For most of my life, I was under the impression I could pretty much eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and I’d still be fit and healthy. I was all, “I can eat four pieces of deep-dish pizza and breadsticks with a pint of ice cream for dessert and wash it all down with a giant Gatorade. I’ll just do an extra 30 minutes on the elliptical tomorrow.”
Because I’ve always enjoyed working out, I reasoned I would simply exercise extra super-duper hard the next day. And I did. You know, calories in/calories out.
And for a while, that worked for me.
Right up until the day it stopped working. (I miss you, 25-year-old metabolism!)
Turns out, metabolizing food involves more–a LOT more–than calories in/calories out.
No one tells you this, but there is a magical little metabolism switch—probably nestled behind the uterus somewhere—that flips automatically when a woman blows out the candles on her Crisco-frosted 40th birthday cake. She cannot do anything to stop it, except have wonderful skinny genes.
(Not to be confused with skinny jeans.)
(Though, they are closely related.)
If you are a skinny-gene/jean girl, you are dismissed from reading the rest of this post. At the age of 65, you, my genetically-thin friend, will still be blissfully polishing off the edges of every brownie pan; all the while, successfully rocking your mini-skirt and your two-piece bathing suit. Enjoy those brownie edges, Girlfriend, because you will have no friends—we will all hate you. I am not bitter.
KIDDING. We won’t hate you. And there’s no switch. Not a visible one, anyway. But we do now know metabolism is affected by many things, including age.
It’s also affected by the kinds of foods you eat.
You can’t do anything about aging. But you can control what you put into your mouth.
Before I go any further, let me qualify this entire post by stating the following: Getting healthy is mostly mental. I realize it involves action and behavior, but the mental component (your motivation, your attitude, your expectations) is the most powerful component. If you have a warped relationship with food, with exercise, or with the size and shape of your body, you can eat all the right things, but you will always struggle with health. (Can of worms,I know. Sorry. This is just too much to cover in a blog post.)
So, second only to how we think about food, paying close attention to what food we actually put into our mouths is the single-most important aspect of staying healthy. If we want to remain fit and healthy into this summer, next summer, ALL THE SUMMERS, we have to cut some things out of our diets. Probably for-like-ever.
I don’t want to insult your intelligence with this next list, but just in case any of you haven’t heard, here are the things you should eliminate from your diet, completely:
Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils: Mostly, these are found in processed baked-goods and fried foods, but they are also hidden in many other processed foods. (Also in Crisco-frosting, by the way.) Read your labels. I just saw it on the package of barbeque-flavored sunflower seeds my daughter was eating! In 2015, the FDA banned these oils from all foods. Companies have until June 18, 2018 to comply. Until then, it’s up to you to avoid it.
Artificial sweeteners: Aspartame (Equal), Sucralose (Splenda), Saccharine (Sweet n Low): If a “sweet” product says “sugar-free” on the package, it has one of these. This is especially present in “diet foods.” I just saw it last night on a jar of protein powder from the “Natural” section of our supermarket. It’s in sugar-free gum. It’s in Crystal-Light and Vitamin Water. It’s in diet soda. It’s poison. Don’t eat it. Or drink it.
High-Fructose Corn Syrup: A man-made sweetener with zero nutritional value. It is in most processed foods, even ones that are only mildly sweet or not sweet at all. Weird. You know the drill. It’s poison. Don’t eat it.
All sodas, diet or otherwise: Speaking of zero-nutritional value, there is nothing redeemable in soda. Absolutely nothing. It doesn’t even effectively hydrate you. I know a whole lot of you drink soda (I’m looking at my husband right now), and I know it’s addictive. I used to drink it, too. I understand your plight. However, it harms your health no matter how you look at it. If you drink diet soda, you are filling your body with toxins from the artificial sweeteners. If you drink regular soda, you are drinking a ridiculous amount of sugar. And then there’s the artificial colors and flavors…It’s all poison. Don’t drink it.
Don’t worry. You can ease into this a little at a time. It’s a process. Just keep moving forward, that’s the important thing.
Oh, by the way, if you eat a diet of whole foods, none of the preceding foods are an issue. Not-a-one.
What are whole foods? I’m so glad you asked.
I address this issue in detail (and also the mental component of fitness I mentioned but failed to elaborate on) in my e-book 25 Little Things You Can do to Reach Your Fitness Goals. It’s only $5! FIVE DOLLARS! That’s about the cost of your latte. Or lunch at a fast-food restaurant. Or the gas it will take you to drive there.
You can buy 25 Little Things You Can do to Reach Your Fitness Goals here. (In fact, this post happens to be adapted from #7 of the 25 Little Things.)
You guys, summer is such a perfect time to transition into healthier habits. With an abundance of delicious and beautiful produce in peak season, you’ll hardly miss your crappy hydrogenated pre-packaged sugary chemical-laden food-like substances.
If you want to continue this discussion about healthy summer habits, be sure to enter your email below or above or on the sidebar. I’ll be sending a mid-week email with more valuable info about health and balance. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Facebook so you can watch the Facebook Live on Friday-ish!