Personal Health Intiative Training

Posts tagged ‘food’

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When all else fails, go back to the basics

Back to the basics

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Body Lessons

It has been a while. I think I have not posted here for years. Maybe because I was discouraged from the last competition and maybe because I don’t feel that drive that I once did that kept me enthralled in a healthier lifestyle. But two weeks ago, I attended the Red Clay Writing Institute in Athens, Georgia and the workshop reminded me that I am a writer. I think that I forget! Not only do I want to write again, I am more willing to share some of the stories that have not been shared in the past. I have written a very short story about my first bodybuilding competition and those who have competed will relate. Here it is. My first post since October 2014.

Body Lessons

She stood behind the curtain backstage. As the MC called her name, she found herself shaking and thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?” Her hand moved across the back of her suit as she made sure it was still in place. She looked down at her chest to see if anything was sticking out. The last thing she wanted to do was flash the audience. The MC ended his introduction and she stepped with one foot in front of the other until she was fully past the curtain. Good thing she had a little sip of wine because she was about two seconds away from passing out. The music was turned up loud and she looked out at the crowd but the only thing visible were the bright lights, the row of judges in the front of the auditorium and her boyfriend. Making her way across the stage in those five inch heels started to become easier with each step.
The first pose was one that she practiced over and over again with her coach. Left hand on her hip, right leg out to the side and a big grin with eyes on the judges. Her muscles flexed as she held the pose for a few seconds, but her face still looked relaxed. If only the audience knew how painful it was to hold those poses. She walked to the right of the stage and turned, showing her well-earned striations. Then she moved to the middle again with her eyes on the crowd. This was no time to be nervous. She had suffered through grueling workouts and walked a very fine line between fat loss and starvation for twelve long weeks. As she walked to the left, she thought about all of the food she was going to eat after the night was over. She turned around and showed off the v-taper on her lean back, and back around to display her six-pack abs. None of the women were as lean as her. After the T-walk on stage she went behind the curtain and her coach congratulated her. Never in a million years did she think that she would compete in such an event!
All the women went out together and followed the instructions of the judges. “Quarter turn to the right, quarter turn to the left, face the back, face the front.” They were up there for what seemed like forever. One by one, the award winners were called out on the stage and she heard her name. Fourth place! Not bad for a first timer. She was inspired beyond measure and she was inspiring others. Just a few years ago she was overweight, unhealthy and unhappy. The next day she talked to the head judge and asked for feedback. “You were just too lean. That was extreme. Nobody wants to see that.” Did he not realize how hard she had worked for her body? His words cut her like a knife. In her mind, her muscles showed her hard work and dedication that none of the other women had. But in his opinion, she should have been softer. Forget that! If she was going to do this, she was going to go all out. She could be “soft” by just not working out, but this was bodybuilding for God’s sake. When she was obese no one told her to lose weight so she could be healthy, but here she was talking to a man who promoted a healthy lifestyle telling her that she went too far. A Black man who should have been supportive of his Black sisters.
It was in that moment that she realized no matter what you do to your body there will be people who don’t like it. Too muscular? You look like a man. Too soft? You are fat. Small ass? Get some butt injections. Breasts small? Get some implants? Hair nappy and too Black looking? Get a relaxer to look Whiter. Bodybuilding taught her discipline and pride and she learned to love herself for who she was no matter what the judges thought or anyone else who decided to judge her body.

Food Shaming

Gluten-Free, IIFYM, Flexible Eating, Keto, Low Fat, Low Carb, Atkins, South Beach, Zone, Non-Fat, Diet, Free Range, Organic, Natural, Raw, Whole Wheat, Sugar Free, Vegan, Paleo, Vegetarian and more! What are you? Do you classify yourself as a devout follower of a specific style of eating? Do you shun those who like to indulge in a nice juicy burger on two fat slices of white bread? Do you turn your nose up on those who eat only plant sources of food? Are you a food shamer?

