I’m sometimes asked about my diet and fitness routine. Most likely because I’m in my forties, I look fairly fit, and yet I love food! I spend a lot of time, in my kitchen, creating home cooked meals. I’ve been a foodie from a young age, because I grew up in an Italian family that…You guessed it, LOVES FOOD! Fortunately, I also love fitness. So, just like everyone else, I do my best to stay fit. Everyone struggles in some shape or form, when it comes to balancing their diets and fitness.
We are living in a culture that worships “thin”. Most of us have grown up with the mentality that it’s better to LOOK GOOD than FEEL GOOD. But, I’m here to tell you that it’s AWESOME to FEEL GOOD! And, to actually be healthy. I’ve learned so many lessons about dieting and fitness over the past several decades. And, that’s what it’s all about! Finding that balance so we can reach our wellness potential.
So, if you’re looking for some friend-to-friend advice. Or, just some tips on what I’ve learned throughout my years regarding diet and fitness, read on…
But first, my disclaimer: I’m not a doctor nor a nutritionist! I do recommend talking to your doctor about your diet and fitness routine, regularly.
Our Diet and Fitness Philosophy is Formed at an Early Age!!
Growing up, I was a skinny, gawky, flat-chested, tom-boyish girl. I never even thought about dieting, because I could eat whatever I wanted and however much I wanted. I also had an Italian mamma who cooked delicious food, all the time. And, everyone in my family ate a LOT! To this day, I will admit that I probably eat more than I should. I guess my appetite is programmed to be forever VORACIOUS!
Fitness is another story. For whatever reason, I was very interested in fitness from a very young age. I used to wake up on Saturday mornings at 7am to do this corny workout on TV. Not because I wanted to lose weight. I just loved exercising. I know. CRAZY! I also loved sports and actively playing OUTSIDE.
I do feel sorry for kids and teenagers, these days. It seems like the opposite. They are becoming obsessed with diets at a young age. And, they are NOT running around outdoors! They are on their smart phones.
Aside from genetics, I believe that we become programmed in our diet and fitness philosophy from childhood. To this day, I welcome any kind of fitness opportunity. I have little trouble getting myself to the gym. BUT, I still love to eat. I love to eat out, and I love to indulge!
Diets can be the ENEMY!
Just like everyone else, I did see the day, when I could NOT get away with eating a lot. My first year in college. I gained 15 pounds after eating three buffet-like meals a day in the cafeteria! So, that was really when I started trying “DIETS”.
First, I went FAT FREE. Not even realizing how much sugar I was consuming because a lot of low-fat foods had sugar or simple carbohydrates that eventually break down into sugar. No wonder why I was ALWAYS tired! I also had awful periods (endometriosis)!
Then, I tried ATKINS. I was eating no sugar and very small amounts of carbs. But, I was consuming a LOT of artificial sweeteners. I was definitely leaner than my college years. Yet, I was still feeling pretty awful.
Diet Should Mean “What we eat!”
By the time I turned forty, I cleaned up my diet. Literally! I gave up artificial sweeteners. If I want something sweet, I make sure it has REAL sugar! I began limiting processed foods. And, opting for organic meats and veggies whenever possible.
Now, if and when I use the word DIET I’m referring to all that I eat. I don’t believe in DIETS in terms of depriving a particular macro nutrient or limiting the number of calories WE NEED!
I’m not as thin as I used to be, because I still need to work on shrinking my appetite. I can also afford to cut down on chocolate and ice cream. BUT, I definitely feel so much better. (Mind you, I made other changes. Some out of necessity due to several autoimmune issues such as endometriosis, hypothyroidism, etc. We’ll save that for another blog post.) I do my best to give my body what it needs: protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and healthy fats. I exercise a few times a week and try to stay active even as a stay-at-home-mom.
Lessons on Diet & Fitness
I do have a few more lessons to share. These have helped me, as far as my thinking and rationale, when it comes to Diet & Fitness.
1.) EVERY BODY is different! Something that works for me may not work for you. And, vice versa. This is one reason why I am against the notion of a “one size fits all diet”. We all have a different wellness potential. Our mutual goal should be to achieve our individual wellness potential!
