How to Survive a Diet Obsessed World

How to Survive a Diet Obsessed World

Living a life free of dieting is liberating, but you're still surrounded by diet culture. This can cause a strain to your relationships, and your own sanity as you try to maintain a healthy relationship with food. Learn two of my favorite tips for how to survive a diet obsessed world without losing your mind!

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Let's Put the Diet Industry Out of Business!

Let's Put the Diet Industry Out of Business!

The diet industry makes billions of dollars every year selling you false promises and failed products. With body acceptance and intuitive eating, we can put the diet industry out of business. In this guest post by dietetic intern Nastasha Ngindi, learn how we can let go of spending money on manipulating our bodies and put it towards nourishing them!

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15 Things to Talk About Other Than Dieting

15 Things to Talk About Other Than Dieting

Stuck in a conversation about dieting? Diet talk has become a normal topic of conversation, but it's destructive, especially if you're trying to heal your relationship with food. When calorie counting or carb bashing comes up in conversation, pull out this list of 15 things to talk about other than dieting and change the conversation. 

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How to Detox Your Brain After a Fear-Mongering Documentary

How to Detox Your Brain After a Fear-Mongering Documentary

Feeling scared and anxious after watching a fear-mongering documentary? Popular food documentaries tend to take bits of truth about extreme eating and use that to scare viewers. Learn how to detox your brain after watching a fear-mongering food documentary so you can feel confident around food again! 

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Wellness Wednesday: Four Reasons To Stop Weighing Yourself

Are you stuck in an unhealthy relationship with the scale? Learn four reasons why you should stop weighing yourself. Most important reason - you are more than a number. 

Waaaay back in the day before starting my private practice, when I was first hired as a hospital outpatient dietitian, I was assigned to babysit a four week weight loss program while they hired a new dietitian to run it. Since then, I've learned the power of intuitive and mindful eating versus dieting and have shifted my focus to behavior, not weight. But at the time, I viewed the scale as most people do, a mostly accurate marker of progress.

Each class started with a weigh in. The participants lined up and hopped on the scale one by one as I marked their weight in a chart. It made me feel SO awkward, and I knew it was even more uncomfortable for them - even back then I recognized how demoralizing it was. We just accepted it as a necessary part of the weight loss process.

Even though I shudder thinking about it now, in a way, I'm glad I had the experience because it opened my eyes and made me realize how shitty the scale actually is.

During weigh ins, the scale frequently fluctuated without explanation. And this was a pretty fancy schmancy $1,000 scale. Time after time, someone would hop on, excited after making big changes to their eating and exercise habits the week before, only to see the scale nudge upwards from last week, sometimes by a pretty significant amount. I would explain water weight, but you could see they were completely dejected. Frequently, they would give up, sometimes skipping the next meeting, falling back into old eating habits or engaging in what I call "eff it eating."

Even though I spent class talking about small, sustainable changes and losing weight slowly but steadily, the scale became a bit of a race. People were disappointed to lose only half a pound or a pound. Or, initial excitement over weight loss quickly faded when someone else in class lost more.

I saw how short term "success" was inversely correlated with sustained weight loss. One guy lost something like 30 pounds in the four week program. Even though rationally I knew that this was WAY too fast, I have to admit I felt really excited for him...and for myself. I had helped this man lose 30 lbs! I was basically Bob Harper. When I turned in that month's weights, both my boss and our director gave me special praise. Rachael, Super Dietitian.

Nope. A few months later I saw him for an individual session. He had regained most of the weight and was taking in less calories than I ate on a normal day.

How often do you weigh yourself?

If you've never dieted and managed to grow up without internalizing society's pressure to be thin, then by all means, feel free to check your weight on occasion. If you're one of the 5% of people who has lose weight through dieting and kept it off more than five years, then studies show weighing yourself regularly will help you maintain. But for everyone else, I urge you to step off the scale, consider your relationship with it....then smash it to pieces!

Four Reasons to Stop Weighing Yourself

  1. The scale is a trigger. Consciously or not, the number on the scale has a profound impact on how you eat. Was the number "good?" In that case, you might treat yourself to some ice cream, because hey, you lost weight and you deserve it! Or maybe you wonder since you lost X lbs this week, maybe you could lose X + 1 lbs next week, so you restrict yourself further (which, of course, will inevitably lead to overeating, binging and/or emotional eating). Do you remember the last time you weighed yourself and got a "bad" number? How did you feel the rest of the day? How many times have you been making positive changes, feeling really good physically, only to step on the scale and get a "bad" number? All of a sudden your day (or week) is ruined. Those positive changes that would have eventually led you to health and your natural weight inevitably go to the wayside because they weren't "working." "Bad" weights also lead to what I call "eff it eating," the eating that occurs when you say "eff it," give up, and eat something you were previously restricting, usually in much larger quantities than you need.