Since when did the way people eat become a fad? When did we turn into a society that is totally obsessed with the way people eat? Why do we call some food bad and some food good? We have all turned into a bunch of food shaming lunatics. I started thinking about this the other day when I was offered a piece of homemade pound cake. In the past, I would have felt guilty for eating it, and if I did eat it, I would immediately get on the treadmill to “burn it off.” But you know what? I ate the cake, and it was good….and then I went about my business. I didn’t care if it had 200 or 500 calories because I know I don’t eat cake every single day. I eat in a way that allows me to consume a lot of whole fruits, vegetables, meats and grains and snack foods such as cakes, cookies and so on. But, I don’t obsess over every single thing.

I used to be horrible; especially after my first figure competition! I ate like a cow, and then felt guilty. It was pretty much a daily process. I gained weight and then had to work twice as hard to get it off. Competing had my mind screwed up when it came to food. I was so used to being super restrictive that I had a hard time making the transition back to everyday life. Before I competed, I did not have this issue. I am much better now. I used to judge people who ate a certain way and shame myself if I ate a cookie or a burger.

I’m done with that. There is no black and white when it comes to nutrition. It is a gray area. You have to learn to look at the macronutrients in your food and not just the name of the food. Burger does not equal bad and “Clean Food” does not equal good. If you eat too many “clean” foods, you can gain fat just as you would from “bad” foods. The best way to avoid becoming a food shamer is to do your own research. Learn about nutrition so that you can make smart choices. Don’t judge people by the way they eat. Learn how to eat a variety of foods. You might find that there is something you’ve never tried that you like. Unless you are an athlete or preparing for a bodybuilding competition, you can be a little flexible with your diet. You will be happier for this in the end, and you will learn how to control your food impulses.

Bread Anyone?

I have been very skeptical of trying this “low carb” bread by Julian Bakery. It just sounded too good to be true. However; when you look at the ingredients, you can see that the macronutrients are in exact alignment with what is needed for a cutting diet. 6 grams of carbs total with 5 grams of insoluble fiber, so the bread contains only 1 gram of net carbs. The coconut bread by Julian Bakery only has 1 gram of fat and is just 35 calories per slice. When I saw this in Whole Foods today, I just had to try it. Part of the fun of doing my own diet is that I can be creative! I need to experiment on myself first before I make recommendations to other people.

Well the verdict is….I love it! It tastes good, makes me feel full, and helps me psychologically get through a VERY strict diet. This bread is very expensive but to me it is worth it. If you cannot eat bread because of a gluten allergy or are on a cutting diet, you should give this a shot. You will continue to lean out while eating it. There are many different versions of their bread but this is the one I tried.

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You have to keep it in the freezer, but you can thaw it out in the oven and make a wonderful slice of toast for breakfast. I ate this with my bison burger and zero carb noodles for lunch today. It was delightful.

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Better Than Ice Cream!

Today after my leg workout, I went to Whole Foods grocery. Whole Foods is not a store where I do my weekly shopping but if there is a special item that I want, they will usually have it. For example, they have those lovely machines that will grind up nuts for you to make your own nut butter without the added sugar. They also have some meat and really fresh, local seafood that you will not find at other chains. Today I picked up some salsa and other seasonings and found a different type of almond milk that I wanted to try. The milk is made by the “So Delicious” company and has 5 grams of protein in one cup. One cup is only 40 calories, contains 2 grams of fat, and 0 grams of sugar, and only 1 carb. It also only has 95 mg of sodium….some meat products contain more sodium than that! I will be using this up until the last week of competition prep because it is DELICIOUS in my protein shake. It is better than ice cream!

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Here is my recipe for a delicious vanilla protein shake that will have you licking the cup when you are finished. (That might just be me because just about everything tastes good at this point). 

  • 1 scoop of Gaspari Intrapro Vanilla flavored Whey Isolate
  • 1 cup of So Delicious Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1 and 1 1/2 cups of ice

Blend for about 60-90 seconds. If you have a blender that has different settings, use the “milkshake” setting or one that mixes at a medium speed.

Enjoy! You will definitely be sad when the shake is gone!

