If How You Eat and Work Out Doesn’t Make You Feel Good About Yourself, Read This Now

feel good
photo: some rights reserved by Donna Cymek

Warning: semi-rant ahead.

Demand more.

Seriously. We need to demand more from health and fitness. I believe 100% that how you eat and work out should make you feel better about yourself. It should reduce the amount of stress in your life, and not add to it. It should make you feel empowered and carry over into every other aspect of your life.

And it most certainly should not make you feel bad about yourself. You should never feel guilty if you “go off plan” or eat a bowl of ice cream. You should never work out because you hate how you look or because you over indulged so you’re “working it off”.

Demand more.

Our eating and fitness habits should not define us – they should make our lives better.

I’m not belittling anyone who wants to lose fat and look better because we all want to love our bodies and exude confidence. But we can still demand more in the process to changing how our bodies look, feel, and perform.

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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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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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How to Stick to Your Diet

how to stick to your diet
photo: some rights reserved by zsoolt

You know this scenario all too well: you’re determined to stick to your diet and you start off incredibly well. But when you’re at your favorite restaurant you start eying your preferred not-so-healthy and doesn’t-fit-your-diet item on the menu. There are typically three possible outcomes.

Outcome one: you resist the temptation of your favorite meal and order the more “sensible” option.

Outcome two: you resist the temptation of your favorite meal and order the more “sensible” option, but when you get home you rummage through the cabinets and pantry looking for something to satisfy the craving you had at the restaurant that just wasn’t delivered from your “healthy meal choice”. You snack on several random things but just can’t find what you’re looking for and keep on snacking.

Outcome three: You order your favorite meal and the whole time you eat it you feel guilty and think, “Great, I blew it! I didn’t stick to my diet again.” You end up not enjoying your favorite meal, feel guilty, and vow to “get back on track tomorrow”. In the meantime, you order dessert because you figure you already messed up, so why not keep on going.

Do those three outcomes sound familiar? (There’s a fourth, and preferred, possible outcome, but we’ll get to that in a moment). Most people look at that situation and wonder, “How do I stick to my diet?”

But we’re looking at things all wrong.

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You’re Not Your Diet. You’re Not Your Body Fat Percentage.

You're Not Your Diet
photo: some rights reserved by Gloria Garcia

Do your health and fitness habits define you, or do they make your life better?

There was a time I obsessed over what I would eat, and when. I’d literally revolve everything around my workout schedule. I’d turn down dinner invitations and other activities if they interfered with my trip to the gym or wouldn’t easily fit whatever diet I was following at the time.

Put bluntly: my diet and workout schedule dictated what I would, and would not, do in my life.

My incessant need to put my fitness habits above all else eventually caught up to me and led to disordered eat habits, uncontrollable binge eating, exhaustion from long and grueling workouts, obsessing over a number on the scale, and constant dissatisfaction with my body.

At that point, I was my health and fitness regimen.

But, thankfully, many years ago I experienced a huge transition. I decided that my health and fitness routine would no longer define me, and it wouldn’t control my life. I would no longer be how I ate or my workout schedule. It was time for health and fitness to be a tool that would allow me live a more awesome, fulfilling life.

You’re Not Your Diet

If you’ve seen the movie Fight Club you’re familiar with Tyler Durden’s famous speech: “You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your f***ing khakis.”

Well, I am not my health and fitness habits, and neither are you.

To put this in a Tyler Durden sort-of-way:

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One (Not Weird or Secret) Tip for Fat Loss

Heck Yeah, EatingI have a confession, and I’m ready to share it with you.

Hello. My name is Nia Shanks and I, am a very fast eater.

Sometimes I eat so fast it’s comparable to a rottweiler scarfing down its dinner. Let that mental image sink in for a moment. (Aren’t you glad you’re reading this article?)

For as long as I can recall I’ve always eaten quickly, so I made it a goal a couple of years ago to . . .

Eat. Slower.

It’s something I’ve been working on for a while and still have to make a mental effort to do, but I’m getting better at it.

Why am I making it a goal to eat slower and why do I think you should do the same thing?

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When “Health and Fitness” Isn’t Really Healthy, and What to Do About It

Health and Fitness
photo: some rights reserved by Jeanette Goodrich

Health and fitness.

Think about that phrase for a moment: health . . . and fitness.

What does it mean? While the exact definition my vary from person to person, I think it expresses a sentiment of improving your quality of life by building a strong, resilient, functional body that ultimately serves you.

The details such as exactly how’s that’s accomplished (whether through strength training, organized exercise, sporting events, physically active hobbies, etc) can be debated, but one would think it’s about establishing sustainable habits so you not only reap short-term benefits, but long-term benefits too (e.g. decrease risk of disease, etc). And, ultimately, a health and fitness regimen should enhance your life, and not dominate it.

However, if you thumb through some of the latest magazines and scroll through popular websites, that’s not always the impression we’re getting.

Health and fitness.

Some resources have turned it into a game of constantly striving to reach a lower body weight coupled with strict dieting methods and long, grueling workout routines. Often it looks like a race to see who can eat the least and work out the most. And sometimes the information is just downright degrading.

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Lift Like a Girl TV – Meg “Fit Bitch” Brown

Meg Fit Bitch BrownThis is the first episode of Lift Like a Girl TV. Whoop!

Today’s episode is an interview with the incredible Meg “Fit Bitch” Brown.

Here are some of the show’s highlights:

  • Great tips for moms who want to balance health and fitness with their busy schedule
  • How fitness and finances are related, and how to be successful in both areas (this is awesome!)
  • Why “diets” suck and how to develop long-term habits that stick
  • The key to developing long-lasting motivation to ensure you achieve your goals (and maintain them!)
  • Much more!

Let’s get to the video.

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The Nutrition Survival Guide (Don’t Become a Diet Zombie)

Fad Diets
photo by Tau Zero: some rights reserved

Fad diets create zombies. There, I said it.

Diets tell you not to think for yourself or listen to your body — to simply “follow the rules” at all costs.

And, unfortunately, many diets just drain people, emotionally and physically. I think the quote, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread” from Bilbo Baggins in The Fellowship of the Ring can be applied to many people who try the latest fad diet.

They’re hungry, and confused. Oftentimes they walk around in a zombie-like trance, but instead of drooling over the thought of “braaaaaaains” they dream about taking a bite of a sandwich, or piece of chocolate. Then again, some people are so famished they’d gladly gnaw on a chicken foot.

Many diets cause people to become robotic in their actions, disregarding any feedback from their body. They simply follow the rules at all costs, no matter what their body may say in return to these actions.

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