  2. The scale is not your doctor. Does weight affect health? Sure. But it's a lot less important than you might think. There are many other factors that play a much greater role in health - stress, fitness, eating habits (regardless of weight), socioeconomics, etc. It's a mixture of behaviors, genetics and your environment that determines health, not the weight on the scale. There are many thin people who are very unhealthy. Conversely, there are many fat people who are perfectly healthy. If your goal is health, then get healthy, don't lose weight! In your quest for health, as a side effect your weight will settle at it's natural point anyway.

  3. It's not very accurate. There are so many variables that affect the number on the scale. Hydration is a major one. Did you know 2 cups of water weighs one pound? Even if you weigh yourself first thing in the morning after going to the bathroom, your hydration status will still vary based on time of the month, sodium intake, weather, previous days activity, sleep and so on. Are you hooked on the idea of losing weight quickly? Most of it is water weight, especially if you're losing weight by reducing carbohydrates. Low carb (and low calorie) diets force your body to turn to protein for energy. Seventy percent of muscle is made of water, so a pretty significant amount is lost when it's broken down. Since muscle is a more metabolically active tissue than fat, this rapid weight loss can significantly slow down metabolism over time. Two other surprising factors that affect weight - poop (when did you last go to the bathroom?) and gravity, which can vary slightly based on where the scale is located, time of year and time of day.

  4. It's a distraction from internal cues. The goal of intuitive eating is to listen to your internal cues and let that guide your eating decisions rather than relying on the outside rules and regulations of dieting. Experience and research shows that the rules involved with dieting generally results in rebellion. Relying on internal cues with mindful and intuitive eating is your best bet for reaching your happy weight (not to mention your best bet for achieving health, happiness and freedom from food). But how can you get in touch with your body's cues if you're constantly weighing yourself? Small, often arbitrary variations in weight, will make you to second guess your reactions to your body's cues. How many times did you deprive yourself after noticing your weight was high? Would you still eat your mid afternoon snack if you had a "bad" weight that morning? How would you reward yourself for a "good" weight loss? With food, right? By weighing yourself, your eating will simply become a reaction to a number on the scale, not a reaction to your body's actual needs.

Smash the scale

Ditching the scale is really scary, especially if you've relied on it for a long time. It feels like getting out of a relationship that isn't serving you. Even though you know it's a bad relationship, there's still that fear about the future. What if you gain weight or get out of control without the scale to keep you in check? An understandable fear, but in my experience, the scale is much more likely to CAUSE your eating to get out of control than keep your eating in control.

Remember, the scale does not measure your self worth, your health, your relationships, your achievements, or really anything other than your relationship with gravity at a single point in time.

You are SO much more than a number.

How does the scale impact your eating behaviors? What would happen if you ditched the scale? 

Wellness Wednesday: The Thin Myth

Do you subscribe to the Thin Myth? The idea that life will be better after you lose weight? Todays post is a reminder that fantasy isn't always reality.

This American Life is one of my favorite podcasts, so when I learned their recent episode was about rethinking fat, I had to listen immediately. Other than a twinkie joke that was in very poor taste, I thought it was really well done. They included interviews with two authors who discussed their experience being fat, as well as a piece on a weight loss program at a Christian college which basically could have been called pray the fat away.

Sandwiched in the middle was a piece featuring Elna Baker, a writer and stand up comedian who shared her story of losing over 100 lbs. I don't want to give too much away, but I could share every detail and it wouldn't be anywhere near as heartbreaking as hearing it come from her own mouth. You can listen it here or read the jist of it here.

Her story starts as many weight loss stories do. She grew up in a larger body, and although she had been pretty content with life, she hit a place right out of college where she was struggling to find a job in the TV industry and realized that despite having lots of male friends, she had never been in a serious relationship. She saw her thinner friends get boyfriends and jobs and all the things she wanted and wondered, "is it because I'm fat?"

So, she went on a diet.

In a short period of time, she lost a lot of weight. Soon after, she got some of those things she wanted, including an intro level job at a TV show and dates with cute guys. But it wasn't all happy. Despite getting these things she wanted so deeply, she was so heartbroken and disillusioned after realizing she had been treated differently because of her size all her life.

The part that made me cry (while running outside no less..it got weird), was when she realized that although she got so many of the things she wanted, she actually felt less secure in her body. Part of it was the extra skin for which she had four excruciating surgeries to remove. She notes "I still look like a flying squirrel when I raise my arms." But the biggest source of her discomfort was the fact that she still felt like "old Elna" was the "real Elna." At one point she says she would feel more comfortable wearing a fat suit. Based off a few conversations with clients and friends, I think this is a common feeling among those who have lost a significant amount of weight. I imagine it's similar to the feeling of being a lottery winner or becoming famous. Suddenly, you have this thing that other people want. People like you and want to be around you, but is it genuine? Do they like the real you?

In the end, she wonders if she would have been happier had she never lost the weight.

"I was happy when I was overweight. I had no idea I should feel sad. I was free before. I had trained myself not to care what other people thought, and I had done a good job of it."

