Finding Balance In Your Diet and Life

Finding a healthy balance in your diet can be a difficult task. We are surrounded by so many companies and people telling us what we should and shouldn't do, it all makes for a bit of confusion as to what is right and wrong when it comes to food.

Before becoming vegan my relationship with food wasn't very great. I didn't find food to be important and I definitely didn't view it as nourishment. I would never eat breakfast and usually skip lunch in high school. I'd come home and eat the first thing I found which was usually some overly processed animal products. Fresh fruits and veggies weren't a part of my life and I thought that eating 1,200 calories per day was a good thing. I was taught that dieting was a normal and totally healthy thing to do. 

Wrong.

Ever since I became vegan (and gluten free) over 2 years ago I have been primarily plant based. I never went through the "junk food vegan" stage and was totally fine with that. Looking back, it's quite amazing the transformation that I made in such a short period of time. I bought a few books, Intuitive Eating and Food Rules, and read through them which really helped me distance myself from the negative energy that I suffocated my relationship with food in. I began to feel so much better and I had so much fun with my newly found diet/lifestyle. If I was out somewhere that there were vegan junk foods I would eat them on occasion but that was it. I never really desired them and was totally happy eating a salad verses some seitan wings when out at a restaurant. 

Things have changed recently though and I've began to branch out more. I've become quite interested recently in trying to count my macros to see how that affects my workouts. I know that it's totally possible to do this in a plant based way but I've been wanting to branch out a bit and try some other foods. Along with that came my decision to try to bring gluten back into my diet. I removed gluten back in 2013 because I thought that it would help with some digestive issues that I was having. It did help and gluten became a special occasion thing since then. I've really been wanting bread recently though, so the other night Darrin and I got some. It was awesome and I savored it so much. The only thing that happened was that I got a bit of a headache from it. All throughout this past week I've been eating random bits of gluten and each time I've been getting a headache. Gluten isn't something that I think I'm going to stick to eating regularly but I'm experiencing and trying out things that I typically wouldn't do. 

And to be honest, I am really enjoying this new balance between healthy and slightly processed foods. It's cool to me because I've never been into eating processed foods as a vegan.

Now when I say that I'm eating processed foods I mean that I'm eating snack bars, chocolates, tofu, cereals, etc. and I'm eating one or two processed things a day. My diet is still 85% clean but this is my current experience and thoughts on this topic.

I think that's how to successfully find balance in your diet though. Ask yourself if the foods you're eating make you feel good and ask yourself if your truly enjoy them. If the answer is yes, then I say go for it! Experiment and see what works best for your body. It's that simple. Life is too short to turn down eating a pint of ice cream with your boyfriend on occasion. But it's also too short to spend it feeling sick and down all of the time because of the foods you're eating. Ultimately you know what is best for your body. It's your responsibility to listen to it and make the best decisions for yourself.

Balance.

You're in charge of your own life, 100%. Each day that you wake up you get to decide what kind of day you're going to have. I wake up everyday and choose to make the best of what I have. I have created a fun and loving relationship with eating plants and I keep that positivity alive by trying new things, switching it up, and not being too rigid in my decisions. 

You can do it too.

Don't be afraid of food and calories. They're not the enemy. Eating a healthy, balanced, and intuitive (vegan) diet is a great way to create a healthy relationship with yourself and food. Once you have the foundation of that, everything else falls into place.

 

Why I'm Against Dieting

Hi friends! Today I wanted to talk about something I highly discourage and am completely against. Dieting. Why are we talking about this today?! Well I experienced something yesterday that inspired me to write this post and I feel as if what I have to say is important. I know that this post is kind of lengthy but hang with me here. I promise that everything that I have to say is important and comes straight from the heart. So yesterday I walked into a juice and smoothie bar that I haven't been to before. They're fairly new so I figured that I'd check them out and grab a juice before dinner. I walked in and the guy started talking to me about the weather and other random things. I asked him what he recommended that I order (mainly because I'm not good with decisions) and he said to me, "Well are you trying to skip a meal and you're looking for a juice replacement?" I told him that I wasn't trying to skip a meal and was just looking for a juice to have before dinner. He recommended a drink so I just went with his recommendation, got my drink, and left. It was a really nice day in Pittsburgh yesterday so I walked around outside while I drank the juice and thought about my conversation with the worker. I know that he's probably an awesome guy and didn't mean anything by what he said. In fact, he probably gets questions similar to what he asked me every single day and just assumed that I was looking for something that I could "replace a meal" with. But I'm not looking for meal replacements, ever. Meals are extremely important. Every single meal is important.

This simple question that a worker in a juice bar asked me escalated in my mind to the point that I began thinking about people who do skip out on meals and diet on a regular basis. It makes me sad. So sad. I'm sure that you know many of these people or perhaps, you are one of those people. Either way, I don't want to you to think that I'm trying to attack or insult anyone with what I am saying. I want to help. I want to share my viewpoint on things and give you a different perspective.

Dieting is not healthy. Plain and simple.

There are many different ways to diet and many different diets to attempt. I think we all know that though, so I'll spare you the specific details of various diets. For the most part each diet is done in an attempt to lose weight and "be healthier." A lot of people see dieting as limiting portion sizes and/or skipping meals. Dieting is not done out of health and happiness with one's self. It stems from a negative thought or mindset.

Before I go deeper into this I want to clarify that the type of dieting that I am talking about is diets that occur because of hatred and unhappiness with an external appearance. I consume a plant based vegan diet, but I am not on a diet. I hope that makes sense.

