Since the beginning of the fitness industry we have seen ads and media pushing "Thin makes you pretty." "Thin makes you healthy and desirable!" Toxic words that bevel deep into the subconscious, continually screaming at you that you are not good enough.
Diet culture has created a very toxic mindset with it. Telling us that we are nothing if we eat too much, eat the wrong foods, and if we do not fit a size 20" waist. While we know it's a toxic lifestyle, we continue to allow it to infiltrate our daily lives. What happens when we allow this to happen? Let's take a look!
Firstly, what is diet culture? Diet culture refers to a particular mindset that values thinness, appearance & shape above overall health and wellness.
1. Negative self talk/fat talk ensues. This is a very dangerous side effect. This one in particular leads to many mindset changes that lead to physical changes. This can lead to:
- Body dysmorphia: this is when you look in the mirror and see something completely different that what is actually showing. I still see the overweight and unhealthy 20-something year old looking back in the mirror at me some days. I have to remind myself with progress pictures how far I have actually come in my health over my looks and that where I am is a much better place than where I was.
- Eating disorders: negative self talk definitely leads us into eating disorders. Our subconscious bringing to the the forefront of our minds that if we eat that we will be worthless, unworthy, and fat. That this food and that food are bad and we need to eliminate them to achieve our goal of thinness. Anorexia, bulimia, and even binge eating at times. All three of these disorders mess up the balance of homeostasis in the body and in the hormones. Without proper nutrients our body begins to break down. Not just muscle, our organs begin to stop working properly, we can no longer digest properly, mood is out of balance due to hormone influxes and your sleep will suffer as well due to hormone influx.
- Feelings of unworthiness: when we feel this way, depression is more than likely to follow. Telling ourselves we are not worthy of love, life, the promotion or anything else radiantly positive in life due to our looks is self torture. It is self sabotage for the things we truly desire in life. This will cause stress hormones to rise and radical damage to follow in the organs, mind and hormones as well. Affecting more than just our thoughts, but again how our body operates and functions overall.
- Fat talk: this is exactly how it sounds. Individuals speaking about themselves as if they were overweight. "My thighs are too big" "I need to lose 5 pounds" "This milkshake has too many calories in it". These also lead to eating disorders.
2. Caloric restrictions. This is a HUGE one I talk about with my clients often. There is no such thing as good or bad food. Diet culture teaches us that there is. "You can't have that ice cream! It will make you fat!" Well I ask, what is that ice cream made from? Coconut milk or cows milk? It is not that there are bad foods or good foods for us, there are simply ingredients that either work with our bodies or against them. This is a toxic mindset created from diet culture. Caloric restrictions lead to eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Most prevalent in teens, including boys.
3. Photo editing to fit the criteria. This is huge one since the birth of social media. Before we just airbrushed and photoshopped ourselves through Photoshop. Now we swipe and see a filter that makes us as perfect skinned as the porcelain doll your grandma gave you as a kid that still creeping you out in the back of your closet. We filter and eventually this is how we perceive ourselves in the mirror one day without the filter which creates a whirlpool of mental issues, low self-esteem and bodily self harm like eating disorders. Photo editing is fun and all, but let's save it for the pictures that look like you're fighting a really big dragon, eh? In 2019 a studied showed that 90% of Americans aged 18-29 used social media daily and that of those 50% regularly used social media editing tools. 50% were men and 70% were women.
How do we stop diet culture talk? This is simple to understand, difficult to implement as it is so engrained into our society now.
So there are many ways we can overcome diet culture speak and lifestyle choices. Most of them are being more mindfully aware of what we are choosing in those moments.
It's finally winter, ah the cold is coming in. Time for fluffy jackets and hot cocoa on the couch with those little mallows. Yes? Wrong, it's time to put in the real work. Winter is a fantastic time for us to focus on ourselves as the cold sets in for the next 3-6 months. While cuddling up on the couch with a cup of cocoa and a good book are idyllic it's not necessarily conducive to our health to hibernate with the bears. This is a great time to get your stress, food intake and health under control. So let's take a look at the 3 simple ways that we all sabotage ourselves in our journey.
1. Stress is still too high and we claim we can't manage it. Listen, I understand and I hear you. However, you are not the exception. Know this, everyone is struggling with their stress and learning what you are learning, stress management. This is such a huge one because stress affects our hormone production. If our hormones are out of balance we suffer. Create mood disorders, sleep disorders, eating issues and disorders, unwanted fat gain and inflammation. The list continues even. So what can we do? Learn techniques that work for you to help you manage your stress levels throughout the day. For example, I have terrible road rage and I drive all the time. When I encounter a bad driver or someone moving just a bit too slow for the speed limit, I take a few deep breaths rather than allow myself to yell and scream at them. This keeps me calm. I also remind myself that everyone is in their own world and doing their own thing. (This shouldn't negate our mindful side for those around us and our surroundings however.) Breath work is one of the best ways to begin. Learning to breathe controls how much stress hormone you release, or don't. Yoga is another great way to learn breath work and patience. Many of us do not like to sit still, there is a reason. Look at your lifestyle and the world created for us. It literally tells us we have to move and be productive to be worthy. Not true. Slow down. And finally, journaling/self therapy techniques also help. This allows your subconscious to release trauma, worries, doubts, and intrusive thoughts you just can't quite let go of.
Working out also puts a particular type of stress called eustress on the body. Over time your body adapts to this physical stress making environmental stressors easier to manage and handle.