2.) The most important thing here is to BE HEALTHY! We are living in a society that glorifies THIN and/or rock-hard bodies. But, that’s not the same as feeling healthy and actually being healthy! The sooner you make this your priority, the closer you will be to your overall wellness potential!
3.) It’s not necessary to spend money on DIETS! Oh, believe me. I’m often tempted to get on the bandwagon with the latest diet craze. But, it can be a huge waste of money! I’d rather spend money on doing things that I LOVE ~ that are active. Going to the gym works for me, right now, as a stay-at-home mom. My gym has an outstanding daycare that only charges $10 a MONTH! That, to me, is money well spent. I would also prefer spending money on good quality food (organic and even whole foods are not cheap!) over a diet fad.
4.) Quality over quantity! Common sense when it comes to our diet. But, I apply this when I’m exercising. I’d rather do 25 minutes of an activity that really makes me sweat (hard core) over spending an hour doing something easy. I’m not saying that walking a mile or two is ineffective. If your doctor approves you doing something a little more challenging, consider doing High Intensity Interval Training!(HIIT Workouts) They are hard, but they don’t take long. And, you will see results in your overall wellness!
5.) BALANCE is KEY! I’ve learned to love my body the way God made me. I used to beat myself up after a day or periods of eating loads of crappy foods! Now, I give myself grace. I strive for a healthy balance. The last thing I want to be is too gluttonous and eat like there’s no tomorrow OR obsessive in counting calories, the number of steps I take, etc.
My Fitness Routine
My fitness routine is pretty simple, these days. I go to the gym or I workout from home. Four days a week for 30 minutes to one hour. I do anything that makes me sweat, fast! So, here are my two favs, that I’m currently loving right now:
Jillian Daniels App & The step climber at the gym.
Trust me, I’m not “that person” who loves to workout. I just love how I feel when I’m done. I love how I feel, in general, because it truly helps my autoimmune issues. (Endometriosis. PMDD. Hypothyroidism.) I’m not obsessed with being thin, as I used to be. I strive to be toned and strong. I strive to have more muscle than fat. It’s just a healthy mindset.
My Diet Routine
I don’t have a diet routine, per say. But, here are some things that I do, regularly.
- I drink as much water as I can, each day. At least 64oz. I always keep my Nalgene around me, full of water. It helps remind me to drink up! I’m never thirsty, except of course, when I am in the middle of a workout. I think this is a good sign that I am drinking enough water, regularly!
- Before every meal, I think really hard about what I want and what my body needs. If I had a lot of carbs earlier in the day, I opt for protein and fats. I try to consume a healthy balance of carbs, proteins, and fats. However, if my body is screaming for sugar, I will eat the freaking cookies! And, do my best not to go overboard!
- I have a couple food/meal staples that I swear by, and always keep on hand. Ingredients for my chocolate/banana protein shakes! Salad toppings. (I’m not eating a salad without good toppings like hard boiled eggs, cheese, etc.) Avocados for guacamole and chips which is one of my favorite treats.
- Lately, I’ve been limiting alcohol. It may NOT seem that way when I am in your company, because that’s when I’ll enjoy a glass of wine or have a beer! LOL I used to drink a glass of wine almost every night as I cooked and/or ate dinner. I rarely do this, anymore. I consider it a treat, now. In the dessert and chips category!
- I’ve been experimenting with intermittent fasting. This is when you eat during an eight hour window and fast for sixteen hours. The real benefit in doing this is really quite simple and common sense. You’re most likely going to eat LESS in an eight hour window as compared to a twelve hour window. I think this is only good for people who eat big meals, at every meal. I’m eating a nice size lunch and a nice size dinner. If I eat any snacks or even a treat, it’s going to be several hours before my head hits the pillow. That’s a good thing!
- I allow myself “FREE Days”. I never deprive myself on vacation or at a special occasion! When it comes to certain things, I can be an “All-or-nothing” type of personality. So, for me, I can go most days of the week eating good and clean. But, on the weekends, which are generally the days I’m eating out, hosting dinners, or visiting friends I eat whatever I want. I just try to my best to keep it all under control.
So, there you have it friends. It’s not rocket science. A lot of this is common sense. At the end of the day, I want to be healthy. If I can look good in clothes…(You know I love fashion as much as food, by now! lol) I’m even more happy. And, what about you? What is your take on diet and fitness? What works for you? Let me know in the comment section below!