do a Sugar Detox

Sugar Detox
photo: some rights reserved by Moyan Brenn

Unnecessary, and even potentially harmful. That’s my opinion of sugar detoxes.

This isn’t a new fad but seems to be making a huge comeback. The promised benefits from a sugar detox include losing weight, higher energy, better sense of well-being, and more. Who wouldn’t be tempted by that, right?

But as we’ve covered before, I think you should avoid detoxes and cleanses, and sugar is no different.

The hosts of the Today show recently endured a 10 day sugar detox, and viewers likely joined them in the sugarless adventure. While some people champion the benefits from abstaining entirely from added sugar, I believe there are seven great reasons why you should NOT do a sugar detox.

1) Can actually lead to weight gain.

This one is going to confuse people because one of the main reasons to do a sugar detox is to lose weight.

Hoda Kotb, host of the Today show, said during her sugar detox, “I’ve gained two pounds since I’ve been on it” because she kept reaching for things like potato chips to satisfy her sugar craving she couldn’t fill. “I’m eating stuff I don’t really like” and “I had two cough drops before the show, because they tasted sweet” she went on to say openly about some of the not-so-great effects from the detox.

She later asked her co-host Kathie Lee, “Why am I gaining weight? Why?”

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Why Most 30 Day Challenges Suck (and 3 Challenges That Actually Work)

challenges
photo: some rights reserved by trevy

I’ve seen my fair share of 30 day challenges, and I’ve heard not-so-great stories that usually entail abandoning the challenge and diving head first into a tub of ice cream or box of doughnuts … and cookies … and forehead deep into a pie … and any other foods that were “forbidden” during the 30 day chalenge.

There’s no shortage of 30 day challenges that can include a diet change, some type of daily workout, a cleanse or detox, or any combination thereof.

But there are three problems with many popular 30 day challenges.

1. They Suck

Some 30 days challenges (especially in regards to nutrition) tell you to avoid a whole host of foods and food groups. Sure, you can slurp on all the cabbage soup you want and drink limitless amounts of water with lemon. So what if you’re so full from all of the liquid you feel like your eyeballs are floating and your bladder is going to explode unleashing the force of a raging river and wishing you had worn a diaper because you’re going to erupt at any moment and there isn’t a toilet near by – at least you can have all you want!

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Fit and Fat Shaming – This Needs to Die. Now.

body shaming
Common negative stereotypes. Photo from About-Face.org

Warning! You’re entering a rant zone. I rarely do this but could no longer remain silent with this particular issue. You’ve been warned.

Befuddled. Confused. Annoyed. Maybe even a little disturbed.

That’s how I feel about the current wave of fit and fat shaming. Even though I don’t read about it on social media where’s it’s quite popular, I’m still hearing it in conversations.

(NOTE: the picture here shows common negative stereotypes applicable to the fit and fat shaming discussion and is NOT saying “this is the way it is” or “all people think this way”.)

You see comments from both sides such as …

“Women who are incredibly fit are narcissists and can afford the luxury of being super fit because they don’t have families or other obligations.”

And …

“Women who are overweight are just lazy and full of excuses.”

Why would anyone think they’re superior or inferior based on their physical appearance? Why do some go out of their way to criticize the way another person looks? Why would someone make an immediate judgement on why a person is that way?

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10 Instances When You Should do the Opposite of What’s Popular

opposite
photo: some rights reserved by Howard Ignatius

I’ve achieved some of my greatest successes, attained better health and fitness results, and made my life more awesome by doing the opposite of what’s popular and recommended by “experts”.

You can too.

Society and some fitness resources have been telling women what to do for years, and in some instances it’s time to do the exact opposite. Not in the name of defiance, but because doing so can actually be BETTER and lead to greater results. Here are 10 instances where you should do the exact opposite of what’s popular …

1. Value your self-worth and self-esteem on your jean size, weight, age, or some other number.

Nope. Screw that. Resist the constant pressure and temptation to think you’re “not good enough” or you’d somehow be a better person if you looked a certain way or reached a lower (or higher) bodyweight.

Base your self-worth on who you are as a person and what you contribute to this world because no set of numbers can define you.

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Disordered and Binge Eating – Who is at Risk and How to Break Free

break free from disordered and binge eatingA survey conducted in 2008 of American women between ages 25-45 suggested that 65% had behavioral issues regarding food intake.

Sixty-five percent!

I think that’s conservative because out of all the women I know personally, I can only say that one has never “been on a diet” or had any issues with food intake or body image. Only one.

Sadly most women know all too well what it means to “go on a diet”, and many develop disordered or binge eating habits as a result.

If you’ve ever been on a diet, obsessed over food, spent more time than necessary planning your meals, or developed any other disordered or binge eating habits, (or you want to know how to eat in a simple, sustainable, healthy way!) then please listen to this episode of the Lift Like a Girl Podcast. I’m joined by nutrition coach and registered dietitian Georgie Fear and we discuss who is at risk of developing disordered or binge eating habits, and what to do if you’re struggling with them.

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A Tasty Smoothie That Actually Keeps You Full

tastysmoothie
photo: some rights reserved by Miriam

By far the greatest complaint I hear (and said before in the past myself) is that smoothies don’t keep people full or satisfied for long.

“An hour after my smoothie I’m already hungry!” was one reader’s comment.

That’s because most people don’t make their smoothies with satiating ingredients. Heck, a lot of “smoothies” I see people drink include nothing but fruit juice, ice, and some pieces of fruit. If your smoothies sound remotely like that, it’s no wonder you’re ravenous shortly after drinking it.

But my smoothies keep me full for hours, and they’re incredibly tasty and have a lot of versatility.

And those are two things I don’t compromise with my food (especially the first meal of the day): it must taste great and keep me satisfied for hours.

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