Over 10 years ago I made the decision to go back to school to earn a Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition. In part because I’ve always had a desire to help people, but I also made the jump because my own health was in a sad state of affairs.
In all honestly, I literally spent thousands of dollars over the years on supplements, testing and educational resources, and yet I still did not feel well. During this time, I felt like both my body and my mind were in prison because I thought about food non-stop (which in case you’re wondering, is not actually healthy). I was literally afraid of food. Afraid if I ate something that I didn’t think I should at the time, I would never feel better or lose weight.
Fast forward to about 6 years ago when I finally began to understand the real meaning of “holistic health.” I understood for the first time that the journey to better health is NOT ALL ABOUT FOOD. Yes of course I want you to eat healthy, real food that you can pronounce and feel good about eating without feeling overwhelmed or guilty. BUT I also want you to take some time to reflect: Where are you in your journey towards better health? Are you in a situation like I was (for several years) where you’re eating pretty clean but still not feeling well? Then perhaps you are like me and need to work on healing certain areas of your life beyond just the physical aspect of things.
So as we kick off 2018, I want to give you our 10 best wellness tips for getting healthy — from the inside out — in simple terms that will steer you towards actually developing a healthy lifestyle…versus just a few short “resolution months” of starving yourself or making stinky shakes no one on God’s green and pretty earth would ever want to have to survive on anyway :).
But just to be sure that we’re on the same page, let’s start with the basics and go from there:
Inside Out Wellness Tip #1: Your Body is NOT a Bank Account
We have simplified weight loss in this country to follow a basic calories in versus calories out equation. In other words, if I eat less and exercise more, I will lose weight. What is so frustrating to me about this mentality is that it does not take into consideration the fact that our bodies respond hormonally to both our food and our thoughts. We are much more like a biochemistry lab than a bank account.
It’s essential to first understand this basic concept: When you eat 1600 calories of just carbs, your body will respond completely differently than if you eat the same 1600 calories from protein, carbs and fats in combination. The idea of eat less, exercise more actually puts the body in a state of increased stress hormones, namely adrenaline and cortisol. Initially, the increase in adrenaline does aid in fat loss and people typically get very excited because they can see results early on. Unfortunately, the results are almost never long-lasting due to the simultaneous increase in cortisol. In fact as cortisol levels remain elevated for extended periods of time, muscle tissue begins to break down in order for energy production to continue, metabolism actually decreases, and most people end up in a worse state than when they first began. Not a pretty picture.
Remember that part of weight loss is getting your biochemistry lab back in order through your diet and thought life and for many people, this process takes time. If it were as simple as the calories in/calories out principle, many of us would not be struggling with our weight and health like we are.
Inside Out Wellness Tip #2: Why Quick Fix Diets Aren’t a Great Idea
It seems a little crazy to me that the front of almost every magazine cover features some kind of cleanse, detox program or shake mix that will somehow magically fix all of your weight loss issues. I have tried some extreme things myself over the years (like drinking a lemon juice and maple syrup cocktail for 14 days straight) and so has Kate (she lived on just milk, orange juice, broth and homemade marshmallows for weeks…yes marshmallows…don’t even ask!) in the past to lose weight quickly/heal our metabolisms. Even though these ridiculous tactics did sort of “work,” the results only lasted for a little while.
So after failing various dieting attempts miserably, I gave up on all these extremes long ago and instead focused on things that actually did work and helped me reframe how I think about healthy eating:
- I try to follow the Great Grandma Rule as much as possible. I do read labels and buy products that follow this rule. To put it simply, I try to eat things I can pronounce or what great grandma would have eaten 100 years ago.
- I do try to limit my consumption of modern manmade fats called PUFAs (polyunsaturated fats) because they’re pretty unstable and can cause inflammation in the body. I don’t eat a whole lot of them, however I give myself a break, don’t overthink it and definitely don’t bother thinking about it when I am enjoying dinner with friends, out to eat etc.
- I live by the following scriptural principle: All things are acceptable/permissible, but not all are beneficial. I know that sometimes I eat things that are not beneficial for my body, however I also extend myself grace and eat things I enjoy so I never feel like I am on a “diet”. If something is not the “healthiest” option, I pause, give thanks and bless the food to my body. I don’t fret about it and I don’t allow guilt to set in. I simply give myself permission to live a little and enjoy whatever it is that I’m eating.
- I do pay attention to my consumption of starchy carbohydrates (namely grains). I have found that getting your carb sources mostly from fruits and veggies can be very helpful for maintaining a healthy weight. Even though I am mindful of it, I also don’t look at this as a hard and fast rule I have to stick to. For instance, if I eat grains for breakfast and then enjoy some while I’m out to eat or at a gathering later that day, then maybe I won’t eat any the following day or perhaps I’ll just eat less of them. The goal should be to find a healthy balance that works for your lifestyle and your schedule.