She had recently read Lindy West's book, Shrill. Lindy was the fat acceptance activist who opened the show. In reading her book, she realized Lindy got all the things she had wanted - an attractive husband, a highly desirable job, a book deal. She got these things after choosing to accept her body as it is, not dieting.

Essentially, every day since I became a dietitian (and many days before), I have talked to someone who wants to lose weight. Some want to lose pretty minuscule amounts. Others have more significant goals. Some say health is their motivator, others say aesthetics.

Everyone who wants to lose weight has some dream of what life will be like in their new, smaller body. Some have pretty intricate fantasies, while others are tied to the loose notion that life with just somehow be better. In reality, as someone who has been 10 pounds heavier and 10 pounds lighter than I am now, I can tell you 10 pounds doesn't change a damn thing. Having never been in a heavier body, I hesitate to comment on that. From what I know from the experiences of others, while some aspects of life may improve, it often brings a new set of issues to light. Elna's story is the perfect example. 

The thin myth is dangerous because it's why so many people get wrapped up in weight loss goals to the point where they do dangerous things to achieve it. It's why health takes a back seat to a number on the scale. Not only that but daydreaming about this thin fantasy life is a complete and total distraction from present day life, which is probably quite nice if you're actually living it, undistracted by dreams of a thinner life. When you can see weight loss for what it is, just living in a smaller body with all the good and bad of your present day life, you'll stop wasting so much time fantasizing and actually start living.

One thing that's always life changing for the better? Choosing self acceptance and making lifestyle changes that honor your health.In my practice, we put weight loss to the side and focus on nourishment, health and making peace with food. 

Are you stuck believing in the thin myth? Ask yourself what specifically do you think you'll gain by losing weight? Get as detailed as possible. Now, fact check. Are these really things you have to lose weight to achieve, or could you start to pursue them now? Be honest with yourself. What would you lose or compromise or lose by going on a diet? Is it worth it?

When you critically think about the thin myth you've been telling yourself, weight loss starts to lose it's aura of importance. Deprioritizing weight loss isn't the same thing as giving up, it's simply giving yourself the space to discover a genuinely happier and healthier life, not one in which health and happiness relies on an arbitrary number on the scale.

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! 

What is Health at Every Size?

What is Health at Every Size?

In my practice, I embrace a philosophy called Health at Every Size. It may be something you've heard of before, but have questions about. In this post, I answer the question what is health at every size, and discuss why weight does not predict health, and why we need to move away from prescribing diets and weight loss. 

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Wellness Wednesday: 3 Reasons Why Calorie Counting Doesn't Work

Does calorie counting leave you feeling out of control and food obsessed? You're not alone. Learn 3 reasons why calorie counting doesn't work. 

Hey guys! Happy Wellness Wednesday :) It's a bit of a crazy week for me, so I'm popping in with a guest post I did on fANNEtastic Food last week on why calorie counting is kinda the worst.

I think of calorie counting has been the default diet. Fads come and go, but calorie counting is always lingering in the background. It's that thing that people keep going back to when they're feeling out control with their body or their eating habits. Sure, there are some people who can practice what I like to call calorie awareness and feel empowered and informed...but this is a minority. For most, calorie counting will turn you into a food obsessed, hungry and out of control mess. It certainly did for me! Shared my story with calorie counting on the post and even though I didn't find intuitive eating until much later, it was enough to convince me the calorie counting is not the way to go.

Click here to read three reasons why calorie counting doesn't work on fANNEtastic Food.

Half Marathon Recap + Why Weight Goals Are The Actual Worst

Celebrating my first half marathon today, plus sharing lessons I learned from my training and race about why weight goals are the actual worst. I promise, it's related!

This past weekend, I ran my very first half marathon in Atlanta. For those who follow me on instagram, I'm sure you're sick and tired of me talking about it, but please allow me just one more post to toot my horn! You see, this was a really big deal for me, because I am NOT an athlete. Generally speaking, I give up on things that are physically difficult. When I ran cross country in high school, I couldn't make it through a 5K without stopping to walk. So yeah, the fact that I went through three months of training and ran 13.1 miles is kind of a miracle. Or a testament to hard work, but more likely a miracle :)

The race itself was a blast, although I was really anxious for two days before it. It didn't help that I got lost in a black hole of googling awful things that can happen during a half (do yourself a favor and DO NOT google image runners trots). Thank goodness for the guy standing next to me in the pen before the race, who was dancing to himself to pump up, but looked so ridiculous I couldn't help but let go of my fears.

The run through Atlanta was gorgeous, and a fun way to explore the city I grew up in. I loved seeing places I recognized, because in a sense, Atlanta is home, but it's changed so much it's a new city to me! The course gave us views of the skyline and went through some of Atlanta's prettiest historic neighborhoods and parks. If anyone is feeling particularly generous and would like to buy me a fully restored craftsman off Edgewood, I would not hate you for it. Most importantly though, I felt REALLY good. My main goal was to be able to enjoy the race, so I ran at a comfortable pace until mile 10, then really pushed myself hard for the last three. The entire time I felt so strong, and at no point was I miserable (except for the 3 1/2 hours in the car driving back home...ouch!). So I'm calling it a success! I said I was one and done, but now I'm working on convincing Scott we need to sign up for half marathons when we travel because it was such a fun way to see the city!