195 calories, 5 grams of carbs, 5 grams of fat (Depends on the protein powder that you use).

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It’s More Than Good vs. Bad…

I have been at two opposite end of the dieting spectrum. At one point in my life I ate whatever I wanted, when I wanted, and didn’t care anything about it. I have also dieted down for a show to the point of extreme carb depletion with a very limited selection of food. I have seen what food can do to the body, both good and bad. If you ask anybody who has ever been on a diet and exercised what the hardest part is….they will tell you “the diet!” After all, we do have taste buds for a reason.

Eating is one of the most enjoyable activities in life. We plan majority of our social events around food….Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas, Halloween, the Superbowl…and the list goes on. We eat mindlessly just because it is something we are expected to do and we even associate certain food with certain activities. Watch a movie and nine times out of ten you are eating popcorn. When you go on a mission to lose weight or eat healthier, it can be a very daunting task to eliminate all of the foods that you used to eat. Many people become so zealous that they avoid certain foods like the plague. But through my years of trial and error, I have learned that what we may think of as “bad” food is not necessarily bad. Living healthy is not about good vs. bad or restriction. Living healthy is about balance and better choices.

Many people at work are aware that I eat healthier than most and I workout on a regular basis. The most common question I get about my diet is whether I eat carbohydrates, if I restrict foods, or if I eat junk food. I wish I had the willpower to never eat “junk food” again but that is not happening. If I didn’t eat carbs, my body would shut down and I would not be writing this blog as we speak. After many years of struggling with food, losing weight, dieting for shows, and dealing with post-competition blues and trying to adjust to a “normal diet,”…I have decided that I am not classifying foods into good or bad categories anymore. These terms play tricks on the mind. I eat according to my goals, I eat to be healthy, I eat because I enjoy food, and I eat in a way that will leave me satisfied and feeling like I made a good decision. Unless you have allergies or a disease, or are involved in a sport that requires specific foods such as bodybuilding, you don’t need to be extreme. If there are foods you don’t like, that is fine. If you don’t want to eat them, that is perfectly fine as well. Only you know how you can control your eating.

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 Balance is the key to being healthy for life and as humans we like variety. Don’t get caught up in fad diets just because everyone else is doing it. Start tracking what you eat and you will see the amount of nutrients in your food and might even realize that what you thought was “bad” is not so bad. Become an educated food consumer, not just a blind follower of someone else’s diet plan.

The Value of Real Food

One benefit of tracking your calories online is seeing not only the calories and macronutrients (fat, carbs, protein) that you are eating, but also the amount of vitamins and other nutrients you are consuming on a daily basis. I took a look at my food log today which gives me a grade for the day. If I get close to the proper amount of vitamins and minerals and stay within my calorie range, I receive and “A.” If I am far off, the grade goes down. I did pretty good today but while I was looking at my log, I couldn’t help but notice that I was closer to the recommended amount of fiber as well as potassium (which is really high). I ate more vegetables today than I have and I ate REAL food. I did have one granola bar and saw that it basically had no nutrients in it whatsoever….even though it is marketed as a healthy snack. Yes, it is better than a bag of potato chips but it would be far better to make your own granola than to buy a processed bar.

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Even if you are not trying to lose weight, tracking your macros can help to ensure that you get all of the nutrients you need from food. You will be surprised at the difference small changes can make. To help transition to eating more whole foods here are some tips:

  • Cut up veggies and fruits in advance so they are easy to grab
  • Make your own “mix”…nuts and berries, dark chocolate, toasted oats and berries/nuts, anything you want to mix together
  • Make your own protein bars: Example 2 cups of instant oats, 1/4 cup of nut butter, 3-4 scoops of protein powder…mix together and place in a pan. Put the mix in the freezer and voila…you have homemade protein bars!

It is not hard to eat real food. It just requires a little preparation and creativity so you don’t get bored.

Forget restriction, deprivation, and forbidden…just eat a good variety of healthy foods and make it fun. This approach will ensure healthy eating for a lifetime…not just a temporary diet. Have your processed foods in moderation.

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