Basically anywhere that you go where there is socialization involved there will be someone mentioning a diet or weight loss. Family functions, work, a night out with friends, an overheard conversation in a fitting room, even some strangers will mention it to you in the aisles of the grocery store. It seems as if everyone is obsessed with losing weight and looking great. Is that the case? No. There are many people out there that aren't concerned with dieting and weight loss. But sometimes it seems as if those people are few and far between.

What's the deal with that? Why the diet craze? Well people are running to the fast food drive thru's, buying diet books or plans, and spending a majority of their day's sedentary but expecting to be healthy.

Listed below are some things that I've learned throughout my journey and experiences involving dieting. I truly believe that if you adapt a healthy mindset and begin to look at yourself and your relationship with food in a healthier way then everything will fall into place. Having a healthy, loving relationship with yourself is possible for everyone who is inspired to take the steps towards living in balance.

Self Love Help

Being skinny doesn't equal happiness or health. One person can limit their intake and consume a diet consisting of processed foods but still be skinny while another person can eat intuitively and consume a predominately plant based diet while maintaining a fit body as well. Which one do you think is healthier? I think we all know the answer to that. Being skinny doesn't make someone healthy.

Everything in moderation. There is so much guilt associated with food. So many of us will decline a piece of cake at a birthday party or eat the cake and then regret the choice later. The cake isn't bad. Cake is okay to eat just like everything else. (As long as it's vegan and no animals were harmed!) It's the mindset that we have towards food that is the problem.

Calories are not the enemy. They really aren't. Calories are energy. Your body needs energy to function. I think that a lot of us have gotten into the calorie counting cycle at some point. It's not good. It can make you become obsessive and deprive yourself of foods whenever your body is hungry. Also, a lot of the popular calorie counting apps that are used don't recommend nearly enough calories to be able to live on successfully for a long period of time.

I just put my information into the My Fitness Pal app to see what it would recommend for me to consume each day. It told me 1,300 calories. I don't count calories now and don't see it to be necessary in general every day circumstances but I am very confident that the app is telling me to consume way below what my body runs on and needs for long term success. Eating when your body is hungry and stopping when it is full is much more beneficial than trying to count calories and skipping a meal or snack if you go over your limit for the day. Practice intuitive eating, so many benefits from it!

There are no "bad" foods. We look at specific foods as good foods and bad foods. There are no bad foods. Sure, some foods are a lot healthier than others but if we have the mindset that cookies are bad then when we eat cookies we will associate them with guilt. There should be no guilt involved in consuming a cookie every now and then. Cookies are great! By eliminating the "bad" foods mindset you free yourself from the guilt and regret of treating yourself every once in a while to a yummy treat!

Hating yourself is not okay. No one wants to spend time hating themselves. We need to stop putting ourselves down and resenting our bodies no matter what we feel is "wrong" with them. Nothing is wrong with them! All bodies are great and if we focus on things that are awesome about ourselves (and there are so many!!), then we begin to have a healthier mindset. Starting to remove the hate and negativity that you bring upon yourself is a very freeing and beneficial thing. If we stop focusing on everything we don't like then those things will no longer seem as bad as we once believed them to be.

The number on the scale doesn't matter. I want to scream this from the rooftops and tattoo it across my forehead. The number on the scale does not matter. It doesn't. I don't weigh myself and have no intentions of doing it anytime soon. That number doesn't tell me anything that I need to know. For dieters it's a way to measure the "success" of the diet and if the number isn't lowering then it most likely makes them feel as if they are failing.

Body weight fluctuates so much throughout the day and depends on so many factors. Measuring your success or self worth via the number on the scale is not a way to become healthy or happy at all. Drop the scale! Take progress photos instead. Your body is constantly changing and evolving and it's current state depends on so many things which is why progress photos are so much better. They can even be fun to take and compare too!

Surrounding yourself with positive people. If I spend my time surrounded by people who constantly pick apart their appearance with negativity or are always trying new diets then I find that I become a bit uneasy around them because their negativity tries to become a part of my mindset. But when I surround myself with people who radiate self love and positivity then that brings out the best in me and inspires me to work towards things that I want to achieve. The ones that you surround yourself with are a reflection of the way that you see yourself. I want you to see yourself as positive and filled with self love, not spending your days dieting and living in a self conscious state. You deserve much more than that!

Loving yourself is most important. I saved the best for last. Once you love yourself, everything else falls into place. You wouldn't tell your friends or loved ones the negative things that you say to yourself, so why does it keep happening to you?! You deserve to be happy and spend your days living in a way that makes you the best possible version of yourself. You are capable of so much and if you take the time that you spend on negative thoughts and trying out new diets then you could spend that time on so many other things that will help you achieve your dreams or be successful. So much is possible once you drop the negativity. Work towards it and it will become your reality.

Self Care Quote

I hope that if you're a dieter or if you know someone who is struggling with dieting that they are able to read this and try to make some changes in their lives to become better versions of themselves by healing themselves with self love and health. Consuming plant based foods along with the occasional chocolate or cake, exercising because it's enjoyable and fun, dropping the negativity and diets, and ultimately loving yourself is possible. I believe in you and as long as you believe in yourself as well, then you can make it happen! I am grateful for that experience at the juice bar. I am glad that the worker asked me that question because this post was inspired by it. Let your experiences throughout the day fuel your mind to create things that will be beneficial to you and others as well!

If you're ever feeling as if you want to make this happen but don't know exactly how to start or where to go from your current position never hesitate to email me and I will try to help you out in any way that I can. Sometimes we all need a little help, so let's do this together!