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 7.07.56 PM

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 7.07.56 PM

Anyhoo, on to today's post, which is all about how two experiences I had during my half marathon and training reinforced the fact that weight based goals are kind of the worst.

When I first signed up for a half, my main goal was simple: don't die. If I managed not to die, I just wanted to have fun. I really didn't care if I had to walk or if I was the last person to cross the finish line, I just wanted to finish and have a little fun while at it.

So when I started training, I did so with that in mind. Because I didn't have a time goal, I didn't invest in any fancy training watches to track my pace. I just trained myself to run at a pace that felt good to me. Of course, some runs were easier than others, and there were times I had to stop and walk, but mostly, I felt pretty confident. On my first 10 mile run, I blew it out of the water. I felt great the entire time, and when I glanced at the clock, I realized my pace was somewhere in the 9 minute mile range. I had previously estimated my pace to be somewhere around 11 minutes, so I was pretty pumped!

Suddenly, my goal of 'not dying' and 'just having fun' was gone. Now my goal was to be able to run the whole thing without stopping and secretly, I hoped to finish in less than 2 hours. You can see where this is going.

The next couple weeks were filled with setbacks. The next week when I set out for my second 10 mile run, it was awful. I'm not sure why, but I struggled through the entire thing and ended up walking a huge chunk of it. From there, I missed a bunch of training runs with a full work load, travel, and an icky cold that sidelined me for a few days.

When I set out for my last long run of training, I felt totally defeated and that feeling was showing up in my running - I felt awful. But as I ran, I realized that I wasn't upset because I was now afraid of actually dying or that I would be miserable the whole time, but because I was afraid my new goals may not be achievable (if they ever had been). Yet, my initial goals of just running the race and having fun were still well within bounds. I mean, if I was feeling miserable, I could always just stop a walk. I had no shame in doing that in the beginning, so why couldn't I be content with my initial goals? As I realized this, I got my pep back and began to feel that same sense of strength I had in the beginning.

As I ran, I thought about my experience and how it parallels what happens when I see people get caught up in the scale. Have you ever made changes to your eating habits or lifestyle in hopes of getting healthy, or feeling better, but secretly (or not so secretly!) you have hopes of weight loss? Then when you make those changes, feel great and lose a little weight (which often happens when you eat a little healthier), the adrenaline rush hooks you. Then all of a sudden, you're on a full blown diet. That initial goal of feeling great is gone - now you will be skinny! But pretty soon, when life and/or biology kicks in, the diet won't be easy anymore and those pounds will stop dropping, or may even sneak back up. So, you give up entirely, and go back to your old eating habits, because in your mind, you are a failure. But what happened to that original goal of just feeling awesome? Weren't you succeeding in that before the weight goals came in?

Fortune cookie from my pre-race meal was perfect. Too bad it was my husbands, not mine.

Fortune cookie from my pre-race meal was perfect. Too bad it was my husbands, not mine.

During the race, I got another reminder of how numerical goals can go wrong. Going in, I really didn't know what my pace was, and really didn't care - I would just run at a pace that felt comfortable to me. That was great and all, until I saw the 2:15 pacer running right in front of me. At first I thought "Heck yeah! I'm running at her pace and I still feel pretty good!" But after a few miles of running in her general vicinity, 2:15 became no longer good enough. I wanted to go faster, and more importantly, I felt like I could go faster, but I had a voice inside my head saying "Don't burn yourself out too early." Just as loud was the voice telling me 2:15 wasn't good enough. Agh!! My head was going crazy trying decide what to do based on this one single number that may not have even been accurate instead of doing what I had trained myself to do - to listen to my body.

Sound familiar?

That's the scale for ya. It's a distraction from the internal cues that really do guide you to the best decisions for your health and wellbeing. It's SO hard to trust your body, but trust me, it knows what's right for you over any external factor, whether it's a scale or diet guru.

In the end, I was able to let go and run how I felt, and I was happy, both with my time and my experience. I know that if you are able to let go of the scale, build body confidence and get back in tune with your needs with intuitive eating, you will be happy with your body, and feel great, which to me sounds so much nicer than dieting and obsessing over the scale.

Do you agree? I have spots open for my 4 and 8 session packages starting next month. Learn more about my diet-free coaching philosophy and services here, and email me to get started or to set up a free 15 minute phone consult for more information!

Have you ever had an experience where the scale distracted from what your body really needed?

Food, Dieting and Feminism

I think we can all agree that men and women deserve equal treatment. Today we're discussing the relationship between food, dieting and feminism. 

So, I had planned on a very different post today, one that was a little more 'nutrition-y'. But after a somewhat heartbreaking experience this Monday, I decided to write this post, which has been stewing in the back of my mind for some time.