- I truly believe the key to success in this area of your life is to focus on eating real food… as often as you realistically can. At the same time, you need to be able to give yourself a little freedom here and there, setting your mind on progress versus perfection.
Inside Out Wellness Tip #3: There is Always Something…
The simple statement, “This can’t really be all about food,” is one that I have heard numerous times over the years from my loving husband. In fact, I used to hear this statement from him fairly often as I tried to control my food intake to the point that it was actually controlling me. I was hyper-cautious about every single thing I put into my mouth. I thought about what I was going to eat constantly and blamed everything that was going wrong in my life on what I had for dinner the night before.
When I was not able to perfectly control what I was eating and ate something that I didn’t “think” I should, I would run into a lot of guilt and shame. The guilt would say, “I can’t believe you just ate that. What were you thinking?” and the shame would say, “What is wrong with you? You are a nutritional consultant; you are supposed to be helping other people, but how can you do that when you don’t even have it together yourself, you hypocrite.” These emotions then lead me to binge on foods I considered “healthy” at the time and I would go around sneaking food so no one else knew I was binge eating. It was honestly a pretty horrible place to be.
I can joyfully say now that I have not heard those words from my husband in a very LONG time. And, I no longer carry the belief that if I don’t get my diet just right, I will not be okay. If you’re wondering what helped me gain this new perspective I have towards eating, my answer just might surprise you: It was the simple act of gratitude. I realized I could not control my diet all of the time and quite frankly, I didn’t really want to carry that burden anyway. So when I was in a situation where I knew I wasn’t going to eat the ideal diet, I simply began to pray over my food and asked God to bless it to my body. I shifted my thinking from fear to thanksgiving and it has made all the difference.
Inside Out Wellness Tip #4: Envy and Comparison Can Keep You From Losing Weight
After working with thousands of people over the years, I have seen people struggle with feelings like envy and comparison lover and over again…especially among my female clients. They are constantly restless, searching for the next fad that will fix their weight issues, while simultaneously stuck in the world of comparison by focusing on whatever and whoever is highlighted on their daily Instagram feed.
This is exactly why envy and comparison can be detrimental to staying motivated and achieving your lifestyle and weight loss goals in a healthy, sustainable way. If you give up because you’re constantly focused on what everyone else around you is doing or achieving, you end up not giving your body a fighting chance to actually HEAL and lose the weight in a healthy way.
Below are some points that helped me overcome this along with some actions you can take to help you steer clear of toxic thoughts that involve envy or comparison:
- Just because someone is thin does not mean they are healthy and happy. In fact, some of my sickest and saddest clients have been the thinnest ones.
- What you look like on the outside is not always a reflection of the internal battles that are happening on the inside. Things may look just “peachy” on someone’s Facebook page, but most of us have no idea what their lives actually look like in real life.
- When you catch yourself being envious of someone else…STOP the negative thoughts and replace them with something you like and/or appreciate about them.
- When you find yourself comparing yourself to someone else…STOP the negative thoughts and replace them with something you are grateful for or that is going well in your life.
- If envy and comparison are a struggle for you, particularly with what you see or “hear” on social media, perhaps it’s time to consider setting limits on how often you check in with Facebook, Instagram etc.
- Contrary to popular belief, YOU have control over your thoughts and what you CHOOSE to believe. You can change your thoughts and your focus to start appreciating the positives in yourself and others.
I love that I can now truly celebrate someone else’s success, even if it is in an area that I am weak in, because I now recognize the voice of envy and comparison. When I hear it now, I don’t just sit there and listen to it. Instead, I fight back and tell that voice to beat it when it rears its ugly head! So the next time a toxic thought pops into your head, get rid of it right away and don’t let envy and comparison steal your health and joy!
Inside Out Wellness Tip #5: Your Roots Might Have Something to Do With It
Helping hundreds of people over the years with their diets, I have learned one thing…it is definitely not all about food. I work with many clients that have hormone imbalances, digestive issues and weight loss resistance, yet they are eating a clean diet 90% of the time and not getting any better. This is where we have to remember our body is not a bank account, but really a biochemistry lab. Many people do not realize just how much negative emotions affect their current state of health, which can often be traced all the way back to their childhoods.
This often explains why some people can eat the best diet and still not feel well, because junk from their past is still affecting their bodies and health. I cannot tell you how often I hear client after client identify negative emotions like bitterness, anger, resentment and unforgiveness with different aspects of how they grew up.
If negative experiences and thoughts (you can think of it like planting seeds) from our childhood or from even just a few years ago are allowed to repeatedly plague us, the “garden” you are growing today—the state your body is currently in physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—may very well not look all that healthy.
Thankfully however, we can take heart in the fact that our bodies were miraculously created! You can renew your mind and reprogram your body in order to begin healing it from the inside out. Today I challenge you to take a good, long look at your garden….Is it thriving and full of life, or is it struggling to simply survive?
Stay tuned for Part 2 with more helpful tips on how to achieve Inside Out Wellness. You never know…it just might change your life!