2. Cardio is just as important as lifting. In the beginning of your journey you NEED cardio. This does in fact assist with burning up that fat off your body. Fat supplies energy more than muscle, if you have excess fat on you then you have energy to burn. The body also needs cardio for a stronger heart, better blood pressure, and lower resting heart rate. Unless you are a conditioned athlete or bodybuilder (all of which do cardio as well) you need to incorporate a few days per week of some type of intense cardio. Walking is NOT cardio. Walking is a daily necessity. If you choose to walk, do so at an incline to burn more. The intensity is what assists our consistency in bringing results.
3. Eat your food and drink your water! I cannot stress this one enough. Our world is so prideful of lean, svelte bodies that we forget food and water are natural medication and necessary for survival! Many times clients beginning out will inform me that they do not eat breakfast or hardly at all and they can't lose the fat. If your body is in a deficit too long, of course it won't work. This has become your new baseline. Nutrition is much more complicated than just eating. You must eat for fuel as energy to the cells, muscles and brain as well as the recovery aspect. Drinking water also does the same thing by keeping your hydrated. Without water many of our nutrients have nothing to carry them around the body. Same with our food. If we cut out salt, electrolytes for example, have trouble transporting from cell to cell. Those electrolytes keep the body moving and supply the electricity to do so! My best advice is to consume a protein shake immediately following your training session and a full meal with protein and complex carbohydrates within 1 hour of working out. Fuel yourself for the best results otherwise we stay stagnant.
So here you have it, 3 simple ways you may be sabotaging your own progress. Use this winter to gain the health and the body you desire for this coming spring and summer. Don't be afraid to put in the work and wow yourself!
And remember, this is self-care.
It's just about that time of year again when everything cools down, rain shows itself and the sun disappears along with our happy rays. The winter months can bring on some serious SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) symptoms and if you're like me you need all the help you can get during those gloomier days to stay a bright and cheery soul!
I became a trainer and nutritionist nearly ten years ago and along with way I have found a few ways to help combat the blues during gloomy days and cold winter months. Here are a few things you can do to help you stay and feel happier this winter.
1. KEEP MOVING! That's right! Exercise is on the menu my dear! Movement is not only medicine, it also helps our bodies and hormones stay balanced on a daily basis. Feeling anxious? That's your body telling you to release some of that energy. Grab your sweats, good shoes and hit the weights. You will thank yourself later.
2. EAT GOOD AND WHOLESOME FOOD. Now this is definitely a tougher one for most of us as the winter months bring the holidays and wanting to cuddle up with a cup of cocoa and a good movie or book. Not that there isn't a time and a place for that, however keeping your body in a healthy place during these months not only keeps that summer bod you worked so hard for but allows your body to absorb all the right nutrients and stay hormonally balanced as well. I tend to also eat with the seasons. In the winter months we consume more veggies such as asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and different varieties of squashes and potatoes. I also still love to consume a smoothie when the fruit falls out of season and into high high prices.
3. SUPPLEMENT WHERE YOUR NUTRITION IS LACKING. Supplements are great for filling in the gaps and can really help in keeping our overall health at optimal levels. If you live in an area where you cannot get great and fresh foods, this is where supplements can help us. During the days we don't receive as much sunlight (or working inside) taking extra vitamin D can help supplement what you may be missing out on. This is where a multivitamin can be unnecessary. Sometimes going with individual vitamins and minerals is more beneficial for balance.
4. TAKE EXTRA VITAMIN B AND D. Yes both! B vitamins are great for more than just energy, they also help our bodies stay hydrated, boost our mood and metabolism along with strengthen the immune system. Vitamin D is actually a hormone and is necessary any day you wake up breathing. It assists in hormone production and balance, mood, sleep, and immune. Most Americans do not intake enough vitamin D, using a supplement such as Carlsons or Natures Way can really benefit in getting the vitamins we need to keep our body healthy all year around. Higher vitamin D levels in healthy individuals were also found to assist in warding off sickness, including COVID.
5. DON'T GET COMPLACENT. I know it feels really good to just sit down and cuddle up under a blanket during these colder days, however this is where we get too comfortable. Make sure you keep moving. This is not the same type of moving as I mentioned above. This is a great time to find hobbies that keep you busy and keep your mind engaged.
6. AVOID PROCESSED SUGAR. This is a huge one! Especially as we enter the holiday season. It is so tempting to eat it all in one sitting, and there's a very large reason for that. Sugar shuts down the frontal lobe where we process a lot of speech, thought and even movement. When sugar takes over it causes massive amounts of inflammation, especially in the brain. This is why we feel cranky and lethargic after eating something very sugary. I always suggest to my clients to consume with moderation. It is not a bad thing to eat the cookies, pies and enjoy a Hot Toddy. It's overconsumption that leads us to results that we wake up looking in the mirror disliking the next day.
7. TAKE COLD SHOWERS! Whoa! Hold on Kaie, what do you mean? Take a cold shower in winter? Yes! The cold water not only strengthens your immune system but also your nervous system. Which means you can handle the cold better ANNDDD the stresses of the day. Cold showers are amazing! I usually begin with a normal temperature shower and 2-5 minutes before I end my shower I finish out with standing in the cold water for as long as I can handle. This is actually the Wim Hof method. It's highly effective over time.
So here are my best tips to keeping yourself smiling and feeling a bit more upbeat this winter. You don't have to spend the next few months curled up and feeling miserable because its cold out. Grab a friend, hit the gym and enjoy a nice hot meal when you're finished.
Stay warm and happy this year!
Note from the Team.
The blog about everything from mindful eating to healthy fat loss, drugs, natural supplementation and more!