After work on Monday, I ran to Trader Joe's to stock up on groceries for the week. There was a group of three girls there as well, presumably college freshman because a.) they looked like babies b.) one was still wearing a high school lacrosse shirt and c.) I heard them talking about exams. I couldn't help but overhear most of their conversation, since the store was pretty quiet and, you know, college freshman are loud.

One of the girls was going on a diet.

Mind you, I don't think anyone should go on a diet, but especially not a pretty, athletic and from all outward appearances, healthy young girl. As she navigated the aisles, I listened with horror as she studied the calories on prepared salads, putting back the ones she wanted because they were over 400-500 calories and instead grabbing ones that were 300 calories but she would "scoop out the cheese". My heart beat faster as she asked employees tips for reducing the calories in their deli items and they gave her tips like 'only use a little bit of the dressing' or 'you could leave out the noodles." I listened as she told her two friends, who had similar body types, that she was "getting fat and really needed to work on her six-pack." I watched her pick up sugary cereals, to which her friend remarked, "that can't be healthy" and she replied, "but a cup is only 120 calories and that's all I'm going to have for lunch." I watched as she fake waddled past the canned soups, complaining about the way her thighs touched. I noticed how every time she passed sweets or cookies or chocolate, she made a remark along the lines of "Welp, can't have that 'till I'm skinny!"

It was heartbreaking.

Being a dietitian who specializes in intuitive eating, a non-diet approach to eating, I knew I could help her. So, I waited until she was by herself, approached her and said "Hey! This is probably one of the weirder things I've ever done, but I couldn't help but overhear your talking about starting a diet. It made me so sad because you are worth so much more than your body. I'm a private practice dietitian and I work mainly with women who have dieted their whole lives, which has caused a lot of emotional pain, and never actually helped them lose weight long term, and I just don't want to see you go down the same path. Here's my card, in case you ever need anything or want to talk about other ways of eating."

OK, so that's not what happened.

That's the scenario I played out in my head at least 20 times, but in the end, I chickened out. I went back to my car, literally shaking, and cried for this poor girl.

Maybe you're thinking that's a bit of an overreaction, and you might be right. After all, people talk about diets and body shame themselves every single day, often in my own office. So why was this particular instance so upsetting?

Right before I left the house, I was making my grocery list while watching CNN. I was jolted to attention when an ad featuring real women reading statements made by Donald Trump came on.

“A person who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10.”

“Bimbo.”

“Fat pig.”

“I look at her right in that fat, ugly face of hers.”

“You know it really doesn’t matter what they write, as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”

Something about seeing actual women read his words made it all the more powerful...and hurtful. I had heard most of the statements before. Being read by other women, they were no longer sophomoric statements said for shock value. The hatred, sexism and pure lack of respect for a solid 50% of the population was painfully obvious. The idea that a large chunk of the population endorses, or is at the least not disgusted by these comments, made me physically nauseous.

When you run a small business, getting political is discouraged. But to steal a sentiment shared on Humans of New York, my purpose for bringing this up isn't political. It's moral.

I'm sharing this because the thought behind his statements is one that's shared all to frequently in our society - that to be a successful woman, personally and/or professionally, you must look a certain way. Usually, it's stated in less obviously sexist terms than Trump's remarks, but that just makes it all the more dangerous, and believable.

Things like, "That actress is so fat, she should just get off the screen." So, we can't have anyone in movies that represents the approximately 60% of women whose BMI falls outside of the 'healthy' range? Hearing conversations about women in the workplace center around their looks, not their achievements or skills. When I worked in a medical center setting, both inpatient and outpatient, I heard countless, practically daily remarks about my weight. It was either something along the lines of "never trust a thin dietitian" or remarks comparing my body to my other dietitian colleagues they had worked with, implying I was a better dietitian because I was thinner than them. It was incredibly uncomfortable and I always wondered (and still do) what would happen if I got sick or older or my metabolism just changed and I gained weight. My skills and knowledge would still be there, but what would happen to my credibility?

Studies show women are 16 times more likely to face weight discrimination in the workplace then men. You're probably familiar with the gender pay gap, but did you know that women who weigh more earn 6% less than thinner women?

No wonder that bubbly, athletic, and outwardly beautiful girl in Trader Joe's was going on a diet. The man who could be president is saying her her accomplishments don't matter unless she's a 10.

I have no hopes of changing any men's minds on how they speak about women, that is, if there's any men who have made it this far into my post (if so, heeeyyy! You're awesome!). But I do hope to change some of your minds on how you think dieting. We can outwardly look at the statistics on discrimination and hear these absurd comments and know it's morally and factually wrong. But by dieting, we're essentially accepting them as truth. By pressuring our friends to join us in our diet, we're spreading the same message, that you're not good enough unless you're thin.

As women, we have to work just that much harder for the same level of success. That's a fact. But how are you supposed to do that if you're dieting? How will you get an A on that exam if your brain is deprived of the energy it needs to function? How will you have the creativity to engineer that new invention if you're constantly thinking about the food you're not allowed to have? How will you get up in front of that crowd and make a sales pitch with confidence if you're distracted by the way your arms jiggle when you try to make a point? What skills or knowledge have you missed out on by spending your free time reading women's magazines and diet books? How do you kick ass in a debate if you’re worried about the pantsuit you’re wearing making your butt look big?

