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

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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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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Damage Control – What to do When You Over Indulge

when you over indulge
photo: some rights reserved by Robert Fairchild

We’ve all been there – that time when we ate too much and ended up uncomfortably full or we consumed more sweets than we intended at a party. A reader emailed me a few weeks ago about a similar scenario:

“Nia, I over indulged over the weekend and ate way too much junk food. I had some ice cream and then found myself constantly popping my kid’s left over Easter candy in my mouth all weekend. Can you give me a tough workout to burn all of this off? I want to undo the damage!”

It happens. Sometimes we eat too much or go bonkers on a tub of ice cream (or Easter candy!) and immediately after we start thinking about how we can “undo the damage” from our chow-fest. Sure, I could give the woman who sent me that email a “tough workout” that will have her sweating, huffing and puffing, and burning a ton of calories … but that’s not what I did.

Taking on a “damage control” approach after over indulging is not the way to go, and before we get into what you should do, here are four problems from the typical “damage control” mentality:

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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 – Molly Galbraith of Girls Gone Strong: Body Image, Motivation, and Developing Long-Term Habits

Molly GThis episode of Lift Like a Girl TV features the amazing Molly Galbraith, co-founder of Girls Gone Strong.

To say that Molly shared a wealth of information is, quite honestly, an understatement.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the topics covered in this episode:

  • How to deal with feeling obligated to look a certain way
  • How to be comfortable in your own skin at all times
  • The importance of, and how to, practice compassion and self-love
  • Why motivation won’t last forever, and what to do instead
  • How to stop obsessing over “forbidden foods”
  • The downside to cheat days and what to do instead

And a whole lot more so be sure to watch this.

There may even be a random dance sequence.

(My camera froze a few times so you’ll see some glamorous still shots. At least you’ll get a good laugh. You’re welcome.)

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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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