The month of January is a time that literally everyone is either not drinking, doing a cleanse, trying a new diet or signing up for workout classes/programs. It's a VERY interesting experience being pregnant during this time of year because it is the only time in my life I've stuck to any sort of "clean/no drinking" plan. It's HARD to commit to a sudden and rigid lifestyle change without something like pregnancy thrusting it upon you, but especially coming out of the holidays when it is common to enjoy weeks of eating all of the things without. giving. a. damn.
It doesn't have to be this way.
I don't solicit this info in RL because if people want my opinion, they come to me. And even then, whether or not my advice is actually put into action is up to the person. I had to make peace with this if I was going to maintain my own sanity during "Dry/Clean/Diet January" and really any conversation about diet/fitness/health any month/week/day of the year.
Here are some things I wish more people knew that I don't share openly in the "Real World."
1). Your Body is Already Working Towards Homeostasis. You Don't Need Cleanses/Programs/Drastic Changes to Make it Happen.
This is actually going to be the main theme of this whole post. We do a lot of crazy things to our bodies and try so many different approaches to "fix" stuff our bodies are naturally capable of. We have specialized hormones, enzymes and cells throughout our body that are doing lots of work all the time to keep us going, and their goal is always homeostasis. Our own liver is responsible for over 500 metabolic actions. Many of the things we believe about diet are not based on what our body is actually doing/capable of, but rather, an idea or culmination of ideas we've put together to feel some control over things. But you should know right here and now that you are not in control and it's not only OK, it should be a really freaking freeing reality.
2). It is possible to be too rigid
I see so many healthy lifestyle influencers on social media come forward about certain digestive issues, skin problems, etc. they are facing. They do holistic cleanses, remove their own parasites (this one I just can't...), omit foods they think are responsible for their issues (and they're often already omitting quite a few)...
I don't mean to come off harsh, but a lot of these issues are perpetuated by the individual. There are things a person just needs to go to a doctor for. I'm all for "nutrition approach first," but I talk to quite a few women-- some of whom I work with-- that suffer from hormone imbalance, digestive issues, and skin problems because of being TOO extreme or doing things that aren't right for their body, and it can take a long time to correct these issues. I alone can't fix them, nor can they. Doctors are needed, especially for appropriate blood tests and diagnosis. Self-diagnosing/trying to fix your own problems can be dangerous and introduce a host of entirely new problems.
As a rule of thumb, if you are telling yourself "I don't" or "I can't" when it comes to any food you aren't actually allergic or sensitive to or have an aversion/disliking to, you AREN'T doing yourself any favors.
At the end of the day, there are no trophies/rewards for being the "best" eater. You won't be remembered for all the cookies you didn't eat.
3). Most Resolutions/Diets/Cleanses are Rooted in the Idea that You've Messed Up Somehow and Need to Fix It...Tomorrow.
Whether it's a feeling of general "blah," your pants not fitting or the scale reflecting a number you don't like, or something more serious like mentioned above (skin, digestive, and hormonal issues should not be ignored), you did not MESS UP.
As noted above, we are not in control of our body's natural response to its environment, even if our choices contribute, and especially if our body simply responds differently to certain foods/diets/activities, etc. than someone else.
What we can impact is what we do RIGHT NOW. And whether or not that action is appropriate for us.
All too often I see the "ef it" approach which results from a failure mindset-- "I ate a cookie at the office so now I'm just going to have pasta for dinner and more junk later and start again tomorrow." It is this way of thinking that leads people to overindulge during the holidays, constantly telling themselves they'll start over/get healthy in the new year.
One of the most freeing discoveries for me, when I embarked on my own health-adjustment path, was that getting healthy can start right now. I can eat the cookie or not-so-healthy meal out with friends and it won't wreck my life. I don't have to do cleanses and programs or engage in restrictive behavior because my body is really smart and capable of rebounding quickly.
This is true for most healthy people. It takes time to achieve the goals we want, but not as much effort as many realize to maintain them. There is no 10-day juice cleanse or 3 or 4 week program that is suddenly going to erase all your "bad" choices. They might satisfy the reward center of our brain when we see we've lost X # of pounds or can fit into that cute outfit again. But the real trick is in maintaining what we've achieved.
So how do we do this?
4). Incorporating Short Cycles of a Fasting State is the Most Effective and Healthy Way to Self-Correct.
I've been working on this post for awhile and have researched a lot so brace yourselves...
The solution to all of our "bad choices" (which are not "bad"-- I urge clients to remove this word from their vocabulary) is fast resets.
And the best solutions involve mimicking or entering a fasting state.
Keto-cycling is a more drastic approach but one that is highly effective. Research has been conducted on the effects of ketosis on the brain and cell-aging for a long time, dating back to the 1920's when research on the effects of ketosis on epileptic children revealed positive results, not only on the reduced incidence of seizures but behavior as well. Since then, research has found that beta-hydroxybutyrate, a ketone body, has had positive effects on degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. We now know that we can slow the "disease" of aging with ketones. That's pretty incredible. Science is rad.
Other benefits beyond improved cognitive-function in epileptic, brain-injured or aging populations, do not require such a drastic approach (entering ketosis requires at least a few days of a 25g or less carbohydrate intake, 15-20% protein and 60-80% fat). 2-3 days of keto-cycling after an indulgent weekend or vacation can be more than sufficient to reset. When glucose is drastically reduced, our liver produces ketone bodies from the oxidation of fatty acids, which are exported to body tissues for use as an energy source. This causes our body to mimic a fasting state. No caloric restriction needed.
Intermittent fasting accomplishes the same thing and can be a little easier for people to succeed at. I don't do it while pregnant, but this will be how I lose any post-baby extra weight.
I find early morning fasting workouts and stretching the fasting window to be the most effective way to "reset" after a day or weekend of indulgence. By doing this, your body taps into glucose stores and uses this for energy, rather than energy from food you might normally eat before a workout. So that cookie, pasta or pizza you ate yesterday? It really is not anything to lose your sh*t over.
You'll read different approaches to Intermittent fasting and honestly, any of them can work. It depends on the individual. Some people are early risers, while others are night owls. For early risers, making your last meal at 5-6 PM and waiting until 9 am to eat breakfast the next day, after working out in a fasted state, is super effective. A night owl might eat dinner between 8 and 10 pm and wait until 12 or 1 PM the next day to eat.
The trick is resuming a normal, healthy diet in this timeframe. You still want to ensure your energy needs for the day are met. You're just elongating the period of time between dinner and breakfast to allow your body to tap into glucose stores and burn fat.
I promise you, both of these approaches work-- for me and many others. I've gained 5 pounds after a wedding or out-of-town weekend, started the next day off with intermittent fasting coupled with a couple of low-carb days and that's all it takes to get back on track. The rest of the week I eat carbs, protein, and fat as normal-- closer to the "My Plate" recommended distribution, but modified based on my personal needs: 40-50% carbohydrates (mostly from plants), 20-30% protein and remainder fat. This part is key also, and where a nutritionist can really add value.
If you have questions or would like to incorporate intermittent fasting or keto-cycling into your life, please feel free to email or message me! I'd love to get as many people as possible away from diet mentality and into a "lifestyle" approach as possible, whether you work with me as a client or not.
Stop dieting and start "reseting." Your body knows what to do.