Dieting is a distraction from the hard work we women need to do to achieve equal standing in this society.

This isn't to shame anyone or call them anti-feminist for wanting to lose weight. Why wouldn’t you given the society we live in? It's to say there's a better way. Focus on loving your body as it is now, because you can't take good care of something you hate. Instead of depriving your body, think about nourishing it, so you can accomplish all the amazing things in your life. Let's stop telling our friends they aren't good enough by engaging in diet talk and body bashing and instead talk current events or family life or work or literally anything else. Individually, we might not be able to change the society we live in, but we can chose not to engage in it’s most destructive parts.

This is an idea that I'm just beginning to work through, so i would absolutely love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below! 

The Creamiest Vanilla Chia Smoothie Bowl + A Giveaway!

Learn my trick for making the creamiest vanilla chia smoothie bowl with a protein boost from Kura smoothie powder! Don't forget to enter the giveaway for 3 bags of Kura AND a new blender! 

This post was sponsored by Kura Nutrition. I was provided with products and compensated for my time. Thanks for supporting the quality brands I love that make this blog possible! 

Eat less. Move more.

If you've ever dieted, it's a phrase you're familiar with. Heck, if you've ever opened a magazine, been to a doctors office, accidentally clicked on one of those spammy dieting articles, or stumbled across literally any government sponsored health promotion material, you've heard the saying.

And if we're being honest, it's a mantra I definitely spouted. It makes me cringe to think about it, but yes, there was a time I thought weight loss was as simple as eat less and move more.

Since then, I've been enlightened. Enlightened with both experience, and with plenty of new research showing weight is much more complex than a mathematical equation.

Eat less, move more is what I would consider a half truth. Calories are a measure of the energy in food. That goes for any food, not just chips, pizza, and double chocolate chunk ice cream. Extra calories we eat that aren't used for energy are stored as fat. One way to utilize more calories is to exercise more.

Knowing that, one might deduce that to lose weight, they must eat less and move more. And if one wants to loose a lot a of weight or lose weight quickly, they might eat a lot less and move a lot more.

This is why so many people turn to deprivation to lose weight. It's why you see 1200 calorie diets advertised on the cover of magazines. It's why people spend hours of their week pounding away on an elliptical. It's why I just saw an acquaintance post on facebook how disappointed she was in 'only' losing half a pound after practically starving herself doing one of those 3 day fix things. It's why hunger is considered a sign that you're 'doing things right.

That's the problem with simplifying weight control as eat less, move more - deprivation is the obvious conclusion. But it doesn't work. If we were machines rather than complex living creatures, sure, we could plug in the weight we want to be, when we want to be there and arrive at our destination. However we are humans, and it's a bit more complicated.

We know deprivation works for rapid, short term weight loss, but it backfires in the long run. Here's why. When you lose weight, your body responds by lowering its metabolic rate to fit your smaller size. When weight loss is rapid, metabolism drops at a faster rate than expected. To continue losing weight, you would have to eat less and less. To maintain, you could never go "off" your diet, even for short periods. With a lowered metabolic rate, it would  trigger weight regain, much more so than if you had lost the weight using slower, more sustainable changes.

There are so many other factors that impact weight besides the usual diet and exercise. Stress doesn't only trigger weight gain by causing you to run into the arms of Ben & Jerry - increases in stress hormones like cortisol trigger fat storage. Recent research is showing the role gut bacteria plays in weight. Then there's sleep. Did you know just 30 minutes less sleep than what you need can affect weight?

I can't tell you how many men and women I've worked with through the years who have whittled down what they eat to practically nothing, pound away at the gym, and still not lose weight.

As a final nail in the deprivation coffin, know that approximately 95% of people who lose weight through drastic measures will regain the weight they lost. And then some.

So we can all agree now - deprivation is the literal worst. And there's know way to know what your healthy weight is, which is opposite of what we're told. We don't have control over our weight, despite what diet culture tells us, but we do have control over behaviors. So let's start engaging in health promoting ones and let our body settle where it's supposed to. 

  1. Nourish your body - Focus on nourishment, not deprivation. When you focus on filling up on nutrient-dense whole foods, you automatically crowd out rich, sugary or processed foods. Plus, whole foods are naturally more filling, so you'll feel satisfied too.
  2. Feed your gut - Give your gut it's favorite food - fiber! That means lots of fruit, vegetables, and beans. Replenish your gut bacteria with fermented food and/or probiotics.
  3. Eat less added sugar - Enjoy sugar in things that are really delicious, like an extra gooey and chocolatey brownie. Avoid added sugar coming from foods hidden sources, like snack foods, dressings and protein shakes.
  4. Build muscle - Cardio burns calories, but it also makes you pretty hungry. That right, you're not the only one craving an entire pizza after a long run. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active, meaning it burns more calories at rest.

