Hello everyone! Hope your Monday is flying bye and running smoothly. Because I’ve been so MIA, I thought I’d write something a little personal this week. I always post recipes or recommendations, but I never really dig into my personal life.
Obviously you know a little about me… “I’m a 25 something year-old Registered Dietitian…”; I have a passion for food and fitness; I am a proud graduate of Ohio State University; I’m married to my best friend; and I really, really enjoy making up recipes that I’d consider fairly healthy. So, what else about me? What are my struggles when it comes to food? What works for me to keep me healthy and happy? Well… here we go! I promise I’ll keep it light and bright 🙂
Since moving to Arizona, I’ve learned a few things about myself. The biggest thing I think I’ve learned is that I can’t always be perfect. I think starting out as a young dietitian, I expected myself to be perfect sometimes, to always practice what I preach, to set a good example for family, friends, patients, etc.; but one thing I have noticed is that when I push myself too hard, I crumble and it typically effects my health.
With any type of dietary or lifestyle goal, we push ourselves. We never want to say what we do wrong, or what we may struggle with (or at least I don’t), but sometimes we do need to say those things more often. We are all human, so we all have a little something that makes us tick or puts pressure on us, and it is good to recognize what those things are so you can take the first step in relieving a little of the pressure.
In college, I had my healthy lifestyle down to the T. I would eat, sleep, and breathe nutrition…healthy eating….exercise….all day, every day. I was surrounded by other aspiring dietitians in a city that embraced healthy eating, eating local, providing options and access to those who needed it. I had everything right at my finger tips. Even when I started my first job as an RD, college life and my attitude about food, nutrition, and lifestyle was still well embedded in me. I wanted to eat perfect, I wanted to look what I considered perfect, and I had the time to do it. Boy how one little move can change everything!
I love Arizona….don’t get me wrong. There is great culture, great food, great weather, and I’m with my hub which makes everything 10 x better always, but the challenges of moving, working full time, commuting to work, planning a wedding, traveling often, and just feeling like free time was minimal each day really started to take a tole on me, my energy, my mood, and my body in general. I’m all about balance, and I definitely lost that balance there for a while.
Accepting the realization that it is hard to be perfect was difficult for me. Realizing that I didn’t have time to run 5 miles per day or work out for even an hour each day frustrated me, which made my food choices start to fall a little bit. Not that I was eating poorly by any means, but I was eating to take my mind off of other things and that is just as bad in my eyes. I lost my concept of “eating until full” or “eating to nourish yourself” and I just would eat because I felt like I needed to.
After a little over a year of adjusting to my new life, my new job, and my new environment, I think I have found a little bit more peace in how I’m maintaining what I consider a healthy lifestyle. Although I may not be perfect in a sense, I am doing what makes me happy, what makes my husband happy, and I can feel myself feeling lighter both emotionally and in my own body. I don’t think my husband would like if I stayed in my “grumpy” attitude for much longer, so getting back to myself in more ways than one feels amazing. Here is what I found has helped me learn to adjust to my new lifestyle and what has been working for me in terms of diet, exercise, and lifestyle. This routine may not work for everyone, but it sure as heck has made me feel a lot better! Thank you for listening to me babble and happy Monday again!
I would never consider myself on a diet, but what I have learned is I need a plan. When I don’t plan or when I go into a day blindly without any set food choices or preparation, I tend to make poor choices or eat more often due to being upset with myself that I didn’t plan in the first place! Because I had adapted to eating large quantities in college due to a lot (and I mean a lot!) of running, I needed a way to get myself back into eating normal portions. I did this through adding more protein to my diet to help satisfy me a little more. I have protein with every meal and every snack (with a few exceptions) and here are my go-to’s:
- Chicken– Typically with dinner or with lunch; I like to have protein in my salad and chicken is usually the main culprit. If I don’t have leftover chicken I will choose nuts or quinoa as my protein choice with lunch.
- Greek yogurt– My go-to snack or late night dessert. My husband and I recently got a membership to Cotsco… uh ohh!!! This has been fantastic because we have been buying yogurt in bulk so we always have it on hand. I like the individual cups because they are pre-portioned. I always look for low-sugar versions. No need to taint something already good and yummy!
- Nuts– Holy nuts! I eat nuts about 3 times/day. I have a bag of mixed almonds and cashews with different types of dried fruit and occasionally yogurt chips as well. Sometimes there will be sunflower seeds or occasionally a different type of nut such as pistachios or walnuts.. it all just depends where I buy them!
- Nut butters– Unsalted peanut butter from Trader Joe’s is my fav! Great to add to oatmeal, Greek Yogurt, on a piece of whole grain toast. I love it all!
- Eggs– Eggs give me a break when I’m sick of my normal breakfasts.
- Protein bars/shakes– Not always my number 1 choice, but they are good for me to switch up my snacks and for traveling. I love Quest bars for a good “sweet” dessert snack and I always have at least 1 protein powder or pre-made shake on hand at home.
Outside of having good protein choices available, I always have a variety of fruits and vegetables available for meals and snacks. Lunch typically consists of my biggest portion of veggies for the day and a serving at dinner helps add bulk to my meal so my plate looks as full as my husbands, but really is majority veg! I tend to eat 3 meals/day and at least 2 snacks. I’ve learned to pack more snacks to have on handy at work so that when the tummy grumbles hit, I’m not heading to the vending machine for something to satisfy me!
I need variety! I tend to burn myself out on things, whether that be food choices or work out routines. I also tend to always go back to running because it is easy for me to do anywhere, but when I get sick of running then I tend to notice my body feeling and looking a little different. If I don’t put effort into my runs, I often am still burning calories but rarely seeing any physical changes because my appetite exceeds the calorie loss.
I learned over the past few months just how important challenging my body is. This is when I notice the biggest change and when I feel the best. My workouts now consist of a mixture of cardio (so I can still get my running fix), circuit training, and occasional yoga or hiking. Yoga is good for mental stability and clearing my mind, so I try to incorporate it whenever I have time or just need a mental break, even if that is only once/month. I started a circuit program through an app on my phone, but recently have adapted this to what I enjoy and what challenges me most. I tend to have 2-3 circuits which I run through after warming up with walking on an incline for 15-30 minutes. I will run through each circuit 2x in a row, rest for a minute, then move on to the next. I like that they are quick yet challenging and incorporate both body weight and weights for strength. I alternate between leg circuits, arms/abs, and full body circuits depending on the day of the week. I do circuit training a minimum of 3 days/week, each session taking anywhere from 30-45 minutes (depending on how long I warm up for!).
There is always one rest day during my week, and this is very important for me. My body asks for it as well as my mind, and I have learned to listen! If there is one piece of advice I can give when it comes to exercise it is listen to your body! Mild aches and soreness can be good…your body is changing….but extreme aches and pains mean slow down or you are doing something wrong! If you are really into bumping up your exercise routines or tailoring them to what you desire in a workout, I highly recommend you meet with someone at a local gym or a personal trainer before trying things on your own!
Hiking is something I enjoy but can’t always do due to work and weather. I try to fit this in whenever I can!
Life isn’t meant to be perfect and neither am I. I’ve learned to listen to my body, to eat what makes me feel best, and to let myself indulge on occasion but not go overboard or let my emotions power my indulgences. My husband and I love to try new things and new restaurants, especially with us being in a fairly new city! We have days where we indulge more than others and that is OK. Have support in the lifestyle you want to live; be sure you surround yourself with people who want you to feel good about yourself and succeed in your goals!