Kura Nutrition, the makers of the tastiest smoothie protein powder I've ever tried, covers all four of those bases. It's made with 14 grams of grassfed dairy protein from happy cows, which is packed with the amino acid leucine, the rock star of muscle growth. One serving contains 4 billion CFU (colony forming units) of probiotics as well as prebiotics to feed their growth. Kura contains 26 vitamins and minerals and provides a nice little dose of omega 3 fats on top of what naturally occurs in grassfed dairy. Best of all, it's made with no added sugar, just the hint of sweetness from the naturally occurring sugars in dairy!

What I appreciate most about Kura is that the company is committed to the same principles of nourishment over deprivation that I talk about all the time over here on Avocado. So why not start your day by nourishing your body with this extra creamy smoothie bowl, made with Kura's vanilla protein smoothie powder. Guys, I'm not kidding when I tell you it's the best smoothie bowl I've ever made! The trick is using an easy, overnight chia pudding instead of milk, which gives it a thick, pudding-like consistency. It's basically socially acceptable breakfast ice cream!

Don't miss your chance to try Kura at home! Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win 3 bags of Kura plus a new blender!

*CLOSED*

Vanilla Chia Smoothie Bowl

Serves 1

The trick to making the worlds creamiest smoothie bowl is blending in chia seeds soaked in plant milk. I made a big batch and scooped out 1/2 cup of chia pudding as needed. Also delish with chocolate and berry Kura protein smoothie powder too!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened plant milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 frozen banana, in chunks
  • 1 packet or scoop Kura vanilla protein smoothie powder
  • Toppings: freeze dried fruit, cocoa powder, shredded coconut, nut butter

Instructions

  1. The night before, mix chia seeds and plant milk in a small bowl. Let sit, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. The next morning, when ready to eat, blend chia mixture, banana and Kura protein powder in a food processor until creamy. Serve with optional toppings, or as I like to call them, sprinkles!

The Number One Reason Not To Diet

There are many reasons not to diet. This post discusses what I think is the number one reason not to diet, the most heartbreaking consequence. 

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Happy Wellness Wednesday! It’s an official holiday at this point, right? ;)

Writing this post from the Desert Botanical Garden in Scottsdale. Scott had a phone meeting for work in the middle of the day, so we decided to find a nice secluded spot in the cactus garden and get a little work done.

If you’ve been following along on Instagram, then you know we visited Phoenix for the national championship game to cheer on our Clemson Tigers. This trip has been such a whirlwind, and honestly, one of the most fun weeks of my life. As we explored the Grand Canyon, freshly covered in snow, hiked to the top of the red rocks of Sedona, and sang the alma mater with thousands of our Clemson family fresh off a heartbreaking loss, I kept thinking to myself ‘I can’t believe we almost didn’t come.’ With all our recent trips, the travel fund is sadly depleted. Plus I’m crazy behind with work and really didn’t think I could take more time off. But then we recognized what a once in a lifetime experience it would be, so we made it happen, and what a once in a lifetime experience we got.

You only live once has been my motto lately. Maybe it's me getting older, but I find myself thinking more and more about how to make the most of each day and the things that distract me from doing just that.

It's a motto that also comes up quite frequently in my nutrition counseling sessions, especially when we talk about dieting. It's no secret I'm not a fan of dieting. I mean, does anyone actually like diets other than the people making money off selling them? There are many things that break my heart when I hear the stories of my clients who have struggled with yo-yo dieting - the feelings of inadequacy, the physical and emotional hunger, the scary negative health side effects, the fact that they simply don't work for long term weight control. But if there is one thing that breaks my heart more than anything else, it's the fact that dieting keeps you from being able to live each day to it's fullest. Knowing how many days, weeks, and years of living life have been lost to diets isn't something I can stand by and passively watch.

If I was dieting, I wouldn't have been able to linger over tapas, wine and a gorgeous Sedona view with friends without worrying about how many calories I was consuming. If I was dieting and depriving myself of much needed calories (aka energy), I wouldn't have been able to make it to the top of Bell Rock and soak up that incredible view. If I was dieting, the stress of knowing there wasn't any healthy tailgate food available would have detracted from the time I was spending with family and friends. If I was dieting, I wouldn't have been able to soak up every perfect bite of the worlds best English muffin because I would have been too busy thinking about processed carbs.

Let's stop dieting and start thinking about living. When the focus is on how to soak up every last drop of the day, you'll start making choices that nourish your body and make you feel great while leaving flexibility to savor special treats and eat stress free in social situations. Healthy isn't perfect. Healthy is flexible. What you eat should add to your quality of life, not detract. Dieting, is simply no way to live.

Wellness Wednesday: Celebrity Diets, Trashy Magazines and Snark

The diet industry hit a goldmine with celebrity endorsements. Today we're talking celebrity diets with a healthy dose of sarcasm. 

Show of hands (and let's be honest here), who has done something, a diet, supplement, beauty routine or otherwise, simply because a celebrity has endorsed it?

Please know my hands are right up there with yours.

First, I became a vegetarian in middle school because I read Drew Barrymore was a vegetarian (and also because my best friend became a vegetarian, and she is just as cool as Drew Barrymore). In college, I set a goal of doing 500 sit ups a day because I read somewhere that Brittany Spears did 500 sit ups a day, and who hasn't glanced at her abs with envy. I think I made it to 42 then promptly gave up. Even as an adult, I haven't been immune. A few months ago, I tried using coconut oil to wash my face because Gwyneth Paltrow swears by it and damnit if she doesn't have glowing skin. It took a month for my skin to clear up.

The diet industry hit gold with celebrity endorsements. Time and time again, we fall for it, because secretly or not so secretly, we would all like to look like the heavily styled, professionally made up and photoshopped celebrity images. It's hard to escape the allure of it because it's everywhere.

The other night, I was curled up on the coach and pulled out the latest issue of Us Weekly (sidebar: please don't judge me. Our subscription is the byproduct of 3 year inside joke/gag gift from my stepmom. But maybe judge me a little because I read it cover to cover). The headline...

"DIETS THAT WORK"

I burst out into laughter.

In the past, I would have ripped out pages for advice and tips, but now, I can't read it without thinking 'bullshit' and giggling at the absurdity of it all.  It made me realize, if we could just learn to read between the lines and laugh it's silliness and stupidity, then maybe diet culture wouldn't have such a powerful draw.

So throw on some sweatpants, pull up a comfy chair, and come read a trashy magazine with me!

First, let's discuss this cover, which very much depends on your definition of work. If you mean "helps you lose a ton of weight really fast by starving your body of calories and turning you into a generally miserable human being until you plunge face first into a bowl of ice cream and promptly regain aforementioned weight and more," then sure! I also love the choice of Khloe Kardashian as the cover model. I can totally picture the magazine editors self righteously patting themselves on the back for being 'body positive' and putting someone with curves on the front. Too bad despite the fact Khloe has lost 35 lbs this year, she has gone on record saying this has been the worst year of her life (which I know because I can't help myself and click all the Kardashian headlines and then hate myself for it). Do we really want to glorify someone who is skinny but miserable?

On Kate Hudson: "Her diet, meanwhile, remains steady: no meat, dairy or gluten. As she says, "I'm as healthy as I can be." Except for the fact that you smoke. Apparently in Hollywood, gluten is more dangerous than cigarettes. How about you eat a little meat, dairy and gluten, stop smoking, and THEN you'll be about as healthy as you can be!

This does not make me laugh. It actually breaks my heart a little bit. Why are we glorifying the fact that Demi Lovato, a 23 year old girl, who has publicly admitted to suffering from an eating disorder, is on a 'high protein, low carb' diet? Dieting is the most common precipitating factor for an eating disorder, so think how dangerous this is for someone who has a history of one? I would love to fly to LA and give whatever celebrity nutritionist she's working with a swift kick in the kneecap.

Why, why, WHY are pregnant women's bodies constantly shown in 'before' style photo montages?? I don't exactly have any experience with pregnancy, but I'm pretty positive your body is supposed to change both when you're pregnant, and after. I also appreciate the dates listed under the pregnancy pictures, a subtle reminder that within a year, your body should look the same as it did before, if not better.

This riveting interview opens with a discussion of how she's 'cheating' (a term I just LOVE) with tacos at lunch, but offsetting it with a 'boring' breakfast of oatmeal and greens, then calls that 'balance'. Umm, balance is not paying penance for splurging on foods you love, just like balance is not compensating for indulging over the holidays by starting a juice cleanse or setting an unrealistic resolution.

My absolute favorite page! Us staffers tried favorite juice cleanses of the stars and I found myself actually laughing out loud, yelling quotes and snarky remarks to my husband in the other room. Here's the highlights:

"After 2 weeks on Dr. Frank Lipman's cleanse, I had lost 3 lbs of water weight and my arms looked tinier." I LOVE that she admits this is water weight. Seriously, 2 weeks without gluten, dairy, or high sugar fruit and you get the same results as an hour in the sauna?

"Salma Hayek tells Us she 'always' loses weight on the 1,200 calorie a day plan." Well duh. It's 1200 calories!

"I didn't lose weight, but by day three, my skin was glowing" So maybe save the $200 bucks you spent on juice and get a nice facial instead?

"The juices get better as the day goes on, so by 5 PM, I was happily guzzling a raspberry and chia blend." Cause you're starving. If I hadn't had solid food by 5 PM, I would happily guzzle my dog's pee.

Apparently Lea Michele is 'always up by 9 am 'and I never hit snooze.'  Way to go Lea, I set my alarm for 6 am and I always hit snooze.

Okay, so I'm fresh out of snark at this point. Hope you got a few giggles, but more importantly, I hope you got a dose of reality. Seriously though, I challenge you to put on your critical thinking helmet when you read celebrity diet news, because I think what you'll find is pretty superficial.